The Queen Bee of American Strongmen – Dione Wessels

Dione Wessels and her good friend Mark Henry
Dione Wessels and her good friend Mark Henry

In a sport dripping in testosterone, it is perhaps a little surprising that the head of the two largest strongman organisations in the USA is a lady, Dione Wessels.

Dione Wessels calls the shots over the sport of strongman, so we caught up with her to find out what makes her tick…

Dione Wessels and her good friend Mark Henry
Dione Wessels and her good friend Mark Henry

Phil Burgess: How did you get involved in the world of strength sports in the first place?

Dione Wessels:  I got involved in strength sports for the simple joy of competing.

I gave body building a try, but didn’t really like the diet restrictions so after competing in body building several times, I switched to Powerlifting.

I have had the World record in the squat and deadlift at 402# each, competing with AAPF.

I got involved with strongman for several reasons.

  1. I loved and still love the sport
  2. I saw a future that the previous owner didn’t see or could obtain.
  3. I was trying to find a career outside of teaching or counselling where I could find work, but stay home with my daughter.

Phil Burgess: What are your current roles?  And what does each of these roles entail?

Dione Wessels: I am CEO/owner of North American Strongman (NAS) and American Strongman Corporation (ASC).

NAS is the amateur strongman/feeder and grassroots to the ASC which is the pro strongman.

They entail non-stop work, tons of travel, saying “no” a lot!!, and taking risks and being disliked by many. 🙂

Phil Burgess: How many strongman events do you run in the US, and do you think there are enough competitions being run?

Dione Wessels:  On the amateur side, we have an average of 130 events per year.  On the Professional side 5-8 events.

We don’t necessarily need more events, but rather more promoters working together as opposed to against each other.  Then we will really see growth and more money for the athletes.

Phil Burgess:  Some people may think that in a male dominated sport that it is strange to have a woman in charge?

Dione Wessels: Yes, I am often called “sir”.

Phil Burgess: However do you think being a woman actually helps?

Dione Wessels: Sometimes yes, sometimes, NO.

Some guys have an ego in which they would rather go against the system in ALL ways as opposed to working with.

Hard at work during a competition.

Phil Burgess: Perhaps you put up with less crap than a guy would?

Dione Wessels: I would say I put up with my fair share of crap, the difference is I don’t let others realize I am putting up with their crap!

Phil Burgess: Strongman seems to be rising a surge of popularity in the US at the moment, what do you think needs to happen to continue this surge? And what do you see as risks?

Dione Wessels: 

  • Working together, both internationally as well as Worlds Strongest Man.
  • Have a qualified feeder system of quality in order to get quality athletes.

The risks are working against each other with all promoters trying to feed out of the same bowl, therefore the money is scarce to the athletes

Phil Burgess: When setting up events how do you think the mix should be between events which “normal people” would find entertaining, versus events which hardcore strongmen/fans love doing/watching?

Dione Wessels: Yes, the events need to be something  the public can relate to.

Everyone knows a car is heavy, but to the general public, an axle can be deceiving since the concept of weight added to the end is different for most.

Phil Burgess:  Does Strongman need to build personalities in the same way that wrestling does? In order to grow the sport?

Dione Wessels: YES!!!!!!!!!!!

Phil Burgess: What is the dumbest thing you have seen a strongman competitor do?

Dione Wessels: Sit an axle or log on their head. Very dangerous

Phil Burgess: What are you doing to support the growth of “strongwoman” events?

Dione Wessels: Strongman-fitness! Catering to the average woman, to get more women involved.

Phil Burgess: Finally, if you could go out to dinner with 5 other strongmen (living or dead) who would they be? and what would you ask them all?

Dione Wessels: 

  1. OD Wilson,
  2. Jon’ Pall’ Sigmarsson,
  3. Kaz,
  4. Magnus Ver,
  5. Johnny Perry.

I would ask them what their thoughts were on advancing the sport…………

We wish Dione Wessels and her organisations all the best for 2012 and beyond…