Everything You Wanted To Know About the Strongman Bill Kazmaier
World's Strongest Man 1980 1981 1982
"Can you imagine being a beginner lifter? Having a hard time putting food on your table and eating 500 grams of protein a day. And all of a sudden they have a contest at a pet store. A grand opening for eating goldfish. And the prize is $300. And that’ll pay your rent for a month. Well needless to say I bellied up. And bowed up against kids 8, 10, 12 years old. One of them ate 15 goldfish. There was a young man probably at 14 that may have ate 100. Well I ate 1000 goldfish. And I took home the prize of 300 bucks". - Bill Kazmaier
Bill Kazmaier: Nickname Kaz
Born: December 30, 1953
Height 6' 3"
Competition Weight: 320 - 350lbs (145-159kg)
Years Active as a Strongman: 1979 - 1992
Birthplace: Burlington, Wisconsin, USA
Awards: 3 time World's Strongest Man, 2 time Pure Strength co-champion, 2 time IPF Champion, former World record holder in Deadlift/Bench/Total in powerlifting
Bill Kazmaier is a former world champion powerlifter and strongman, and a retired professional wrestler. He was born in 1953 in Wisconsin, and has set numerous world records, and won numerous titles in his chosen sports.
Born: 30 December 1953
Birthplace: Burlington, Wisconsin, USA
Sports: college football, powerlifting, strongman, professional wrestling
Bill Kazmaier Sporting Achievements
Kazmaier has earned three gold medals at the World's strongest man (1980 to 1980), as well as a 3rd place in his debut in 1979, and a 2nd and 4th place in his comeback events.
He earned Gold at the World Muscle Power Championships in 1988, as well as Gold in 1988 and 1990 at the Pure Strength events. He also took six consecutive golds at the Scottish Power Challenge between 1984 and 1989.
His powerlifting record is also impressive, with two golds at the IPF World Powerlifting Championship, one gold at the USPF National Powerlifting Championship, and a gold at the AAU National Powerlifting Championship.
What Records does Bill Kazmaier Hold?
He holds several powerlifting records, including:
925.9lbs Squat in an 80s marathon squat suit.
661.4lbs bench press, raw.
886.7lb deadlift, raw.
Those records were set in 1981, and were not surpassed until several years later.
Throughout his career, he set several records at World's Strongest Man, including records for the silver dollar deadlift, overhead log lift, Hungarian farm cart deadlift, car lift, and raw deadlift.
His raw deadlift is particularly impressive since the lift was officially 890.6 lb, which would have been a record. At later testing, the lift turned out to be even heavier, at 914.9lb.
William "Bill" Kazmaier was interested in sports even as a young child and proved to have a talent for whatever he turned his hand to. He played college football for the University of Wisconsin for two years, before dropping out of the sport to pursue weightlifting instead in 1974. He was the youngest of five children, having one brother, one half brother, and two sisters. His father was the owner of a soda water bottling business with plants in Kenosha and Burlington.
It did not take long for him to become a successful powerlifter, and he set a world record of 633lb for the bench press in 1979. He went on to enter his first World's Strongest Man competition that year and placed third.
While Kazmaier enjoyed athletic success, he was not financially well off and spent some time homeless. He eventually reconnected with an old friend who found him work with a major barbel manufacturer, and with help from that occupation, he improved his bench press and set a new world record of 661lbs.
In 1980, he started a dominant run at Worlds Strongest Man events and won three successive world titles, before a pectoral tear interrupted his training. The rumors of the day say that he was not invited back to the tournament because he was so dominant. These rumors are unsubstantiated, however.
Kazmaier returned to the world of strongman in 1987 for the Pure Strength competition. At the time,there were three hugely successful strongmen. Sigmarson, Capes, and Kazmaier. Kazmaier performed well in 1987 but was beaten in 1988 by Sigmarson, and the after a failed comeback in 1989 he retired 'permanently' from the world of competition. His retirement from individual competition was true, but he did return to Pure Strength to represent the United States alongside OD Wilson and had some good runs.
After retiring, he went on to be a professional wrestler for a short time, a career decision that would be mirrored by strongman (and fellow Worlds Strongest Man) Mark Henry. His professional wrestling career with the WWF saw him take part in just one match, before he went on to wrestle for smaller promotions, then moved on to rival promotion WCW, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. He had a brief tag team partnership with Rick Steiner.
In 1981, he spent a short time training with the Green Bay Packers, however his trials were not successful, and after spending a short time in professional wrestling he made a brief return to strongman competitions.
When did Bill Kazmaier Retire
In the 1980s, he opened the Kaz Fitness Center in Auburn, Alabama. The gym was shut down in 2005. Since then he opened the S.W.A.T. gym, which is located in Opelika. This gym is still open, and he trains there, as well as using it as the HQ for DynaKaz Inc, his gym equipment import-export business, which markets fitness products all over the world.
Today, he regularly commentates for World's Strongest Man competitions, and also works as a judge at other competitions. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest competitors in the sport of all time. Kazamaier also works as a motivational speaker, and addresses young people at school and YMCA groups, spreading the message "I can and I will", which he hopes will inspire his audiences to lead healthier and more productive lifestyles.
The YMCA has a special place in his heart, as he says that he had a spiritual awakening while reading Psalms 40 from the Bible when at the Madison YMCA. He is a devout Christian to this day. He lives in Alabama and has one son, Eric.
Recent Media Attention
Bill Kazmaier and rival Magnus Ver Magnuson came out of retirement for the World Deadlift Championships, to take part in a Legends Challenge. Kazmaier was 65 at the time and had not competed since 1992. He is still in good shape, however, and has remained active even since retirement. To this day he still serves as a judge and represents the sport in other ways.
It is Kazmaier's decision to retire from the sport while still remaining supportive of the next generation of competitors which has won over so many fans. His list of event wins, records and feats of strength is undeniably impressive in its own right, but his continued love for the sport sets him apart from many others. Even now that some of his lifts have been surpassed, he is still thought of as being one of the best ever to grace the world of strength sports.