Hafthor Bjornsson had basketball dream shattered at 19, became World’s Strongest Man, played The Mountain in Game of Thrones, sparred Conor McGregor and now Thor is on road to settling score with rival Eddie Hall in the boxing ring

“You can have the best coaches in the world, but that doesn’t make you a champion. You have to work for it yourself. I’m going to be completely obsessed with everything that concerns getting better.”

There’s a glimpse into the mindset, from an interview in 2019, that has made Hafthor Bjornsson one of the best strongmen in history, a well-known actor and now boxer.

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Thor has won numerous strongman tournaments over his career[/caption]

At 32, Thor has achieved so much already in his career and is preparing to take the next leap when he enters the boxing ring – he’s even sparred with Conor McGregor.

He was supposed to face strongman rival Eddie Hall on 19 September, but an injury to Hall has postponed that. Instead, he will fight a man called Devon Larratt, supposedly the best arm wrestler of all time.

Thor, a World’s Strongest Man winner in 2018, who has Bell’s Palsy with one side of his face paralysed, appears superhuman at times. And you would need superhuman strength to deadlift 501kg, which is a world record amount.

But in his early life, the Iceland native had dreams of becoming a professional basketball player.

You can see he had many of the attributes being 6ft 9in and strong to go with it. He played for his country at junior level and for Division 1 teams in Iceland, before that dream was cruelly ended at age 19.

Bjornsson had hopes of making it as a basketball player
ESPN

“I knew as a kid I was a strong boy. I always like to lift things, like stones. I did push ups and chin ups, probably every day,” Bjornsson explained in one interview.

“My grandfather was a farmer for over 30 years and I spent a lot summers in my childhood on his farm.

“I started to play basketball when I was 12 years old. My dad drove me to the first class because I was too afraid to go by myself. 

“I played for the national Icelandic team for my age group. We did pretty well.

“My goal was always to become a professional basketball player, but that dream didn’t go far. I broke my ankle twice. Had to have two surgeries, that ended my career. I was 19 years old.

“I started to hit the weight room more. Just pushing your body to the limit, how much muscle mass, strength and size I was putting on, I got hooked there.

“Getting stronger every time you hit the gym, the feeling to become better was just great and I couldn’t stop.”

Bjornsson was the first man to win World’s Strongest Man, The Arnold Strongman Classic, and World’s Ultimate Strongman
Getty – Contributor

Thor met four-time World’s Strongest Man Magnus Ver Magnusson in 2008, which set him on a path to a great career in the sport.

He has won Iceland’s Strongest Man for the last ten years, Europe’s Strongest Man five times and the Arnold Strongman Classic for three straight years between 2018 and 2020.

Thor was remarkably consistent in the World’s Strongest Man competition, finishing either second or third for six straight years before he finally won it in 2018.

He did admit to using steroids to get better, though, in an interview with ESPN.

“Yes, I have,” Bjornsson says in the 2017 interview when asked about steroids. “When you want to be the best, you do whatever it takes.”

Bjornsson broke the deadlift world record, previously set by Hall in 2017
Rogue Fitness (youTube)

Thor became a household name when he was cast to play Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane in the fourth season of Game of Thrones.

He continued playing the role all the way until its conclusion in season eight.

Now, Bjornsson will take to the boxing ring, which was a new kind of training.

It took some time to get used to getting punched in the face,” as he explained to talkSPORT.

Thor looks in great shape, but will have to wait to fight Hall
YouTube – Hafthor Bjornsson
Thor admitted he hasn’t felt this ‘light and skinny’ in years

“For sure, absolutely! The first reaction you are going to do is look away and close your eyes.

“That’s exactly what you are not supposed to do. You should have your eyes completely wide open and look forward.

“The automatic response from anyone not used to getting punched in the face, you flinch or close your eyes.

Thor’s body transformation has been quite remarkable as he prepares to continue his career in boxing

“With time, you learn and getting used to being punched in the face. It took me a few months to get used to that.”

He’s naturally disappointed not to be facing Hall where they could settle their beef.

Bjornsson had accused the Brit, along with referee Colin Bryce, of cheating to win the 2017 World’s Strongest Man finals during the Viking Press.

However, video evidence uploaded to Hall’s YouTube channel appeared to dismiss the Icelander’s claims.

Bjornsson has shed pounds for fun in anticipation of facing his World Strongest Man rival Hall
Instagram @thorbjornsson
Thor gained four rounds of experience in his most recent exhibition in June

Their feud continued, though, and it was going to be sorted out in the ring.

Thor has dropped a serious amount of weight as he prepares for the fight, transforming his body from being strongman ready to that of a fighter.

He has had two exhibition bouts in the build-up to the event, getting rocked by British boxer Simon Vallily most recently.

All eyes will be on him on Saturday and then hopefully his fans get to see him against Hall in 2022.