March 20, 2023- Columbus, Ohio held the Arnold Sports Festival earlier this month with over a hundred contestants coming to compete for the title of World’s Strongest firefighter. The man who took this title is Andrew Burton a native of Sulphur Springs, Tx. Burton is currently a firefighter in Rockwall.
“When I was standing on stage at the end, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t concentrate on what any of the presenters were saying. All I could do was focus on enjoying the moment, hold back tears and listen for my name,” Burton said. “Then, when I heard my name, I walked to Arnold, who presented me with my axe (trophy). It was just a dream come true to go there and win.”
This mentioned Arnold was none other than former bodybuilder, movie star, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the namesake of the Arnold Sports Festival.
The events within this competition are as follows:
- A lateral axe hold, in which competitors had to hold a pair of axes (each with a 25 pound weight hung around the handle) straight out to either side and hold them up for as long as possible;
- A sandbag carry, in which they had to carry three sandbags (one weighing 220 pounds, another weighing 250 pounds, and finally one weighing 300 pounds) for 40 feet in as short a time as possible;
- A fire hydrant load, in which they had to lift and set four fire hydrants (one weighing 175 pounds, a second weighing 200 pounds, a third weighing 225 pounds, and a fourth weighing 250 pounds) onto a platform in as short a time as possible, and;
- An ambulance tire deadlift, in which they had to lift a bar with three ambulance tires on either end (weighing a total of 600 pounds) as many times as they could in 60 seconds.
Over the two-day competition, Burton rose above the rest of the 120 different competitors from around the world, even out climbing the final 18 finalists.
Burton first began his journey to this recent victory when he was a student athlete.
“I played football in middle school and high school and liked lifting the big weights, so I was in powerlifting too,” Burton said. “Actually, I was hoping to get a college scholarship for powerlifting, but that didn’t work out, so after high school I went to the fire academy and put my focus toward getting a job.”
“Of course, as a firefighter, you’re always working out and conditioning yourself, and I enjoyed watching strongman competitions on TV, where people lift large, odd objects,” Burton said. “It appealed to me because I figured it applied to firefighting a lot more than doing the same three moves over and over like with powerlifting.”
Burton stated he enjoyed “chasing the big numbers” during his strength training. Burton cites his career as a firefighter as his motivation in his strength training.
“Firefighting really doesn’t feel like work to me, because I get to go on calls and I get to tear stuff up — buildings, cars, everything,” he said. “Getting stronger and taking conditioning to a higher level helps me to be better at my job and to be better at helping people.”
Burton has been competing in strong man competitions for two years now, however only recently before the World’s Strongest Firefighter competition did he discover it existed.
“It was something that I found online by accident,” Burton said. “When I saw it though, I thought it would be good to enter because I’d be competing against other people who are dealing with the same things that I am. As a firefighter, sometimes you miss training days, sometimes you miss out on meals, and these guys were all training and competing while having the to deal with the same challenges that I go through.”
“I was also drawn to it because of the spirit of camaraderie that firefighter everywhere share,” he added.
“I’m grateful and I’ve been absolutely blown away by all the love and support that’s been sent my way, especially from people in Rockwall and Sulphur Springs,” Burton said. “I’m also glad to bring this title to Texas for the first time.”
Burton has unsurprisingly been greeted with cheers and congratulations of his victory. Burton stated how touched he felt by the community by the support they have given him since his return.