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Thursday, August 25, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 25, Part 2 - SANDOW, SAXON, ET AL., FURTHER DISCUSSIONS ....(Continued) - By Mark H. Berry

A question may enter the minds of many. Are men as strong today as in days of old, and are the strongest and best built men of today on a par with the best men of other days? We will first give our replies and then do some explaining by way of making ourselves thoroughly understood. We believe that among the active strong men of the present day will be found stronger men and a greater number of stronger men than at any time in the history of the world. With the exceptions of Arthur Saxon and his ability at the Bent Press and Louis Cyr at Back Lifting, the strong men of today are capable of doing anything within the capabilities of old timers. The real reason, we believe, why the records of both these men stand, is because the lifts are unpopular and not properly encouraged. The majority of lifting records are held by the men of Continental Europe, and while records are continually soaring on those lifts which are popularized, the Bent Press stands as a discredited lift in the mind of the modern European lifter. We have already discussed the Back Lift. We are firmly convinced there are more well developed men in the world today than at any other time in modern history. With the exception of Eugene Sandow, we believe the most shapely men of today are at least the equal of the best models of all other times.

Permit us to elucidate. Perhaps you noticed our references to modern times in connection with well developed men. It is rather a moot question as to whether or not the average man of today, or rather of modern times, is as rugged and well developed as the average man of ancient times. When considering the average run of men, the majority of whom are not athletic, we might be inclined to believe the man of ancient times better built and stronger than the average Mr. Citizen of recent years. But, as to health, it is quite possible the people of hundreds of years ago were less healthy than the people of today. Mainly due to sanitation, hygiene, a more learned healing fraternity, etc. The regular visitation of scourge, pestilence, epidemic, famine, and so on, reaped a tremendous harvest among the inhabitants of the earth in years gone by, and countless numbers were maimed, weakened, and invalid among those who safely evaded the call of the grim reaper. We firmly believe people live longer today on the average than at any time in the history of the world. Life was hard enough on even the young inhabitants of early times, but must have been altogether too rough for those advanced in years. Nowadays there are many helps and aids to prolonging the life of the aged, but in ancient times a person was in the way and defenseless as soon as it became necessary to rest from the everyday struggle for existence.

Comparing average men, the above pretty nearly sums up the situation, but we believe the athletic and physical culture populace of today to be far more physically efficient than the toil worn man of ancient days. Likewise, due to the advancement of physical training, we believe there are far more physically efficient men (and women) in the world today than at any previous time in history. Looking back over the number of heavyweight strong men who were famous twenty-five to fifty years ago, in Europe and America, on may be led to believe there were more strong men and stronger men than during the past few years. During those years, people had fewer means of diversion, and but a small percentage of the populace took part in athletics or sports of any kind. It is only in late years that participation in sports has become so widespread. At the same time, outdoor athletic games such as baseball and football, (European and American) have become extremely popular, regularly drawing many thousands to witness the players. Boxing and wrestling also enjoy an amount of popularity and prosperity never dreamed of in the days just mentioned. Furthermore, professional strength performances formerly enjoyed a high place in the show world, whereas today very little attention is paid to the professional strong man by the public. While there are a greater number of lifters and strength enthusiasts in the world today, very few are professionals, and for that reason less attention is paid to professional stunts; the majority of modern lifters practice the recognized bar bell lifts and a number of body building exercises. It is no doubt true that we would hear of more sensational heavyweights and the strength game would even be farther advanced today, if it were not for the fact that so many husky young men become interested in the popular branches of sport. They are thus lost to the strength game, where any fine natural athlete would likely become proficient.

