The WWE’s cast of characters has included vampires like Gangrel; creepy kid’s show host Bray Wyatt and his clown-demon alter ego, the Fiend; a herky-jerky, worm-eating Boogeyman, and whatever the hell El Gigante was supposed to be (maybe a naked Sasquatch?). Yet even in this universe of absurdities, the “World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry has stood out for creating unbelievable scenes. Who can forget the storyline where Henry bedded a 77-year-old Mae Young? As the WWE describes, Henry had dubbed himself “Sexual Chocolate,” boasted about being “the perfect lover,” and likened himself to milk because “I do all the ladies’ bodies’ good.”
When Young had herself some chocolate milk, she became pregnant, farted during labor, and gave birth to a human hand. Mark Henry’s superhuman hands would go on to do more unbelievable and thankfully less dairy-related things on screen, like when he broke the thick chain holding a steel cage door during a 2006 episode of Smackdown. Bleacher Reportpoints out that he broke that chain for real because unlike freaky antics with the geriatric Mae Young, Henry’s freakish strength isn’t unscripted.
The hall of pain and gain
It isn’t typical WWE hyperbole to call Mark Henry the strongest man on the planet. As recounted by Iron Game History, in 2002, Henry became the first person on Earth to successfully execute a clean lift of the Thomas Inch dumbbell. Named for strongman Thomas Inch, this 172-pound dumbbell was long considered “unliftable” because of the 2.5-inch diameter of its handle. Few men had ever even hoisted the dumbbell off the ground during its roughly century-long existence, and nobody before Henry — including Thomas Inch — had ever demonstrated the wrist and grip strength required to turn the dumbbell upward into the air and catch it at the shoulder, let alone press that weight into the air. (In 2019 the WWE posted footage of the feat).
Thomas Inch is just the tip of the iceberg. A former Olympic powerlifter, the World’s Strongest Man crushed multiple world records. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that Henry set a raw deadlift record of nearly 904 pounds, squatted a record 948 pounds without a suit and as of 2014 held the “all-time, drug-tested raw total” lifting record of 2,314.8 pounds. In 2002, Henry also hoisted the 365-pound Apollon’s Axle overhead three times. Before that, no human had done it more than once. But as Henry famously said in the ring, “That’s what I do.”
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