For my next international strongman interview it was a little nostalgic. Paul Pirjol has won the title of Romania’s
Strongest man in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Twenty-one years ago I visited the beautiful and interesting country of Romania not knowing that a baby that was born in that year would become an International Strongman in the Worlds Strongest Man competition. Enter Paul Pirjol, 21 years old….
PB: Hi Paul
PP: Hi Phil! It’s great to hear that you visited Romania 21 years ago, and you liked it, but there’s been a lot of changes since then. Now Romania has developed alot and people don’t live like then, they have changed their way of thinking. Now Bucharest seems like New York; you know, you can be or do whatever you like, you are free to do almost everything ha ha.
PB: Are you the first Romanian to compete at the Worlds Strongest Man?
PP: Yes I’m the first and the youngest Romanian who ever manage to compete at Worlds Strongest Man. 🙂
PB: How did you get into the sport of Strongman?
PP: My father got me involved in the sport of strongman, which I’m grateful for.
PB: Is the sport of Strongman popular in Romania?
PP: In Romania the sport of strongman is pretty new. The first competition was in 2007 and then the National competitions started a year later in 2008, but we still have another 2-3 competitions beside the Nationals every year.
Despite the fact that strongman is new in Romania, it is very liked by the audience. It is a popular sport and most of the competitiors are recognised by the fans on the street who ask for autographs and pictures.
PB: I note your surname is the same as a place in Romania, Pirjol, are you from there?
PP: Yeah, it’s true, but I was born in Bucharest, but pirjol also means “big fire” in Romanian.
PB: Where do you train at? And what do you love about your gym?
PP: I train in my father’s gym, he owns a bodybuilding gym, and I also train strongman in my house yard where I have most of the equipment I need for strongman.
I also train on my street…It’s funny because most of the time I stop the traffic when I’m doing my training, but the neighbors are Ok, they like to see how big weights are carried!… sometimes they try themselves – ha ha.
PB: You are comparatively young in the sport of international strongman, and are new to it? What challenges have you faced coming into the sport at the top level, and how have you overcome them.
PP: I started strongman training and competitions in 2007 when I was only 16 years old at the national level, and I made my entrance into the international strongman competitions in 2009 after I won the Nationals.
I was really lucky because the Worlds Strongest Man Super Series came for the first time to Bucharest. I was the new Romanian champion and me and my father, we both competed in that Grand Prix.
I’d like to thank Mr. Ulf Bengtsson and Mr. Odd Haugen for introducing me on the international strongman stage.
About the challenges, I think that the simple fact of competing in the top level with the best athletes in strongman is a challenge in itself!
PB: Even at your relatively young age, have you suffered any major injuries, and if so how did you get over them?
PP: When I was just a young boy doing olympic weightlifting, at the age of fourteen, I had a big injury in my lower back and in both of my knees. In fact I had to quit Weightlifting, I had to take approximately 2 years weight training break.
However in this time I did boxing for one year and I became the National Junior Champion. (Editor – stunned!)
After that I got back lifting big weights but this time I started strongman training. Since then I have had no big injuries because my father trains me smart.
PB: Who do you admire the most in the sport of strongman? And why?
PP: In strongman I most admire Zydrunas Savickas because he is an incredibly strong man with a great character.
PB: Who do you go to for advice with the different strongman events?
PP: To be honest I’d ask Colin Brice for advice in strongman events.
PB: It is stated that your best lifts are in the pressing events, what are your best results on the log press?
PP: Yeah, I love pressing events especially log for reps, the fact that I did Weightlifting helps me.
My best result in log lift is 185kg and I did 195 kg Apollons Axle in Giant’s Live Istanbul in 2010. Now I’m training hard to reach 200kg on both events.
I also love carrying events like Husafelt Stone. I also found out that I’m good in Connan’s Wheel, despite the fact that I did it for my first time, I managed to win that event.
PB: In order to win Worlds Strongest Man, how long do you think it will take you to get there? And what improvements do you feel that you need to make?
PP: I don’t actually know how long, nobody can tell the future, but I hope that it will be pretty soon. I really need to improve my deadlifts, this is my weakest exercise, and I also need to gain weight at least 20 kgs, I’m too light weight, I’m only 125kgs at 180cm. (Editor’s note: It is common for international strongman competitors to weigh 140kg plus)
PB: Who is the funniest athlete on the strongman circuit ? and how are they funny?
PP: I think the funniest athlete in strongman is Glenn Ross, I love it when he says “Who’s your daddy?”
PB: What training techniques have you found useful to get you past a sticking point with either the squat, deadlift or bench press?
PP: I don’t know this yet…ha ha 🙂
PB: What lessons did you learn when you competed in the top level in 2011, and what areas are you working to improve on?
In the world’s strongest man competition this year, to be honest, I really learned alot. It was a great experience and fun.
Now I know that I need to gain a lot of weight, to improve my deadlifts, but I also need to work on the throwing events.
PB: What are your goals for 2012?
PP: For 2012, I want to win a Giants Live stage, and I really want to be in the top 10 finalists at the Worlds Strongest Man.
PB: If you could train with any international strongman alive or deceased, who would it be and why?
PP: I would like to train with Svend Karlsen. He was a great champion, I think the most charismatic man who won WSM, and he is a good friend.
PB: If you were stuck on a desert island, what three other international strongmen would you like to be with and why?
PP: Well, I’d like to be with Magnus Samuelsson, Svend Karlsen and Ervin Katona, (you can never get bored with Ervin)
PB: What job do you do when you are not competing?
PP: When I’m not competing I’m at college studying Law, and I work on the weekends as a bouncer in the Bucharest night clubs. I like it because I was going in the clubs with friends almost every weekend, to party; so working as a bouncer I can combine fun with work. I can have fun and get paid for that, and sometimes when it happens to be a fight it’s good because I release the stress accumulated during the week and I can do it all over again the next week. 😉
PB: Thanks for your time
PP: Thanks Phil