Friday, September 30, 2011

Comments on the Hackenschmidt - Gotch matches - By Mike Chapman

Originally posted on on 29 July 2003

Hello Bob,

I don't know if this is the right place to write about David Gentle's article on George Hackenschmidt, but I found the article listed on this web site. Perhaps you could forward it on to Mr. Gentle.

The article is well written with lots of facts. However, there are two major errors regarding the Hack-Gotch matches. He writes that the experts all agree that Hack would have won the second match if he had not injured his knee. Actually, most of the experts say just the opposite...that the injury was very minor and Hack was simply terrified of facing Gotch beccause he knew he could not beat him. Even Jack Curley, who was Hack's good friend and the promoter of the bout, said in an article in RING magazine in 1931 that Hack's knee was tested and was okay and Curley fully expcted Hack to win...but that Gotch won fair and square and was just too good for Hack. Edward Smith, the referee, said the same thing. The top wrestling writer of the era was George Barton of the Minneapolis Tribune, a man of impeccable reputation. He wrote in 1960 that Gotch won fair and square both times and that Hack simply wasn't in Gotch's class as a catch-style wrestler.

Gentle also said that Hack bore no grudges about the matches but put them behind him. John Grimek told me PERSONALLY in his office in York in 1982 that he met Hack at the Mr. Universe contest in 1950 and at the dinner after the competition, a fellow asked Hack about the Gotch matches...and Hack turned beet red, slammed his fist on the table, got up and stormed out, saying "I do not want to talk about Frank Gotch." That was 39 years AFTER the match....

I am a huge fan of Hackenschmidt and think he was the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time and that he would have beaten Gotch in that style. However, he simply did not possess the speed and the technical knowledge to compete with Gotch in a catch match. I have researched Gotch for 40 years and that is the general consensus of opinion by just about all the "insiders" I have talked with and read about through the decades. I know that was the opinion of the great TomJenkins, who was American champion in the early 1900s and wrestled both Gotch (8 times) and Hackenschmidt (2 times).

Thanks for reading all of the spirit of trying to get the matter straight.

Mike Chapman,

Thanks for the feedback Mike. I'll forward this to David.

P.S. Mike is the author of 14 books and executive director of the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More on the Inch Bell - " of the sports greatest fraudulent claims..." - By Joe Roark

Originally posted on on 06 July 2003

Hi Bob,

I read the piece about the Inch bell that mentions me in regard to whether
Saxon could lift the bell.

There are several points in the piece with which I draw variant conclusions,
and these have been covered in detail at in the INCH 101

Saxon had his own replica made, and mastered it, but Inch claimed Arthur
still could not get his, Tom's, off the floor.

Inch had five bells he referred to as his unliftable, including one that was
shown in a 1930s film that was a nutted, not solid bell, which he called the
famous unliftable, and it most certainly was not that bell.

There are several other points which are covered in detail in my series,
that at least to me, prove Inch was a manipulator who may have been able to deadlift the 172, but most certainly could not clean it and put it overhead one-handed once, let alone the hundreds of times he claimed. There was a time when his maximum clean on a 1" bar was about the same as the weight of the thick-handled Inch 172, so he most certainly would not have been able to lift the 172 during that time frame.

The chronology of events I outline disproves some other claims also, such as
when the bells were manufactured, when Inch took the bell for Padoubny to
try (during Apollon's time-off at the venue so
Apollon would not have a chance at it) and other matters.

Anyway, how I feel about one of the sports greatest fraudulent claims can be
found by those who care at

Best regards,

Joe Roark

Joe, Thank you so much for the input. Bob

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Sunday, September 25, 2011


Originally posted on on 05 July 2003 with permission of Muscle Mob.

The answer to the question posed by Joe Roark is that it appears that Arthur Saxon may have tried and failed.

According to statements made by Inch an others - no one - other than Inch successfully lifted this dumbbell during the 40 odd years of his challenge. Indeed it was not until 1956 that the aura of invincibility was damaged.

However, in answering that question we raise another. Inch was a friend as well as an admirer of Saxon and not being a man to risk losing money had asked Arthur to test his dumbbell. Saxon is said to have failed and this gave our Tom the confidence to raise the prize money from £100.00 from £200.00.

If Arthur did fail, why did Inch, who certainly encouraged the mystique that grew up around the dumbbell, not use this failure to his own advantage and appears to have made no mention of it until after Arthur's death in 1921? The answer might simply have been that Arthur was a friend and that there was no direct competition between them. Inch on numerous occasions said that Arthur was without equal as a strongman and presumably he was including himself. Any challenge to the Saxon's would have undoubtedly lead to a counter-challenge on a number of lifts which Inch realistically could not expect to win.

Ripley's 'Believe It or Not' featured Inch's challenge '10,000 strongmen have failed to lift this dumbbell, but Inch lifted it a 1000 times! What is the secret?'

Putting aside the numbers, to be fair to Inch there was no secret, no trick. The poundage and thickness of the handle were what had to be overcome. The application of an immensely strong grip and brute power combined with the correct technique was clearly what was needed.

It is unlikely that Saxon could have resisted attempting to lift this dumbbell. But as with the challenge dumbbell of American Strongman, John Y. Smith, he may well have failed.

Among the strongmen who did try were: -

Maurice Deriaz Swiss born Maurice of the Deriaz brothers who, while only 5' 6" tall, weighed 200 pounds and had an 18-inch upper arm and a 14-inch forearm. He failed and unfortunately older brother Emil, who was stronger, never tried.

Strongfort The Norwegian, not Lionel Strongfort the American, who was capable of cleaning 340 pounds without moving his feet also failed. Inch credited him with the best attempt to date. Strongfort had come to London to enter the 1908 Olympics but found there was to be no Weightlifting competition and so short of cash he took up the challenge.

Harold Wood The Battersea strongman and one of Britain's strongest ever men also tried and failed.

During the wrestling world championships at Heglers Circus the dumbbell was on display as a challenge to all the wrestlers including Ivan Padoubney, the great Russian who was one of the strongest men in the world. When Inch returned accompanied by Arthur Saxon, he found that no one had been able to lift it and that many were of the opinion that it was impossible. Inch's answer was to pick up the dumbbell and carry it out of the arena.

There is also another question. How many Inch Dumbbells were there?

Edward Aston, who later defeat Inch for his title tried on several occasions and once shouted to Inch 'and which dumbbell is it today Mr. Inch?' to which Inch quickly replied 'it is the one I am lifting tonight!'

John valentine of Leeds, a very strong man and a competent performer known in America as the Michigan Hercules had been a former pupil of Inch's. His attempt also failed, for despite having been told the weight of the dumbbell and precise dimensions of the handle he found that it was beyond him. Indeed, valentine was capable of pressing a 200 pound dumbbell. John said in a letter that he was now certain that Inch had at least 3 challenge dumbbells possibly a fourth.

Maxick, while preparing to accept the challenge, was uncertain as to which bell he would be lifting and called off the attempt.

Reg Park Mr. U and worlds best developed man also tried and having easily stretched Inch's Super Expander and closed Inch's grip machine further than anyone had done before, then found that he too would fail to lift the unliftable dumbbell. Thomas Inch, then aged 68, demonstrated that no tricks were involved by performing all three feats including the lifting of the dumbbell - this reported in both the Evening Standard and Daily Mail of 27th October 1949.

In 1957 a contest in London featured another dumbbell this one having a 2.5-inch handle and weighing 153 pounds.

As to any dumbbell being so-called 'unliftable' there are other factors involved other than just the weight. These must include dimensions. In particular the diameter and width of the handle. It is perhaps interesting to speculate on the likelihood of the success of such as John Grunn, Vansittart, Louis Uni (Apollon) or Louis Cyr who all could surely have toyed with the reputed weight of such dumbbells.

So we are left with the unknown factor, including just how many dumbbells were there? Aston's one, two, three or even possibly four…

The skeptical will of course say 'well where are these dumbbells now?' We know was owned by Reg Park, later by Dave Prowse and sold again onto Kim Woods. The others, if they existed, have probably ended up in some scrap-yard, possibly to lay alongside Apollon's wheels or Saxons Barbells.

Then again they may still be around, unknown and unrecognized, awaiting someone who will discover them, dream improbable dreams and lift unliftable dumbbells.

We can hope can't we?

Physical Culture
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Friday, September 23, 2011

MY PAL . . VIC BOFF - By Tom Minichiello

Originally posted on on 26 December 2002

If you had Vic Boff as a friend you were a most fortunate person. I was one of those lucky ones, he was my pal.

Everyone in the Fitness and Health Foods community knew of Vic through his articles in health publications and of course as the Ice Berg King of Coney island.

I first became friendly with Vic in the seventies when he would come into my gym and we'd chat for some time. we traveled to different events, upstate New York at Tom Ciola's competition, Worcester Mass for Cliff Sawyer's events. Two memorable trips was to York PA for the 90th birthday party for Milo Steinborn and a surprise retirement party for Ed Jubinville in Holyoke Mass.

Vic's friends will appreciate this short tale -- It was at the end of November 1985 and my wife and I were with Vic in Atlantic City to help out at a physique competition. There was a late night meeting at the Sands Casino which ended about one in the morning. We were all staying at the Showboat so after being indoors all evening when we walked out on the boardwalk the strong and cold winds greeted us. We started walking back to our hotel, Eleanore and I were shivering from the cold, as we walked on we looked at the strong waves that were breaking on the shore and Vic looked like he was in Miami Florida, this was his environment -- c-o-l-d.

Vic looked out at the ocean and said -- "I knew it, I knew it." My jaws were almost locked tight from the cold and the wind but I was able to ask him, "Vic what did you know?" He was still looking out at the ocean and with that robust complection of his he seriously said, "I should have brought along my bathing trunks." That was my pal Vic.

I knew that this was a SPECIAL man that entered my life. Vic became my counsel. If I neededanswers I went to Vic. He most always had all the answers for me and if he didn't he wouldn't rest until he did. Today, everyone is on the computer for their answers, Vic Boff was my internet. His advice and suggestions came from his heart.

One of his many accomplishments was the founding of the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen. This wonderful man created a home for several hundred from the community of the Iron Game. From all over the States and Europe members received their bulletins and became up to date on events. With interesting articles and news Vic Boff did a marvelous thing -- HE KEPT THE PAST ALIVE.

