As kids, there were probably not many amongst us who didn’t dream at one point or another about having super strength, the type possessed by the superheroes we grew up watching in movies or reading about in comics. But imagine actually being the strongest man in the whole world.
British strongman Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall knows that exact feeling, he is a comic book hero come to life, his incredible ability to lift ridiculously heavy objects earned him the coveted title of The World’s Strongest Man in 2017, along with numerous other records.
Having accomplished his lifelong dream he had a huge decision to make, whether to risk his health and defend the title, continuing to put massive strains on his body or to step back aside and let a different victor be crowned. (Spoiler Alert) Eddie sensibly chose the latter option. We sat down with Eddie recently to talk about that decision, the other goals he still has in the sport and what is life is looking like after strongman.
The MALESTROM: Last time we spoke you were the World’s Strongest Man and in the process of considering whether to defend the title. How hard was your decision to not defend it?
Eddie Hall: For me being the World’s Strongest Man I had to compete at such a huge bodyweight, so 32 stone. To go after another title and maintain that bodyweight and potentially get even bigger and stronger was such a huge risk to my life, not just my health, my life. I feel like that risk outweighed the return.
So for that reason it’s so easy for me to say, you know what I achieved my dream, I’ve won World’s Strongest Man, I’ve done what I needed to do in the sport and I’m walking away a champion and also I’m capitalising on the win. I’ve made more money this year than I have the last 29 years of my life, so I’d be an idiot to turn down all this work.
I’m not greedy, but it’s all about making myself secure for the future, looking out for my wife and kids and if I’m able to do that why would I turn it down? So there are two good reasons, it’s for my health, my life and setting myself up for the future.
TM: Is your wife happy you’re done with it now? I know you said she wanted you to retire…
EH: Yeah, I mean the missus is happy I’m taking a step back from strongman, but it’s swings and roundabouts, I’m just as busy now, in fact, busier than I was before, but it’s on my terms, I can work when I want, I don’t have to be forced to do anything.
And I’ve had a holiday, a family holiday, the first f***ing one in eight years. If I want a day off I’ll cancel something and have a day off. Yes, I’m busier than I ever was but it’s for a very good reason. It’s setting my whole family up for a great future and I’m very proud to be able to do that.
TM: You returned to World’s Strongest Man in a different role this year as a presenter, what was it like doing that as opposed to competing?
EH: Obviously it was very different being in front of the camera commentating. I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed watching the guys struggle, as an outsider you see how really f***ing freaky we are as people, the weights we move.
So it was nice to just watch on and commentate and see how things unfolded, that was pretty exciting for me. Obviously, me doing the commentating for Channel 5 TV, that was quite cool, I’m looking forward to watching it myself, it’s sort of casting me in a new job role, so it was fun from that aspect as well.
TM: Obviously with social media nowadays (SPOILER ALERT) most of the world knows Hafþór Björnsson won this years title. Do you think it will have stung him to have won without competing against you? Because you guys were the fierce rivals of the sport…
EH: Well it’s been said many times by many people that he only won this year because I wasn’t in it and do you know what I kind of agree.
He had it quite easy this year, Brian was injured, he wasn’t in full fitness or form and obviously I was out of contention so there was no one to challenge him for the win, so it was a bit of a half-arsed win, it was a paper win.
He won because there was no one else there to take it. His title is not as well earned as my title, that’s how I feel.
TM: In terms of the points at the end and the performances do you think if you had defended you’d have won the title again?
EH: If I’d have defended I couldn’t tell you the outcome of the result, mainly because you never know. It’s easy to point fingers and say I’d have done this or I’d have done that.
But even going back to last year, if you’d have changed those six events in the final, someone else might have won it, if you change those events again another man might have ended up winning.
There’s a lot of luck involved with strongman as well, this year the events were very suited to Thor, athletes dropped out, I dropped out, Brian was very heavily injured, so he had it easy for sure.
TM: Let’s talk a bit about your new diet. We heard you say recently you’ve got back to eating for pleasure, that must be a bit of a change?
EH: Yeah, I’ve taken a big step down, I’m not force feeding anymore, I don’t have to get in 12.5K calories in every day, now it’s probably more like 8 to 9 thousand.
I’m still training, I still want to maintain my size and my strength, but it’s a lot easier not force feeding twelve and a half thousand calories in and I do enjoy my food a lot, lot more now.
TM: We can see from your social media you’re still lifting seriously heavy weights, is the plan to maintain the strength so you can still do the odd event when you want to?
EH: I’ve got my eye on Britain’s Strongest Man in January. I’ve tried to keep my training up as much as I can, but I’ve been that busy that It’s really gone to s**t if I’m being honest. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the last four months, living in hotels and it’s hard to come by a good gym, you really have to search hard and when you’re filming for 17 hour days, you haven’t got the energy to go and train.
I’m at home for a little bit, so hopefully, I can get some sort of regime together, no matter what I do in the day I can always go back to my home gym, train properly then go home and eat some proper food, which is very important.
So I’ll put some weight back on, I’ll put some strength back on and hopefully, I can do it well for Britain’s. You can’t take things like that half-arsed, as strong as I am, I need a good four months solid training to win Britain’s Strongest Man, that’s me being totally honest, you’ve got to be committed to the sport.
TM: Are you still looking to break further records? Obviously, the log lift is one you’ve just missed out on in the past…
EH: The World log lift is something I’ve got my eyes on. I missed 230kgs by the skin of my f***ing teeth at Europes. And it hurt, it hurt me walking away without that record, so yes it’s something I would like, but it’s the same as the British, it’s will I get the chance to train for it and commit to it, I can’t answer that.
