The American superhero film Thor was an instant hit when it was released in 2011, with Chris Hemsworth playing the muscular title character.
In northern Europe, the real Thor was starting to make his own waves.
After beginning a strongman career in his native Iceland in the late 2000s and winning national titles, Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, affectionately known as Thor, first entered the men’s title World’s Strongest (WSM) in 2011.
He wasn’t just there to participate as he finished sixth and he immediately stood out. In other words, it was hard to miss.
At 6ft 9in and weighing 450lbs (that’s just over 32 stone!), Bjornsson is one of the most imposing figures the sport has ever seen, and he was clearly very good as the 22-year-old became the fourth youngest WSM finalist ever. .
Bjornsson lost 50kg from his Strongman era (left) for his fight with Hall (right)
He went down to 335 pounds for his fight with Hall after a strict diet caused him to lose 50 kg.
Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, aka Thor, started out as a strongman before starring in Game of Thrones
Bjornsson played “The Mountain” in five series of the award-winning TV show
The following year, he returned to his form and this time finished third before repeating the feat in 2013.
After taking the world of Strongman by storm, it was time for another challenge, and Bjornsson got his first big acting break when he was asked to play the role of Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane for the fourth season of Game of Thrones.
The popular series wanted someone to take on the role of royal protector after having two separate actors for the first two series, and Bjornsson fit the bill playing from series four to eight.
Game of Thrones had little shortage of physically imposing characters throughout its eight-year run, from 2011 to 2019, but no one could compete with Bjornsson. He was becoming a household name.
Bjornsson’s level of fame had reached new heights and he caught the attention of a man reaching the peak of his powers: Conor McGregor.
The MMA icon was on his way to stardom after a string of knockouts in the UFC, and just months before winning his first world title against Jose Aldo, he invited Bjornsson to his gym for a workout. training.
Bjornsson fought with MMA star Conor McGregor in 2015, appearing in black shoes and a pair of jeans
McGregor has put on a lot of muscle in recent years, but in 2015 he still weighed 145 pounds.
Watching him take on a man three times his weight was a fascinating sight, while there was also a foot between them in terms of size.
The footage from the fight is surreal, with Bjornsson hardly lacking in confidence as he showed up in regular shoes and a pair of jeans.
McGregor, meanwhile, was dripping with sweat, circling around Thor as he attempted to target the body.
There were no head shots – McGregor was only weeks away from the biggest fight of his life – but it was still captivating to see two physical specimens in very different weight classes box and confront each other.
Perhaps this is where Bjornsson acquired a taste for the fighting game he would later become involved in.
But above all, he remained a strong man, and the ultimate WSM crown continued to elude him.
He scored six consecutive podiums between 2012 and 2017 without reaching the top step.
Finally, in 2018, it was Thor’s year as he became the third Icelandic athlete to win the WSM after Jon Pall Sigmarsson and Magnus Ver Magnusson.
The year before, Bjornsson had been trailed by Britain’s Eddie Hall by a single point, but this time he refused to be denied.
Bjornsson finally won the title of World’s Strongest Man in 2018 after six previous podium finishes.
Bjornsson’s rivalry with Eddie Hall (pictured) developed during his Strongman days
Bjornsson then broke Hall’s deadlift world record by lifting 501 kg in 2020.
That close defeat ignited the flame of a rivalry with Hall, however, and their feud escalated when Bjornsson surpassed Hall’s deadlift world record by a single kilogram in 2020, landing a repeat of 501 kg.
The two had gone back and forth in Strongman competitions over the years, but Bjornsson wanted to settle their rivalry in a different way and called for a boxing match with Hall in early 2020. Never one to back down from a challenge, Hall accepted. .
Fans of the couple may have initially thought the fight was a gimmick. How did two men weighing over 400 pounds get into a boxing ring?
Well, Bjornsson quickly realized that he probably couldn’t, and his drastic weight loss program began.
Working under trainers Billy Nelson and Vilhjálmur Hernandez, he drastically reduced his diet and began training twice a day to improve his boxing skills.
If there were concerns that Bjornsson was not taking boxing seriously, he quickly assuaged them by holding exhibition fights.
Thor faced former WBO European lightweight champion Steven Ward in January 2021, then faced former amateur champion Simon Vallily four months later.
He remained active by competing in his first exhibition bout in September 2021, stopping Canadian professional arm wrestler Devon Larratt in one round.
The Covid pandemic delayed his meeting with Hall, but when the grudge match took place on March 19, 2022, Bjornsson was more than ready and looked in great shape.
Having weighed 450lbs in his Strongman days, he tipped the scales at 335lbs for his clash with Hall, meaning he had lost just over 50kg to put himself in prime fighting condition.
Bjornsson almost unrecognizable after losing an incredible 50kg during his strongman days
Bjornsson’s hard work paid off as he defeated Eddie Hall in their grudge match in March 2022.
As he posed for the cameras, Bjornsson looked ripped, with bulging abdominal muscles that hadn’t been visible before.
Bjornsson’s hard work paid off as he came out on top in the fight dubbed “the heaviest boxing match in history.”
Thor showed much more mobility than he did against McGregor seven years earlier, sending Hall to the canvas twice en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Bjornsson hasn’t fought since, but for now he remains undefeated inside the squared circle.
Eighteen months after his victory over Hall, Thor’s next move is unclear. He regularly posts photos of himself working out on Instagram, while continuing to keep himself in excellent shape.
At 34 years old, there’s still a chance he’ll give Strongman one last chance, or perhaps another boxing match will come calling if he finds a worthy opponent.
Bjornsson was also spotted with MMA prospect Gordon Ryan late last year, and the two had a training session together. Could we see Bjornsson enter the cage at some point?
Thor has plenty of options, having proven himself to be the strongest man alive, while also starring in an award-winning television series and defeating his greatest rival in boxing.
He has shown that he can do almost anything when he puts his mind to it, including losing a remarkable amount of weight, to achieve an incredible body transformation over the past decade.