Founders: The Story of the Two Williams and the Beginnings of Strongman in America!

September 7, 2015

 The history of Strongman in the USA is relatively young, yet still rich in accomplishment. In 1997, Bill Holland started an American strength organization called NASS, standing for North American Strongman Society. After a long and successful career in powerlifting and then getting involved in strongman, Willie Wessels purchased NASS in 2002 from Bill.***


During the 2002 and 2003, NASS took off! In its first year under the Willie, and after 5 years in existence, NASS held a national contest with just under 110 athletes. During this time, winners of NASS nationals earned their pro cards. At that time there was no “Pro” system, however. That was worked out at a later time.


In 2004 NASS became NAS, Inc.  Willie continued to run the show with the help of some familiar faces that you might see today. He built a network of state chairs that were not just figureheads, but were friends. Over the next few years Willie was at numerous shows helping, scoring, emceeing and anything else needed.  The focus was the athletes. This lasted until 2012.


In 2012 Willie separated from NAS, Inc. Though he continued to help at some shows on occasion, NAS was no longer his, “baby” and he eventually had to cease – some people didn’t even know he was no longer with NAS!


 In early 2014 Willie approached some key figure heads in the sport. After some deliberation, he decided to go it alone and return to the sport that he helped grow so much only a few years earlier.  The goals were simple: Take care of the athletes, and make it a family affair.  He did just that.




On June 1, 2014, United States Strongman, Inc. (USS), was born! From the time of its inception until it first national contest on June 27, 2015, USS sanctioned 40+ shows, qualified over 400 athletes and had over 125 men, women, teens and master competitors in attendance at its inaugural USS Nationals.












 *** Editors Note- As an aside and a point of important clarification, I personally have told the story about the purchase of North American Strongman Society (N.A.S.S.) for many years. I told this story because that is what I was lead to believe. I have met Bill Holland many times and until a couple of weeks ago Bill never mentioned to me that my telling of the tale was innaccurate. The fact is that in late 2001 Willie did make a purchase from Bill. Willie bought some strongman equipment and a P.A. system. The ownership of N.A.S.S.; the stewardship of strongman in America? That, dear friends, was something that Bill Holland entrusted to Willie Wessels. Not sold. Bill did so because he believed that Willie would guide and grow the sport in America. It is also improtant to point out that Willie never corrected me either. It may not seem like that big of a deal or a serious point of contention, but to me it shows integrity and selflessness. We can all stand up and shout look at me, look what I did! Facebook is full of that on a daily basis. But, the real stewards just keep their heads down, thier mouths shut and do the work.


In United States Strongman We Trust!!!

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