Geoff Capes (b1949)
GEOFFREY Lewis Capes, of Stoke Rochford, is a former British, and twice Commonwealth Games shot put champion, and former two-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man title. Capes stood 65(200) and weighed 150kg at his peak condition.
Born and raised in Holbeach, one of nine children, and went to the George Farmer secondary school. He joined Holbeach Athletic Club where he was coached by Stuart Storey.
After school he worked as a coalman and an agricultural labourer, being able to load 20 tons of potatoes in 20 minutes. He then joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1970, and remained in the police for 10 years.
Probably Britain’s best-known shot-putter, Capes represented his country many times over 11 years, winning two Commonwealth Games and two Indoor European Championship titles, and put the shot 21.68 metres for the British and Commonwealth record.
He is also the most capped British male athlete of all time, receiving 67 International caps, and returning 35 wins. At the 1980 Moscow Olympics he finished fifth in the final of the shot put.
He turned professional that year and went on to win five World Highland Games titles and other British and European contests.
His image continued to grow with his outstanding performances in the World’s Strongest Man competition. He was particularly known for his incredible hand and arm strength, easily tearing London phone books in half and bending rolled steel bars measuring over 1 inch in diameter and three feet in length into pretzel shapes.
One old chestnut is that in 1979, he stood in for friend and fellow strongman David Prowse to play Darth Vader in several scenes during filming of The Empire Strikes Back while Prowse recovered from an elbow injury. Capes has always denied this.
In 1985 Geoff Capes Strongman was released on the Amstrad CPC, the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. The game featured truck-pulling and tug-of-war.
Geoff is a former member of the Air Training Corps.
He also appeared in the Tyne Tees Television programme Supergran.
After retiring from strength athletics in 1987, Capes continued his involvement in the sport by training young athletes and acting as a referee at strength competitions in the UK.
In 1998 he became a Justice of the Peace based at Spalding.
In 2007 he became the face of Cadbury’s Wispa relaunch, appearing on billboards and magazine advertisements.
He now breeds budgerigars and has had much success on the show bench with his recessive pieds. He frequently appears in the pages of Cage & Aviary Birds.