The annual dinners and the honoring of past members was an event that all who could attend looked forward to with enthusiasm. For the most part, this was done by one man -- Vic Boff. His own ideology of physical culture was built into the foundation of his A.O.B.S., it should be continued.

After selling my gym in Manhattan I relocated to Fort Myers Florida. I was thrilled to find out that Vic and his wife Ann had sold their store and were moving to Cape Coral which is only minutes away from my area.

We had over ten years of close friendship. At the many lunches we had together he talked of all the old timers, mostly Goerge Jowett who he had been in business with. He knew McFadden and so many more, he was a walking history book of the Iron Game and the Health Foods industry of which he was one of its early pioneers.

Vic would never find fault with anyone, he would talk only of the good that people did. A number of times I told him about what I thought of some individuals -- he would then immediately tell me of what he knew about the good that they had done and would never pick up on what I had said.

In my friendship with Vic I have learned much -- not only of the Iron Game but of life and living it. There were many times I needed his counsel, he was always there for me. I learned the morality of this man -- UNQUESTIONABLE. He could never hurt or deceive anyone, he always went out of his way to help people and I know that over the years he has helped many. In the last ten years we had confided in one another. I can tell you that all of Vic's desire to help not only his friends but total strangers came from his heart. The idea of receiving any monetary rewards for his efforts never came to mind, he just wanted to help his fellow man.

Vic Boff was the most UNDERSTANDING person that I ever knew. He was able to feel your pain, your joy. If you knew Vic you had to love him, I did and I know I'm a better person for having known him.

How fortunate for me to have lived in his time. . . . . my pal VIC, ....WHAT A MAN !

Physical Culture
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

BOB HOFFMAN - circa 1946 - By FORTUNE Magazine

Originally posted on on 15 June 2002 Reprinted on NaturalStrength with permission of THE IRON MASTER. (Iron Master Editor Osmo Kiiha)

To at least a half-million Americans, York is a sort of Mecca, for no more reason than that it is the home of the York Barbell Co. and of Strength and Health magazine. Both are in the same ramshackle building near the tracks, which also house, during working hours, some twenty-five of the strongest men in the world, all title-holding champions. If intellectual endeavor is little in evidence, there is an abundant display of outsized muscles and feats of strength. The central character of the York Barbell Co. and editor-in-chief of Strength and Health is Robert Hoffman, a forty-eight-year-old strongman, whose handsome, pensive face and soft voice disguise a fanatical approach toward strength, health, muscles, and life in general. Born in Georgia, he migrated to Pittsburgh in early life and lifted nothing very heavy before World War I. His career in the U.S. Army was marked by bravery in action and the earning of a number of decorations, which did not include, as the Federal Trade Commission pointedly pointed out to him in 1936, the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war Hoffman went to York to visit his brother and has been there ever since. He worked at first with the York Oil Burner Co., of which he was a partner, and in 1923 he discovered barbells.

A barbell is a kind of loosely built dumbbell, so designed that iron plates of varying weights may be attached to a bar in different combinations in order to vary the total weight at will. Hoffman, after a few rounds with the barbells, decided that they were the only way to physical development. "Other ways," he says (and he meant all other ways), "are pretty much a waste of time. You can become such a superman through weight training you can do anything. I've won over 600 prizes in different sports. Whatever I take up, I become a champion - golf - handball - swimming - football." Hoffman is the author of several books, including Weight lifting, Big Arms, The Big Chest Book.

By 1929, Hoffman had infected enough people with his enthusiasm to warrant the commercial production of barbells. The York Barbell, like any official Olympic one, is adjustable in weight from forty-five (the weight of the bar alone) to 360 pounds; sets vary in price from $12 to $82. The best-selling unit is a $39 set, which includes a barbell, dumbbells, foot and head weights, and the necessary straps and buckles. Hoffman claims to have sold 50,000 of these since 1941. He is content with the figure and exhibits typical and inexplicable sales satisfaction. "I am more interested in selling lots of small sets to keep people fit," he says. "Out of the 50,000 I've only had sixty-one returns. That must be a record." All together, Hoffman has sold over 300,000 barbell combinations and thousands of courses in development. Nineteen hundred and forty-six was the first year to see over $1 million gross, although 1945 would have cleared that mark except for shortages of iron. Hoffman personally makes about $50,000 annually, and would make more if he had not sold out his oil-burner interest to devote his entire time to bodies. "I would be richer if I had stuck to oil burners," he observes wistfully. "But this is what I love."

Hoffman's only visible means of public relations is Strength and Health, edited in an atmosphere of perspiration and horseplay in York, printed in Baltimore, and sold all over the U.S. for 15 cents. The magazine loses some $3,000 per month despite a circulation exceeding 140,000. It is an assembly of advertisements; both direct and editorial, of the equipment offered by York Barbell Co. and the York Athletic Supply Co., which specializes in iron shoes, cable pullers, teeth lifters, and resistance apparatus. Supervised by Hoffman and edited by a former heavy-weight champion lifter, Gord Venables, Strength and Health is no more modern in its approach to selling than were the advertisements of Attila and Sandow. It is more remarkable for the presentation of nearly nude photographs of spectacular bodies than for elegance of style or precision of grammar. Articles are concerned with such technical problems as "The Leverage Method of Building Bigger Arms" and "The Art of Lifting Human Weights," or moralist considerations of "Both sides of the Drinking Question" and "How Harmful is the Use of Tobacco?" There is also a self-improvement stories department, presided over by Steve Stanko, Mr. America of 1944. Principal reason for Strength and Health deficit is Hoffman's squeamishness about advertising. "I don't take liquor, cigarette, or breakfast-food advertising," he says, omitting the editorial "we." "I don't eat breakfast food. Why clutter up my stomach with a lot of starch?"

Of Bob Hoffman's 300 employees, twenty-five are champion weight lifters, imported as members of the York Barbell Club and as employees in the various enterprises. Venables, Stanko, and John Grimek (Mr. America of 1940 and 1941, and Olympic team member 1936) edit the magazine, Jules Bacon (Mr. America of 1943 and famous for his "muscles that have muscles") manages the foundry, and John Terpak (ten times U.S. champion) is general manager of the entire organization. In the shipping room, where their muscles are put to good use, are Emerick Ishikawa and Stanley Stanczyk, both members of Hoffman's team, which defeated the Russians for the world's lifting championship in Paris last October. Every afternoon at four thirty sharp most of the staff knock off work and make for the red-and-black gymnasium over the shipping room for a two-hour session of grunting, groaning, and straining. Profanity, loafing, and smoking are sharply forbidden by signs posted about the entrance.

In his early and leaner days Hoffman used to give employment and $10.00 per week to any promising lifter who turned up in York. Now he pays his stable of Apollo's $50 to $200 per week and provides several of them with houses. He has set up fifteen of his former champions in businesses that include a restaurant, a taproom, a roadhouse, a curiosity swap shop, and a food market. And he has not been less generous to his two girl friends in York, each of whom has a house and a business; one operates a little taproom and the other a dress shop. About his private life Bob Hoffman is earnest and frank. "I'm so strong," he says, "I have to have two girls. I've been going out with both of them for eight years and I can't bring myself to break either's heart by giving up one or the other." Enlarging on the disadvantages of indulgence, he observes, "A strong man can take more than anyone else, but there are limits. He can smoke or drink or make love to the ladies. I don't smoke or drink." His two friends are both proficient weight lifters, and a pleasant evening spent in the company of either often consists of competitive lifting in Hoffman's parlor. "We could use the gym out in the garage," he explains, "but somehow we always seem to work out in here on that thousand-dollar rug." The bookshelves in the parlor are crammed with heavy works that display only such titles as Practical Birth Control, Stay Young and Live, You're only Young Twice, The Sex Life of the Unmarried Adult, Birth Control, The Male Hormone, and Physical Training for Children.

Whether or not Hoffman is responsible, weight lifting is on the upswing in the U.S. Many young men were exposed to barbells for the first time in the armed forced and have become enthusiasts. Few such muscle builders have sufficient incomes to patronize gymnasiums, and most serious trainers consider weight lifting merely "kid stuff." There are many gymnasiums, however, which go in heavily for "mirror athletics" and weight lifting. Tony Sansone, a good-looking Latin with a classical frame, operates a gymnasium on Third Avenue in New York City where weight lifting is encouraged. Sansone's clientele, however, includes many young men of the theater and the arts who can afford to pay his rates. In San Francisco a bulging and joyously healthy athlete named Walt Baptiste operates a lush barbell parlor called Body Moderne, which is probably the most lucrative of all the weightlifting establishments in the U.S. Baptiste has constant 250 students, who pay $20 per month to learn the lifts. He also sells vitamins and publishes a bimonthly magazine called Body Moderne. Most of his clients take the course for about six months, at the end of which time they buy from Baptiste a set of home training weight and continue at home. By the time they are ready to ripple themselves on the beach, they have paid something over $150 to Baptiste for instructions and equipment.

Hoffman is sad that his advocacy of weight lifting has given rise to competition, but he feels that lifting with weights made by competitors is far better than not lifting at all. Most serious competitor in the field is a Montreal firm called Your Physique Equipment Co., which manufactures the usual line of barbells and resistance equipment and publishes three magazines, Your Physique and Muscle Power in English, and Sante et Force in French. The organization stems directly from George F. Jowett, a strongman of the turn of the century, whose methods and basic teachings are still preached.

The Canadian organization has established a U.S. outlet through the Dan Lurie Barbell Co. of Brooklyn. Dan Lurie is a Brooklyn boy who claims to be "the Most Muscular Man in the World," although his right to that title is hotly contested by Kenneth Pendleton, a Negro protege of Bob Hoffman. Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck stores are now selling barbells supplied by a California organization named Healthways. Healthways is a mushrooming firm in Los Angeles that currently sells 3,000 dumbbell and barbell sets per month. All sells are direct, as the sets are too heavy for mailing. Hoffman has neglected to exploit over-the-counter sales to any extent, and he may very well regret it in the future.

