Toledo fire fighter overcomes injury to win World’s Strongest Firefighter Contest 

Local 92 fire fighter and EMT Marcus Waugh defeated 119 fire fighters for the annual event held at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio.

March 21 • 2024

Toledo, Ohio Local 92 fire fighter and EMT Marcus Waugh earned a new title recently: World’s Strongest Firefighter.

Waugh won the title at an annual event at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. It features a variety of contests that test different aspects of strength, endurance, and agility, all tailored to the challenges fire fighters face in the line of duty. 

“The World’s Strongest Firefighter Contest was first developed in 2019 in Santa Monica,” Waugh said. “Arnold Schwarzenegger, during the wildfires, observed the strength of firefighters and said, ‘I wonder who’s the strongest in the world.’” 

For Waugh, whose passion for weightlifting led him to previous competitions, the road to victory was filled with challenges. A ruptured Achilles tendon threatened to derail his dreams of competing again. 

“At the end of 2022, I ruptured my Achilles playing in a charity football game,” he said. “I was informed I wouldn’t be able to compete in 2023, and my surgeon even suggested that I might never compete again.” 

Undeterred and fueled by a fierce determination, Waugh embarked on a remarkable journey of recovery and redemption, intent on taking home the top spot. 

I was determined not only to perform well but to win. 

Marcus waugh, fire fighter, emt

Waugh’s triumphant return to this year’s competition defied all odds as he faced off against 119 fire fighters from seven different countries to secure the coveted title. 

“It feels almost surreal,” he said. 

Local 92 members and Toledo Fire & Rescue extended congratulations to Waugh via social media, as the community rallied around him. “Marcus epitomizes the best of Local 92 Toledo firefighters: consistency, perseverance, and enduring strength,” said Matt Tabb, president of Local 92. “Way to go, brother!” 

Acknowledging the community’s support, Waugh said, “As fire fighters, we strive to be a beacon of hope. To have their support, especially after such a serious injury, is truly humbling.” 

With the championship trophy proudly displayed in Toledo, Ohio, Waugh’s remarkable journey stands as a testament to the unwavering spirit of the firefighting profession. 

When asked if he would compete again next year, Waugh said resoundingly, “Absolutely! I have to keep the axe in Toledo, Ohio.”