Bjornsson hoped to succeed as a basketball player

“You can have the best coaches in the world, but that doesn’t make you a champion. You have to work on it yourself. I’m going to be completely obsessed with all things improvement.

There is a glimpse into the state of mind, from an interview in 2019, that made Hafthor Bjornsson one of the best strongmen in history, a well-known actor and now a boxer.

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Thor has won numerous strongman tournaments during his career

At 32, Thor has already accomplished so much in his career and is preparing to take the next leap when he steps into the boxing ring – he even got into a fight with Conor McGregor.

He was supposed to face rival Eddie Hall on September 19, but an injury at Hall put him off. Instead, he’ll fight a man called Devon Larratt, supposedly the best arm wrestler of all time.

Thor, the 2018 World’s Strongest Man winner, who has Bell’s palsy with one side of his face paralyzed, seems superhuman at times. And you would need superhuman strength to lift 501 kg, which is a world record.

But early in his life, the Icelandic native dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player.

You can see that he had many attributes being 6ft 9in and strong to go with it. He played for his country at the junior level and for Division 1 teams in Iceland, before that dream came to an end at the age of 19.

ESPN

Bjornsson hoped to succeed as a basketball player

“I knew when I was a kid that I was a strong boy. I always like to lift things, like stones. I did push-ups and push-ups, probably every day, ”Bjornsson explained in an interview.

“My grandfather was a farmer for over 30 years and I spent many summers as a child on his farm.

“I started playing basketball when I was 12 years old. My father drove me to the first class because I was too afraid to go alone.

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“I played for the Icelandic national team for my age group. We did pretty well.

“My goal has always been to become a professional basketball player, but that dream didn’t go far. I broke my ankle twice. I had to undergo two surgeries, it ended my career. I was 19.

“I started hitting the weight room more. Just pushing your body to the limit, how much muscle mass and strength and size I was putting on, I got hooked.

“Getting stronger every time you go to the gym the feeling of getting better was just great and I couldn’t stop.”

Bjornsson was the first man to win the World's Strongest Man, the Arnold Strongman Classic and the World's Ultimate Strongman.

. – Contributor

Bjornsson was the first man to win the World’s Strongest Man, the Arnold Strongman Classic and the World’s Ultimate Strongman.

Thor met the world’s strongest quadruple man Magnus Ver Magnusson in 2008, which set him on the path to a great career in the sport.

He has won Iceland’s strongest man for the past ten years, Europe’s strongest man five times and the Arnold Strongman Classic for three consecutive years between 2018 and 2020.

Thor has been remarkably consistent in the World’s Strongest Man competition, finishing second or third for six straight years before finally winning it in 2018.

He admitted to using steroids to get better, however, in an interview with ESPN.

“Yeah, I did,” Bjornsson said in the 2017 interview when asked about steroids. “When you want to be the best, you do whatever it takes.”

Bjornsson broke the deadlift world record, previously set by Hall in 2017

Rogue Fitness (YouTube)

Bjornsson broke the deadlift world record, previously set by Hall in 2017

Thor became a household name when he was cast to play Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane in the fourth season of Game of Thrones.

He continued to play the role until its conclusion in season eight.

Now Bjornsson is going to step into the boxing ring, which was a new kind of training.

It took a while to get used to receiving a punch in the face, ”he told talkSPORT.

Thor looks great, but will have to wait to fight Hall

YouTube – Hafthor Bjornsson

Thor looks great, but will have to wait to fight Hall

Thor admitted he hadn't felt so

Thor admitted he hadn’t felt so “light and skinny” in years.

“Of course, absolutely! The first reaction you’ll do is look away and close your eyes.

“This is exactly what you are not supposed to do. You should have your eyes fully open and looking forward.

“The automatic response from anyone who’s not used to being punched in the face makes you flinch or close their eyes.”

Thor's body transformation has been quite remarkable as he prepares to continue his boxing career

Thor’s body transformation has been quite remarkable as he prepares to continue his boxing career

“Over time, you learn and you get used to being hit in the face. It took me a few months to get used to it.

He’s understandably disappointed not to be facing Hall where they could settle their beef.

Bjornsson had accused the Briton, along with referee Colin Bryce, of cheating to win the 2017 World’s Strongest Man final at the Viking Press.

However, video evidence uploaded to Hall’s YouTube channel appears to dismiss the Icelandic’s claims.

Bjornsson lost weight for fun in anticipation of facing Hall, his world's strongest man rival

Instagram @thorbjornsson

Bjornsson lost weight for fun in anticipation of facing Hall, his world’s strongest man rival

Thor gained four sets of experience in his last exhibition in June

Thor gained four sets of experience in his last exhibition in June

Their feud continued, however, and it was to be settled in the ring.

Thor has lost a lot of weight as he prepares for battle, transforming his body from a strongman ready to that of a fighter.

He had two exhibition fights in the run-up to the event, getting shaken by British boxer Simon Vallily more recently.

All eyes will be on him on Saturday and I hope his fans can see him against Hall in 2022.

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