Tom Magee was a wrestler, strongman and powerlifter. He used to bleed through his nose, that was Tom’s trademark. Here’s his back ground story. The following article was published by strongman historian ‘FitGeral’ in 1988 – Mr. Berg
“It was on July the 1st, 1958, that Canada Day celebrations reached a feverish pitch in the home of the MaGee family of Winnipeg, Menitoba. A son had just been born into the family. He was quite sound, disgustingly healthy, yet none could have possibly known that young Thomas MaGee would one day be called the World’s Strongest Man.
When Tom was 5, his family moved to Vancouver and soon after that he eagerly began what has been thus far, a lifetime devotion to physical culture. His beginnings were modest, but that he began at all is a credit to his deep rooted desire to become a strongman.
He excelled in school sports but he stayed away from team activities, preferring to go it along. Gymnastics and judo were among his favorites, but weight training was the foundation upon which everything else was based.
Powerlifting was just beginning to attain international recognition in the early 1970s – it certainly captured MaGee’s attention. He trained harder and more systematically and grow to an impressive 6’5″ and 275 pounds.
In 1981, at the World’s Strongest Man contest in California, he was already an established strength athlete, but was still learning. Conversations with Fred Hatfield helped Magee to zero in on training techniques. He credit Hatfield with helping him to establish training principles which remain as part of his routine today.
MaGee was Canada’s National Powerlifting Champion in 1982, so he traveled to Munich, West Germany, for the ’82 Worlds in November. He lifted as a 125.3 kilos Superheavyweight. His lighter bodyweight would turn out to be the winning advantage.
MaGee went 7 for 9 that day. In the squats he made all three attempts – 738, 771, 799. He made 490 and 518, but missed 534 in the bench. In the deadlift, 722 and 760 went well, 777 didn’t.
A fine 2077 total. The late Wayne Bouvier also made that mark, but at 147.7 kilos. So MaGee became the lightest on that day, if not the lightest super heavy ever, to win a World Championship.
Tom MaGee had arrived. He was, after all, a World Champion. Surprisingly, MaGee did not return the following year to defend his title. He had conquered the world, winning the most prestigious class in powerlifting, and was already looking for new challenges, and found them in strongman competition. His training was devoted to increasing strength and endurance for such contests.
His lifts continued to improve: to an 860 squat, a 573 bench, an 810 deadlift, and a 650 front squat. All of this at a lean ripped 275lb., the weight he has maintained for years.
For three successive years Tom MaGee came to Montreal to enter and eventually win the Mark 10 strongman contest. Many consider this event to be the finest of all the strongman events.
MaGee certainly does. In Montral, MaGee competed against some of the world’s great strength athletes. Among them – Dave Waddington, John Gamble, Doug Furnas – powerlifters all. MaGee had his closest competition from Iceland’s Jon-pall Sigmarsson, but Magee, however close the contest, always came away with the medals and the money!
He has exhibited great courage and determination to do so. MaGee regards these engineered events with greatest respect. They are dangerous and require of the competitor a considerable lack of instinct of self-preservation.
At the 1985 contest MaGee tore abdominals tissue while battling 1800 plus pounds in the platform lift, yet, he still managed his trademark back flip at the end of that event and several more on the way to the championship. He would spend a few days in the hospital recovering – what a price of victory!
Tom MaGee – world champion powerlifter – world champion strongman, admired by fans, respected by fellow competitors for both his strength of body and will. He impressed former professional football player Dave Fennell against whom he competed in the 1st Mark 10 Challenge.
Fennell had been an all star lineman in the Canadian Football League. He arranged a tryout for MaGee with the British Columbia Lions, also of the CFL.
MaGee arrived at training camp unfamiliar with football, never having played it, but he nonetheless impressed the coaches at camp. He had the best results in all of the strength testing. In fact, he was the strongest player they had ever seen. He was also as flexible and quick as any wasp waisted defensive back. His standing vertical jump was an amazing 36 inches.
Oh, how the coaches must have drooled over their new prospect. Unfortunately, they would ultimately decide and MaGee would concur, that not having ever played the game was a decided disadvantage for entry at the professional football level.
Magee’s plentiful physical skills simply could not make up for a lifetime devoted to other athletic endeavors. On top of everything else even MaGee’s physical skills were somewhat reduced due to injury.
Those problems could only deteriorate, as grueling 2 a day practices and exhibition games allowed little time for recovery.
Bill Kazmaier could tell a similar tale. His efforts to make pro football were also hampered by injuries. While football is a game for strong men, it also looks for men skilled in the game itself.
Who is the World’s Strongest Man? Answering that could evoke responses as varied and complex as any philosophical question. Clearly though, while contests all over the world may claim their victors as the World’s Strongest Man, that is, in fact, the problem.
Too many contests these days are making the claim. Certainly the top three right now in the world should be Kaz, Magee and Sigmarsson.
All have competed in the Mark 10 challenge, but never all three at the same contest.
In 1987, Kaz was well ahead of Sigmarsson. In 1986, MaGee beat Sigmarsson. Kaz and MaGee have yet to tangle in this contest. If the Mark 10 contest is the best test, of many possible ones, to determine who the World’s Strongest Man really is, then we won’t know who will wear the ultimate crown until Kaz and MaGee settle things.
Kaz felt his performance was sub-par in 1987 at the Mark 10 and he says he’ll do better in 1988.
Magee has great respect for the Kaz, and I would imagine the feelings are mutual. The two almost met last year, but MaGee added another wrinkle to his athletic career. He joined the World Wrestling Federation, and Vince McMahon would not permit him to engage in strongman competitions.
MaGee has reached an age when tangible benefits like money are an important factor. The fame is nice, but bashing the beans out of one’s body year after year – after all, it might be nice to make decent money doing it.
MaGee earned none in powerlifting. Few do, even as a world champion and he didn’t make as much as he wanted to as a professional strongman. Professional wrestling affords MaGee the opportunity for self gratification and a decent living, and that’s the way MaGee wants it.
A gymnastic background, combined with judo, kick-boxing, years of weight training and a talent to entertain, all of that and a body built to be shown off, make MaGee and professional wrestling as natural a combination as you’ll ever find in the somewhat wacky world of that sport. MaGee intends to blaze his own trail though. He intends to take an athletic approach to selling his body, a wise decision considering his vast athletic ability. He say we’ll be seeing him soon, within a year, on US TV, doing back flips off the top rope, still at 275 pounds.
What has made MaGee so successful is his outstanding athletic ability. That athleticism, as he has clearly demonstrated, has not been limited to strength alone. Speed, flexibility, even endurance, are a function of his performance.
Weightlifter, strongman, and now wrestler. Regardless of the forum, the same MaGee. For those of us who have seen him perform, it is as a strongman that MaGee has made his greatest impression.
Just when you think there is no way he can master the task at hand…the wheelbarrow loaded with close to 3,000 pounds is just too heavy, or the platform lift bar with more than 1800 pounds won’t budge another inch, MaGee surprises you, and with blood gushing from the nose, he overcomes.”
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