Just imagine the number of great athletes absorbed in professional baseball in the United States. It is logical to assume that the great ball players would have been equally great in one or more other lines of sport or athletics if their attention and specialization had been directed into other channels. I hold an opinion or theory, or whatever else you may choose to call it, which may or may not be original with me. Neither have I the slightest idea as to whether or not you will be inclined to agree with me. I hold the belief that any athletically inclined American youth would prefer to excel at one of the more popular branches of sport rather than at some sport which enjoys only a small amount of publicity. For instance, the popularity and public acclaim of athletes like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, must result in our youth preferring baseball and boxing to other branches of sport, providing it were possible for them to make good. If a youth can't become a great ball player or boxer, he inclines toward some other game at which he might succeed. There are a number who do not choose baseball or boxing because of intellectual, professional, or business ambitions, even though they could excel at the games. Some of the recruits to amateur athletics are enlisted from among men who have higher ambitions in an intellectual way.

The theory I started to propound could be summed up something like this. An exceptional ability as a strength athlete is made or developed, the man with natural athletic ability should have an excellent chance of developing into an outstanding performer; but as practically all great natural athletes are absorbed by the more popular branches of sports, and thus lost to weight lifting, we must look among those who are developed, to find our strength champions. Maybe the world discovers the men with the greatest strength propensities, but I believe a great number of men who could become equally as famous for strength are never known to the strength game.

Strength enthusiasts of today should feet a debt of gratitude towards Eugene Sandow, who thrilled audiences in Europe and America during the last decade of the nineteenth century with his wonderful showmanship and the remarkable shapeliness of his physique. Witnessing the perfection of his muscular development and apparently super human strength undoubtedly caused more men and boys to become interested in the improvement of the human body than the efforts of any other single human. Many who thus became enthusiasts in the cause of physical culture later contributed in no small measure by passing on the inspiration to others through the medium of teaching, writing, and by personal appearance in the theater. The mortal Sandow has passed to his reward, but the immortal Sandow will live for ages in the memory of those who have been inspired by the beauty of his physique, whether they had the pleasure of witnessing him in the flesh or on photograph.

He was born in Konigsburg, Germany, in 1867, his real name being Frederick Mueller. It was in the city of Brussels, Belgium, whither he had gone to escape service in the German army, that young Mueller met a group of former schoolmates in a café. Knowing of his enthusiasm for feats of strength, these friends told him of a great strong man who was conducting a gymnasium across the street from the café. It was in this way that young Mueller was first introduced to the man who was to initiate him into the art of professional showmanship, without which training he would probably never have attained such remarkable proficiency and world wide honors and a degree of distinction seldom bestowed upon any individual. The great master whom he met in Brussels was Professor Attila, who had been acclaimed in every part of Europe where he had toured. Frederick Mueller requested employment of Attila and was given part time work, the best the Professor could afford at the time. In order to make ends meet, the youth posed wherever such part time employment could be had. For three years, Attila trained him in the secrets of the strong man game, and when ready to take him on the stage said, "Henceforth, I'll call you Sandow, Eugene Sandow. Work hard and be advised by me, and that name will not merely make you famous, but will get you a fortune."

They traveled together for a while and then separated, young Sandow going to Italy, where he posed for artists and sculptors and wrestled to keep himself. But he fared badly in trying to manage himself haphazardly. Sometime later, or in 1889, Professor Attila summoned Sandow to go to London to defeat some strong men who were exciting a great amount of comment. Sandow, who was in Italy, wrote that he was unable to afford the trip, and requested traveling expenses of the Professor. Arriving in London, Sandow was given special instructions for the occasion by Attila, and succeeded in vanquishing the renowned Sampson and his pupil Cyclops, both of who were powerful men. At another time, this man Charles Sampson officially lifted 4003 pounds with a Harness Lift, and Cyclops (Franz Bienkowski) was probably the best man the world has known at bending and breaking coins. From that time on Sandow was lionized as the greatest of strong men, and the most perfect physical specimen among mortal men. Coming to America, he had the good fortune to be managed by Flo Ziegfield, now famous as the producer of musical shows and folly girls. He appeared all over the United States for a considerable length of time, and later settled in England, where he opened schools and gymnasiums, remained until his death a few years ago. Sandow was denied admittance to his native land, owing to having run away from military duty; otherwise he could have made a fortune by appearing in all cities of Germany where the populace was eager to see him.

