Lags fury over scrapping of strongman contest at maximum security jail

Inmates at a maximum security jail are raging after a strongman contest they trained all year for was scrapped.

Prisoners at the unit – which houses hardman criminal Charles Bronson, inset – spent months preparing for the contest in their cells during the Covid lockdowns.

But a report by inspectors said it had to be cancelled due to worries over the spread of the virus.

Lockdown also led to an increase in violence at HMP Woodhill, the Independent Monitoring Board claimed.

A prison source said: “Many prisoners take exercise and the gym very, very seriously, so when the gyms were closed they were left with nothing to do but train in their cells.

“When the strongman competition was cancelled it would have caused a lot of anger.

“It is of no real surprise the frustration has caused a rise in violence at the jail.”

When gyms at the prison, in Milton Keynes, were closed in a bid to stop the spread of the virus, inmates improvised in their cells – where they were confined for 23 hours a day.

They used chairs, tables and anything else they could get hold of to use as weights, as well as doing sit-ups, push-ups and jogging around their cells.

The IMB’s report said: “The Covid-19 restricted regime was embedded throughout the year.

“Inevitably, prisoners spent most of the time lying on their beds and many were seemingly drawn to destructive behaviour.

“There was increased tension between prisoners, and between prisoners and officers, and boredom and frustration.

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“Competitive initiatives in the gym – for example, the Strongman Challenge – were not able to take place.”

It is believed prison bosses modelled the competition on TV’s The World’s Strongest Man, watched by millions every year.

The competition normally includes deadlifts, keg tossing, log throwing and a tug-of-war.

Infamous Bronson – among the inmates at HMP Woodhill – now calls himself Charles Salvador. He claims to have given up a life of violence to become a “born again artist”.

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