EXCLUSIVE : Getting to know the UK’s Strongest Man 2020 – Gavin ‘The Bull’ Bilton

Gavin Bilton probably has one of the most interesting and varied careers that culminated in qualifying for his first ever World’s Strongest Man competition late last year. This came off the back being the first ever Welshman to win the UK’s strongest man competition carving his name into history amongst some of the greats such as Eddie Hall, Laurence Shahlaei, Glenn Ross and Terry Hollands who are all previous winners of the competition. The previous alumni show that not just anyone can win the competition and it will hopefully be the reassurance that he needs to push on to become a WSM regular. When asked what the road map for The Bull was this year, it was to do just this; come back and return to the show of shows. As well as this he is unwavering in his determination to defend his UK title too. This would certainly be a display of immense quality, joining the list of multiple UK titles which currently only has 4 members. The title also hasn’t been able to be defended since Eddie Hall did so in 2016, making it quite the task.

The Bull has previously been a rugby player in the Welsh Premiership for teams such as Bridgend as a second row. He has also been a Queen’s Guard whilst serving in the Welsh Guards for 13 years as well as serving in the army in tours of Afghanistan. Since leaving he has taken up strongman and only been in the sport for just over three years, making his rapid rise and UK title even more impressive. He also competed at his first Europe’s Strongest Man in 2020 finishing in 8th.

Bilton celebrating his UK’s Strongest Man win early in 2020

I asked Gavin how preparing for a big strongman competition differs from his rugby days in which the giant Welshman replied : “In strongman it’s just you, no one else to help you, no one else to blame, once you step into the arena it’s all eyes on you where as in rugby it’s very much a team effort. If you lose a match it can’t be pinned to one player it’s down to the team but in strongman if you mess up it’s all down to you”. It is this answer that typifies the character needed in all successful strongmen. An ability to take all the responsibility on yourself and still perform under the most immense pressure. Whilst in team sports such as rugby there can be many factor and variables left for an individual to fret over when things don’t go to plan this clearly isn’t the case in strongman.

We went on to discuss the feeling of being at his first WSM to which Bilton explained that whilst it has always been a dream and goal for him to do, that once it became a reality it was absolutely amazing for him to experience. “It’s hard to put into words how it felt to be there and be a part of it”. It comes as no surprise for it to be an almost surreal experience for any strongman, let alone one that has not been in the sport for very long. The Bull went on to say that despite circumstances that obviously meant personnel attending the event was at a minimum that it was still an amazing atmosphere and an experience he will remember forever. He also aims for it to be the first of many, which is the attitude needed to keep competing at the top.

This is an attitude shared by one of The Bull’s self-proclaimed role models in the sport – Big Z. Žydrūnas Savickas, who is widely regarded as the strongest man to ever live, is an icon of the strongman world and a four-time winner of the WSM competition. Having been to the WSM final 14 times and finishing in the top 2 10 times, he is the perfect person to look up to for any strength athlete. As well as commenting on his longevity, Bilton also noted Big Z’s ability to prove people wrong multiple times and rise to the occasion. The Bull also recognised The Beast – Eddie Hall as another of his idols in the sport for similar reasons as he was doubted on many occasions and was able to prove the naysayers wrong. He was also quick to praise both, noting that he has “had the privilege to meet them both and both are brilliant down to earth and genuine men”. Like his two role models Bilton wants to be ruthless in the sport and quite clearly aims to become a serial winner, responding to the question of who he saw as his biggest rival right now came the response “Everyone who steps in my path”. This is a show of the no fear attitude that is needed when competing in any sport and the ability to take on all comers at every opportunity possible.

The mention of The Beast’s ability to prove the doubters wrong quickly casts our minds back to the revolutionary 500kg deadlift which Hall proved possible back in 2016. Since then it has been somewhat controversially broken by the huge Icelandic Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as part of the World Ultimate Strongman feats of strength series mid-2020, now set at 501kg. This is hugely relevant to Bilton’s ambition as when asked whether there were any specific strongman records he had an eye on, he confirmed interest in the deadlift.

Here’s Gavin making light work of some heavy deadlifts – if you scroll through you can get a view of his overhead pressing and yoke carry too!

Alongside this he also expressed interest in the log lift as an event to keep his eye on as he progresses too. Both of these lifts are staple strongman events and are undeniably two of the most brutal out there showing his desire to put himself through the hardest of challenges and reaffirming his love for the sport.

Here’s Gavin giving us a taste of his log pressing ability and showing there’s clearly more to come!

Despite his competitive nature and sheer determination to progress in the sport of strongman it is also clear that he is a kind hearted guy with a love for his home comforts. This shone through when asked what his ideal evening meal would be, giving the response “My mothers Sunday roast without a doubt”.

Gavin also is a part owner of a gym called Area 51 Strongman Gym based in Caerphilly, Wales. You will often see him training out of this gym performing some astonishingly big lifts and prepping for competition.

Big thanks to Gavin for being a part of this article and taking the time out to talk to me.

You can find him on :

Instagram : Gavin The Bull Bilton

Facebook : Gavin the bull Bilton

Be sure to follow his gym too :

Instagram and Facebook – Area51 Strongman Gym

Gavin is also in the process of setting up his YouTube channel to share his journey and big lifts which will be properly launched in the coming weeks.

You can find it at : Gavin the bull Bilton

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIcAisPY_dECUvKJd91BtJQ

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