The 2023 World’s Strongest Man competition was held in Myrtle Beach, SC, from April 19-23, and the conclusion saw a new champion win his first title.
Mitchell Hooper of Canada is in his second full season as a strongman, and he won the championship in his second attempt. He was eighth in his WSM debut in 2022. Last year’s winner, two-time champion Tom Stoltman finished in second place, and 2020 winner Oleksii Novikov came in third. It’s the second straight year that a champion was joined by two former champions on the podium.
The man known as both “Moose” and “Super Hooper” was in the overall lead over two-time defending champion Tom Stoltman going into the final event – the Atlas Stones. The contestants had to pick up five stones ranging from 330 to 460 pounds and place them on their podiums in the fastest time possible. Stoltman won the event by three seconds over Hooper, but Hooper placed second and had a cushion on the overall points lead that allowed him to clinch the championship.
The final placings for the ten finalists are below.
1st – Mitchell Hooper
2nd – Tom Stoltman
3rd – Oleksii Novikov
4th – Trey Mitchell
5th – Evan Singleton
6th – Pavlo Kordiyaka
7th – Brian Shaw
8th – Luke Stoltman
9th – Matthew Ragg
10th – Jaco Schoonwinkel
Hooper Made History
Aside from being the 24th different athlete to win World’s Strongest Man since the contest started in 1977, Hooper is the first Canadian to hold the title. He also won the 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic in Columbus, OH in March. He’s the first man to hold both titles at the same time since Hafthor Bjornsson pulled the feat off in 2018.
Hooper is a physical therapist by trade as well as a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Canada. The 27-year-old wasn’t the largest man in the competition, either. At 6’4” and 320 pounds, he’s a big boy, but he was facing a champion in Stoltman that stands 6’8” and weighs over 400 pounds. He had also competed in ice hockey, marathons, and powerlifting before entering the sport of strongman. Less than two years after he fully committed to the sport, Hooper’s won both of the top titles in the same calendar year.
Among Hooper’s greatest feats during the week in Myrtle Beach were winning the Vehicle Pull event by pulling a 51,000-foot bus down a course 25 meters long in 30 seconds, carrying a 432-pound shield for 64 meters, and deadlifting a bar with two KNAACK metal containers on it weighing over 780 pounds for eight reps. Hooper placed either first or second in five of the six final events and all four of the opening heats that he was in, which narrowed the original field from 30 to 10.
This was the final World’s Strongest Man for four-time winner Brian Shaw, who is in his final season as a competitor. His final contest overall will be his own Shaw Classic, which is set for Aug. 19-20 in Loveland, CO.
At age 57, strongman legend Mark Felix also made his last appearance in this contest. He was 30 years senior over the new champion and made his record 18th appearance in the contest, but he failed to advance to the finals. The WSM promoters named both Shaw and Felix the inaugural co-winners of the KNAACK Tools of the Strongman award.