With great honor being justly due Eugene Sandow for his part in the popularization of weight lifting and the cultivation of a superb physique, we must owe an equal debt of gratitude to the man who brought him to the fore, his teacher and inspiration, Professor Louis Attila. Besides having served in that honorable capacity, the great Professor likewise was instructor and the physical inspiration to a host of others, prominent in all walks of life. To name a few, among well known strong men and athletes, Warren Lincoln Travis, Lionel Strongfort, George W. Rolandow, H. W. Titus, Anthony Barker, Bobby Pandour, Louis Cyr, Horace Barre, Arthur Dandurand, Adolph Nordquest, and James J. Corbett all served under his instruction for some length of time; likewise the famous French physical training authority Professor Edmund Desbonnet; among those of high social standing, J.P. Morgan, Jr., Alfred Vanderbilt, Lord Lonsdale of England, and Baron Rothschild of France; Sousa of Band leading fame, and among theatrical men, Klaw, Erlanger, Hammerstein, Ziegfield; among the royalty of Europe, the pupils of Professor Attila included King Edward of England, when he was Prince of Wales, and the six children of King Christian of Denmark, some of whom later became royal heads of European countries; to name them by the title which they were later known, Crown Prince Fredercik, future king Haakon of Norway, King George of Greece, the Duchess of Cumberland, Queen Mother Alexandra of England; also Princess Dagmar, later Empress of Russia, and mother of the late Czar Nicholas.

Professor Attila was born in the year 1844 at Karlsruhe, Germany, and died at the age of eighty in New York City. He was extremely active and preserved a great deal of his strength until near the end. Attila was responsible for the introduction of many of the feats of strength we know today, such as the Roman Column, the Roman Chair, supporting feats in the human bridge position, tearing packs of playing cards; he likewise originated the hollow globe ended bells we know today. Many bar bell and dumb bell exercises in use today were also originated by the Professor.

The Attila Studio was founded in New York City about 1894, and after the demise of the founder, was carried on for some time by Siegmund Klein until he opened his own studio four years ago.

Undoubtedly the most famous team of strong men the world has ever known was the Saxon Brothers, their real name being Hennig; Arthur, Herman, and Kurt.

Herman Goethe is also known in this country by the name of Herman Saxon. A few years ago, this athlete visited several cities throughout the country, calling himself by his most distinguished name. Quite a furor was raised in some quarters, as it was claimed the man was an imposter. However, after running the thing down, we find the man really had a right to use the name, for reasons we will now disclose for the first time in print. When the Saxon Brothers first came over, the original Herman was one of the trio. Unfortunately he has suffered an injury and found it necessary to leave the act in Ringling Brothers Circus. As several weeks had still to be played, Arthur signed Joe Lambert to fill in for the balance of the season. The following year, when Arthur and Kurt came over, they had another man taking the place of their younger brother, who was then identified by the name Herman Saxon. His true name was Herbert Goethe, the athlete to who we have referred. Although not quite as large nor as strong as the original Herman Saxon or Hennig, nevertheless, he was a first class performer, a capable lifter, and worthy of a place among the famous Saxon brothers.

In case anyone should consider this an odd thing to do, that is ring in another man as one of the Saxon Brothers, or as actually happened, two men, (Goethe and Lambert) it may be worth noting that the Saxon Trio was greatly shifted about during the existence of that particular strong man team. Briefly this is its history. The trio was brought into being by Arno Saxon, no relation to the "Saxon" Brothers or Hennigs. He joined forces with an Oscard Hilgenfeldt and a nineteen year old youth (later famous as the genuine Arthur Saxon); then Oscard left to be replaced by a man named Somerton, was also replaced by an Adolph Berg; and then with Arno Saxon out, the seventeen year old Herman Hennig joined the trio, and later Kurt Henning took the place of Berg, but the latter returned at one time when Herman went out on his own for a while. These changes all took place in England, whence the original trio had been enticed by the fame and fortunes of Eugene Sandow. When the Saxon Trio first visited America, it consisted of the three Hennig Brothers, up until the changes occasioned by the injury to Herman, when his place was taken in turn by Joe Lambert and Herbert Goethe. So you see, in the final analysis, this last named man had a very good right to be traveling the country in recent years under the name of Herman Saxon.

