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Although being well known around the world, both on the account of his strength and tender character, very few people knew anything about the person and his background. Jón Páll Sigmarsson was born in 1960. His parents had, by that time, already separated. He grew up on in the rural areas of western Iceland and started to work hard, even at a tender age.

Jón Páll grew up around Breiðafjörður, Iceland’s largest fjord. Those surroundings were both harsh and full of opportunities. He stayed in Skáleyjar, rather large islands in Breiðafjörður, most summers from the age of two, where the parents of his stepfather lived. There he grew up in a small island community, where he became adapted to the lifestyle of the island communities, which had developed through hardships and hard labor during the past centuries. Jón Páll Sigmarsson thus became accustomed to working hard, pushing himself to the limits and making the best use of his strength, both physical and mental. 

Jón Páll’s family moved to Reykjavík during his early adolescence. Soon he became engaged in sports, but it was not until 1975, when he became involved in weight-lifting, that he found the right channel. Weight-lifting suited him well. He had surely found what he was looking for. And Iceland had gained one of her most prominent athletics ever.

Jón Páll’s life was, in some ways, a fairy-tale. As a local celebrity, he appeared regularly in the media. The Icelanders liked his public presence to a large extent and enjoyed his popular one-liners. Many of his remarks are still well known in Iceland, and one of those became the title of the Jón Páll documentary, “Þetta er ekkert mál…” It happened live on the Icelandic television, at the time Jón Páll was setting a European record in weight-lifting. When the tension was high he suddenly shouted: “Þetta er ekkert mál, fyrir Jón Pál.” It rhymed! The meaning would be “This is no problem for Jón Páll.” And it was not. And his sincere s grin, followed by a great laughter and joyous celebrations, touched the hearts of the Icelanders.
Jón Páll wrote his name with capital letters into Iceland’s history books and was recently voted Iceland’s athletic of the 20th century.