The real-life Thor's INCREDIBLE body transformation

The real-life Thor shot to fame as ‘The Mountain’ on Game of Thrones, and won World’s Strongest Man, before losing 50KG to spar Conor McGregor and box Eddie Hall to complete an INCREDIBLE body transformation

  • Hafthor Julius Bjornsson started off as a Strongman before appearing on GoT
  • He won World’s Strongest Man in 2018, after a series of near misses
  • He has since lost 50kg as he sparred Conor McGregor and boxed Eddie Hall 

The American superhero movie Thor was an instant hit when it was released in 2011, with Chris Hemsworth playing the muscle-bound title character.

Over in northern Europe, the real-life Thor was starting to make waves of his own.

After starting a Strongman career in his homeland of Iceland in the late 2000s and winning national titles, Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, affectionately known as Thor, entered World’s Strongest Man (WSM) for the first time in 2011. 

He was not just there to take part as he finished sixth, and he stood out immediately. Put it this way, it was difficult to miss him. 

Standing at 6ft 9in and 450lbs (that’s a touch over 32 stone!) Bjornsson is one of the most imposing figures the sport has ever seen, and he was clearly very good as the 22-year-old became the fourth-youngest WSM finalist ever.

Bjornsson lost 50kg from his Strongman days (left) for his fight with Hall (right)

He got down to 335lbs for his fight with Hall after a strict diet saw him lose 50kg

Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, AKA Thor, started off as a Strongman before starring in Game of Thrones

Bjornsson played ‘The Mountain’ for five series of the award-winning television show

The following year he was back for more, and this time finished third before repeating the feat in 2013.

Having taken the Strongman world by storm, it was time for another challenge, and Bjornsson got his first big acting break when he was asked to play the role of Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane for season four of Game of Thrones.

The popular show wanted someone to take over the role of royal protector after having two separate actors for the first two series, and Bjornsson fit the bill as he starred from series four to eight.

Game of Thrones was hardly short of physically-imposing characters throughout its eight-year run from 2011 to 2019, but no one could match Bjornsson. He was becoming a household name.

Bjornsson’s level of fame had reached new heights, and he caught the eye of one man reaching the peak of his powers – Conor McGregor.

The MMA icon was on his way to stardom after a string of highlight-reel knockouts in the UFC, and just months before winning his first world title against Jose Aldo, he invited Bjornsson to his gym for a sparring session.

Bjornsson sparred with MMA star Conor McGregor in 2015, turning up in black shoes and a pair of jeans

McGregor has packed on plenty of muscle in recent years, but back in 2015 he was still a 145lb featherweight.

Seeing him go up against a man three times his weight made for fascinating viewing, while there was a foot between them in terms of height as well.

Footage of the sparring is surreal, with Bjornsson hardly lacking confidence as he turned up in regular shoes and a pair of jeans. 

McGregor, meanwhile, is dripping in sweat, circling around Thor as he tried to target the body.

There were no head shots – McGregor was just weeks away from the biggest fight of his life – but it was still gripping to see two physical specimens in very different weight categories boxing and grappling each other.

Perhaps this is where Bjornsson got a real taste for the fight game that he would later become involved in.

But, first and foremost, he was still a Strongman, and the ultimate WSM crown continued to elude him. 

He secured six consecutive podium finishes between 2012 and 2017 without getting on the top step.

Finally, in 2018, it was Thor’s year as he became the third Icelandic athlete to win WSM after Jon Pall Sigmarsson and Magnus Ver Magnusson.

The previous year, Bjornsson had been pipped to the title by a single point by Britain’s Eddie Hall, but this time he refused to be denied.

Bjornsson finally won World’s Strongest Man in 2018 after six previous podium finishes

Bjornsson’s rivalry with Eddie Hall (pictured) grew during their Strongman days

Bjornsson then broke Hall’s deadlift world record by lifting 501kg in 2020

That narrow defeat lit the flame for a rivalry with Hall, though, and their feud went up a notch when Bjornsson surpassed Hall’s deadlift world record by a single kilogram in 2020, as he successfully completed a 501kg repetition.

The two men had gone back and forth in Strongman competitions over the years, but Bjornsson wanted to settle their rivalry in a different way, and called for a boxing match with Hall in early 2020. Never one to back down from a challenge, Hall accepted.

Fans of the pair may have initially thought the fight was a gimmick. How could two men weighing in excess of 400lbs get into a boxing ring?

Well, Bjornsson quickly realised he probably couldn’t, and his drastic weight loss programme began. 

Working under trainers Billy Nelson and Vilhjálmur Hernandez, he significantly reduced his diet and started training twice a day to improve his boxing skills.

If there were any concerns that Bjornsson may not be taking boxing seriously, he quickly allayed those by setting up exhibition bouts.

Thor faced ex-WBO European light-heavyweight champion Steven Ward in January 2021, and then took on former amateur standout Simon Vallily four months later.

He remained active by taking part in his first non-exhibition bout in September 2021, stopping Canadian professional arm-wrestler Devon Larratt inside a round.

The Covid pandemic delayed his meeting with Hall, but when the grudge match came around on March 19, 2022, Bjornsson was more than ready and looked to be in stunning shape.

Having weighed 450lbs in his Strongman days, he tipped the scales at 335lbs for his clash with Hall, meaning he’d lost just over 50kg to get into prime fighting condition.

Bjornsson is almost unrecognisable having lost an incredible 50kg from his strongman days

Bjornsson’s hard work paid off as he beat Eddie Hall in their grudge match in March 2022

As he posed for the cameras, Bjornsson looked ripped, with bulging abdominal muscles on show that had not previously been visible.

Bjornsson’s hard work paid off as he came out on top in the fight dubbed ‘The Heaviest Boxing Match in History’.

Thor showed significantly more mobility than he had done against McGregor seven years earlier, as he sent Hall to the canvas twice on his way to a unanimous decision victory.

Bjornsson has not fought since, but for now he remains unbeaten inside the squared circle.

Eighteen months on from his win over Hall, Thor’s next move is unclear. He regularly posts pictures of himself working out on Instagram, as he continues to keep himself in excellent condition.

At 34, it is still possible that he could give Strongman one final crack, or perhaps another boxing match will appeal if he can find a worthy opponent.

Bjornsson was also spotted with MMA prospect Gordon Ryan at the end of last year, and the pair had a sparring session together. Could we see Bjornsson enter the cage at some point?

Thor has options aplenty, having proven himself the world’s strongest man, while also starring in an award-winning TV series and beating his biggest rival at boxing.

He has shown he can do almost anything when he puts his mind to it, including losing a remarkable amount of weight, to complete an incredible body transformation over the past decade. 

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