Hoffman's only other real competitor, and for years his most serious rival in the strongman business, sells no equipment. He is Charles Atlas, who for twenty-three years has displayed his torso in almost every pulp magazine in the U.S. What he offers as a way to "bright eyes, clear head, real spring and zip in your step!" is a method called Dynamic Tension. His advertisements, which sometimes take the form of comic strips with such titles as "How 'Jack the Weakling' slaughtered the 'Dance-Floor Hog'" exhort the underdeveloped to try the Atlas method only fifteen minutes per day to become new men. Dynamic Tension, as described by Atlas, is simply the pitting of one muscle against another to obtain resistance. Thus one arm is pulled upward while the other arm attempts to keep it down - or the head is pushed backward while the locked arms try to pull it forward.

Atlas, who was born Angelo Siciliano in southern Italy, claims to have hit upon his method while watching the great cats in the zoo. "My rivals, who are all jealous," he says in his shy and modest manner of speaking," claim that dynamic tension builds up nervous tension. If that's true then cats and dogs should be nervous wrecks. My cat isn't a nervous wreck." As he speaks, he frequently jumps from his chair, throws out his chest, and dramatizes the point he is making. He tramps about the room as he expounds the values of natural exercises. "Take walking," he says. "What in the world could be better than a brisk morning walk on a chilly day, when you breathe in that delicious air and feel every muscle in your body tinkle."

Like many other physical instructors, Atlas owes his start to Bernarr Macfadden. His early years of struggle from a ninety-seven-pound weakling to "the World's Most Perfectly Developed Man" have been extensively publicized in The New Yorker and the Saturday Evening Post, as well as in the hundreds of advertisements by Atlas himself. In 1922, Macfadden awarded Atlas the title "World's Most Perfectly Developed Man," gave it to him again in 1923, and then called off the contests since it seemed that Atlas would always win. Next year Atlas set himself up in business selling Dynamic Tension by mail order. Today he employs as many as seventy girls at a time to open his mail. Since 1924, Atlas has sent his courses, at an average cost of $20 to $25 to the client and a probably $15 to Atlas, to over half a million pupils. The great majority has been satisfied, according to Atlas, and (alluding to the alleged dangers of lifting) no one has ever been hurt.

Every day he gets letters of thanks and letters asking advice on diet, exercise, and the optimum frequency of sexual intercourse. He also gets propositions from ladies interested in his body. Every one of these he answers firmly but politely, pointing out that he is happily married. Today, at fifty-eight, Atlas takes the widespread admiration of his torso seriously. "When I think back on my childhood," he explained to the Saturday Evening Post, "it doesn't seem possible that today the whole world looks up to me as the most ideal specimen of the human body. It is a great responsibility." The feud that has existed between Atlas and Hoffman for fifteen years has become less intense, but traces remain. Hoffman, privately, still refers to Atlas' method as "dynamic hooey," although the Federal Trade Commission ordered him in 1936 to cease and desist from calling it such in print. (At the time of the hearings before the FTC, Hoffman asked Atlas if his house cat actually pulled up with one paw while pushing down with the other and Atlas answered firmly, "Certainly, all the time.")

In the light of scientific information published recently, the FTC was perfectly right when, during the thirties, it ordered a number of mail-order gymnasts to soften their claims that any customer could become a Hercules overnight.

ED NOTE: The following appeared in the Amsterdam, New York, newspaper, "Evening Recorder" June 8, 1939. "Give me your measurements and I'll prove in the first 7 Days You Can Have a Body Like Mine."

Charles Atlas, "The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man," whose physical culture ads appears in hundreds of magazines and newspapers over the above slogan. Has been ordered by the United States government to cease and desist from misleading representations of his course or the results to be obtained from following the instructions given.

Owing to the complaints of many students that the school courses did not fulfill what they promised, the corporation was investigated. And, on the basis of findings, was directed to cease representing that users of its courses could acquire in 7 days the muscular development of Atlas or any other person of similar physique and appearance.

Atlas who is now treasurer of the respondent company and owner of half of its outstanding capital stock, was advertised in the respondent's current book "Ever-lasting Health and Strength," as recipient of the title "America's Most Perfectly Developed Man" at a physical culture exhibition held in 1922, according to findings.

Gathering evidence is that while the respondent's correspondence courses may be generally beneficial to users they will not accomplish the results claimed.

Other representations prohibited under the order were that the use of the Atlas course would cure, relieve or benefit constipation, or skin ailments, and that any price is special or extraordinary when in fact it is the regular price. End, "Evening Recorder."

Studies of types of human physique indicate that at least 65 per cent of the population will never be able to develop athletic bodies, will always tend either toward well-padded midriffs or toward flat, skinny limbs. The other third of the population are born with naturally athletic constitutions and will probably develop their bodies in youth without realizing what they are doing. Those who tend toward fatness or skinniness are doomed to frustration and disappointment if they dream of possessing torsos similar to those of Atlas and Hoffman, although they can with moderate exercise keep themselves in better condition. But they will not succeed in changing the physical equipment with which they were born. (This was the way it was in 1946, times have changed, or have they? Increasing number of Americans has gotten fatter over the years).

ED NOTE: If you are interested in reading more about Bob Hoffman and all the other people mentioned in the above article, now you can. Professor John D. Fair has written a book "MUSCLETOWN USA" definitely the book for all interested in Physical Culture - MUST READ.

MUSCLETOWN USA (432 pages 70 illustrations) ISBN 0-271-01855-0 paperback, Order from Physical Culture see link below.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Originally posted on on 10 June 2002 Reprinted on NaturalStrength with permission of THE IRON MASTER

Some 45 years ago, I was introduced to the world of the old time strength athletes, and although I can marvel at the modern supermen, the strength athletes of yesteryear still hold the most interest for me, and none more so that Max Sick, better known to the world as Maxick. From a sickly beginning, he became a great weightlifter, muscle control artist, gymnast, Herculean hand-balancer, music hall artist, artists' model, famous author, and co-founder, with Monte Saldo, of one of the world's most successful postal physical culture courses, as well as acquiring a reputation as an explorer.

I am indebted to Monte Saldo's son Courtland for the information which I gained all those years ago through our many conversations about Maxick, and to Mr. W. J. Lowry's "History of the Iron Game" for details of the exact poundages lifted in the Aston Maxick matches, also to the memoirs of Mr. Tromp Van Diggelen for details of his association with Maxick.

Maxick, often referred to as The Phenomenal Bavarian, was in fact born of Swiss parents in the town of Bregenz, Austria on 28 June 1882. Max's father died at the early age of 24, and his mother later marred a Bavarian Herr Sick, and the infant Max became a naturalized German.

Max was born a sickly child with lung problems, dropsy, and rickets, but with the aid of a form of isometrics, muscle control, Herculean hand-balancing and later weightlifting, he transformed his sickly body into one that rates, weight for weight, as one of the strongest the world has ever seen. In the year 1896, we find 14-year-old Max's health and strength greatly improved and, due to his growing reputation, he was invited to join the local athletic club. He also became an apprentice to the local engineering works. During the next nine years, Max perfected his skills at muscle control, hand-balancing (often acting as a bearer to a much heavier partner), gymnastics, and weightlifting, winning many local and regional contests, often against heavyweights. (He also managed to fit in a stint in the Bavarian Army.)

At the age of 23, Max became disillusioned with his career in engineering and looked for a way of earning a living that would enable him to pursue his physical culture studies and his growing interest in philosophy and metaphysics. Munich was a popular and flourishing art center, where a good living could be earned modeling for artists and sculptors, and Max decided to move there. After visiting a local gymnasium, his physique and strength were quickly brought to the notice of the artistic community, and he was able to earn a comfortable living modeling for them. About this time, he added an additional control to his muscle control repertoire. While posing with a long vaulting pole for the famous artist Sacha Schneider, he found that, by pulling down with one hand while holding an abdominal recession, he could gain a single-sided perpendicular abdominal contraction, a control that he quickly gained the ability to perform without mechanical pressure, along with all his other now long-established abdominal controls, such as the central isolation and the transverse roll.

Combining his muscle control skills with his gymnastic ability, Max was able to create a second income as a music hall artist, both as a bearer in a hand-balancing act with partners who were always heavier than himself, and also as a solo act. The great skill of the Roman Ring gymnast has long been admired and very popular, and was included in the modern revival of the Olympic Games in 1896. Max began his solo act by performing all the recognized Roman Ring movements, plus a few originals of his own, but with one major difference; instead of rings, he carried out the whole thing on two silver chains with no rings. He just hung on by the power of his grip and with the stage lighting on him showing his physique to the best advantage, he always drew a favorable response from his audience. Max would then move center stage and perform his muscle control act; muscle control to a degree of excellence that had never been seen before and equaled by a few performers since, maybe Otto Arco, Alan P. Mead, and later by Ed Jubinville.

Isolating and abduction of his scapulae, contracting and expanding his latismus, followed contracting and expanding his pectorals and ribcage, he appeared to be first all back and then all chest. Max followed this with trapezius and deltoid controls, now giving the appearance of all shoulders and neck, following this with impressive controls of biceps and triceps and a very difficult control of the muscles in the lower back. He then went into his repertoire of abdominal controls, and concluded with a range of leg muscle controls. His audience was always greatly impressed and there was much applause. Max would then lift a very heavy man, sometimes weighting as much as 240 lb., by placing his open right hand on the man's lower back, the man would grip his wrist with both hands and Max, with some help from his left hand, would lift the man to his shoulder and then press him to arm's length using only his right arm, and finally, still holding the man overhead with one hand, march off the stage to thunderous applause.

Max never lifted barbells in his stage act but lifted regularly in Munich lifting clubs, still out-lifting many heavyweights, his body weight being 147 lb. approximately. The way Max lifted was as impressive as the poundage's which he lifted. No deep squatting or splitting to lift the weight to his chest, he used the continental method of lifting to the waist and then to the chest in two movements, using pure power with little or no technique. His method of jerking was just a little knee bend and no movement of the feet, his clean and presses were a power clean followed by a very military press, feet together and no back bend. At pressing power, no one could beat him at his bodyweight; he regularly pressed 230 lb. and with a back bend, Max could press 20 to 40 lb. more. 220 to 240 lb. was a regular lift in the one arm jerk. He could swing and snatch over bodyweight with one arm and perform a one arm military press with 110 lb. Max also proved to be unbeatable at Arm Wrestling and Bavarian sport of Finger Pulling.

