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Giorgos Tromaras: Greece Loses its Modern Day Hercules

Giorgos Tromaras Greek wrestler
Giorgos Tromaras and some of his many wrestling trophies. YouTube screenshot

Greece has lost its “modern-day Hercules,” Giorgos Tromaras, who passed away on Monday at age 74 after the last fight with his ill health.

Giorgos Tromaras was a wrestler, two-times Greek champion in freestyle wrestling, and one time in European professional wrestling.

Most of all, though, he was a popular hero, a post-war Hercules who could pull train cars with his teeth while his roles in various Greek and foreign films made him a beloved character.

After Panagis Koutalianos and “Samson”, Tromaras was the last of a dying breed of such wrestlers and popular characters in Greece.

Who was Giorgos Tromaras?

Born in 1947 in the village of Hagia Sophia, near Lake Trichonida in Aitoloakarnanía, the young boy exhibited his inclination toward wrestling and lifting weights from an early age.

At the age of nine Tromaras lifted a donkey, leaving Hagia Sophia villagers with their mouths agape. He was imitating Dimitris Konstantinou, an athlete who had performed a show in the village.

At age 11 he started freestyle wrestling with teacher Stamatis Harissiadis (the so-called “grandfather” of wrestling), an important coach of the time. It was a time when wrestling and football were the most popular sports in Greece.

A pioneer in private gyms

In 1968 he opened his first gym in the working class Egaleo neighborhood. He was a pioneer in that sphere, as gyms were something new in the country at that time.

The Greek wrestler opened more gyms in the Omonoia area, one in Pasalimani in Piraeus and a gym for women in Piraeus as well. After that, he opened two health clubs in the Neos Kosmos and Patissia neighborhoods of Athens. His latest club is in the suburb Peania.

In the 1968-1970 period Tromaras performed in many muscle strength and weight lifting exhibitions that made his fame skyrocket in Greece.

The first to organize weight lifting competitions in Greece

In the early 1970s, Tromaras organized the “Mr. Hellas competition,” a program that included Dynamic Triathlon competitions, inspired by a documentary with American bodybuilder Sergio Oliva.

Even though many shunned the Mr. Hellas competition, he and Costas Karabalis supported it with a passion.

But for anyone who would scorn his achievements, Giorgos Tromaras accomplished things unthinkable for most people.

He was bending heavy iron, breaking thick chains by flexing his muscles, stopping cars in motion, stretching 400 kg (882 pounds) springs with his teeth, even pulling train cars with his teeth.

Tromaras pulled train cars with his teeth

In 1990 he was invited to Saudi Arabia to fight. To advertise the fight, the day prior to the event, Tromaras pulled a 35-ton truck with his teeth. The next day he fought against an opponent who was 2.40 meters (7 feet, 11 inches) tall.

In 2000 in Pyrgos, in the Peloponnese, he pulled two train cars with his teeth, for a total weight of 28 tons.

At the time, he was preparing to pull five cars with his teeth so he could be in the Guinness Book of World Records. However, he failed to do so after he broke his clavicle during a muscle strength exercise in his gym.

A career in movies

Tromaras’ physique and impressive achievements in wrestling, weight lifting and bodybuilding did not pass unnoticed by movie producers.

In 1976 the “Greek Hercules” started acting in movies with “Thanasis in the Land of Slapping” being the first, followed by 1922 in 1978.

In 1982 he played in “Pagida stin Ellada,” then “O Papa-Souzas Fantomasa” a year later where he played himself. In 1984 he played in “Ta Katharmata”.

“Alles ton Protimoun Gouli” in 1986 was only on videotape, with the VHS cassette being the rage in Greece at the time. His last TV screen appearance was in 2003, on VHS again, with “Epistrofi ton Katharmaton.”

By 1996, Tromaras stopped professional wrestling and focused more on bodybuilding. He traveled all over Greece exhibiting his incredible physique and performing unbelievable stunts.

He is survived by his son, Costas, who is following in his father’s footsteps in the dynamic triathlon.



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