In celebration of tomorrow’s Juneteenth holiday, I’ve published a new Feature over at The Strongman Project all about the life and strength career of Mark Henry. In a 2009 blog post titled “Broad Shoulders,” Terry Todd explains his detailed method for accurately measuring the width of Mark Henry’s shoulders. In the post’s final sentence, he wrote, “As for Mark, he may not be the broadest, but he’s a real shadow-caster,” a clever and playful description of Mark’s prodigious size. Mark very accurately fits the bill, both in physicality and personality.
Mark is one of the Iron Game’s greatest lifters and, in my opinion, likely the strongest man in history. What I came to appreciate most about Mark’s athleticism was his balance and flexibility. Weighing around 400 pounds, he had the explosiveness to dunk a basketball on a regulation goal and he was also nimble enough to drop into a full split. His career seemed to have similar flexibility. He was able to train interchangeably at the powerlifts and Olympic lifts while successfully competing in both sports. When there was doubt to his ability as a strongman, Mark took time away from his wrestling career to prepare for and compete in the Arnold Strength Summit, now known as the Arnold Strongman Classic. He dominated the competition, was a persistent record breaker, and he did it all drug free.
I want to express my gratitude to Mark who graciously agreed to talk to me through texts and phone calls as I researched his career and wrote the text for this Feature. I also want to encourage everyone to take time this weekend not just to celebrate the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, but to find ways to learn, understand, and grow as we continue the ongoing task of working to make our country more just. The University of Texas Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) have created a webpage with links to many learning opportunities and events–Here is a link to that webpage. Lastly, I’d like to conclude this post by wishing a very happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including mine, Danny Martin, who also turned 70 years young on Tuesday.