Two things worked against Max. One was that he did not like or practice the one arm Bent Press (then a very popular competition lift), and the other was that he was never happy with the "English Method" of lifting a barbell to the chest and, although he remained unbeatable at his bodyweight at lifts of pure power, his lack of all round lifting technique was in later years to bring forth criticism from some weightlifting aficionados.

Soon Max's reputation began to travel outside Germany and stories of his marvelous lifting and muscle control skills began to circulate among the strongmen community in Britain. These stories of a man weighting 147 lb. who could outpress heavyweights and had greater control over his muscles that even the great Eugen Sandow were promptly dismissed as nonsense. One man who did believe in Max's ability was Tromp Van Diggelen, a wealthy South African of Dutch descent, who soon (1911) was to become one of the founding fathers of the BAWLA (British Amateur Weightlifter's Association), and who had his own stage act where he was known as the South African Apollo, and in 1948 was one of the judges when John Grimek was crowned Mr. Universe. Van Diggelen's autobiography entitled "Worthwhile Journey" gives a colorful account of his life.

On 20 April 1907, Thomas Inch had defeated W. P. Caswell in a popular and well attended lifting match and had claimed the World Professional Middleweight Weightlifting title, and had promptly invited any middleweight in the world to take it away from him. Van Diggelen, who in 1909 was living in London, arranged for Max to travel to England and challenge Inch for the World Middleweight Weightlifting title. Van Diggelen met Inch at the offices of Health and Strength magazine on 23 October 1909 to draw up details for the match, but they failed to reach an agreement because Inch was rapidly putting on weight and insisted that, if on the day of the match he failed to make the middleweight limit, he could nominate a pupil to take his place. A few days later on 26 October 1909, Van Diggelen recalled with some amusement, a somewhat curious sight when he met Max off the Boat Train at London's Victoria Station. Max, who stood 5'4'', was wearing a long raincoat reaching down to his feet, on his head was a green Bavarian hat with a large eagle feather sticking out of the hatband and in his hand he carried a large umbrella. The overall effect Tromp found very amusing, and it crossed his mind as they walked together along the platform that on one would guess that Max was a famous strongman who Tromp was confident would shortly amaze the British strength community. Another meeting took place at the Health and Strength offices, this time with Max in attendance, again details could not be agreed and this state of affairs dragged on into the next year, with Max willing to meet Inch at any bodyweight but only on his own favorite lifts, but Inch wanting to use his own favorite lifts, the ones with which he had beaten Caswell back in 1907, and again insisting on substituting a pupil were he to fail to make the correct bodyweight.

This unsatisfactory situation dragged on for months, and in the meantime, Van Diggelen took Max to visit the Apollo Saldo School at Great Newport Street in London. On Monte Saldo, Max found the perfect friend and business partner; to Max's skill and knowledge he added his own vast range of experience, and the physical culture system known to the world as Maxalding was born. Monte and Tromp decided to bring the situation with Tommy Inch to a head by staging an exhibition featuring Maxick, as he was henceforth to be known. Monte Saldo reasoned, quite correctly, that a man promoting health and physical culture would not be a success with the name of Sick, and he therefore merged Max and Sick to become Maxick.

On the evening of 10 January 1910, at the Apollo Saldo School, in front of a gathering of the most distinguished strength athletes, wrestlers, track athletes and physical culture enthusiasts, Maxick gave an exhibition of muscle control and weight lifting, the like of which had not been seen in Britain before. Monte Saldo, always the great showman and teacher, acted as Master of Ceremonies and with his carefully arranged lighting, showed Maxick's physique and muscle control to dramatic effect. Unlike the largely unenlightened audiences of the Munich music halls, many in this audience had witnessed or practiced muscle control in a crude form, indeed it could be argued that, as long as there have been strongmen demonstrating their prowess, there has been muscle control in some form, but Maxick's demonstration left his audience speechless with amazement. That great showman and superb allaround athlete Edward Aston was a witness to the occasion, and in later years when describing the events of that day, he recalled that the audience was "flabbergasted."

Having displayed his physique muscle control, it was now time for Maxick to demonstrate his great strength. The weights were checked and verified by Charlie Russell, W. P. Caswell, W. L. Carquest, Tromp Van Diggelen and Professor Szalay, all men who carved out their place in iron game history. Maxick first lifted two hands to the shoulder 202 lb., then transferring it to one hand, proceeded to jerk the barbell aloft with apparent ease five times. The barbell was then loaded to 222 lb., and Maxick cleaned and pressed it, feet together in fine military style. Next, he cleaned 240 lb. and pressed it in the continental style. More outstanding pressing power followed, with the bar now loaded to 254 lb., he lifted it to his chest and pressed it aloft in the lean back continental style. These lifts so impressed everyone present; none more so that Professor Szlay ,who declared that he had never seen such lifting. Next Maxick attempted a lift, the weight of which was not announced and was only to be made public if he was successful. He made a number of gallant efforts which all failed and it was announced that he would try again in the future. The barbell was then loaded to 302 lb.; he pulled this first to his waist, then to his shoulders in the style then popular in German and then jerked it overhead without moving his feet. All Maxick's successful lifts were claimed as world records, but at that time no governing body had yet been formed to which these lifts could be submitted for official recognition, although it was recognized by iron game historians that these lifts had never been bettered by anyone of his bodyweight in Britain before.

Maxick's great lifting and likable personality endeared him to the assembled gathering, who were much amused by the fact that, at the completion of each lift, Maxick smiled happily and Monte Saldo's three-year-old daughter walked up to him and demanded a kiss. The public acclaim of Maxick's performance made things a little awkward for the Tommy Inch camp, but Tommy, having an astute sense of the public mood and being a master tactician, he decided that he could not reduce his body weight below the middleweight limit. He relinquished his World Middleweight title to his pupil Edward Aston, who now became the defending champion. Maxick was very disappointed not to have a chance of defeating Tommy Inch, who still held claim to the title Britain's Strongest Man, but he was quite happy to have a match with Edward Aston. On 24 March 1910, both men met at the Health & Strength offices and signed documents of agreement for the match for the title of World's Professional Middleweight Weightlifting Champion. The venue for the first of what proved to be two unsatisfactory matches was the Granville Music Hall, Wadham Green, London with a side and a magnificent silver trophy generously presented by the proprietors of the hall. Although enthusiasts traveled from all parts of the country to witness the match, it proved to be a great disappointment. Maxick badly hurt his shoulder while attempting a one-handed clean and jerk with 212 -1/2 lb. He tore loose one of his shoulder attachments and Tromp Van Diggelen recalled that he could actually see the torn deltoid attachment moving under the skin as Maxick moved his arm. Monte Saldo strongly advised him to retire from the match and concede victory to his opponent, but Maxick would have none of it and commenced lifting 223 lb. 3 oz. in the clean and jerk, followed by 244-1/4 lb. successfully. He then tried 263 lb. 14 oz.; he cleaned the weight, jerked it but failed to hold the weight overhead - the pain from his injury had beaten him. Monte Saldo announced Maxick's retirement from the match and Edward Aston, who had lifted magnificently, re-stamped his claim on the title of Professional Middleweight Weightlifting Champion of the World. Maxick congratulated the victor and challenged him to a rematch, which he happily accepted.

Their next match took place on 14 December 1910 at the Holborn Empire, London, and although both of these great athletes were in top form, Maxick having recovered fully from his injury, this event proved as unsatisfactory as their first encounter. The contest was to be decided by who had the highest total of 8 lifts, but with each lifter selecting different lifts at different times during the contest, it would be very difficult to decide on a clear winner in the event of the contest coming to a premature end like their first match. The audience was enjoying this excellent contest when proceedings were brought to a halt and it was announced that the contest would have to be terminated as they had overrun their allotted time and the music hall had to be prepared for the evening show. At the termination of the contest, there was a 188 -1/2 lb. difference between them in Maxick's favor, but Aston had two lifts left to attempt (the one hand jerk and the two hands continental push) and Maxick only one lift to attempt (the one hand anyhow). Barring injury, Aston could not have failed to win and his right to retain the World Professional Middleweight Weightlifting title was firmly established.

Details of the completed lifts.

ASTON - Bodyweight 157-1/2 lb. (1) One hand snatch 160-3/4 lb. (2) One hand clean and bent press 220 lb. (3) One hand anyhow and bent press 225 lb. (4) Two hands clean and military press with barbell 200-1/2 lb. (5) Two hands clean and jerk with barbell 256-1/2 lb. (6) Two hands continental jerk with barbell 260 lb. TOTAL 1322-3/4 lb.

(Lifts (2) and (3) were claimed as World Records.)

MAXICK - Bodyweight 144-1/4 lb. (1) One hand snatch 135-3/4 lb. (2) One hand jerk, two hands to the shoulder 203-1/2 lb. (3) Two hands clean and military press with barbell 211-1/2 lb. (4) Two hands continental push with barbell 245-1/2 lb. (5) One hand clean (jerk) with barbell 172 lb. (6) Two hands clean and jerk with barbell 261-1/2 lb. (7) Two hands continental jerk with barbell 281-1/2 lb. (8) TOTAL 1511-1/4 lb.

Edward Aston's reputations was enhanced even more when on 03 June 1911, he relieved Thomas Inch of the title Britain's Strongest Man. Aston went on to establish more lifting records until the intervention of World War I resulted in the loss of two fingers on his right hand, causing him to forsake his magnificent lifting career in favor of a successful music hall and physical culture teaching career.

The regard which the strength world held for Maxick did not diminish; his diminutive stature, along with his ability to press and jerk weights even beyond Aston's ability, sustained his reputation, so much so that his physical culture business partnership with Monte Saldo became one of the most respected and successful in the world.

On 1913, Maxick visited his old friend Tromp Van Diggelen, who was now living back in South Africa. Tromp recalls him in fine form, performing a one-arm jerk of 240 lb., a two-arm jerk of 340 lb. and a continental two-arm press of 275 pounds. As well as amazing all onlookers with his skill at Herculean balancing, ascending and descending stairs in the handstand position, and one arm overhead lifting British Heavyweight Boxing Champion Fred Storbeck, who weighed 210 lb.

