Burkina Faso: Strongman who used to be bullied breaks world record for log lifting

Mildred Europa Taylor September 22, 2021
Strongman Iron Biby -- OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT AFP/File

A Burkina Faso sportsman on Saturday broke the world record for log lifting at the Giants Live World Tour Finals in Scotland. Cheick Ahmed al-Hassan Sanou, also known as Iron Biby, lifted a 229kg (36st 1lb) log over his head at the competition, breaking the previous world record of 228kg.

The 29-year-old, who dedicated his trophy to Burkina Faso, was given a heroic welcome as he returned to his country on Monday. Fans crowded at the airport waving banners reading “You are the pride of the entire nation” and “Bravo champion”, to welcome him, the AFP reported. A video of his win on Instagram has had more than 116,000 likes.

“It’s a big deal for me because I have been trying to beat this world record since 2018,” Iron Bibi said after meeting Sports Minister Dominique Nana, according to AFP. “The Burkina Faso flag has triumphed,” Sports Minister Nana also said, RFI reported.

“Thanks to him, people know of Burkina Faso and our flag is flying even in parts where you would never expect it. And also thanks to him, the name of Burkina Faso and his name are in the Guinness Book of Records,” a fan, Taleb Kangamba, told AFP.

Iron Biby has gone from the boy who was bullied for being fat, to one of the strongest men in the world. Born in 1992, Iron Biby realized when he was five that he was different from his siblings due to his weight. His interest has always been in sports and was readily available for any sporting competition at school.

“I wanted to be a sprinter – I had a bit of speed even though I was big.

“But whenever I ran, and my body would wobble, the kids at school would laugh so much and point at me calling me ‘Fat Boy’. It was as if I was entertainment to them, so I gave up on that – but I never stopped wanting to be an athlete,” he told BBC.

He wanted to do gymnastics too, as he loved the idea of doing flips and acrobatic feats but was met again with bullying due to the sounds his body would make when it hit the floor. Iron Biby did not know how strong he was until his teenage years when he threw one of his tormentors across a room.

“I was frustrated – I said: ‘Leave me alone,’ and pushed him away, but he flew across the room and he was shocked. I was shocked too, but I knew that day that I had some power – he never bothered me again.”

But Iron Biby was still not satisfied and even went ahead to ask for a slimming device from his brother who had then traveled to Canada. His brother could not get him the device and he became desperate as he was still big. At age 17, Iron Biby was sent to Canada to continue his secondary education, where he joined a gym in a bid to lose weight. He was selected as part of a basketball team, and he soon realized that his strength and weight endeared him to both his teammates and coaches. He did not, however, get obsessed with weight training until university.

Iron Biby subsequently became a star within the local gym circuit. He entered his very first powerlifting competition in 2013 and won it, followed by another victory in the national championship later that same year. He entered into other international contests and went ahead to beat some big names at their favorite events.

He became the world log lift champion in 2018 and retained the title the following year. Besides the log lift record, he holds the Guinness World Record for most overhead presses in one minute — of a person, according to AFP. In July, he broke the world “axle press” record at the 2021 Strongman Classic in London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Last Edited by:Francis Akhalbey Updated: September 23, 2021


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