Geoff Capes: Britain’s Strongman Pioneer

In the early 70s the britain were forced to take a back seat when it came to producing men of immense size and strength. America ruled in this area. But thankfully their domination came to an end. 

The former Huntington policeman, Geoffrey Lewis Capes, had climbed to the top. In less than a decade, Geoff Capes had put Britain back on the map, not only in shot putting, but also in events requiring great strength and size.

He was a policeman and used to breed budgerigars in his spare time. Geoff was an allround athlete. Strength, speed, co-ordination and the desire to be number one!

Capes was born in 1949 in Holbeach, Lincolnshire, the seventh of nine children. Geoff’s interest in athletic began at school, thanks to his physical education master who saw the natural potential that was already evident.

In 1965, at the age of 16 he weighed 225 pounds with the following measurements.

Chest 46 inches, biceps 18 inches, neck 17 1/2 inches, thigh 27 inches, calf 17 inches, waist 34 inches

The same year he began weight training four times a week in an effort to fill out his large boned frame, for although possessing natural size and strength, he lacked the bulk so necessary for throwing and lifting. His training shedule at the time was as follows.

Monday: Benchpress
Tuesday: Bench press and seated presses
Wednesday: Shot training 100 putts per session
Thursday: running two to three miles for stamina
Friday: Bench press, squat, abdominals and incline dumbbells
Saturday: competition
Sunday: short sprints

Geoff’s only attempt on the Olympic lifting won him the title of the North Midlands Junior Champion for 1970 with a 772lb total. 


As a strongman, he twice won the title of World’s Strongest Man (1985 and 1983).

He was also particularly known for his incredible hand and arm strength. He was able to tear London telephone directories in half and to bend steel bars.

Capes turned fully professional in 1980. He had already begun to make a name as a strongman. In 1979 he won the title Britain’s Strongest Man and in 1980 he won the Europe’s Strongest Man. Thus he was invited to the 1980 World’s Strongest Man and became third behind Bill Kazmaier and Lars Hedlund.

In 1981 he returned and placed second, again behind Kazmaier. In 1982 he came fourth.

The 1983 contest was the first held outside the United States and in New Zealand he held off the challenge of a world class field including the young Jon Pall Sigmarsson.

Geoff won the 1983 Strongman Competition.

But in 1984 Jon Pall Sigmarsson took the title and proclaimed “The King hast lost his crown!”.
Capes retorted “I will be back” and the following year Capes won the title! After winning he said: “The King has not lost his crown.”

Geoff’s best lifts

  • Bench Press – 300 kg (661 lb) raw
  • Squat – 380 kg (836 lb) raw
  • Deadlift – 454.5 kg (1,000 lb) from height of 18 inches

For years he had been a world ranked shot putter and strongman, representing his country more times than any other athletes during this time period.

Since his retirement he was very busy with his Health and Fitness Centre. The centre has multigyms, sunbeds, saunas, cycling and rowing machines, jacuzzi pool and thermaspa. This was his base with his busy excursions to the Highland Games and of course the Strongest Man contests.

Today he is 69 years old and one of his interests is breeding budgerigars. He is still involved in strength sport as a referee, event promoter and coach.

Strength Athlete -August September 1986

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