Returning to England with the Maxalding postal physical culture business becoming more and more successful under the guidance of the multi-talented Monte Saldo, life was good for Maxick and might well have carried on being so but for the intervention of World War I (1914-1918). Maxick became voluntarily interned and their business partnership ended, but his great friendship with the Saldo family continued until Monte's death in 1949, after which he continued to keep in touch with Monte's son Courtland Saldo, who continued to run the Maxalding postal course until his own death in 1982.

At this point in Maxick's life, I think it is a good opportunity to correct a story that pops up now and again in articles, which I have read about his life. The story goes that, when Maxick arrived in England in 1909, he was taken advantage of and swindled out of the royalties for his book on Muscle Control: I tactfully asked Monte's son Court Saldo about this and the gist of his reply was that the story had greatly upset his father, due to the fact that Maxick in 1909/10 had yet to master the English language, so he wrote the life story section of the book in German, and Monte, who could speak fluent German, translated it into English and wrote the instructional section himself. All the photographs were taken at the Saldo family home in Finchley, England. When the book was ready for publication, Maxick took it to the proprietors of the English magazine, Health & Strength and sold it outright to them for �. Monte Saldo did not receive or expect any financial reward for all his work and was happy to help his friend. From this statement it is clear that there were no royalties because Maxick had accepted a fixed sum of money. The book sold many copies and went through many re-prints, becoming a collector's item. I am pleased to note that Bill Hinbern is now publishing a modern re-print of the book.

After Maxick's release from internment, he traveled the world and for a while resided back in Germany. But with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party whose politics he hated as much as he had the Kaiser's back in 1914, on the advice of friends he left Germany. Maxick decided to turn his back on fame and live a quiet life. He liked Argentina and chose to base himself in Buenos Aires, where he ran a gymnasium and health studio. He also acquired a respected reputation as an explorer, exploring the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers as well as the Matto Grosso. Looking at some of the photographs taken in the last 20 years of Maxick's life, he seemed to retain his health, strength and gymnastic ability until the end of his life.

On a visit to see Court Saldo in 1961, he informed me that Maxick had died and related to me that he spent the morning of his last day arm wrestling his friend Mr. Droelick who weight 218 lb. Maxick won as usual, he then cycled back to his home where Mr. Droelich found him later that day, lying on his back dead. He left a note which made it clear that he knew that he was dying and had prepared himself for the end, the date being 11 May 1961.



Several sets of measurements have been published; here are his measurements personally take by Tromp Van Diggelen:

Height: 5'4''. Weight: 147 lb. Neck: 17''. Chest contracted: 36-3/4''. Chest expanded: 45-1/2''. Biceps: 16''. Forearm: 13''. Wrist: 7-1/2''. Thigh: 23-1/4''. Calf: 15''.

Lifts: All Performed before World War 1 (1914-1918).

Two hands continental and jerk with barbell: London: 322-1/2 lb. Johannesburg: 340 lb. (verified by Mr. Van Diggelen).

Two hands military press with barbell: 230 lb.

Two hands continental press with barbell: 275 lb. (verified by Mr. Van Diggelen).

Right hand military press: 112 lb.

Right hand snatch with barbell: 165 lb.

Right hand swing with dumbbell: 150 lb.

Right hand jerk two hands to the shoulder: 240 lb. (verified by Mr. Van Diggelen).

Two hands clean and jerk with barbell: 272 lb.


Extract from Muscle Power magazine June 1961, Vol. 3, No. 6. (An article by the Editors): "He was the greatest, had there been a Mr. Universe Contest when Max Sick of Bavaria was in his prime, he would have won the title hands down, the physique of Max Sick was absolutely incredible."

Alan Calvert, the American Father of Modern Weightlifting said of Maxick in 1925: "The man's body is a compact mass of bone and muscle and no other athlete can equal his development, when assessing his strength you do not have to confine your comparison to men of his own size for when it comes to actual strength there are only a few of the very big men who can excel him."

John Grimek modestly stated: "I could not hope to equal the muscle control of Maxick."

Mac Batchelor, undefeated World Wrist Wrestling champion for 25 years, wrote in 1951: "Maxick - at muscle control he was an artist - at the completion of a 'work out' his contention was complete relaxation to supercharge and restore the energy expended. His theory was certainly successful as judged from the amazing lifts he accomplished. I have seen some remarkable photographs of him and he is still a muscular phenomenon."

David P. Willoughby, in his scholarly work The Super Athletes published in 1970 stated: "Of him (Maxick) could almost have been said 'We shall not see his like again.' At least during the period of 60 years that has passed since Maxick was in his prime, no other man of his weight has equaled him in all round strength."

I leave the final comment to The Wizard of Weightlifting, Mr. W. A. Pullum, who in his career broke nearly 200 World and British weightlifting records: "Maxick, weightlifter without peer in his day, a man of scholarly attainments, with it all no more modest man ever lived."

Physical Culture
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

David Sheppard: An Enduring Legend of American and World Weightlifting - By Arthur Drechsler

Originally posted on on 05 April 2002 Reprinted with permission of from Vic Boff's AOBS Newsletter.

(Note: In the past several issues of Weightlifting USA, I have been chronicling the history of US weightlifting, more or less in the chronological order of US world champions who contributed so much to US weightlifting history. This month I will deviate from that order, to write a tribute to David Sheppard, who died, sadly unnoticed, on October 1, 2000. In the next issue of Weightlifting USA, we'll return to the previous order.)

We in the sport of weightlifting love to measure things. We carefully weight barbells and athletes, recording the results with great precision. We count numbers of records set and numbers of championships won by a given athlete. We compare the results of our measurements in order to determine which athlete is the "best." And that is as it should be, because one of the great virtues of our sport is the ability it provides for us to compare performances objectively across the globe, and, to a more limited extent, across time. But in some cases, despite our best efforts, our measurements fall far short of capturing the true performance level or contribution of an athlete. The career of David Sheppard is a case in point. While his "stats" are impressive (e.g., multiple medals in World/Olympic championships and multiple world records), they fail to convey his status as a boy wonder, a pioneer in squat lifting technique, a barrier breaker, a master of versatility, and a performer with true charisma. I'll try to convey some of that in this story.

Dave Sheppard was born in NYC on December 12, 1931. He was active in many sports, especially gymnastics, as a youth. He began training for the sport of weightlifting at approximately age 11. In 1947, after several years of training, Dave won his junior LWC championships in the 60kg class. The following year, he won his first New York State championship. At age 17, he placed 2nd in the 67.5kg category of what was then called the Junior Nationals (a competition not limited by age, but rather to those who had never won a Junior or Senior US Championship), setting a meet record of 106.5kg in the snatch. Amazingly, although Dave was to become famous for his brilliant squatting style, he made this record using the split style.

In 1950, at age 18, Dave won the Junior Nationals, setting new meet records in the snatch (squat-style this time), C&J and total. He took 3rd place at the US Championships later that year and set his first American record - a 114.5kg snatch - likely the best in the world that year.

Dave was one of the few squat snatchers in those years, and was undoubtedly the most majestic to watch. Smooth, blindingly fast and remarkably consistent for his day, Dave astonished audiences with his prowess in what had heretofore been considered by most to be an awkward and precarious style. He added to the impression of mastery with a signature smile that he maintained while he lifted (actually a grimace that Dave consciously cultivated to appear as a smile because he viewed the competition platform as a stage as much as an athletic arena). That smile gave observers the surreal impression that Dave, unlike others, was doing what he was doing with consummate ease. The beauty and uniqueness of Dave's style, as much as the records he lifted, was instrumental in convincing the world that squat snatching was a viable, if not superior, style.

Late in 1950, Sheppard moved up to the 75kg class. The following year he placed second to the great Pete George (another boy wonder and squat stylist) at the US National Championships. Dave snatched what was believed to be 128kg, exceeding the world record, but the scale used for the competition was not certified, so the record was not recognized. He and Pete George went on to defeat the defending, and previously undefeated, world Champion Touni at the 1951 World Championships. Dave placed 2nd by virtue of being the heavier man. At that competition, he equaled the world record snatch with a lift of 127.5 kilograms.

During 1952, Sheppard increased his body weight again and was soon flirting with the world records in the 82.5 kilogram class. Hampered by cramps from the record-breaking heat, he narrowly missed making the US Team at the 1952 Olympic Tryouts in NYC. The following year, Dave reduced to the 75kg. category again and placed second at the 1953 World Championships - this time to Tommy Kono (Tommy would eventually win two Olympic and 6 World Championships).

In 1954, Dave increased body weight to approximately 86.5 kilograms and elected to compete in the 90kg class. At that body weight, he became the first man in the world under 90.7 kilograms (200 pounds) to clean jerk more than 181.5 kilograms (400 pounds). Later in the year he snatched 141.7kg and 143.6kg. Both these lifts were in excess of the world record. The 181.5kg C&J and 141.7kg snatch were recognized for a time by the IWF. Later, recognition was withdrawn due to some technical issues. The 143.6kg snatch was never ratified (though it was performed with an appropriate scale and referees), due to a failure on the part of the officials to file for the record with the IWF (such technicalities occurred with some regularity in the 1950s and 1960s).

With these lifts in hand, Dave reduced back to 82.5kg in hopes of a victory at the 1954 World Championships in Vienna. However, when the US team arrived in Vienna, they had two lifters capable of winning the 82.5 category - Sheppard and Kono. In contrast, the American team had no on in the 90kg category, where it was felt that a win might also be possible. Consequently, Dave was asked to lift at 90kg. He weighed only about 84kg at the weigh-in for his category (after eating and drinking heavily in an effort to gain weight).

In the competition, Dave snatched 142.5kg (which was not submitted as a world record because it was believed that Dave's earlier 143.6 had been accepted as the record) and had a narrow miss with 145kg. However, because he had been out pressed by the USSR's Vorobyev by 12.5kg and Vorobyev had snatched the same weight as Sheppard, Dave found himself needing to make up a 12.5kg deficit in the C&J. After making a 167,5 on his first attempt C&J to secure the silver medal, Dave waited for Vorobyev to complete his lifts. When he finished, Vorobyev had completed a 175kg C&J and amassed a 460kg total - a new world record. At this point, most of the observers had concluded that Sheppard would take no more C&Js as he had already locked up 2nd place and there were no medals at stake in the C&J (no medals were awarded for individual lifts at that time). But Dave astonished the crowd by calling for 187.5kg on his second attempt in an effort to overtake Vorobyev (tying him in the total and winning by virtue of a much lighter body weight).

