Licis, the strongest man in the world, lifts stones in the Basque Country

Martins Licis rose to fame three years ago by being voted the World’s Strongest Man. An incomprehensible athlete born in Latvia, Although he has lived in the United States since he was four years old, he measures 1.90 and weighs 150 kilos. A restless guy who is currently making a series of reports on various types of strength sports around the world. He heard about that in a region of Spain there were colossi that lifted heavy stones and had turned his sport into a reference for his countrymen. After expressing his interest in learning about this traditional Basque modality, he was invited by the Abadiño City Council to participate in a stone-raising exhibition, which will take place on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. the festivities of San Blas. After a few days in Euskadi, acclimatizing to the Basque way of working, he rubbed shoulders with ten other local stone lifters, that is to say ‘harrijasotzailes’. Among them will be the Euskadi champion of large stones, the abadiñarra Urdax Magunazelaia.

The mayor, Mikel Garaizabal, has explained that the athlete from the United States is really enjoying different disciplines of Basque rural sports and has promised that, in the show on Sunday, it will be “very nice” to see how Licis measures up against the ‘harrijasotzailes’ in a “very tough” test. This v wants to give international visibility to the lifting of stones. The Ogikiñe and Ostolaza schools support this appointment and the American will also be able to meet the local sokatira team.

The event, which has been called ‘Unknown Strength’, will feature a varied cast of lifters: in addition to Urdax, there will also be the light stone champion, Paulo Azpiazu, recent winner in Iraeta with the Errota Harria; great young U-18 lifters like Imanol Royo and Udane Ostolaza; rookies with excellent brands like Gari Garmendia or Patricia Martín; and other established lifters such as Xabier Gusta, Galarraga, Izagirre and Alex Merlo. The day will be divided into three parts, beginning with heavy lifting by Urdax and Martins, followed by a sample of the different existing stones (125 kg cup, 113 kg cylinder, 128 kg cube, etc.) . The show will close with an open challenge in which whoever lifts the 125-kilo ball the most times in one minute will win. The event will be broadcast live through the YouTube channel of the City Council (InfoAbadiño).

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Licis has achieved a gold medal (2019) and a silver (2022) in the most important Strongman competition in the world, the WSM World Strongest Man; a gold medal (2022), a silver (2019) and a bronze (2020) in the Arnold Strongman Classic, the most outstanding strongman competition at the level of static strength. “I was captivated to see how they raised those masses and that the competition has a great following,” admits the American. “What impresses me the most is the lifting technique,” he adds, and ends: “My dream is to lift 300-kilo cubic stones.”

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