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Arthur Saxon's Incredible Plank Feat

As if you needed further proof that Arthur Saxon was one of the strongest men who ever lived, behold the following: Arthur and the other members of the Saxon Trio used to perform several supporting feats in their act and for these feats, they employed a large, heavy wooden plank.

Unbeknownst to many, the trio of strongmen also used this plank as a training tool to develop grip strength, each taking turns lifting it in various ways between their shows. While the other brothers did their best to deadlift it, Arthur Saxon could actually snatch the plank overhead with ease, something no one else could duplicate and a feat which humbled noted Strongman Siegmund Breitbart who visited the Trio at the Bush Circus in Berlin, Germany in 1922.

Kurt Saxon considered this to be Arthur Saxon's greatest strength feat... pretty impressive condsidering some of Arthur's other record achievements.

"The Brooklyn Strongboy" In Action

A look at "The Brooklyn Strongboy" Charles Phelan in action in mid-two-hands-anyhow with an excellent globe barbell and kettlebell. Phelan held five world records in his day: a one-finger lift of 506 pounds, a 700 pound lift with two fingers, a hand and thigh lift of 1125 pounds, a hip lift of 1600 pounds and a backlift of 2500 pounds. Phelan learned the strongman arts from none other than Warren Lincoln Travis.

George Levasseur

George Levasseur was the strongman for the Ringling Bros. Circus in the early 20th century. Here he is bending a horse shoe, circa 1905.

The Farmer Burns School of Wrestling and Physical Culture

It had to be quite an experience to train at the Farmer Burns School of Wrestling and Physical Culture. Farmer Burns believed that every athlete should train like a wrestler - and I agree.

The bulk of the training was, I'm sure wrestling -- holds, take-downs, blocks, breaks and plenty of sparring. Of course, the "Old Farmer" knew that wrestling was only "part" of what made a good wrestler -- physical training was important too. He had his students throw the medicine ball around, hit the speed bag, jump rope, use light dumbbells, develop their chests with breathing exercises, use traveling rings, swing indian clubs, climb ropes, and do enough calisthenics in order to make them stronger, tougher and more conditioned than any man willing to step in the ring with them. The advertisement above is from 1920.

Edward Aston

From 1911 to 1934, Edward Aston held the title of 'Britain's Strongest Man' and judging by this picture, it's not hard to see why. One of Aston's "Secrets" was to pay particular attention to strengthening the grip and forearm. He employed a number of different exercises to build his hand strength but one of his favorites was to do one-arm timed hangs from a climbing rope.

Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt

The greatest pro wrestling match ever held is undoubtedly on April 3rd, 1908 when the Frank Gotch and George "The Russian Lion" Hackenschmidt stepped in the ring to face each other after years of build-up. The undefeated Hackenschmidt was favored to win but after two hours of grappling, he finally submitted to an ankle lock by the American Champion Gotch. The match took place at Chicago's Dexter Park Pavilion. The referee (middle, above) was Ed Smith.

Gotch and Hacenschmidt would face each other once again on September 4, 1911, this time at Comiskey Park stadium in front of 30,000 fans. Gotch won the rematch in two straight falls and would go on to hold the heavyweight title until he retired in 1913.

The 13th National Japan Athletic Meet

Each year, Japan holds a country-wide Sport festival which takes place in three stages: skating and hockey taking place in January, skiing in February and the main tournament taking place in September/October. The above was a commemorative envelope for the weightlifting event created for the 13th edition of the National Sport Festival which began on October 19, 1958. The location of the event changes each year and the 1958 edition took place in the Toyama prefectures. Unfortunately this lifter's name was not listed but it may be Shigeo Kogure.

Sergio's Other Job

Sergio Oliva's "real" job was a Chicago police officer, a position he held for 27 years. With a 60 inch chest and 20 inch arms, unsurprisingly, his uniforms had to be custom made. You'd probably think twice about littering with this guy walking toward you.

David P. Willoughby

Strength author and historian David Willoughby gracing the cover of the January, 1936 edition of the British physical culture magazine "Superman." Willoughby was the AAU Southern California AAU weightlifting champion from 1923-1926 and eventually went on to author countless books, articles and training courses. He also owned a successful gym in the Los Angeles area -- the same gym where Bert Goodrich got his start.

Joseph Barton Kohen "The American Hercules"

Joseph Barton Kohen "The American Hercules" (also sometimes known as "The Allegheny Hercules" based on his hometown of Allegheny, PA), was a well known feature in Bernarr MacFadden's early Physical Culture Magazines. In fact, he was one of the very first strongmen to ever appear on a magazine cover. Kohen also secured himself one of the first endoresement deals ever, he appeared in many ads promoting VIGORAL, the delicious beefy drink from Armour & Company in Chicago. Check out that sweet training gear (and his hair was perfect.)
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