While a 20kg jump is always unusual in the sport of weightlifting, the mere size of Dave's jump hardly conveys the enormity of what he was attempting with 187.5kg. A few points of reference may help to convey the significance of his attempt.

That October evening in 1954, the world record C&J in the 82.5kg category (Dave's probable actual bodyweight by the end of the competition that evening) was 172.5 kilograms - just set by Tommy Kono. The absolute world record (at 90+kg - there was only one weight class above 90kg at that time) stood at between 182 and 188.5kg (historical records are somewhat contradictory) and the 90kg record stood at 181kg. What is certain is that no athlete up until that time had ever attempted or succeeded with more than 182.5kg in World Championship competition, regardless of his body weight. Such an attempt would be roughly equivalent to Kakhiasvilis (while weighing only 96.5kg) and attempting a weight close to the 105+ world record in order to win - simply astounding. Arguably, no more daring or courageous an attempt has ever been made in the history of weightlifting.

And the very knowledgeable audience assembled in Vienna knew it. When the attempt was announced, murmurs and gasps traveled through the audience in a great wave. As he prepared for this momentous lift, the American coaching staff gave Dave a final brisk massage and words of encouragement came from every quarter. Then, as Dave mounted the stage, pacing and working himself into a white heat of desire and concentration, silence fell over the arena. When he finally gripped the bar, Dave pulled this great weight from the platform very slowly, in what seemed a futile effort. Then, in a characteristic flash of Sheppard speed, he was under the bar, elbows high, the bar safely on his shoulders. Suddenly, a shocked crowd, probably in the scores of different languages, screamed the equivalent of "get up." And Dave struggled to do so. But the load was too great and Dave, though he bounced valiantly, could not fully stand. Undaunted, he called for the same weight on his third attempt. By this time many in the crowd were prepared to believe Dave would succeed. After all, they had nearly seen a miracle already. Alas, it was not to be. Dave's 3rd attempt was like his second. His weary legs were not quite up to the task. Incredibly, had he managed to stand up, it is very possible that Dave would have jerked the bar (a splendid jerker, he'd already performed a 197.5kg jerk from the rack in training). Although a 187.5kg C&J was not actually to be achieved in 82.5 kilogram class for more than 9 years, Dave had given that weight a scare that evening (and the audience something to remember for a lifetime).

In 1955, a small contingent of American weightlifters, led by Bob Hoffman, visited the USSR. That trip was as important diplomatically as it was athletically. This was viewed by the US Department of State to be a significant step in helping to thaw what was then a very deep Cold War between East and West. The trip marked Paul Anderson's international debut and his amazing performance in the USSR rightfully captured the imagination of the press. Consequently, in an article in Strength and Health magazine following the trip, Bob Hoffman referred to Dave as the "forgotten man," because Dave had out-lifted everyone on the USSR team, regardless of body weight, thereby helping the US gain a team victory, yet that outstanding performance was barely noticed.

At the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Dave took a silver medal, breaking his wrist with a 185 kilogram attempt in the C&J - in an effort to overtake Vorobyev for the gold medal. While nursing his wrist, Dave demonstrated his versatility by concentrating on the press, historically his weakest lift, and making world record 146.5 at a body weight of 87.5kg in 1957 (a time when presses were done with little body motion and a slight layback).

In 1958, Dave, though hampered by injuries, was back in good form. He participated with the US team in a historic 3-part competition with the USSR team in 3 different U.S. cities: Chicago, Detroit, and New York. Dave's antipode Vorobyev, defeated Sheppard narrowly in the first competition in Chicago. Sheppard reversed the order with American Record 460kg total in Detroit. In New York City a capacity crowd at the legendary Madison Square Garden assembled for the final US vs. USSR match (and the tie-breaking Sheppard/Vorobyev match-up).

Sheppard weight-in at a lighter body weight than Vorobyev, a valuable advantage in what was expected to be an extremely close competition. When they learned what Dave weighed, the worried USSR delegation protested, asking for Vorobyev to be re-weighed. To Dave's dismay, this was agreed to by the competition's officials, reportedly in the interest of "international harmony." After 3 tries, Vorobyev managed to weigh the same as Sheppard, at which point the unusual weigh-in ended. Ultimately, the lifters tied in the competition and Vorobyev was lighter on the re-weight - competition and match to the USSR under truly bizarre circumstances.

Later in 1958 Dave won his last US championship (in the newly established and short-lived 102.5kg class) and took another silver medal at the World Championships at 90kg. Five years and many injuries later, in 1963, Dave won his last State Championship, in California (where he lived during much of the mid-'50s through mid-'60s, after which he relocated to NYC). In 1971, at the age of 39, Dave made lifts of 136.1kg-113.4kg-145.1kg to place third in the New York State championships. That marked the end of Sheppard's career as an athlete - a career that had spanned more than a quarter of a century.

But Dave's accomplishments extended far beyond those that are described by competition results. He coached many of his contemporaries (e.g., helping Olympic Champion Isaac Berger master the squat snatch and World Record holder Dave Ashman perfect his jerk). he was an extremely inventive technician and trainer who contributed much to the careers of many who had the good fortune to study with Dave. He was a master of virtually all lifts and styles. For example, he was arguably the greatest dual stylist of all time, making 143.6kg and 181.5kg in the squat snatch and C&J respectively, but succeeding with 142.5kg and 180kg in the split style in those lifts. Anyone who has tried to lift in more than one style can appreciate how extraordinary such lifts are. Similarly, Dave did a one-arm snatch of 90.7kg and a one-finger/one-arm chin, further illustrating his proficiency as an all-around strength performer.

Finally, Dave was a great fan of weightlifting, never tiring of watching or talking about the sport. He was an inspiration to everyone who met him, as he was as supportive of a lifter try8ing 50kg as he was of one attempting 250kg. His infectious enthusiasm and unbridled optimism had a way of making you feel that your next lift was the most important thing in the world and that your potential was unlimited. That is one reason why those of us who were touched by Dave's special gift feel truly fortunate.

It is ironic that Bob Hoffman should have once referred to Dave as the "forgotten man." Dave will never be forgotten - not by anyone who ever knew him, nor by anyone who ever saw him perform. Numbers may be surpassed, and memories may sometimes grow dim with the passage of time - but truly great style, style never loses its luster - great style endures and so will our memories of Dave Sheppard.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Norbert Schemansky - With little money or home recognition, Olympian dominated - By Jerry Green

Originally Posted on on 17 March 2002 Reprinted with permission from Vic Boff's AOBS Newsletter. IRON GAME COLLECTOR’S SERIES (The Detroit News)

Dearborn— One day 50 years ago Norbert Schemansky asked his boss for some time off, so that he could participate in the Olympics.

The boss shook his head and said no.

“I was working at Briggs Manufacturing and I asked for time off, and one of the guys from downstairs said, “Give him all the time off he wants --fire him,” Schemansky said.

“I said, “Bleep you, I’m leaving.”

This is one of Schemansky’s stinging memories that linger a half-century later. He went on to those 1952 Olympics in Helsinki and beat his Soviet rivals and won a gold medal. Then he came home to the United States and to Michigan and returned to obscurity.

Schemansky was a weightlifter, a world-champion heavyweight, and weight-lifters in America do not receive their deserved acclaim.

Now 77 with bum legs and an aching back, he sat in his home of 43 years on the west side of Dearborn last week and discussed his experiences as an athlete who was renowned around the world, but not at home. Schemanksy is better known in Moscow than he is in Michigan.

As another Olympiad is soon to begin, Schemansky could be called one of the last pure amateurs. He won four Olympic medals – the gold, a silver, and two bronzes in four Olympiads from 1948 to 1964—and a bevy of other junk, as he calls it, in various lifting competitions.

“Not a penny,” he said about his earnings as a competitor.

“Today’s Olympians are well-paid professionals, many multimillionaires. Fifty years ago, Olympic champions were forced to struggle and look at their collection of medals.

“Would you believe somebody competed for something like that?” he said. He displayed a tarnished medal smaller than a thumbnail.

“There aren’t any more Olympics,” Schemansky said. “They’re the money games.” There’s no more real Olympic spirit, I was looking at a picture of a kid skiing in Sports Illustrated. He’s got 13 endorsements. His headband’s got a name on it. The poles got a name on it. The skis got a name on it. His laces got a name on it.”

Schemansky never got an endorsement. “You couldn’t take anything,” he said. “Today’s Olympic competitors’ beef up on special diets prepared by dieticians, and many feed on supplements, some on steroids."

Schemansky had his special diet, too, when he captured the Olympic silver in London in 1948, his gold in 1952, and his bronze medals in Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964.

“Hamburgers, Pizza, Beer,” he said. “If I was competing now, I’d be a millionaire. Budweiser’d sponsor me. A hamburger joint. Mike Ilitch.”

In weightlifting circles, Schemansky is regarded as one of the greatest in sport’s history.

"In New York and in Moscow, in dimly lit cellar gyms and plush training centers, in camps of friends and foes, in 2066 and 3066, the story of Schemansky—already a legend in his own time—will be told,” Joe Weider, a noted trainer, wrote in an article in a weightlifting magazine.

Through the years while Schemansky was competing—and failing to receive funds or recognition—his target was the Amateur Athletic Union. The AAU controlled the United States’ Olympic athletes then and the rules were strict.

Once Schemansky was headed toward a competition and the AAU game him a patch to sew onto his jacket over his heart. He stuffed it into his back pocket.

“That’s where it belonged,” he said. “They didn’t like what I used to tell them.”

Rise to Top

Schemansky stared weightlifting in a makeshift gym on the east side of Detroit in the 1930s, before World War II.

“My older brother was a weightlifter,” he said. “He was national champion. I was 13 or 14 and I’d hang out around the gym. The gym was a converted two-car garage. Within a couple of years, I was doing more than the guys that were training for years in there."

