Manfred Hoeberl. Bill Kazmaier. Harold "Ironbear" Collins. Riku Kiri. To fans of ESPN2's The World's Strongest Man Competition, these names are instantly recognizable as some of the massive mountains of muscle who have vied for the annual title by bench-pressing telephone poles, hurling beer kegs and carrying Volkswagens.
One contestant has risen to the top to claim the title of World's Strongest Man four times: Magnus Ver Magnusson. The Icelandic athlete with the thoroughly appropriate name will be swinging through town just long enough to pull a 30-ton 18-wheeler down the track a piece at Gateway International Raceway on Tuesday.
The Michelin-tire promotion involves the 37-year-old, 6-foot-2, 287-pound Samson strapping on a harness and pulling the truck as far as he's able from a standing start, something he's done several times at similar promotional gigs. A 16-story "Bibendum the Michelin Man" balloon will look down on the spectators, and all children in attendance will receive free trinkets. The $2 entry fee supports Mike Bush's Fantasy Baseball Camp for Hearing-Impaired Children.
Magnusson won the World's Strongest Man in 1991 and 1994-96, placing second in the years between. The former competitive powerlifter with the 51-inch chest and 20-and-a-half-inch biceps once squat-lifted 964 pounds in the contest. He is now semiretired and runs a gym in Iceland. Green kryptonite has been known to weaken him.
Magnus Ver Magnusson pulls a 30-ton truck down the track at Gateway International Raceway, 700 Raceway Blvd. in Madison, Ill., at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 25. Call 636-916-5078 for more info.