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Local man makes history, wins Strongest Man competition

'You wouldn’t have looked at me at 16 and said he’s going to be the strongest man in the world,' says Mitchell Hooper, the first Canadian to win the event

Mitchell Hooper says a weightlifting future wasn’t cast in stone during his youth.

“You wouldn’t have looked at me at 16 and said he’s going to be the strongest man in the world,” the Midhurst resident, now 27, said. “I could squat 500 pounds … which is impressive, but not world-level numbers, of course.”

Hooper won the World’s Strongest Man competition in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in April. He placed eighth in last year’s event and says that experience helped him this time around.

“Last year was my first professional competition in the finals. Half of the events I had never done before, so it was a big learning curve and I did pretty well, despite not having the experience,” said Hooper, who stands six feet, two inches and weighs 320 pounds.

“I got used to competition and (this year) came in with the momentum of nine straight podiums, and four of the last five shows going into the Worlds I had won, so I had pretty good momentum.”

And Hooper, nicknamed ‘the Moose’, has an athlete’s background. He was a defensive end with the University of Guelph’s football team, has a master's degree in exercise physiology and is a director at Longevity Nexum, a kinesiology practice in Barrie.

Hooper even has his own mantra: "Lift heavy, be kind."

“It’s really a way in which to, I believe, to live your life, to be happy, be healthy,” he said. “I think that’s a key for a lot of people, to extend their health and being kind is just … it’s the way to form strong interpersonal relationships. 

“Broadly speaking, the two come together,” Hooper added. “You can lift heavy and be a kind, normal person as many in the strongest man community are. I think movement is the key to long-term health and my platform is based around that.”

Hooper says he trains about two and a half hours a day and it’s mostly weightlifting.

The lifting event he likes least, however, is the one which put him over the top in South Carolina.

“The single-arm dumbbell press, overhead,” he explained. “I ended up with 309 pounds, which is a pretty significant personal best for me, and I won the event with that. For most people, that’s a pretty good squat.”

And his favourite event also helped earn him the title among 30 competitors.

“I like dead lifting. It’s one that’s easily trained and I have the most experience with,” he said. “We did 800 pounds, dead lift for reps, and I won the event with eight reps.”

 Hooper is the first Canadian to win the World’s Strongest Man competition.


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Bob Bruton

About the Author: Bob Bruton

Bob Bruton is a full-time BarrieToday reporter who covers politics and city hall.
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