A little known fixture on the Strongman calendar is the Hungarian run World’s Natural Strongman Competition or the “Laszlo Classic” to those in the know. Set up by Laszlo Fekete, a four time finalist of MET-Rx’s World’s Strongest Man competition, its self-proclaimed intent is to provide a drug-free stage for international strongman competition.
Unlike most strongman competitions that pride themselves in the variety of events on offer, the natural strongman calendar picks events from a small pool – usually including atlas stones, duck/farmers walk, yoke and an uncomfortably heavy tyre flip. The lack of pressing events has caused controversy, with some speculating their exclusion is to favour the family of Feketes that compete and dislike anything overhead. However, Laszlo’s intent is to get strongman into the Olympics – a valiant if not somewhat hopeful ideal – and to do so a structured, fixed set of events would likely be necessary.
All that aside, Fekete puts on an impressive roster of international competitions. In 2012 there were competitions in France, Australia, Sweden, London and Canada with the final still due to take place on 1st December in Hungary. Outside of Giant’s Live and the World’s Strongest Man there is little opportunity for international strongman competition – especially competition that pays for all the athletes travel, accommodation and expenses. We don’t know where the funding comes from but certainly aren’t complaining!
We went to the fixture in London this year, held at the UK’s Thorpe Park theme park, and MC’d by England’s Laurence Shahlei (4th place at WSM 2011). The events weren’t the most spectator friendly and the scoring was a little odd but it was a good show nevertheless. The Hungarian organisers had brought across a full camera crew with the event apparently being broadcast on Hungarian television – we can’t confirm that but you can see the final result on their youtube channel below and it doesn’t look too shabby!
Laszlo has a healthy bunch of offspring that compete with him in the strongman competitions and have won all the previous World’s Natural Strongest Man finals. Such a result makes it difficult for an outsider to believe a little favouritism isn’t at play. With this year’s final taking place in less than a month we are going to suspend our scepticism and enjoy the show!
If you’re interested in competing in such a competition you’ll have to hope that your nation hosts a qualifying event. We know that EQ Nutrition put on Britain’s Natural Strongman competition – with both Southern and Northern qualifiers. Elsewhere we’re afraid you’re on your own! Because strongman is such a niche sport – the drug-free variant even more so – it unfortunately can come down to who you know rather than your talent. Hopefully this will change as the sport grows and awareness increases.
What are your thoughts on these competitions? Post your comments below.