To return to the happenings in England, as we said, the Saxon Trio journeyed to the tight little isle to cash in on the popularity stirred up by Sampson and Sandow. The latter had suddenly appeared in London to defeat Sampson, and was to realize the feeling of chagrin himself at the hands of the nineteen year old Arthur Hennig. At that time Arthur could Bent Press 267 pounds, and when Sandow tried to duplicate the performance he ran into a clever piece of t rickery. Arthur always Bent Pressed his bell with the bar running level, but having noted that Sandow tilted the bell, the 267 pounder was prepared for the trial by partly filling the bar with quick silver. Thus when the handsome Eugene tried to press it, he was bound to meet with failure when the bell was tilted. As he grew older, Arthur Hennig became a great deal stronger, far surpassing Sandow in strength.

As to which country has the strongest men or has produced the greatest number of strong men in the past, that is a moot question. The patriotic citizens of each of several countries can point with pride to a long list of names of famous strength athletes, claiming the title for their country on the basis of many stellar performers. It is difficult and perhaps unfair to state that any one country has a majority of stronger men than any other country; after all, it is impossible to determine the actual truth concerning such a proposition. We in the United States, for instance, do not care to acknowledge that the men of European nations are more powerful and rugged than our own young manhood.

Even in the face of positive figures showing the evident superiority of European weight lifters, we do not wish to accept it as a conclusion that our young men are fundamentally weaker than the men of other countries. We may argue weight lifting is an unpopular sport over here; hence our best natural prodigies of strength are absorbed in other and more popular sports. However, basing our calculations in actual figures, we must bow to Continental Europe as the majority of recognized champion strong men have been born and raised over there.

At the present time, the strongest man when judged by International weight lifting rules, is a Frenchman, Charles Rigoulot; the next best are Germans, Herman Gorner, Karl Moerke, and Henry Steinborn. Gorner is the only one of this trio who has been active so far as record making is concerned, within the past few years. Ernest Cadine, another Frenchman, is of high rank and at the present time probably superior to either Moerke or Steinborn. Several other countries can boast of high class men, especially among the amateurs. In this class, at the recent Olympic Games, Germany took first place as a team; four years previously, France took the honors, but Germany was barred from entering; at the Olympics previous to that, or in 1920, Italy won first place.

The present Olympic champions in each class are: Heavyweight, Germany; Light Heavyweight, Egypt; Middleweight: France; Lightweight: tie Germany and Austria; Featherweight, Austria; Austria can lay claim to the citizenship of quite a few of the strongest men the world has known; Joseph Steinbach, Karl Swoboda, Wilhelm Turek, Graf, and a host of others. Germany has produced besides Gorner, Moerke and Steinborn of recent times, Saxon, Sandow, Sampson, and others.

The present amateur heavyweight champion is a German, Strssberger, who won the title at the Olympics of 1928. France has give the world a long list of famous and outstanding champions: Apollon, Francois, Vasseur, Bonnes, Roumageon, Cadine, Batta, etc. Switzerland, the famous Deriaz Brothers.

Canada had Louis Cyr, who was probably the strongest at all around strength in his time. The United States has produced the Back and Harness lifter, Warren L. Travis, and Joe Nordquest as the only real record holders among the heavyweights. Nearly every country of Europe can point to some athletes who might be considered among the strongest of men; Russia to Hackenschmidt and Lurich; Poland to Zbyzsko, etc.

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