From Academic Kids

A strongman is a political leader who rules by force and runs an authoritarian regime. The term is often used interchangeably with "dictator."

A strongman is not necessarily always a formal Head of State, however. Sometimes the term is used to describe a military or political figure who exercises far more influence over the government than is constitutionally allowed. General Manuel Noriega, for example, was often dubbed the "Strongman of Panama" for the enormous amount of political power he exercised over Panama, despite the fact that he was not the formal president of the nation.

The term strongman is also used to refer to a 19th century exhibitor of strength (before strength sports were codified into weightlifting, powerlifting etc., becoming actual athletic competitions) or circus performers of similar ilk who displayed strength feats such as the bent press, supporting large amounts of weight held overhead at arm's length, steel bending, chain breaking, etc. Large amounts of wrist, hand, and tendon strength were required for these feats, as well as prodigious oblique strength.

Some famous strongmen:

The term Strongman is also used to describe a more modern eclectic strength competition in which competitors lift rocks, tote refrigerators, pull trains, walk while towing an eighteen wheel truck behind them, etc. The most famous competition of this type is "World's Strongest Man", however the National Strength Athletics Association (NSAA) ( holds amateur and other meets throughout North America. See Strength athletics

NOTE: A previous entry referred to Strongmen as people who did weightlifting and bodybuilding. This is not exactly true, as neither existed at the time. However, interestingly enough at first, bodybuilders were expected to mingle with the crowd during intermission and perform strength feats like card tearing, nail bending, etc. to demonstrate strength as well as symmetry and size. And, many Strongmen were superbly built and did sell photos of themselves wearing very little, flexing and posing (although what they considered the epitome of male beauty was different than the modern goals - particularly the very low emphasis on chest size, and great emphasis on oblique size and symmetry).



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