Okehampton will host the South West’s first strongman competition this June with over 50 men and women from across the region set to take part in the event.

Chris Knott, a strongman himself, organised the inaugural event after he noticed the ever-increasing popularity of the sport, especially with more women taking part, while he travelled across the country competing.

Having previously run strongman classes and training sessions, Chris decided he would bring the sport back to Okehampton.

He said: ‘I take part in the sport myself and travelling around the country, it’s great the sport is so up and coming at the moment, especially with the introduction to the women over the last few years.

‘It’s more in the public eye than ever. There’s more and more competitions being held everywhere. I used to run classes in Okehampton and it was really popular with men and women.

‘I just thought that Okehampton offers so many cool things as a community but we’ve never done anything like this.

‘Most people have seen strongmen on TV, normally around Christmas, but no one’s ever seen any of these cool things done person, so I wanted to make this competition pretty special.’

So far, a total of 55 strongmen and women have signed up for the competition and will be coming from as far afield as Bristol and Penzance to descend on the Ashbury and Manor House Hotel resort, where the competition will take place, on June 17.

The competition will include a car deadlift, stone lifting, the Conan’s wheel (in which the competitor must lift a heavy weight that pivots around a fixed point and complete as many rotations as possible) and other events.

Both men and women will compete in the same events with only the weights varied to take into account physical differences.

Chris added that, as a new title, lots of competitors were likely to attend to try and win the title of the first South West’s strongest man.

‘It’s a brand new title and everyone likes the bragging rights of that. Everyone wants a cool title for a year,’ he said.

He also explained that spectators were likely to see a wide range of competitors and not just the stereotypical ‘big grizzly bear-looking men.’

Chris said: ‘People will be surprised by the diversity in athletes. Everyone expects these big Hercules or big grizzly bear looking men to accomplish these events. But actually, what you’ll see is some very small slight women and some very athletic looking men.’

Along with the strongman events, the day will also include a hog roast, an outside bar (also serving soft drinks), other food options, and family activities, all set against the Dartmoor backdrop.

Chris added: ‘It’s such a sport that anyone can take by and then it will just be great if one spectator from the day walks away and thinks I’m going to try and take up this new sport.’