In the current strongman pantheon, Canada’s Mitchell Hooper is unquestionably the most dominant. The athlete is the reigning World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion and has, at minimum, finished on the podium in 10 consecutive strongman competitions. (Note: He has only competed in 11 professional contests.) The superstar is preparing to add even more to his trophy case very soon.
On July 12, 2023, Hooper appeared in a video on 2016 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) Laurence Shahlaei’s YouTube channel, where he documents part of his preparation for the 2023 Shaw Classic (SC). The contest takes place on August 19-20, 2023, in Loveland, CO. Shahlaei helps train Hooper in the video, and the workout has Hooper polishing up his bench press, log lift, sandbag throw, and chest press. At the approximate 13:10 mark of the video below, Hooper successfully locks out a 210-kilogram (463-pound), three-rep bench press for a new personal record (PR).
There is a completely bench press-centric event at the 2023 SC, making Hooper’s display of an upper-body milestone an excellent sign for his chances in the competition. In the sole SC appearance of his career in 2022, the strongman finished in third place to two-time defending champion Trey Mitchell (2021-2022) and the contest’s legendary eponymous competitor, Brian Shaw (second place).
Per Hooper, the bench press hasn’t usually been one of his strengths in the past.
“I’m probably the most nervous about this one (the Bench Press event) at the Shaw Classic,” Hooper explained. “I don’t think I’m a good bench presser. I think a lot of my overhead strength comes from my legs.”
Hooper had a three-contest winning streak to start the 2023 strongman season that was snapped with a third-place result at the 2023 Giants Live Strongman Classic (GLSC). The athlete will undoubtedly be seeking an emphatic way of putting himself back into the winner’s column at the 2023 SC. A Hooper win would also notably keep the iconic Shaw from a triumph in his last-ever strongman competition.
Hooper didn’t appreciate falling short at the 2023 GLSC:
“The longer the third place [at the 2023 GLSC] sits with me, the longer I [expletive] hate it,” Hooper said. “Losing really doesn’t really sit right with me.”
Here’s the roster of strongman competitors at the 2023 SC, including Hooper:
2023 Shaw Classic Roster
- Trey Mitchell (United States) — Reigning two-time Champion
- Brian Shaw (United States) — 2022 runner-up
- Mitchell Hooper (Canada) — 2022 third place
- Tom Stoltman (United Kingdom)
- Luke Stoltman (United Kingdom)
- Oleksii Novikov (Ukraine)
- Bobby Thompson (United States)
- Adam Bishop (United Kingdom)
- Graham Hicks (United Kingdom)
- Pavlo Nakonechnyy (Ukraine)
- Thomas Evans (United States)
- Maxime Boudreault (Canada)
- Kevin Faires (United States)
- Aivars Šmaukstelis (Latvia)
- Evan Singleton (United States)
- *Gavin Bilton (United Kingdom) | *Replaces Mateusz Kieliszkowski
Of the overall 2023 SC roster, Hooper figures to be one of the favorites alongside Mitchell and Shaw. Dark horses might include former two-time WSM champion Tom Stoltman and 2020 WSM champion Oleksii Novikov.
No matter what happens at the 2023 SC, Hooper has firmly established himself as a household name in strongman. Part of what makes him so great is that he will likely push full throttle for another victory regardless of a well-earned reputation.
Featured image: Big Loz Official on YouTube