The List: Ranking strong folks

Andy Downing
adowning@columbusalive.com
Brooke Sousa

The Arnold returns to Columbus this week, which means it’s time for another Arnold-inspired List, which gets more challenging each year as ideas get used up (ranking Schwarzenegger films or catchphrases, imagining future Arnold events, etc.). This year, we’re ranking the strongest men and women we could think of in the 15 minutes we spent on this during ship day. Enjoy!

11. Frank Costanza

You have to think one wouldn’t challenge others to feats of strength if they weren’t also capable of them.

10. Lisbeth Salander

Could better be described as tough rather than strong, perhaps, but I still wouldn’t want to cross paths with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” heroine in any alley, no matter how well illuminated.

9. Vladimir Putin

The political strongman consistently bends world leaders to his will. Present country included.

8. Brooke Sousa

Here’s a shout-out to the Westerville resident (and Arnold competitor), who, according to ThisWeek News, radically transformed her life in 2012, losing 115 pounds on route to being named the strongest woman in her weight class during a July competition in Norway.

7. Kamala Khan

Best known as Ms. Marvel, Khan, a Muslim superhero introduced by, uh, Marvel in 2014, has the power to “embiggen,” as she terms it, growing body parts that contain matching outsized strength.

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Arnold’s namesake — and prince of the movie tough-guy one-liner to Rowdy Roddy Piper’s king (seriously, watch “They Live”) — flashed his physical strength in bodybuilding contests long before taking it to the Hollywood screen.

5. Elizabeth Bennet

Holding fast against societal pressures is strength, too, as this literary creation from author Jane Austen could attest.

4. The Mountain

The “Game of Thrones” behemoth, played by reigning World’s Strongest Man Hafpor Julius Bjornsson, is powerful enough to absorb multiple stabbings and still pop an opponent’s skull as easily as you or I might squish a grape.

3. Terry Crews

Sure, the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actor is jacked, but we’re slotting him here more for the emotional strength he’s displayed in speaking up as a victim of sexual assault and about the importance of purging toxic masculinity from society.

2. Artie, the Strongest Man in the World

I mean, it’s in his name. (For those not familiar, seek out old episodes of the great series “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” which aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon in the early 1990s.)

1. Rulon Gardner

The medal-winning Olympic wrestler is physically strong, yes, but he’s also apparently unkillable, having already survived being stabbed with an arrow, a plane crash and falling into a frozen river while snowmobiling, as well as the 18 subsequent hours spent stranded alone in the snowy Wyoming mountains (due to physical damage, his boots had to be removed with a saw following his rescue; one toe was also amputated, which Gardner keeps in a jar in his refrigerator as a reminder of his mortality).