Arnold Classic 2019: Pro Strongman Nicolas Cambi Paid Out of Pocket to Compete This Weekend

For many at the Arnold, there's no money in Strongman. But it's the passion that keeps them coming back.

Nicolas Cambi Paid Out of Pocket To Compete This Weekend

Nicolas Cambi is getting dominated after two days of competition in the heavyweight division of the Amateur World Strongman Championships at the 2019 Arnold Classic by guys 70 pounds heavier than him—and he’s spending $4,000 for it.

Of course, Cambi—who hails from Florence, Italy and resides in Boston—wasn’t planning on this result. In fact, the 29-year-old research-science recruiter wasn’t even planning on competing.

“This isn’t my best run,” Cambi, who normally competes as a pro at 105 kilograms, said. But he decided to enter in the heavyweight division at the Arnold last minute—just because. “Oh, I won’t make it to day three of the show.”

Cambi started Strongman seven years ago when he signed up for a local competition while training for a bodybuilding show. Since then, he’s made a name for himself within the Strongman community. In 2017, he won Strongman Worlds at 105 kilos, and then got third at America’s Strongest Man just a year later.

Aside from his accolades, Cambi is known as a passionate competitor who is unabashedly himself. Scroll through his Instagram (@cambidude) and you’ll find dozens of pictures of his dogs, posts that demonstrate his love for Tostino’s Pizza Rolls, and music video mashups of him training. You’ll also find a ton of clips of him lifting insanely heavy—and borderline reckless—weights. In other words: The man is an absolute unit.

At an offseason weight of 250-260 pounds, the self-proclaimed “Large Mammal” has posted a 745-pound deadlift, can walk with a 1,010-pound yolk on his back, and can clear 60 feet while running with 340 pounds in each hand. (This guy always gets the groceries in one trip. Always.)

He’s also gone viral a few times by push-pressing in excess of 350 pounds with what’s called a Tsunami bar—a bouncy bar that has a lot of slack in it, making the weight unstable and more difficult to lift. Aside from preparing for his shows, these monster workouts are done in the hopes of getting The Rock’s attention (he tags him in most of his posts). “I’m pretty sure he knows who I am,” Cambi says. “It’s more probable than not.”

Cambi’s day job affords him the luxury of traveling out of pocket to do what he loves, but it doesn’t come cheap. Between airfare and a hotel room for him and his girlfriend, the food that he needs to support his 250-pound frame during the weekend, and the supplements and food he takes leading up to his show—the entire venture costs him between $3,000 and $4,000.

This is the case for most competitors who aren’t on the big stage alongside Brian Shaw and Hafþór Björnsson. “These are just everyday people,” says Andrew Triana, owner of a coaching company called The Performance Vibe and one of the best middleweight Strongman competitors in the world. “They have jobs and kids. They don’t get paid.”

While the sport has picked up some mainstream attention thanks to brands like Rogue, “smaller” competitors like Cambi still have to fight for recognition. But for the aspiring heavyweight, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I absolutely love this,” he says before running off to attempt a 700-pound axle deadlift. Spoiler alert: Cambi didn’t get a single rep...but was smiling the entire time.