You know what man the end of the year is looking busy, I can train for it, but I said In January I probably need to start training now, and my calendar keeps filling up with more and more appearances and film work and if that continues to be the case I have to say it’s probably not going to happen. If I don’t do it now it might never happen and I will regret that.
TM: You mentioned last time about eventually getting shredded, we’ve already seen your body transforming shape, is that still the plan a little later down the line?
EH: Yeah, I think after 2019, regardless that has to be my last year in terms of health I have to walk away then. So the plan is eventually, 2019, no matter what I will be dropping weight and shredding up, that’s my master plan you know. You have to look good for the film world, no one wants to see a 30 stone fat f**k acting on TV, that’s the truth.
TM: In terms of what you’re currently eating, have you changed things nutrition wise? Or is it similar?
EH: My diet is pretty much the same, I always ate pretty healthy. I will say I’ve cut out a lot of the junk food. So when I have my lunch I won’t force feed cheesecake or ice cream down. I’ve just cut out the s**t that I used to force feed myself after a meal, so it’s pretty much the same diet, minus the junk food.
TM: What are you weighing right now?
EH: I’m 27 stone at the minute, so I’ve lost nearly five stone from when I won the World’s Strongest Man, which is a huge amount of weight. I feel healthier, I feel fitter, just my general wellbeing, I’m sleeping better, walking better, I’ve got more energy. Imagine someone picking up 30 kilos off your back that you’ve had on for the last ten years, how good would you f***ing feel?
TM: In terms of body transformation, do you think that can sometimes help strongmen? We’ve recently seen Terry Holland get in serious shape. Can that give an advantage in that career?
EH: Of course. I think the general public, they’re almost pulled in like a magnetic field to good looking people. Someone on social media with big shoulders, big biceps and a set of abs you’re going to look at that guy a lot more than a guy who hasn’t got them.
I think we’re all programmed that way. Take the film industry, that leading role is generally going to go to that hot female, that’s human nature and I think it’s the same in strongman, the better looking you are the more attention you’re going to get. But at the end of the day, it’s the performance that people want to see and strongman and aesthetics don’t really mix that well.
TM: You’ve mentioned movies a lot. We have to ask you what the plans are there?
EH: I can’t say too much, but there are a few castings coming up, I’m going to go for some big roles. I’ve just done a pilot in America, I’ve got another pilot in L.A. in a couple of months.
I’m doing a couple of series with a number of the channels in the UK as well. And also getting stuck into the film industry, I’m doing acting lessons as much as I can, sometimes twice weekly. So I’m working hard and hopefully, fingers crossed I land something big.
TM: Brian Shaw has been doing some YouTube videos around cooking. Would you fancy joining him doing that?
EH: Possibly. I’ve got some big ideas coming up soon, one of them being a big website where you can pay for live feeds of strongman shows, athletes training behind the scenes, there’s going to be a strongman games element. I’m very passionate about that, It’s going to be something that’s quite big, it’s called officialstrongman.com.
I just feel like it’s going to be the next big thing, it’s going to make strongman f***ing huge. It’s about giving back to the sport as well, paying athletes to become full time and we’re also giving genuine fans a lot of bang for their buck.
You get to watch all the strongman shows live, all the training behind the scenes and you get access to compete in the strongman games, it’ll also give you the chance to enter and become The World’s Strongest Man, so It’s like a Rocky format.
TM: You must be proud, you’re the man who has really brought it all back. For the younger generation coming up watching strongman, you are the figurehead of the sport…
EH: For sure man. Strongman has been on the up for the last six or seven years. It’s not just me, it’s great characters like Thor, Brian and me, we’ve all come together, we’ve all put our all on the plate and worked as hard as we can. I must admit I’ve done some great things for strongman like the documentary on Netflix, which I think propelled the sport massively.
That was trending on Netflix for two months as the most watched thing, so I’m pretty proud of that. I did another documentary called Born Strong with Arnold Schwarzenegger, again that trended on Netflix.
Of all the things I’ve done I think I’ve proudest of having brought fans to the sport that wouldn’t have been there before and that’s through sheer honesty, determination and above all personality, I’ve always been myself, I’ve always had that, f**k you, back your bull***t up attitude, and it’s paid off.
TM: Have you got any tips for those young up and comers in the sport that want to follow in your footsteps?
EH: Be consistent, work hard day in day out, and most importantly be yourself, don’t hide your personality, because that’s when you get noticed and people start to follow you and love you.
I’m probably the highest paid strongman in the world out of all the guys and that’s through being myself, having a personality, connecting with the fans, that’s what you have to do.
TM: You’ve said you’ll never go back to the sport full time, but when you do eventually pack up will you miss it?
EH: You know what mate, of course I will. I loved being the World’s Strongest Man, f***ing loved it. But it’s like boxing, look at AJ now, he’s the Heavyweight World Champion, he’s loving life, earning millions, he’s probably the most popular man in the UK by a mile.
But one day, and it’s going to happen, someone will come along and knock him the f**k out and he’ll lose his titles and I’m just realistic that day is going to come for me regardless, so I took a step back early. I’m earning my money and I’m happy with my life and content with what I’ve done. And I think that’s most important, I accomplished what I set out to do and that has left me satisfied.
TM: All in all then, the future’s looking bright for life after strongman?
EH: Of course. But then again nothing is handed to you, like in strongman you need hard work and have the dedication to make the most of things and to attack the next stage of my life with as much force as I possibly can.
Get your copy of Eddie’s brilliant book Strongman: My Story HERE
And follow his always entertaining and inspirational Instagram HERE
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