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MHP Liberty Strength Classic


by Al Thompson
Contact: Rock Hoffman (267-481-0034) or Steve Downs (973-785-9055)

MHP Liberty Strength Classic to make its sixth appearance at the Wawa Welcome America! Festival

PHILADELPHIA: Mark Philippi, arguably the most recognizable face in American pro strongman history, and Don Pope, a three-time finalist on the “World’s Strongest Man” TV Show, headline an outstanding lineup that will perform in the 2012 MHP Liberty Strength Classic. The event will be held July 3rd & 4th in the Lehigh/Delaware Valley area of Pennsylvania.

On July 3rd, the MHP Atlas Stones Challenge, presented by the Army National Guard, takes over Coca Cola Park in Allentown (1050 IronPigs Way Allentown, PA 18109) after the IronPigs take on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. The Atlas Stones competition takes place after the game – and before the fireworks. Call (610) 841-PIGS (7447), Ext. 1 for ticket information. A crowd of over 10,000 fans is expected to watch strongman’s signature event.

The July 4th action takes place in Philadelphia at the Wawa Welcome America! Festival, the official July 4th celebration for the City of Philadelphia. The MHP Liberty Strongman Classic is the daytime headliner for “Party on the Parkway” as the daytime headlining act for day-long festival that annually draws over 500,000 people.

The strongman events include:

July 3rd

The MHP Atlas Stones Challenge. Nine competitors will attempt to load five Atlas Stones ranging from 250 lbs. to 380 lbs. onto five boxes that are strategically staged around the outside of the base path.

July 4th

• Noon – Overhead log press for reps (280 lb. log)

• 1 p.m. – Arm-over Arm Truck pull (light)

• 2:30 p.m. Hummer Tire dead lift challenge (last man standing format, starts at 650 lbs. – about 18 inches off ground).

• 4:00 – The 400–pound shield carry and sled drag medley (sled is 1200 lbs.).

• Between the Truck pull and the Tire Deadlift, there will be a tug of war (best of three tugs) between the Delaware County Police and ex-NFL surrogates for the Philadelphia Police Department. Each Police Department will receive a donation of $1,000 to the respective Memorial Funds. Ladies Blouse manufacturer Notations, Inc. of Warminster, PA is the sponsor for Delaware County. Philadelphia’s sponsor is yet to be announced.

The MHP Liberty Strength Classic is promoted by Al Thompson. He can be reached at 267-254-4614 or via email at

Here is a list and bio of each of the nine pro competitors: Please note that two-time defending champion, MHP athlete Brian Shaw was scheduled to compete again this year, but is out with a biceps injury.

Mark Philippi (born March 21, 1963) – World champion powerlifter and strongman competitor. Mark is a multiple entrant to the World’s Strongest Man competition. After winning the American National Championship in 1997, the 6’0”, 285-pounder from Las Vegas went on to represent his country in the 1997 World’s Strongest Man finals, the first of seven appearances. Philippi made the final on 2 occasions, but his greatest success came in the World Muscle Power Championships where he placed in the top three on three consecutive occasions from 1997 to 1999.

Mark’s progress to become the best in the field was hindered by two major injuries that required extensive rehabilitation. In 1998, he was severely injured at the 1998 World’s Strongest Man during the car flip event where he ruptured his patella tendon and also partially tore his biceps tendon when the car rolled back on him. Surgery and a long rehabilitation followed, but when he returned to strongman contests in 2000 he ruptured a patella tendon again. In addition to his successful career as a strength athlete, Mark was also a highly rated world champion powerlifter. He won the WDFPF World Drug Free Power Lifting Championships in 1996. In College, Mark was an offensive lineman and three-year starter at Montana Tech from 1983 to 1987.

Don Pope (born January 10, 1972) – is a strongman competitor from the USA who resides in Cleveland. He is best known for participating in the World’s Strongest Man finals of 2005, 2006 and 2007. His best finish was 3rd at the 2006 World’s Strongest Man competition. Pope has a maximum dead lift of 800 lbs., and can squat nearly 1,000 lbs. He is also a school teacher by trade. Don is 6’3” and weighs 320 lbs. This is Don’s second appearance at the MHP Liberty Strongman Classic @ Wawa Welcome America! Festival.

John Conner – At 6’6”, 390 lbs., John will no doubt be the biggest, and he hopes the best, strongman in the field. The Derby, KS resident won the 2009 MHP Liberty Strongman Classic and after enduring and overcoming some serious health issues, hopes to finally retain that title. John has a long history of success in strength sports since joining the scene in 2008. He won the 2008 Kansas Strongest Man title as well as Iowa’s Strongest Man championship also in 2008.

In 2011, John won the USAPL drug free Kansas State title setting a record in the deadlift with 815 lbs.

Rob Meulenberg – This 5’11”, 291 pound veteran competitor from Bangor, Maine has both brains and brawn. Rob is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Maine, instructing in subjects varying from nanomaterials and photovoltaics to heterostructures and synchrotron radiation experiments. Rob is originally from Hatboro, PA.

Mark Kimener – (6’1”, 285 lbs.) Virginia Beach Virginia – This former college football player will give the 300-pounders a run for their money.

Pall Logason – (5’9”, 325 lbs.) Reykjavik, Iceland – World Junior Powerlifting Champion now emerging as a world-class strongman.

Lou Costa – Lancaster. A new strongman pro, Lou (6’2”, 310 lbs.) hopes to raise his stock with a great performance.

John Dennis – Making his pro debut. Dennis, from Central Pennsylvania, is massive at 6’5”, 350 lbs. and will want to impress.

Colby Duranleau – 21 year old, 6’6”, 355-pounder from Wichita, Kansas is making his debut as a pro strongman. Colby won last year’s Kansas Strongest Man. Some of Colby’s PRs include 750 lb. belt/straps deadlift, 410 lb. Axle press and 355 lb. log press.