CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — If you told Cameron Peters a year ago that he’d be in position to become the World’s Strongest Man, he would have thought you were crazy.
“I probably would have punched you in the face,” Peters said, laughing. “I would have thought you were messing with me.”
And no one wants to be on the receiving end of a punch from Peters, who is—literally—one of the strongest men on the planet.
Peters, a 2016 graduate of Clarion-Limestone, has come a long way in a very short period of time in the strongman circles.
At just 24, he’s already making a name for himself in that exclusive world, drawing attention from some of the biggest names in the sport, and on the precipice of accomplishing something unthinkable just 12 months ago.
With his first-place finish at the Official Strongman Games Southwest Regional this past weekend in Houston, Peters will take on the best in the sport from more than 30 different countries at the World Final on November 11-13 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
He has a shot at the prestigious title of World’s Strongest Man.
“I didn’t anticipate this at all,” Peters said. “It’s surreal to me. Everyone keeps telling me to celebrate. Be happy. Be excited. I don’t know how I feel. I never expected to go to my fifth competition ever and win, and then have my sixth be for the World’s Strongest Man.
“I did not think I was going to win,” Peters added about the regional in Houston. “But, if you asked anyone, like the 20 to 25 people who know me really well, they would have told you I was going to win. I didn’t know what to expect. My attitude was I’m just going to go out there and give everything I had.”
Peters, though, almost didn’t go at all.
A back injury nearly kept him from making the trip to Houston. He said he was only at about 75% during the competition.
“When I finished the last event, which sealed the deal for me, I was overcome by emotion,” Peters said. “I started crying because this is one of the hardest preps that I’ve ever had to do. I lost so much time training.”
The thought of skipping the regional and trying again next year entered Peters’ mind. He quickly expelled it. That’s not what he’s about.
Peters toils in the oil field at his job for sometimes 16 hours per day. He finds time to train when he can, pushing through fatigue and pain to get ready for the few competitions he’s actually entered.
He’s won every one.
“I don’t want to say I was super close (to not going to the regional), but it crossed my mind,” Peters said. “There comes a point when you have to think, ‘Is this gonna affect me long term? Should I just take a break and heal up to 100% or go in there and possibly hurt myself even more?’ I definitely gambled, but I ended up on the right side.
“I don’t want to quit,” Peters added. “If you quit anything, it becomes a habit. That’s one thing I’ll never do.”
Peters finished second in the axle clean and press, as well as the yoke and iron cross medley portions of the competition at regionals. He was first in the axle deadlift, load and pull medley, and sandbag to shoulder ladder to win the men’s 90-kilogram weight class (198 pounds).
Deadlifting is Peters’ main strength, although he is good at every event in a typical strongman competition.
Peters may be the best in the world in the deadlift at his weight; he said he can deadlift 765 pounds.
“I’m definitely an elite deadflifter,” Peters said. “I’m pretty good at the moving events, too. I’m very well-rounded in all the events.”
Peters has always been drawn to weightlifting, even during his early days at Clarion-Limestone High School.
A football player for three years for the Lions under coach Dave Eggleton, Peters was a mainstay in the weight room.
He also admits he had an attitude problem—until Eggleton got him on the right path.
“Anyone who used to know me back when I was in high school, they’ll tell you I had a real bad attitude. I’m not going to lie,” Peters said. “I had a good work ethic, but I was a little mouthy. But, things changed by senior year when I learned to be humble and just put the work in and earn what you get.
“I definitely owe all that to Davey,” he added. “He started the fire under my butt and changed how I acted.”
The path Peters is on now hasn’t just surprised him. It’s also raised the eyebrows of his peers in the sport.
Peters hasn’t even been competing for two years. He started during the COVID-19 pandemic as something to channel his energy into. He entered his first event and won. Then another. And another. He kept winning.
Some of the biggest names in the sport in the United States have approached him after his victories to congratulate him.
“It’s happened every show I’ve been to,” Peters said. “Everyone is kind of taken aback with how young I am in the sport. People are surprised.”
CJ Krause is one of the more well-known names in strongman circles and the world record holder for the deadlift in the 80 kg weight class. Peters edged him for first place at the Houston regional.
Krause moved up from 90 kg for that competition.
“We went at each other all day,” Peters said. “He was very kind and said how deserving I was and how bright a future I had. People are definitely confused to say the least when they find out my age and what I’ve done.”
Peters, though, recoils from some of the attention he’s receiving so soon. He said he doesn’t like to talk about himself and sometimes feels uncomfortable speaking about his vast early accomplishments.
“It does make you feel good—and, I’ll be honest, it does feel great—but I always kind of look past it and just continue to do the best I can do. I’ve been blessed with a great work ethic, and I think genetics also plays a role in the sport as well.”
Peters hopes to someday make a living as a strongman.
A win in Florida in November will go a long way toward that goal.
“I’m going to do this as long as it takes me to win World’s Strongest Man,” Peters said. “I would love to always be in the sport. I plan on having my own competition within the next couple of years. I’ve met some great guys, I mean big names in the sport. It’s definitely changed my outlook. I want to make this my everyday job.”