“The gym was on Gratlot and McClellan,” he said. “Right now the expressway runs right through there.”

While a student at Northeastern High School, his other sport was track and field.

"The shot put,” he said. “The only coach looked at me – I only weighed about 160 pounds then, the other kids were close to 200 – I kept beating those guys. I made All City."

“You know about the technique? He said go across the street to the backstop, the baseball field, and throw the ball over the backstop. That’s the only coaching you got then.”

In the early 1940s, Schemansky went off to war. He was attached to an anti-aircraft unit in Europe. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge when the Germans tried a counterattack in December 1944.

“We got 30 planes and 360 buzz bombs,” Schemansky said of his military service.

“It was in the Army that Schemansky earned his first medals – five of them for meritorious service. After the war he resumed his career, competing, working, marrying, raising a family – being snubbed and threatened with being fired.

“I had jobs on and off and my wife worked a lot – if it weren’t for her I probably couldn’t have done it.” Schemansky said. “Bernice. She’s gone six years now.”

Schemansky already was a world champion before he went to Finland for the 1952 Olympics, jobless and proud. And in Helsinki he accomplished what no weightlifter had ever done before.

“I was the first heavyweight to lift double-body weight,” he said. “When I won the Gold Medal I weighed 194, 195, and I did 399. To make weight then, we’d just clean our nails, clean out toes, spit.”

Obscurity and Acclaim

The lifting damaged Schemansky’s body. He twice ruptured a disc, had operations and resumed breaking world records. He defied his doctors.

“The doctors said I’d never walk,” he said. “Maybe they were right. I’m not walking good now.”

“See that picture? That’s over 400 pounds; I’m getting up on one leg. Right now I can’t get up on that leg with no weight.”

But even then, before Michael Jordan and Steve Yzerman and Dominik Hasek became Olympians, amateurs such as Cassius Clay, before he became Muhammad Ali, were revered for winning gold medals. But weightlifters were ignored, and Schemansky offers a reason:

“You didn’t have television. Now a lot of people know about weight lifting and bodybuilding. They see stuff on television. “If you walked around with gym bag then, they said you were nuts. Now everybody’s nuts.”

Even so, he remains better known today in Russia than in America.

“I got more publicity there than here,” Schemansky said. “A friend of mine used to go Russia every summer, and he was sitting in restaurant and he was talking about me, and the waiter overheard him mention my name and the waiter wanted his autograph because he knew me.”

Schemansky had a wistful look, glancing at the interviewer.

“Is there anything here on the upbeat? he asked. “Everything seems like it’s knocking stuff.”

“I got a park named after me in Dearborn,” he said, showing a photo of Schemansky Park. “That’s an upbeat thing.”

“People were asking, “Who was Schemansky?” So now they put a plaque down here with my achievements.”

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sour Juice: Time to Strike-Out the Steroid Menace - By Ken Mannie

Ken Mannie is the head Strength/Conditioning Coach at Michigan State University. Originally posted on on February 6, 2006

Slugging it out on the Hill The fight against steroids in baseball and the entire sports culture is in extra innings. There are no runs, no hits, but more than enough errors to take us into the next decade. No need to mention any names here. You’ve heard the apologies, listened to the alibis, witnessed the shoulder shrugs, and maybe even read the tell-all book. Recently, a few heavy hitters were forced to step-up to the plate before Congress. A couple of them at least took a few solid swings at the questions. Sadly, one in particular decided to take ball four. Everyone winced with furrowed eyebrows and scratched their heads as he blatantly evaded the committee’s direct, pointed questions.

Should we take his advice, wipe the slate clean, and drop all of the “negative” talk about the past as if it never happened? Why don’t we just sit in the dugout, spit some chew, and adopt a “can we all just get along” attitude? No – a million times, no! There is too much at stake. High Price of Ignorance This really isn’t about the baseball players who have abused steroids. Whatever damage they have self-inflicted on their reputations, Hall of Fame consideration, and internal organs, is done. They have duties and responsibilities to maintain the integrity of the game. Those who used illegal drugs made the decision to drop the ball. We are talking about grown men who are supposed to be educated on the harmful effects of these drugs on their health and careers. They should know better. This isn’t even about baseball. The crux of this debacle is the fact that we continue to spin in this vicious web of ignorance, deception, and fractured rationalizations. Sure, baseball is currently in the eye in this chemical maelstrom. It is a problem they have earned over the past few decades through their “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” overtures regarding legitimate steroid testing. They deserve the black eye – one that has been blind for far too long. Little Eyes are Upon You.

This is about accountability and a level playing field that’s awfully bumpy right now. For parents and youth coaches, this is about the health and well-being of youngsters who emulate and idolize pro ballplayers. What’s that, Mr. Big Time Ballplayer, you say that you don’t want to be a role model for young people? Well, sorry about that, slugger! It comes with the territory of your chosen profession that includes a multi-gazillion dollar contract, all of that television face-time, an adoring fan base, and the oversized shoe endorsement. The same shoes, incidentally, that thousands of Little Leaguers have their bright, innocent eyes and hearts set on filling some day. More importantly, it comes with everything that is sacred and admirable about sports. You say that parents should be the role models, right? No argument there. Parents should be good at what they do – parenting. But you guys are bigger than life to these kids. Unfortunately, it’s the way some of you are getting big that’s hurting everyone and the game you represent. Seventh Inning Stretch of the Truth Anyone who hasn’t lived in a cave for the past 30 years is well-aware of the proliferation of performance-enhancing drugs in every sport. Did Major League Baseball really think that this monster lived in everyone’s closet except theirs? Was baseball’s hierarchy under the convoluted assumption that steroids are only abused by weightlifters, bodybuilders, football players, and bar bouncers? There was a lot of rhetoric about unions and collective bargaining during the hearing. Here’s a suggestion, MLB: Try interjecting some collective common sense into the next collective bargaining meeting. The initial proposal for the strong anti-steroid testing policy you so desperately need was rightfully met with consternation and antipathy. Why? Because it was a joke! It allowed for four strikes before a player is out for one year; complete with an addendum to allow him to buy his way out of suspension with a fine. Testing is meant to serve as a deterrent, an educational vehicle, and as a strident statement that illicit, illegal (a felony, in the case of steroids) drug abuse will not be tolerated. It is implemented with the intent of incontrovertibly eradicating harmful chemicals from the game. It has -- at its most rudimentary level -- the goals of protecting the health of the players and the very heart and soul of the game. Quite simply, it is serious business with serious consequences for those who choose to be non-compliant. Testing is not designed to be a weak, finger-wagging disciplinary stunt, or a public relations smoke screen.

Final Out

The most compelling, sensible, and heartfelt statements made on Capitol Hill in March came from the parents of athletes whose lives ended tragically. Donald Hooton, whose son, Taylor, a high school baseball player in Texas, committed suicide in 2003 after taking steroids, had this to say: “Players that are guilty of taking steroids are not only cheaters, you are cowards… Show our kids that you’re man enough to face authority, tell the truth and face the consequences. Instead, you hide behind the skirts of your union, and with the help of management and your lawyers, you’ve made every effort to resist facing the public today.” Denise Garibaldi of Petaluma, California, whose son, Rob, also used steroids and committed suicide, offered this: “There’s no doubt in our minds that steroids killed our son. Ultimately, we do blame Rob for his use. …However, with his sports heroes as examples, and Major League Baseball’s blind eye, Rob’s decision was a product of erroneous information and promises.” It’s time to put some sharp teeth into the MLB testing process and get rid of steroids, steroid precursors, human growth hormone, and the cheaters who abuse them. It’s time for MLB to cease this “half-baked doping policy which insults the intelligence of the U.S. public,” as stated by Richard Pound, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Let’s hope that the hearing on the Hill helps to save baseball -- and prevents future players from driving off the steroid cliff. It’s way beyond the time to get tough on steroids.

Tip from the Trenches

Know the enemy -- Androgenic-anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male sex hormone, testosterone. The term ‘androgenic” refers to the effects these chemicals have on male sexual characteristics. “Anabolic” is the most commonly heard term, and it refers to the promotion of skeletal muscle. Chemists have feverishly attempted to minimize the androgenic effects, while concurrently heightening the anabolic effects. In the clinical setting, and under stringent administration and monitoring, these drugs have certain useful medical indications – most significantly in severe burns, muscle-wasting diseases, and delayed puberty.

They are used illegally and illicitly by certain athletes and others who are looking for a short-cut to improve size, strength, power, physique, and/or self-confidence. Contrary to what abusers, underground publications, and pro-steroid web-sites fallaciously preach, there is no scientifically proven “safe” way to self-administer these potentially harmful compounds in every individual case. As with any drug, people react and respond independently to their effects. However, it has been shown that, over time, any one or more of several serious side-effects can surface. Just how long it will take before they rear their ugly heads is an individual anomaly. The bottom line, though, is that it is virtually impossible to continue an anabolic drug regimen without eventually suffering from one or more of the possible deleterious consequences listed here:

Note: While there are some very gender-specific possible health consequences from anabolic steroid abuse, the following represent some of the most serious for both males and females.

Increased LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and decreased HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarctions (heart attacks). Abnormal enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle, which can lead to serious malfunctions of the heart muscle. Strokes Liver dysfunction and/or tumors Certain cancers Increase in connective tissue injuries.

Disruption of endogenous (normal) hormonal production and functions, which can lead to a host of serious sexual and growth dysfunctions. Adverse mood swings and clinical depression.

For scientifically grounded, sensible, useful, and correct information on anabolic steroids – including educational avenues, intervention strategies, and the consequences of their abuse -- we suggest that you log-on to the following web-sites:,,, and -- Ken Mannie

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Friday, September 16, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 30 - Part B, END, (LAST CHAPTER), PHYSICAL TRAINING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE - By Mark H. Berry

Just yesterday, at a meeting of the American Medical Association, Dr. Morris Fishbein, secretary of the Association and editor of "Hygeia" magazine, said prolonged life, that elusive goal of scientists and dreamers for ages, is no nearer at hand today than it was when the quest began. As reported by the Associated Press, the noted physician went on: "The mysterious secret of life, that unknown living force which causes men to survive for three score years and ten, more or less, has been the object of intensive search from almost the beginning of time. Throughout the ages men have craved and sought some miracle that would aid them in living beyond the allotted span, always searching for some elixir of life that would afford them years eternal. Despite all this, and despite the advance in knowledge and improvement in facilities for experiment, we are no nearer the coveted prize than man's earliest ancestor."

