Italia's Got Talent champ Stefano Scarpa flies his human flag in Hong Kong

Italia's Got Talent champ Stefano Scarpa flies his human flag in Hong Kong

After years of hard training, strongman Stefano Scarpa claimed victory at Italia's Got Talent. Now, he's come to town to try to beat his own Guinness World Record


Is it a typhoon? Nope. Just raw Italian power in the form of Stefano Scarpa, better known as the Flag Man.
Is it a typhoon? Nope. Just raw Italian power in the form of Stefano Scarpa, better known as the Flag Man.
Photo: Sunshine City

Think you're strong? Why not try holding yourself off the ground like the guy in the picture? That's Stefano Scarpa, better known as the Flag Man, because he can perform the "human flag" better than anyone: he set the Guinness World Record in March by using only "two fingers" to hold himself in that position for an amazing 26.72 seconds.

He may seem like a superman, but Scarpa said he was not an outstanding athlete in school. It was only later on that he took up a hobby - going to the gym. And before long, he had transformed his body into the powerhouse it is today, and developed a passion for artistic gymnastics.

"Every day I go to the gym to work out. It has been five years since I started working out and I have not missed a day of training," he says.

So what is an average day for such a dedicated athlete? Surprisingly, Scarpa doesn't start too early. He says that his body needs time to recover from the daily grind.

"I take my dog Diego for a walk and then have breakfast in a place near my house. Then I go to the gym and I practise for three hours," he says. "I start with stretching and running. Then I work with weights for shoulders and back. Later I work on my abs."

And that's just the beginning. "Before switching to legs, I practise artistic gymnastics on rings, balance beam, gymnastics horse, parallel bars, and wall bars."

Scarpa started doing the human flag just for fun. After using all the equipment in the gym one day, he decided to try something new.

"It was on the wall bars that I had my first attempts at doing the human flag," he says.

As he got better and better, Scarpa decided to show off his talent on a bigger stage: the Italia's Got Talent television show.

"I was working out in the gym with my friends and we started to talk about the possibility of me going on the show. It was a pleasant surprise for me to win," Scarpa says.

A pleasant surprise perhaps, but it was an achievement that did not come easy. "My advice for success is simple: work, work, work. Only with hard work can you reach what you want! And, if you love what you do, then anything you do will seem effortless."

After being crowned champion on the TV show, Scarpa bought a restaurant in his hometown of Trani, a charming coastal town on the Adriatic Sea, where he has lived all his life.

"During my free time I stay with my family at the restaurant, and play with my beautiful dog Diego. We have a lot of fun together," he says.

Even though there are only a handful of men in the world who can perform the human flag, Scarpa doesn't feel like he is the strongest man on Earth.

"I only know I work very hard and I know that there are not many out there that can do what I do."

But there might be one more soon, and he's definitely got the right genes: Scarpa said his little brother Francesco is ready to follow in his footsteps. "He is 11. He is a little flag man and a great hip-hop dancer."

For now though, there's only one Flag Man, and tomorrow, he'll be showcasing his skills in Hong Kong. You can cheer him on as he attempts to shatter his own Guinness World Record at Sunshine City Plaza in Ma On Shan.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Flag Man flies in Hong Kong


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