Who's The Daddy?
Sinead McNicholl meets UK Strongest Man victor Glenn Ross
Belfast was treated to an amazing show of strength this August when the UK Strongest Man 2007 competition rolled into town. The event has been held in the city in the past and attracts a vast audience of all ages to see the men of steel battle it out for the ultimate title of UK’s Strongest Man.
With the competition lasting a gruelling three days, the 16 finalists - four each from Ireland and Scotland, two from Wales and six from England - endured events like tyre flipping, car lifts, bus pulls and a unique event called 'The Human Link', where competitors are hoisted 40 to 50 feet into the air whilst holding an anchor and chain between their legs.
The UK Strongest Man contest is not only a test of physical strength, it also demands high levels of mental resilience and willpower. One contestant on show - a familiar face to all involved - has found the perfect balance between mental agility and physical prowess in his quest to outdo the rest: reigning UK Strongest Man Glenn Ross.
Ross first got into the sport after doing a truck-pull for charity and quickly became known for his catchphrase, 'Who's the Daddy?'. He has been competing in strongman contests for more than ten years and was the UK Strongest man from 1999 to 2001.
Having conquered all to take the title again in 2006, Ross would go on to win the 2007 competition, held over three days at three different venues in Belfast - City Hall Gardens, the Odyssey and Custom House Square.
'I enjoy strongman as a whole,' Ross admits. 'I love maximum tests. I also love repetition events and most static events. There are not too many that I don’t enjoy. I think this is a great sport. The strongman competitions get over 150 million viewers worldwide. It's definitely growing in popularity.'
One of the best things about the competition, according to Ross, is the camaraderie between competitors.
'It’s fabulous. It’s a very positive sport. In fact, a lot of strength sports are positive. For example, outside the rings in boxing and sports like that the guys are really dead on, they want to support and help one another out. But obviously when the competition starts it's dog eat dog.'
Although a modest 6'1" in height, in contrast to some his fellow heavylifters, Ross weighs in at an earth-shattering 476 lb (34 stone, 215 kg). The Co Down powerlifter has represented Ireland at the World Strongest Man competitions on several occassions. He pits himself against the world’s elite, and holds a number of world records in competition events like Giant Log and Steel Log, as well as a number of deadlifting records.
'I’ve held records for deadlifting and squats and have been unbeaten within Strongman competitions, so I have a variation of power records. Not too many mobility ones though - that’s not really my forte, but I can move when I want to.'
What the Bangor man loves to do most of all is use his abilities for good causes, and Ross is currently involved with a variety of charities. 'I use my strength in a positive way,' Ross says. 'I do a lot of charity work and a lot of unusual stuff that really helps people out in terms of raising funds. I always try and think of new events.'
One such event occurred in 2003 when, in aid of cancer research, Ross lifted two Citroën Saxos with the rear wheels completely off the ground. The combined weight, including frames, was 3 tonnes.
In order to maintain strength levels, diet is of the utmost importance for athletes like Ross, especially whilst in training and before competitions. For Ross, his culinary day begins with eggs and porridge.
'After that I would take protein shakes mid-morning, chicken fillets at lunch with pasta, potatoes or rice and more shakes in the afternoon. A good evening meal consists of some red meat, because red meat helps you with strength,' Ross casually recounts. 'It’s roughly 5000 to 6000 calories, about five meals a day.'
At 36 years of age Ross believes that he still has two good years left at the top of the sport and he is determined to continue competing at the very highest level. He doesn't set his sights low.
'World records is what I want to do. I want to attempt the 1100 Raw squat record next. It's been 50 years since it's been broken and if I lift that in March it will be the pinnacle of my career. Hopefully that will make me the strongest man that has ever walked the earth. I also have a jumbo jet pull to do and a tyre lift record to break, so I have three or four records that I want to achieve.'