“He can tour the world, spreading the goodwill,” says Chaudry. “I really believe that people will come together with him. He could be a phenomenon.” First, though, there was a small matter Hall needed to resolve.
“When I said I was going to lift 500 kilos, everybody laughed their heads off,” he says, as he sits sipping a protein shake in the Stoke gym where he trains. “Well, I did it. But there was one thing I needed to do to cement that achievement: I had to win the title of the world’s strongest man.”
For years, the World’s Strongest Man has been a staple of the Christmas television schedule. Generations of us have been brought up on the sight of freakishly contoured, usually Scandinavian, giants engaging in ridiculous strength challenges like pulling jetliners or flipping tractor tyres. Hall had watched the competition as a boy, dreaming one day the title might be his.
“For me, there’s two things to call yourself,” he says. “Either the world’s fastest man or the world’s strongest man. I was never going to be the fastest. But I could be the strongest. It’s the most alpha-male title on the planet.” Brought up in the Potteries, Hall had been a champion freestyle swimmer in his youth. When he was 15, installed on the Olympic development programme, however, he walked out of the pool, fed up of the demands of coaches. Soon after, he was excluded from school.