Scotland is in the grip of referendum fever, the rest of the UK waits with baited breath to see which way the vote will go.
Will the Scots opt to split the union on September 18th or will they choose to give brand UK a resounding vote of confidence by saying no to independence?
Whichever way our friends north of the border choose to use their vote, we thought it would be interesting to see how Scotland measures up to the rest of the country in the strength stakes. Yes, it’s Scotland v the rest in our very own combat and power sports smack down! Here we take a look at the very best wrestlers, bodybuilders and strongmen from both sides of the border.
In it’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, televised professional wrestling drew up to 16 million viewers from both sides of the border to ITV’s World of Sport. But who would you rather have watched?
England: Giant Haystacks vs. Big daddy
The battle of the bellies, the grudge match of grudge matches, Big Daddy against the biggest of them all, Giant Haystacks.
Famous for his flashy leotards and larger than life persona, Big Daddy’s real name was Shirley Crabtree. Apparently, Shirley’s father decided to give his son a girl’s name to toughen him up. Well it worked. At 64 inches, Big Daddy held the record for the biggest chest on the planet and with his belly barging and trademark ‘Big Splash’ – where he’d fling his 6’6’’ 26 stone 9 lbs frame onto a helpless prone opponent – he was a force to be reckoned with.
In the opposite corner, Giant Haystacks, was 6’11’’ and is reputed to have weighed in at a gargantuan 49 stone. But while in the ring he was cast as the bad guy, in reality he was something of a gentle giant. Still, while both Big Daddy and Haystacks would have benefited from some fat burners and a regime of fitness training and fat loss, their belly offs certainly made for compelling viewing.
Scotland: Andy Robin vs. Hercules
Scotland might have lacked stars of wrestling to match the English giants, but they did have the phenomenon of Scottish wrestler Andy Robin versus his pet grizzly bear!
This was the 1970s, and it was perfectly acceptable to go to your local zoo and return with a bear cub, all for the princely sum of £50. Hercules, as he was named, proved to be an excellent investment.
Andy trained his bear to wrestle, and over the years, his furry companion paid dividends to the tune of millions of pounds.
Not only did people queue up to marvel at the spectacle of man versus bear, but Hercules also appeared on TV and in films. Treated like one of the family, Hercules is reputed to have hated the taste of raw meat – which was great news for Andy Robins!
The Bear wins, but wouldn’t it have been great to watch a tag team showdown!
On to bodybuilding and some brawn from both sides of the border, but which nation produces the best bodies in the sport? Let’s take a look.
Scotland: Ian Lawrence and Sean Connery
Arguably the greatest bodybuilding talent ever produced north of the border, Ian Lawrence was at the peak of his considerable powers during the 1970s.
In fact in 1970 he won the Mr Scotland Contest and five years later went on to win the Mr Europe, Mr World and amateur Mr Universe titles, becoming only the second man in history to complete the grand slam of all three coveted prizes in the same year.
Let’s not forget the most famous scot of all, Sean Connery, who was also once a body builder! The screen legend is said to have taken third spot at the 1953 Mr Universe.
Whether he actually did or not is a source of controversy, but he certainly competed and while he surely wasn’t big enough to have succeeded as a pro bodybuilder, his first forays onto the stage as a muscle man proved to be the gateway to his stellar acting career.
During the competition, the man who would become king of the silver screen, is said to have overheard talk of auditions for South Pacific. The rest as they say, is history.
England: Dorian Andrew Mientjez Yates
Hugely respected as one of the true greats of bodybuilding, Dorian ranks highly in the roll call of all time Mr Olympia champs.
He won six consecutive titles from 1992, putting him fourth behind Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Nicknamed the ‘shadow’, he stayed out of the limelight, only turning up at competitions at the last moment, often taking top spot!
Now owner of a string of gyms, Dorian Yates has consistently turned down opportunities for self promotion through endorsement of products, preferring to maintain his privacy. So he’d be the strong silent type then.
Dorian Yates was an awesome talent, but Scotland has James Bond. Scotland wins!
Lastly we take a look at the world’s strongest men. Who will take the crown on the final showdown?
England: Geoff Capes
A phenomenal sportsman, in his heyday, Geoff Capes was a man mountain.
Standing 6’5.5’’ tall and weighing in at 26 stone, he was first famous for his prowess as a shot putter, and was holder of the British record from 1980 until 2003.
Following his retirement from athletics, Capes made a name for himself as the nation’s most famous strongman…and budgie breeder.
Capes could rip the London telephone directory to shreds and bend inch thick steel bars. But he is perhaps best remembered as the Brit who took not one but two World’s Strongest Man titles.
And as a Highland Games regular, he tossed a pretty mean caber too.
Scotland: Angus MacAskill
We can’t find a scottish athlete who matches up to the class of a Geoff Capes, but casting the net a little wider reveals the man who was arguably the strongest man who ever lived.
We’re talking about the gentle giant, Scottish born, Angus MacAskill (1825 – 1863).
At 7ft 9 and reputed to have weighed in excess of a colossal 35 stones, ‘Black’ Angus is once said to have been spotted lifting a horse over a four foot fence.
Other feats include lifting a 1300 kg anchor to chest height and holding a160 kg barrel under each arm. A fisherman, MacAskill would astound others when instead of bailing the water from his half ton boat, he would simply pick it up and turn it over.
MacAskill is a legend but Geoff Cape’s feats are verified – a victory for the UK
So Scotland wins! But what does this say about the likelihood the Scots will sever their ties with the rest of the United Kingdom? Probably nothing, but perhaps that’s the point. North or south of the border, when the votes are counted, whatever the outcome there’s one thing unites us all: our love of strength sports.