Flipping massive tyres or lifting heavy stones to a height of 1m is not something that many people would find meaningful or appealing, but there are still men and women who do them for the challenge it brings.
There are gyms that offer such activities as part of strongman training, incorporating them as a way to condition the body and build strength. For serious trainees, they then go on to take part in strongman competitions.
Ahmad Taufiq Muhammad, 32, is a household name in the strongman community in Singapore, with local and regional titles to his name.
Taufiq lifting stone balls. Photo: Ahmad Taufiq
He is the first Singapore Strongman Champion (in 2005) and the only Singaporean to be internationally ranked (49th), with experience at the Strongman Champions League Finals and in the World Natural Strongman Federation circuit. He is also a two-time Sabah’s Strongman Champion and owner of Borneo Titans Strongman Academy in Kota Kinabalu.
Taufiq gives himself three more years to compete, and has recently shifted some focus to staging a strongman competition – the Singapore Strongman Classic (SSC) 2014, happening in July.
Organised by The Cathay in partnership with Singa-Sports Academy and Borneo Titans Strongman Academy, the tournament will be Singapore’s first purist and traditional strongman competition.
“I’ve always had the intention of organising a strongman competition,” Taufiq said, “and there were discussions in the past, but nothing ever materialised out of those.”
Then, he was approached by The Cathay sometime last September with an idea to hold a strongman competition.
A spokesperson from The Cathay said: “The Cathay is always on the lookout to create events in Singapore (such as cosplay, art and dance) to be a platform for youth to showcase their talents.” The Singapore Strongman Classic 2014 will be the first of its type organised by a shopping mall.
As mentor and judge, Taufiq worked with The Cathay to plan the competition and to provide the equipment needed.
There will be three challenges in the competition – Log Lift, Axle Deadlift and Atlas Stones – and participants compete across three categories: Men’s Open (by invite only), Men’s Novice and Women’s Open.
The qualifying rounds was held Saturday 21 June, and 12 participants from the Men's Novice category made it to the finals, to be held on 12 July. The Men's Open and Women's Open are by invitation.
Prizes include $16,600 worth of cash and health supplements.
Taufiq said: “As an athlete who has competed at international events, it’s only right that I do something for the community. I don’t make money out of this, but I’m doing it because I think our strength community deserves another competition.
Taufiq doing the log press in a competition. Photo: Ahmad Taufiq
“There needs to be more avenues and platforms for our strength athletes (to compete)... The reality is, we get better through competing and not just by training. We can train as hard as we want but it will be pointless if we don’t compete.”
At the moment, the only strongman competition in Singapore is the annual one organised by HomeTeam NS since 2005 (which Taufiq won). The plan is to hold this inaugural Singapore Strongman Classic on a yearly basis.
Those who would like to give strongman training a try can head down to SG Titans, a non-profit strongman interest group, on Thursday and Sunday evenings at Woodlands Ave 1, Mega Sports Court. There is no payment needed to take part.
This year, Taufiq will be competing at the Brisbane Fitness & Health Expo Strongest Man, the World Natural Strongman Federation Series in Nigeria, and the ISF 'Feats of Strength' Strongman competition in Australia.
In the longer term, he hopes to start a dedicated academy to groom and train strength athletes, as well as set up a strongman national sports association in Singapore.
Cheryl Tay first established herself in the world of cars and motorsports. A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl is one of the few female motoring journalists in Singapore and writes for prominent titles locally and internationally. She is also a huge fitness freak and enjoys working out as much as she does writing about fitness. More of her at www.cheryltay.sg or @cheryltay11 on Instagram.