Thursday, June 9, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 2 - Incidents in My Professional Career - By Arthur Saxon


I have travelled in many countries and appeared in every town of note in England, and naturally have experienced many interesting and exciting experiences, some comic, and some well-nigh tragic. When, for instance, at Chatham, the stage broke down whilst I was supporting a plank with 12 men on, I was somewhat seriously injured, and this incident was well nigh tragic; but at Exeter we had the laugh, I think, over the Exeter weightlifters in the following manner:

-- Our challenge and offer of L50 to anyone who might lift my heavy bar-bell remained unaccepted, night after night, so we hit on the idea of unloading the bell, and leaving it quite light and empty at the entrance to the place of entertainment we were appearing at. Naturally the strong men of the town came round and tested the bell privately, and on finding how easily they could lift same, they all were certain the L50 was as good as in their pockets. That night, instead of a dead silence as before, when my challenge was issued, quite a number of eager weightlifters anxious to improve their financial position, jumped into the ring, and rushed for the bell, which I had raised easily with one hand, but much to their surprise, the 150 lb. bar bell had changed into a 300 lb. one, and the disappointed weightlifters retired scratching their heads in an endeavour to understand the trick which had been played on them.

Naturally, most of the incidents which come into my mind likely to interest readers of this book are connected with weightlifting. When a man has the ability to raise enormous weights, he also has the ability as opportunity occurs to create a surprise wherever he may be when the question of strength crops up, and though I always make a point of avoiding the practice of posing and bragging for personal glorification, yet, when it has been necessary, I have never hesitated to take off my coat and convince certain doubters who have thrown discredit upon my feats and expressed their unbelief about the records which I have established from time to time.

I remember at one time much correspondence taking place between certain readers of a magazine called "Vim" and a Mr. Donald Dinnie (the renowned Scottish athlete), who denied my ever having performed the lifts I claimed, and whose contention was, I believe, that I was not heavy enough to do all that I said. To convince this gentleman, I called on him in company with my two brothers, Hermann and Kurt. He had a bar bell weighing about 230 lbs, and he did not seem at all sure that I could lift this with one hand. It was a very short and awkward bar bell, but I said to Dinnie, "Tie a 56 lb. weight to it." After this had been done I pressed the weight (286 lbs. In all) with one hand, to the evident surprise of Mr. Dinnie, who immediately was transformed from one of my most severe critics into one of my warmest supporters, and I believe at this moment he would support me against any man in the world in a weight lifting contest. Later, using the same bar bell with a 56 lb. weight tied AT EACH END, I raised with one hand from the shoulder, 342 lbs. I believe this so surprised Mr. Donald Dinnie that he could hardly speak, and he at once wrote to the Magazine withdrawing his previous statements, and saying, "he believed me to be the best weight lifter extant."

At Birmingham, I was confronted with Mr. McCann's bar bell weighing 222 lbs., and requested to try same. Mr. McCann, it will be remembered, is the man who defeated Sandow in a weightlifting competition some years ago. His bar bell was at Gough Street, Birmingham. They also had two 56 lb. square weights which they said had never been lifted with one hand. The weightlifters present, were I believe, considerably astonished when I placed the 222 lb. bar bell into my right hand overhead, and brought with the left hand the two 56 lbs. both together to arm's length, whilst holding aloft the 222 lb. bar bell.

Another gentleman whom I considerably astonished is Mr. H. P. Harrison, the Manager of "Sandow's School of Physical Culture," at Liverpool. I there pressed in Mr. Harrison's presence 331 lbs. with one hand. He was extremely surprised, and wrote me out a certificate certifying that I had done this feat with his weights, and in his presence, as under:

SANDOW'S SCHOOL OF PHYSICAL CULTURE,

Colquitt Street, Liverpool

Nov. 24, 1904.

This is to certify that Mr. Arthur Saxon, this morning lifted 331 lbs. from the shoulder to above the head with one hand only. This exceedingly difficult feat can be better appreciated when it is taken into consideration that it was not one weight only but was composed of a 160 lb. bar-bell with a 90 lb. dumb-bell tied on one end, and an 81 lb. dumb-bell tied on the other end.

(Signed) P. H. HARRISON, MANAGER

On another occasion when a certain weightlifter said, that although I was a good one-handed lifter, he did not believe I was good with two hands, I raised 142 lbs. in the right hand, and 134 lbs, if I remember rightly, in the left hand, in a clean double-handed lift to the extreme surprise of this particular lifter who could hardly manage to raise one of these dumb-bells (which had a tick handle) up to his knees even. At one time there was considerable dispute as to the authenticity of my different performances. To satisfy their readers, the well-known magazine "Health and Strength" sent a special representative to test my weights. He brought his own scale with him and tested every weight before and after it was lifted. At this particular test performance I succeeded in raising 314 lbs. with the right hand from the shoulder, snatching 190 lbs. with one hand, jerked a bar-bell weighing 340 lbs., from the shoulder with both hands, and holding in the right hand a weight of 267 lbs, I brought over head with the left hand an awkward ring-weight weighing 119 lbs. these feats were mentioned in an article which appeared in Health and Strength for October, 1903. The same gentleman came unexpectedly to the Grand Music Hall, Clapham Junction, and weighed my bar bell after I had lifted it at my performance and found it to be exactly 300 lbs. it appeared to surprise him greatly. I may say that ever since, I have had the support of the Health and Strength magazine as the "Strongest man on Earth."

A feat which never fails to surprise my friends is that of raising two 56 lb. square weights in each hand above the head in a clean lift.

The best lift I have yet performed was at Stuttgart, in Germany, on December 12th, 1905, where in the presence of a number of weightlifters and a representative of the leading sporting paper, I pressed with one hand 370 lbs. the local "strong man" wished to test the weight and was allowed to do so, but could not raise it to his knees with both hands.

At the end of this book I have given my records and measurements, also those of my brothers Hermann and Kurt, and I wish to say that in all cases the reader may rely on absolute accuracy in both measurements and records, as I have no wish whatever to exaggerate or distort in the slightest, and I am confident this book will convince every reader that I am a genuine strong man struggling in the face of much opposition to prove my ability to raise the weights which I claim as records, and I at last believe I have succeeded in convincing the majority of weightlifters that I am bona fide in every way.

I will take this opportunity of thanking the editors of the Health Magazines, and also the editor of Sporting Life for their kindness in sending representatives to weigh my weights, and in giving testimony in their publications, as to the genuineness of my lifts.

At the conclusion of my engagement with Mr. Bostock of the Zoo, Glasgow, he was kind enough to present me with a medal on which are inscribed the following words:

THE STRONGEST MAN ON EARTH, UNDOUBTEDLY.

PRESENTED TO ARTHUR SAXON, BY E. H. BOSTOCK, ZOO CIRCUS, GLASGOW, 30th November, 1900.

I much esteem this presentation, as you may be sure Mr. Bostock made strict enquiries into my claims before presenting me with such a splendid award.

Iron Nation
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Bob Whelan

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