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Originally published July 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 30, 2007 at 2:20 PM

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Local strongman dead at age 27

Jesse Marunde, who long aspired to be the world's strongest man, died suddenly this week at the age of 27. Mr. Marunde, who was born in...

SEQUIM — Jesse Marunde, who long aspired to be the world's strongest man, died suddenly this week at the age of 27.

Mr. Marunde, who was born in Glennallan, Alaska, but raised in Sequim, collapsed and died Wednesday night while working out at his gym in Sequim.

Chuck Marunde said his son died of a heart attack. Autopsy results will be known in about a month.

Mr. Marunde made an international splash in the weightlifting world with a second-place finish in the World's Strongest Man competition in China in 2005. He won a local strongman event this spring in Sequim, and won the 2001 Washington Strongman contest, among many other events. He was 6 feet 5 and weighed about 300 pounds.

"My image of what a real man is has changed a lot," he told The Seattle Times in 2003. "The most important thing is how you treat people and how you interact with family. A real man is tender. The Bible says, better a patient man than a warrior."

When he was at Sequim High School, he competed in football, wrestling and track and field. Mr. Marunde placed second in the Washington state high-school powerlifting championshps.

He earned a scholarship to play football at Montana State but quit school to return to Sequim, where his son Dawson, now 9, lived with his mother. Within a year, Mr. Marunde, then 22, became the youngest American to qualify for the World's Strongest Man contest on ESPN.

In 2004, he married a fellow trainer and weightlifter, Callie Marunde, who gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter, Jessica, on June 10.

His friends gathered Thursday in Sequim for a candlelight vigil at Marunde Muscle, his gym. The funeral will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at Sequim Community Church.

He is survived by his wife and two children, his father, brothers Bristol and Brady, sister Sabrina and his mother, Gigi Marunde.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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