Olympic weight lifting made its début at the first modern Games, in Greece, in 1896. But it wasn’t until 1920, when weight classes were created, and 1928, when one-hand lifts were abolished, that it settled into a predictable sport.
In the 20th century, strength sports began to be codified into weightlifting, powerlifting , Bodybuilding and the like. However, feats of strength akin to the circus performances continued to have their place. In 1957 the Olympic gold medal winner, Paul Anderson back lifted 6,270 pounds as a one-off feat. David Prowse was initially famous in 1964 for his lifting the famed 785 pound Dinnie Stones, the first man to do so since Donald Dinnie himself a century earlier.
The late 20th century saw the emergence of strength athletics. Combining formalized strength events found in Highland Games, with elements of powerlifting & weightlifting, along with an eclectic selection of events involving the lifting of rocks, refrigerators, pulling vehicles (trains, lorries, planes etc.), this modern spectacle has in the popular imagination taken the mantle of the strongmen of old. Many events are based on the older circus feats, but giving them a competitive twist. For many the terms strongman and strength athlete are interchangeable although emphasis on the latter in sport specific literature has attempted to maintain a distinction.