Eddie Hall interview: the first man to deadlift 500kg & World's Strongest Man
HISTORY meets Eddie Hall at a central London hotel to find out about his new show. If anything, he is more intimidating in real-life than on your TV screens. Even when seated he dominates the room, making everyone else seem puny in comparison.
He's in a jovial mood, having just done a round of interviews and has just polished off a couple of steaks, after all, he needs a lot more calories thanyour average human and he has (obviously) saved the best interview till last.
Being a strongman is an unusual profession to embark upon but how did Staffordshire’s answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger get involved in the first place? It turns out the key to his success was gentle parental mockery. Eddie explains:
'When I was five years old, I remember watching The World Strongest Man with my parents in the front living room. I remember saying to my Mum and Dad that I'm going to be the world strongest one day. Everyone just burst out laughing.'
Paradoxically, being discouraged at this early age, proved a great motivation in later life. From that moment on Eddie was determined to prove his five-year-old self-right and his parents wrong.
By the time he was 19, after a period of competitive swimming where he was ranked No1 in all freestyle distances, he started lifting weights. Soon he became one of the strongest men in the country. But his ambition was world-domination:
'And then I made the commitment to become The World's Strongest Man. And I said out loud, put it on social media, told my friends and family. And again people laughed. That added small fuel to the fire for me and ten years later to the day I won The World Strongest Man.'
'The worst injury I've ever had in my personal life is trapping my own d**k between two metal plates.'
While most people would be content with that title, Eddie was determined to achieve something no man had ever achieved:
'I won the World Strongest Man and that's a lifetime achievement in itself but there are 19 other men that one of the World's Strongest Man. I feel as though I have done the biggest lift in human history. I lifted the halftime deadlift off the floor, 1102 pounds. I did that back in 2016. And no one still to this day has even come close.' After that lift, Eddie nearly died. Speaking to The Independent he explained, ‘The pressure on my body was surreal. I passed out after. I had nose bleeds. It's not healthy doing something like that'.
Eddie describes another injury he sustained during a training session which will make any men reading this wince:
'The worst injury I've ever had in my personal life is trapping my own d**k between two metal plates. I was slamming some weights on a leg press. And - I don't know if I had a semi or what -but I trapped my d**k in between the plates and I ended getting five stitches.'
Fortunately, during the filming of The Strongest Man in History there were no serious injuries or any stitches required to any sensitive areas:
'During the actual show, we were actually pretty lucky. We filmed seven episodes. And you know, that basically means at least seven world records were attempted or broken. And we're very lucky, you know, other than the odd pulled back or, strained bicep I think we did pretty well. No one got seriously, hurt.'
'We've got all the tools we'd ever need to make the perfect human - and obviously we surpass him – but what Paul did 50 years ago is f**king incredible.'
The one slight injury he acquired was in one challenge that Eddie found the toughest:
'They're all hard, you know, they're all, you know, amazing feats of strength world records. I think one of the hardest was by a guy called Paul Anderson. He was renowned for lifting up 19 people in a carousel lift with his legs. So, we replicated that and I cracked my back. It was pretty hard to walk for a couple of days after that.'
Amongst the strongmen, Nick Best was particularly inspired by Paul Anderson who was performing record-breaking lifts back in the 1960s. Along with with the carousel lift challenge, Eddie and the gang attempt some ofAnderson's other amazing feats such as the silver dollar squat. Eddie is full of prise for what Anderson achieved:
'The feats of strength he achieved, 50 years ago, f***king phenomenal because the technologies we have now, the recovery methods, the proteins, the aminos, we've got all the tools we'd ever need to make the perfect human - and obviously we surpass him – but what Paul did 50 years ago is f**king incredible.'
While Eddie takes part in a range of dazzling physical feats in the show, The Strongest Man in History isn't just about lifting heavy things. At heart, the show is about how four elite athletes who have competed at the highest level of their sport, interact, joke around and compete with each other. Their rapport is undeniable. It’s not just about beating these challenges, it’s about beating each other.
'We're all alpha males at the day,' Eddie explains. 'We all want to be that number one. Camaraderie is there, you know we all get on but when that whistle blows obviously you know you want to be the one handed that trophy. There is a bit of tripping each other up and wanting the other guy to fail but in general, we get on well even though we have crashed heads a few times in the past'
Eddie mentions camaraderie and there is a real sense of fun in the series. He definitely adds a dose of British humour to the show:
'We take the piss out of each other. I've brought them to life with the British banter... I enjoyed it that being the bad boy British guy of the show.'
One of the funniest moments in the show is the Instagram challenge. Eddie bets he will get more likes in one Instagram post than Robert could manage in five. The loser's forfeit is to drink water from the winner's shoe. Asked if he was pleased to win the bet, Eddie is enthusiastic:
'Oh 100%. That would have been like one of the worst moments in my life. That guy barely bathes once a month. So, I'd hate to think what his shoes and socks were like....it was especially nice to see Oberst drink out of a shoe that I purposely didn't change my socks for a week. I made sure that she was extra stinky for him.'
Since retiring from strongmen competitions in 2017, Eddie has been pursuing TV projects such as The Strongest Man in History and Eddie Eats America, 'it's basically a man vs food meets strong man'. Away from TV projects, Eddie wants to break into the movies. But which historical character would he most like to play in a film?
‘If there's one role that was made for me, it'd be Henry VIII, definitely. He’s a big powerful man very demanding. Though obviously having six wives which I'm not too keen on, to be honest'.
He may not be able to manage six wives but he sure as hell can lift a lot of heavy stuff.