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Strength is not a quality that many find comes quickly. For Martins Licis, a promising new contender in the world of strongman, it took many years to be ready for his first serious trials.

When he first arrived in California at 20 years old, the Latvia-born lifter was already well built, from time spent weight training and carrying stones on his grandparents’ farm. Despite this early progress, Martins found his attempts to enter a serious competition were frustrated.

The organizer, Odd Haugen, is something of a legend in the world of strongman. He thought young Martins too junior to begin competing, and offered him training instead. Yet one could be forgiven for thinking that the Norwegian coach had no desire to see Martins compete at all.

For three years, Martins asked to compete at his trainer’s competition, the Odd Haugen Strength Classic. Each year, he was refused. Only in 2015 would Martins get his first taste of proper strongman competition. It was worth the wait. He won his pro card at that debut show, and has been on a roll since.

From California, Martins would travel to Iceland for the Giants Live competition in June 2016. His third place finish in that event won him a spot at World’s Strongest Man in Botswana. Despite his inexperience, the Latvia-born lifter reached the finals, taking sixth place at the contest.

Outside of strongman, Martins is also a world-class MAS wrestler. He unseated the reigning champion in 2016, during his intense training for his first World's Strongest Man appearance.

Training out of The Training Hall in Newbury Park, California, and under the continued instruction of Odd, Martins has spent all year working towards bettering his 2016 World's Strongest Man placing. Several of the events he faced - Fingal’s Fingers and the Hercules Hold among them - were completely new to Martins. This year he will be better prepared.

Since he was last in Botswana Martins has taken an eighth place finish with his first showing at the Arnold Strongman Classic, and he is now making his final preparations for the 2017 World’s Strongest Man contest.

“I’m in the gym for at least three to five hours at a time, for four to five days a week doing something for my body,” says Martins. He believes that his deadlift has come a long way as a result, and he has continued to put a lot of work into stone lifting, his signature event.

“Last year I had absolutely no experience and no technique” when it came to the throwing events, Martins admits, a weakness that he believes lost him one or two places in the overall standings. Over the last twelve months he has worked to overcome this deficiency, approaching his throwing training “like a maniac”. He relishes the opportunity to show the world how far he has come in a short time.

Martins's Favorite Equipment

SBD Belt - "My favorite by far that I've ever had or used"

SBD Knee Sleeves - The ideal fit for Martins's muscular legs