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The Michigan State Normal School Gymnasium, Ypsilanti, Michigan, 1894

A look at The Michigan State Normal School Gymnasium in Ypsilanti, Michigan, circa 1894, the year it was built. This impressive red brick building was located across the street from the Water Tower in Ypsilanti (and if you have been to Ypsi, you know exactly where this is).

This gymnasium was divided completely in half, the North half reserved for women and the South half for men. The Michigan State Normal School eventually became Eastern Michigan University, and unfortunately, this particular building was demolished in the mid-1960's.

Dennis Rogers' Steel Scrolling

A few years back Dennis Rogers performed in Detroit and gave me the piece of steel he bent during the show. If you look closely you can see that it is dated 11/06/2005 and signed by Dennis.

Milo Lifts an Elephant

In August of 1950, Milo Steinborn attended the Chicago fair and the AAU Mid-States Weightlifting championships which was going on as a featured attraction during the Chicago fair. During a break in the action, they held an impromptu elephant lifting contest. None of the other lifters could budge "Tommy" an 800 pound baby elephant but Milo, 57 years old and still wearing his Sunday best, stepped in and gave him a little ride. (Tommy doesn't seem to happy about it.)

FYI, Norb Schemansky won the Mid-States heavyweight lifting title with a 910 lb. total and Jim Park won the Mr. Central U.S.A bodybuilding contest, also held that day.

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.
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