Taming the Husafelt Stone – Former Canadian Strongman Gregg Ernst

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Gregg Ernst v Jamie Reeves
Battle of the Battle Axes

Canadian Strongman Gregg Ernst may not be a name that familiar to today’s current crop of top strongmen.

However this gentle giant competed in the 1991 and 1992 Worlds Strongest Man Competition, against a field of competitors which included 3 men who would win the title of World’s

Gregg Ernst v Jamie Reeves
Battle of the Battle Axes

Strongest Man.

However Strength is only one part of the equation and Gregg is so much more than that, as you will find out.

Phil Burgess: You competed at the 1991 and 1992 World’s Strongest Man competition? What competition/event result means the most to you, and why?

Gregg Ernst:  I believe that in 1992 when I set the Husafel stone record ,beating handily Magnus ver in his home country with their own historic stone, that was the sweetest it got, at least in strongman.

Phil Burgess: Do you still compete at all in Strongman competitions or strength sports?

Gregg Ernst: No, I have not been active in Strongman since 1992.

In Feb. 1993 ,at a bodyweight of 345lbs ,and stronger than ever before by a fair bit, I began having intestinal problems, that actually turned out to be lactose intolerance, but it took a couple years to fully resolve.

I dropped close to 50 lbs before I began to move forward again, and by that time, my life had changed enough that I never got back to it.

Phil Burgess: Have you still stayed in touch with any of those guys you competed against in WSM? And if so who?

Gregg Ernst:  I have not kept up with my strongman friends very much, unfortunately.

Phil Burgess:You hold the record for the heaviest back lift with a live weight, two tonnes of oxen I believe? Tell us more about this?

Gregg Ernst: The Oxen and platform weighed 4420 lbs by official scale, I did this at a local exhibition where teams of oxen compete in pulling.

In Lunenburg county where I live, still a few guys use oxen in farm work, so in the culture here its big, over 10,000 people showed up to see me lift them.

Also, though, in 1993 , I lifted 2 Ford Festivas plus passengers for a total lift of 5340 lbs ,again witnessed by thousands, judged and witnessed by Terry and Jan Todd, both certified to judge world level powerlifting.

This was by certified scale, and done to the specifications of Guiness. This is the most weight officially lifted by a man ever, once you sift through stories of Anderson and Stout Jackson.

Phil Burgess:You also held a record for the Husalfelt Stone Carry of 70 metres which still stands today? What made you so good at this event compared with other competitors?

Gregg Ernst:  The reason I was good at the Husafel stone was because on the farm I lifted a lot of rocks, so it was the one event I trained regularly.

Phil Burgess: In World’s Strongest Man what was it like competing against Magnus ver Magnusson, Ted van der Parre and Jamie Reeves, all WSM winners?  What do you remember the most about them?

A Milky Deadlift..

Gregg Ernst:  Magnus, although he mellowed alot with age, when I knew him he was very intense about winning. When he lost an event, he was really upset, when he won an event, he gloated. It was kind of funny.

Ted, I remember as a serious, thoughtful man . Seemed to have a real sense of decency about him, and a lot of grit. The strong, silent type but still waters run deep.

Jamie was a raconteur, he could tell the most elegant and funny stories, a real ham.

Phil Burgess: What do you think about the current top Canadian Strongmen, how do you rate them?

Gregg Ernst: Hugo Girard was the last guy I paid attention to and he was very good. We don’t watch television at all , so I’ve lost touch with the current guys.

Phil Burgess: Do you have any regrets in your strongman career?

Gregg Ernst: Yes, I have regrets. I wish when carrying the Husafel stone, that I had turned and carried it back the other way when I reached the end of the course. I know I could have made it at least halfway back, and who knows,maybe more.

Also I wish that I had taken the time to put together an event when at a couple of times in my career, I had the strength to exceed 6000 lbs in the backlift. But, life goes on…

Gregg Ernst Strongman
Taming the Beast - The Husafelt..

Phil Burgess: What is your life like now?

Gregg Ernst: I live just outside Lunenburg, NS , a small fishing and tourist town. It’s very picturesque, its a UNESCO world heritage site.

I live on a 100 hectare farm where we keep cattle, horses , chickens and a few pigs.

My wife and I have 10 children ages 25 to 7 who all live at home or close by.

As well we sing as a family and travel a bit with that . Recently we made it to the semi-finals of Canadas Got Talent. 

As well, I am a marine blacksmith and fabricator.

So life is full, at times too full 🙂

You can see more about his life and his lifts in this 1993 TV documentary

Phil Burgess: Finally, what one tip would you give to any new people to the sport of strongman?

Gregg Ernst: My advice would be to have the courage to remain drug free.

I did, and most of my competitors wished that they were, but they were afraid that someone else would cheat and they would lose.

I didn’t win, but can compare my strength legitimately with the giants of the past; Cyr, Saxon, Apollon, Hepburn, all the men in history.

Very few today have the courage to have that satisfaction……

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You can see more about his life and his lifts in this 1993 TV documentary