Earlier this month, on the 10th of January to be precise, the 136th anniversary since the birth of Marijan Matijević was celebrated. Who was Marijan Matijević?, none other the strongest man in the world in his time..
Matijević was born in 1878 in Duboki Dol (Gračac) in Lika, Croatia, and became the world’s best Greco-Roman wrestler of his era, winning countless medals and titles. Nicknamed the ‘Lika Samson’, Matijević had extraordinary strength and also won many awards for his incredible displays of power, in his mouth he could lift 430kgs, on his arms 600 kgs, and 1,130 kgs on his back. He wrestled against many of the great wrestlers of his time and beat them all. Matijević was raised in the mountainous region of Lika and was exposed to heavy, physical work from a young age.
Matijević got into the sport of wrestling whilst working in Berlin, where he would attend various competitions. He first made his name when he accepted a challenge to take on a famous German wrestler of the time. Marijan needed seven minutes to shock the crowd as he beat his more known opponent, earning him 500 golden marks in the process.
Matijević had an illustrious career travelling the globe, where apart from wrestling he would entertain people by displays of strength such as tearing up packs of cards, bending coins with his fingers, and tearing pots. Watch more about the great man in the clip below.