He also said, in referring to rejuvenation, through gland transplantation, "Of their claims it can only be said that their work is of scientific interest, but they have not as yet demonstrated that one moment of additional life can be guaranteed to any human being who has submitted to their technique. When the cells of the body disintegrate and die there is no magic potion that can raise them from the dead. A tissue that has died can no more be restored to life than can new elasticity be put into a pair of worn our suspenders or garters."

The above should at least be interesting, and is the opinion of a recognized medical authority of good repute. On the other hand, the average length of life if undoubtedly increasing, due to hygiene and curative science. Fewer deaths are recorded from children's diseases than formerly, and old people have an easier time than in days gone by. Life and conditions of living used to hard on the aged, whereas modern conveniences give them a chance to survive the rigors of weather and climate. This brings us to a peculiar fact, that although the average length of life in America is increasing, and there are more real old people than ever before, it is also true that the death rate for those between 45 and 75 has increased, no doubt due to a certain group of disease conditions, generally referred to as "degenerative diseases." They are thus spoken of presumably because they become of great import in the years of life when the human body is supposed to degenerate; and likewise, because many persons claim, they are the result of the degenerating effect of fast and hard living. This group includes cancer, cerebral hemorrhage, and apoplexy, organic disease of the heart and acute nephritis, and Bright's Disease. Most victims of these diseases are among those of 45 and older, although organic heart disease, acute nephritis, and Bright's Disease cause appreciable mortality among younger persons.

The whole class of illnesses can be caused by some source of infection in the system, as well as from the effects of diseases of childhood, and many also result from an attack of other diseases. What really takes place is that people are cured of one form of disease, which leaves scars on the organs to result in death later in life. However, life is prolonged for a time at least.

We have called attention to the greater number of persons of an advanced age. The potential length of life is not increased, as you will note, among those who survive, but a greater number safely escape the ravages of sickness in one form or another to reach what is now recognized as a natural death. This brings us back to the question of athletes and death. Why do they not survive the ills and weaknesses which claim ordinary people? The trouble with athletes as a class is that they do not consistently take care of themselves, but break training at intervals and dissipate. Moreover, the greatest evil among athletes in general is that of giving up activities and dropping back into the class of ordinary inactive people. Thus they become the prey of disease and death just like ordinary mortals. People with a good potential length of life , that is, those who are born with strong glands and inherit a long life are capable of effectively resisting attacks of disease better than those with a potential short life. That is the real idea or intention we wish to convey in connection with our conclusions about people who mature early and late. Of two men, one of each type, who might have been athletic in early life and retired from strenuous activities, the one who matured late should have the greatest chance of surviving or warding off attacks of degenerative or other diseases.

If a healthful and active life is continued, the athlete has a better than average chance of reaching old age. We see examples of this on every hand. Go down to the rowing clubs along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. There you will find a number of men up to eighty or beyond who row regularly for the sake of health, but more so for the sake of keeping up a hobby. That is why we find a relatively older age among lifters than among general athletics. Because they keep exercising and lifting as a hobby, whereas the athlete who was in strenuous competition at running, ball playing, boxing, etc., quits because he finds it uninteresting to make a hobby of a game wherein he can no longer excel. Good health is encouraged by healthful exercise, but when the athlete quits he discontinues the healthful exercise; and although he may be in better condition than the average person, he leaves himself open to the attacks of disease in one form or another.

Each individual has within him the power to make the most of himself. Even if it is a certainty that one cannot live indefinitely, nevertheless we are certain of being able to increase our efficiency and well being, thus making our years more enjoyable. Furthermore, there is such a close connection between the glands in the body and our state of health and efficiency that there is no sound reason as to why we should not be able to prolong the healthful action of these same glands through accelerating the blood flow by beans of strenuous exercise. It should stand to reason that physical weakness and inactivity result in a drying up of the glands which control our very lives; in fact, we see on every hand examples of this evident drying up and deterioration of the life forces.

We mentioned a few paragraphs back the number of octogenarians to be seen rowing of the Schuykill. The point we wish to bring out here is that these venerable gentlemen have continued to make a hobby of their favorite athletic game. The same is mainly true of weight lifters. Every one should have a hobby, and the human mind thrives best with some hobby to relieve the monotony of the daily existence. An active hobby is of greater benefit than an active one and especially so in the case of the man who was formerly active. The ex-athlete who becomes lazy is too apt to accumulate a lot of fat to burden his internal organs. By making a hobby of his athletic game and continuing active, the hobby also tends to keep him in a state of perfect health. The ex-athlete is too apt to preserve a voracious appetite, even though his system no longer requires an unusual amount of nourishment. This is the greatest fault to be found in the giving up of athletic activities, as very few individuals are able to curb an appetite that has been acquired over a long term of years.

In the field of therapeutic and beneficial exercises, none can compare in effectiveness with progressive bar bell exercise movements. It is being proven every day that men in middle age can improve themselves physically and hundreds of men in their sixties have succeeded in greatly improving their state of health and increasing their physical efficiency. This fact is merely a matter of record and there can be little reason for questioning the statement. We even enrolled a lady of sixty, not so long ago, who felt the need of strenuous exercise of the sort she could get with a bar bell. Not so long afterward, this lady encouraged her son to enroll in a course of bar bell exercise, and from the latest accounts both were making satisfactory progress.

However, the largest bone of contention seems to be over the question of whether or not a man can survive years of strenuous lifting and strength performances. We can therefore do no better than to mention the names of a few American strong men who are still active after spending a long term of years in the sport, the majority of them having spent their lives in the business. Among those who are fifty years of age, are Otto Arco, Arthur Dandurand, Joe Lambert, George Blymire, and Prof. Leo Stevens; Warren L. Travis is fifty-three and looks no more than forty; James B. Juvenal, a former champion oarsman, who trained with bar bells, is fifty-five; another man of the same family name. James M. Juvenal claims to be over seventy, and is still actively travelling as a strong man; he also uses the name of "Tommy Ryan," but must not be confused with the pugilist of that name: Johy Y. Smith is sixty-four and still going strong: Oscar Mathes is sixty-five, and active; Professor P. H. Paulinetti, the greatest of balancing artists, who used to train with weights and was associated with Richard Pennell, and old time strong man, can still give a wonderful performance of head and hand stand work, at sixty-six. Professor Adolph Rhein, of New York, formerly instructor at the German-American A.C. of that city, trains regularly three times a week at Klein's Studio, at the age of sixty-three.

We might further mention a man who recently went back into training after a lay off of years. Mr. Frank Adams, of Philadelphia, used to be quite an athlete as a young man, having been a partner of Professor Wm. Hermann, who now conducts gymnasiums in Philadelphia. Hermann stayed in the business, but Adams quit. Years of inactivity and eating sweets and pastries in excess brought on dropsy; then he woke up at the age of fifty-seven and realized he would have to go back into training. At that time he weighed over two hundred. Now at fifty-nine, he is in the proverbial pink of condition, weighing around one hundred and sixty. I have intended to write and article about this man, but it is too hard to get him to have photographs taken. That is the real trouble with showing middle aged or elderly men who improve through exercise; they think they must compare with youths or they won’t pose for photos. We might mention that Roy L. Smith is around forty-five, and still breaking amateur records, and another figure in the public eye who owes a lot to training with weights is Stanley Zbyzsko, who is fifty. Professor Louis Atilla died at eighty, and was active up to the last, being able to do some of his most difficult feats practically up till the end.

We have mentioned a few strong men who are known to Americans; my poor memory no doubt will cause me to forget some important ones. Over in Europe, the number of middle aged strength athletes is legion, and there have been several instances of European lifting athletes improving in competitive lifting ability past the age of forty. Marius Martin, the French featherweight, set world records and continued to improve to such an extent when past that age he came near winning the Olympic title in 1924. In other branches of sport is it rare for a man to be at his best past the age of thirty, with the exception of wrestling, which is closer akin to lifting.

And then we have the case of Mr. W. P. Chapman, of Bangkok, Siam, which might just have been mentioned in the first chapter, but rightfully belongs among the men of middle age who find benefit in exercising regularly in a strenuous manner. Mr. Chapman is now 48 years of age, and did not take up exercise till the age of 35, at which time he weighed 85 pounds and suffered greatly from ill health in various forms. He even goes so far as to say he had not known a day of good health from the time of his birth until he took up strenuous physical exercise. Since starting in 1916 he has not experienced a single day of illness. As he says, "Today my strength and development still increase so much that I feel better off, physically and mentally, than I was twenty five years ago. My weight stripped is now 147 pounds, and my height is 5 feet, 3 inches.

It is hardly to be expected that the average individual who takes up physical culture will increase in the same proportions as did Mr. Chapman. Still, his case is not altogether unusual, as we are publishing photos of Mr. David Myshne who increased his bodyweight from 93 to 148, after he had reached the mature age of 21, and Albert Manger, who doubled his bodyweight. We have on record other cases of quite as startling. Mr. Chapman gained approximately 75% while the average physical culturist who is undeveloped and underweight would be highly pleased to gain 25%, while many a man who is evidently in fair condition will make a wonderful improvement in development if 15% is added to his frame.

Before closing, we wish to mention our belief that fewer people of middle age appear broken down and aged today than at any time in the history of the world. Although science has found no means of actually adding to the potential length of life, hygiene and better living conditions have combined to prolong youth and make people of forty to seventy more active, youthful, and useful than was true in the past. It used to be common for people of forty and fifty to be considered old and aged because of their dried up appearance and generally feeble condition. Nowadays the majority of people of forty to fifty do not look old, and many sixty and seventy-year old people actually appear younger than their years would apply. Physical culture propaganda has contributed greatly to this result, and we know of so many cases in proof of our contention that there can be no doubt as to the benefits to be derived from a healthful, active life.

If you are interested in a future life of health and usefulness, make up your mind to be a physical culturist for the rest of your life. You will have a far better chance of escaping disease and an early death, and each of your years will be full of health and activity.

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