This massive Texan man-mountain tips the scale at 380 pounds, wears Shaq-size shoes, and hoovers 5000 calories a day. Mark Henry has rocked the worlds of powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and the WWE.
The combined poundage of Henry's best official lifts in the bench press, squat, deadlift, snatch, and clean-jerk register higher than anyone on the planet. Legendary strongman
Bill Kazmaier told strength bible Muscle & Fitness magazine that Henry's "one of the strongest men in the history of the world, without a doubt."
I went tete-a-tete with a man who puts the hug back in "huge".
How you doing, tough guy?
Making it man, making it.
Did you always want to be the strongest man in the world?
I wanted to be the strongest guy, period. When you're a little kid, you don't think about the world, you think, "I'm the strongest kid on my block," and I WAS the strongest kid on the block. I was like, "man, I'm pretty cool."
Whether it was adults, kids, teenagers, whatever, I'd challenge people all the time. I'd say, "c'mon let's wrestle." We'd wrestle in the grass, I'd throw people down, pin'em, and hold'em down, and they'd be like, "hey man, this kid is strong, man."
It got to a point that every man wanted to challenge me. I was the judge of who was good or not.
So it was cool being the strongest kid in Texas?
It had its advantages and its disadvantages. There's a point, when you're a kid, that kids are cruel. They'll ridicule you for being big, and if I did something, which was often like pummeling some kid, then they really got hurt, and parents came to the school.
"Mark shouldn't be playing with the other kids. He hurts the kids, and her son's arm is broke."
Kids didn't always play with me because they thought I would hurt them, but the best part was that I got a lot of attention, and I was a ham.
So how'd you get into pumping serious iron?
I saw the Olympics in 1976 and I knew, watching Vasily Alexeyev, that I was going to be a lifter, because the crowd threw roses at him. He had such a dominant personality–besides being such a great lifter people genuinely loved him because he was a stereotypical jovial big guy who smiled and cracked jokes. Seeing him, I knew it was my destiny.
And you met Andre the Giant as a kid, right?
I grew up in East Texas. We'd drive to Beaumont—20 miles from where I grew up in Silsbee—and go to the matches.
Andre was wrestling, and I wanted to see a Giant. He was my favourite, and I wanted to touch him as he was walking down the aisle, but I tripped over the barricade.
Andre saw me with my feet hanging over the top of the barricade and my hands on the floor, so he picked me up, and he put me back on the other side of the barricade.
I was a big kid. It wasn't like I was a normal sized kid. [Henry was already pushing 200 pounds by fourth grade]
How much can you bench?
I can do close to 600 pounds, but the bench press is the most limited, and the least functional of all the lifts. I've squatted 1006 lbs, and I've deadlifted 900 lbs consistently, which is my forte. There have been very few 900 lb deadlifters, ever.
Did you have a strength guru who helped pump you up?
One of the best trainers that I had was a famous Canadian wrestler, Leo Burke. Leo taught me a lot. He taught me how to be a professional. He taught me that longevity is the key; the study of that game was his number one teaching.
Are you as big a hit with women as you are with weights?
If girls weren't afraid of me I guess I would be.
Would you fight Mike Tyson for a Pay-Per-View special?
Yeah, if the money was right. What you got to understand is that in a fight, Mike Tyson would not have a chance. In boxing, he'll knock my ass out because there's rules.
Mike is like 217-220lbs. If I grabbed him and threw him into something, it would hurt him real bad, and that's what a fight is.
A fight has no rules, where you use everything you can to your advantage. For him to hit me, he would have to get close enough to hit me. He won't run, so if he don't run then he's putting himself in a lot of danger.
Popeye has his spinach, and Pac Man has his power pills, what food gets you primed?
It would have to be corn bread. I'm from the south, so home cooking is what gets us going. As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to have home cooking for lunch; fried catfish.
Yum. There's so many strongman competitions out there, which one best measures strength?
It hasn't been created yet. The Arnold Classic, which I won in 2002, is getting there, but there needs to be a series all-year-round, like in car racing, where there are a bunch of events that you get points for, and then at the end of the year [whoever is on top] is established as the champ.
Ever consider getting together with the worlds fastest man, and the worlds smartest man, and starting your own real-life super hero team?
Hee, hee, hee…that would be awesome: the League of Gifts.
Since you acquired the Strongest Man in the World title, has anyone ever called you out in a bar or on the street and challenged you to a fight?
Only when they're drunk. When people get drunk they pick on me, otherwise I'm left alone.
This story of mine first ran in November 2003 in the now defunct REV magazine
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