Wednesday, June 8, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 1 - MY EARLY DAYS - By Arthur Saxon

*Editors Note: The book did not actually have numbered chapters. They were just separated by topic headings. I numbered them as "Chapters" to make it more orderly for the reader. Some were combined as they were very short.

As stated in the introduction to this book, I should be untruthful did I follow the example of certain strong men who have made it their business to say they were weakly invalids at the commencement of their training, but, by a secret method, made themselves into strong men. I reiterate the fact that only one man in every hundred has the chance of becoming a champion weight-lifter. To pose successfully as such, one must, in the first instance, be born with the constitution of a horse, and with a sound physical make-up, both externally and internally, good bones and a strong will. Also, of course, the wish and ambition to be a "strong man."

I must admit that the manner in which my youthful days were spent has stood me in good stead in my latter-day training to fit myself for the title of "Strongest Man on Earth."

I was born at Leipzig, in Germany, on the 28th of April, 1878, and went to school to the age of 14. I practically lived in the open air, being specially fond, in my boyhood days, of long, rambling walks, during which, with my comrades, as the desire seized us, we ran and wrestled, occasionally, in fact, even making a practice of climbing trees, which, in itself, is a splendid exercise, calling into play every muscle of the body; also I must say a cool head and steady nerves are necessary to excel in this particular sport, if such it may be called. The most successful climber is he who attains the greatest height, and I have often watched, and, indeed. Myself climbed to such a height that the tree became of inadequate thickness to the weight it had to support, and at some scores of feet above the ground, it would bend over in a manner quite thrilling to behold.

I remember at one time a forest keeper found myself and my brother in one of these trees, but we climbed to such a height he dare not follow, and, after waiting patiently, in disgust walked away, but not before his vigil had tired him so that he dozed against the tree, to be suddenly awakened by an apple dropped on his unsuspecting head by mischievous Hermann, his subsequent antics being (to us) most amusing.

Regarding diet, at this time I ate daily of whole meal bread, had plenty of eggs and milk, beef and bacon, and also, as I grew older, indulged in moderation in our national drink - lager beer. So you will see that, fortunately gifted with a splendid constitution and possibilities of a good physique (which by hard work I developed to the utmost), with plenty of fresh air, good food, rest and freedom from care, I have had every chance of reaching my ambition.

At the age of 16 a friend took me to the Athletic Club at Leipzig, where I commenced to practice with half cwts.

At the age of 17 my weight was 13 1/2 stone; at the age of 18 I included wrestling with my weight-lifting practice. At first, although enormously strong, my strength was of little avail, and a good wrestler would be sure to throw me, but later, when I understood the science of wrestling, I became invulnerable to the attacks of the best wrestlers that could be found to compete with me; and after this date I was never defeated, either in wrestling or weight-lifting. I took first prize at Leipzig, Werdau and Chemitz for weight-lifting, and my gold medals are now shown to visitors at the Club I practiced at in Leipzig, where, I am pleased to think, my name is held in esteem, and the members are always pleased to see me, as I have, in my travels, successfully upheld the honor of my old Club. I also entered a heavy-weight wrestling competition, and astonished my competitors with my strength. At first I stood innocently enough, and look, at the time, very quiet, and , I hope, unassuming. My physique and appearance was ignored by the other competitors, who, when we to business in reality, all complained bitterly of my fierceness, saying that I was too strong to wrestle with, but I hope I displayed a little science as well. I certainly raised my competitor overhead and dashed him to the ground whenever opportunity occurred, but at the time this was my favorite throw, and I had made up my mind to win. While on the subject of wrestling, I may mention that I have not claimed in this country to be a wrestler, nor do I specially wish to do so now. This, more than once, had led to my being challenged to wrestle by men who thought that their science would overcome my strength to the benefit of their reputation and pockets. But, in each case, I am glad to say that I have come out victorious.

While with Mr. Bostock at the Zoo, Glasgow, a French wrestler persistently worried me to wrestle him. He asked me so often that at last I said if he would be responsible for any damage I might do to him, I would wrestle him to satisfy him and be rid of his importunities. He agreed to this and I wrestled him. The bout had hardly lasted a minute when I seized him and threw him down on both shoulders. Unfortunately, his head struck the floor, and he was somewhat injured. It was quite a surprise to the spectators, as this man was very scientific, but I think no one was more surprised than the Frenchman.

On another page I describe how I wrestled Hayston, the champion wrestler of South Africa, and Mahbool Khan, supposed to be champion wrestler of Ceylon.

Eventually my success as an amateur lifter was so great that I was induced to turn myself into a professional. I came to England with the object in view, and have persistently challenged the world to an all-round contest in weight-lifting, but I regret to say I have not succeeded in inducing anyone to make a match.

As is well-known, I am well ahead of the next man on the one-handed press. It is not so well known that I should by no means wish to decide a contest with this one lift, but am anxious to have a match including single-handed , double-handed lifting, also the snatch and the swing, and, in fact, all recognized lifts.

Iron Nation
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