Five teams of Siem Reap’s toughest men and women competed to demolish sections of a seven-foot-high concrete wall with sledgehammers as part of the “Siem Reap Strongman” contest organised by local education NGO ABC’s and Rice.
Conducted in the heat of the afternoon sun, the frenzied demolition work gave competitors the chance to help kick-start a new expansion of the ABC’s and Rice School, as well as prove their own strength.
ABC’s and Rice co-founder Matt Foot said he first began planning the contest after leasing a block of land next to the existing school and after realising plans to construct new classrooms would have to be delayed until the wall separating the two properties was demolished.
“We thought the contest would be a good opportunity to fundraise. Plus hitting things with a hammer is always fun.”
The sounds of shattering concrete, and the occasional shattering sledgehammer, were barely enough to drown out the noise generated by the more than 40 competitors and spectators who travelled to Veal Village for the contest, including Australian Roz Raynes who said performing hard manual labour was not her preferred way to spend a Saturday.
“I haven’t worked that hard in ages, I’m absolutely stuffed,” she said.
Team names included Vegas, Bust and Juicy Moose and contestants paid an individual entry fee of $5 to participate which, combined with beer and T-shirt sales, raised over $200 for the school, according to Foot.