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This is THE PLACE for incredible feats, classic and unique equipment, advertisements, magazine covers, Olympic Champions, gymnastics, myths and legends, oldtime physical culture and everything else you can think of having to do with the history of physical training! -- There ain't nothin' like it anywhere else! You'll want to check back several times per day, we update often.

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Warren Lincoln Travis' Challenge

If you wanted to win the Richard K. Fox Heavyweight Strongman Champiionship Belt you had to beat Warren Lincoln Travis at his own game in a challenge match.

Here's the list of Travis' ten strength challenges:
1. 100 lb.barbell brought from the floor with both hands, pressed overhead with both hands, while seated(thirty seconds).

2. Pair of ninety pound weights brought from side of body to shoulders, then slowly pressing to arm's lengh over the head.

3. Teeth Lift from floor, hands behind back, 350 lbs.

4. 350 lbs. from floor with one finger, eight times in five seconds.

5. One finger lift from floor, 560 lbs. once.

6. Two-hand grip lift, straddling the weight from floor, 700 lbs. twenty times in ten seconds.

7. Hand and knee lift from floor, 1600 lbs. once.

8. Back lift, 3660 lbs. once.

9. Harness lift, 3580 lbs. once.

10. 2000 lb. back lift, 250 times, seven minutes.
(Did I mention all these lifts must be accomplished in 30 minutes or less if you want to win the belt?)

Roy Hilligenn - 1951 Mr. America

South African Roy Hilligenn, seen above on the cover of the September/October 1951 issue of Iron Man magazine was the AAU Mr. America that same year. Hilligen was a tremendous all-around "iron athlete" -- As a bodybuilder, he won the Mr. South Africa title in 1943, 1944, 1946 and 1976 as well as Mr. Northern California (1949), Mr. Pacific Coast (1949), and The World’s Most Muscular Man (1952). Hilligenn was the shortest man to ever win the AAU Mr. Anerica title (at 5'6").

As an Olympic lifter, Hilligenn was the first South African to Clean and Jerk double body weight.

His lifts in 1946 were Press: 245 pounds, Snatch: 255 Pounds and Clean & Jerk: 321 pounds. In the early 1950's, and weighing just 173 pounds, Hilligen unofficially equaled the world record in the Clean & Jerk with a lift of 375 pounds. He actually finished second in the 1951 National championships to Norbert Schemansky.

Hilligen eventually Clean & Jerked 405 at a slightly heavier body weight, which was an unofficial world record at the time. It was voted as one of the greatest "lifts" of all time. Hilligenn also "cleaned" a pair of 142-pound dumbbells (but did not press them) at Ed Yarick's Gym in Oakland, California in the 50's.

Interestingly, Roy Hilligenn was also a life-long vegetarian and claimed to have never eaten meat ever.

The Iron Cross

Much of the origins of strength training and physical culture come from gymnastics. The Iron Cross as performed on gymnastic rings, is one of the most impressive gymnastic feats. It takes a great deal of strength and plenty of skill to perform The Iron Cross properly.

The fellow above, Albert Azaryan was a Armenian gymnast who competed internationally for the Soviet Union. Azaryan is the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Champion on the still rings and the first ever gymnast to become an Olympic Champion in Rings twice. Azaryan actually originated a variation of the Iron Cross which was eventually named for him, which incorporates a very difficult quarter turn to the side, a simply mind boggling display of shoulder strength

1953 NABBA Mr. Universe Contest

It's common knowledge that Bill Pearl handily won the 1953 NABBA (National Amateur Body-Builders' Association) Mr. Universe contest but what most people don't realize is that also competing in the contest was a young fellow from Scotland by the name of Sean Connery -- yes THAT Sean Connery! James Bond himself is fourth from the left in the above picture in the white trunks. FYI, he did not place in the top five in the tall class.

Marvin Eder's Bench Press

Here's Marvin Eder bench pressing what looks like every plate in the gym -- 430 lbs. if you add 'em all up. This was back in 1952 and Eder was just 19 years of age at the time. Eder eventually went on to bench press 515 lbs.

Muscle Builder, April 1954

A look at the April, 1954 issue of Muscle Builder magazine with Jack Delinger on the cover. Notice that this was the "Giant He-Man issue." Delinger (who was once a skinny weakling) was only a few years away from winning the Mr. Universe title.

1913 Milo Bar-Bell Ad

Check out this ad for the Milo Bar-Bell Company from the December, 1913 issue of Physical Culture Magazine. Back then, strength training was not as popular or understood as it is today, hence advertisements like this one had to be informative as well as compelling. By the way, the demonstrater in the ad is well-known strongman and strength author Ottley Coulter.
A Bar-Bell is simply a long-handled dumbbell; it can be used for either lifting or developing exercises. In the above picture, the athlete is "up-ending" a Bar-Bell, while at his feet lie a Dumb-bell and Kettle-bells.

WHY IS IT that a man who has been trained with heavy bells can perform feats of strength beyond the combined power of two or three ordinary men? Not alone, because his arms are twice as strong--because his back, hips and legs are FOUR OR FIVE TIMES AS STRONG as the average athlete's.

There is only one was to develop this phenomenal back and leg strength: and that is, by the use of a Bar-Bell. You cannot do it by practicing one-arm lifts with a short Dumbbell; you cannot do it by going through the old 5-lb. Dumbbell drill with a pair of 25 or 30-lb. Dumbbells: nor can you do it with a pair of Kettle-bells. Kettle-bells are primarily arm and deltoid developers.

In a combination outfit, the Dumbbell and the Kettle-Bell are subsidiary parts--the Bar-Bell is the great developing instrument. It is because they use Bar-Bells that OUR pupils can develop 45" chests. 16" biceps, 24" thighs, etc.

The back and leg muscles are infinitely bigger, stronger and more important that the arm muscles. After training thousands of cases, it is our conviction that the average man needs a Bar-Bell which can be adjusted up to 100 lbs. if he wants proper ALL-ROUND development.

We will be glad to assist and advise anyone in the selection of a combination bell of proper weight.
We believe we have the greatest course of training in the world--the BEST system. We have described it in some of our recent advertisements; but we want to say here that no system--however perfect--will suit any and everyone. If YOU buy and outfit and enroll as a pupil with use, we have to adopt our system to your PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL needs.

We can tell you a lot of interesting and instructive facts about body building and strength making; and we can also give you information about the finest line of adjustable combination bells in the world.

Write for our booklets.
1011 Chestnut Street

Ray Van Cleef

Many Iron Game fans will recall the name Ray Van Cleef from the pages of Strength and Health magazine. He was an Associate Editor and his column "Strong Men The World Over" appeared for many years. Before all that though, Van Cleef was a great strongman in his own right. Here's a rare shot that most people haven't seen before of Van Cleef performing a heavy one-arm snatch of a wagon wheel axle.

The article where this came from was authored by Van Cleef and the inclusion of this picture was to illustrate how one might be able to still train, or otherwise perform novel feats, without having a barbell on hand -- a notion that we are definitely on board with.

It's probably also worth a mention that Ray was a vegetarian.

Josef Grafl

Josef Grafl, the great strongman from Vienna, Austria, was the man to beat in the weightlifting world in the early 20th century... He won championships in 1908, 1909, twice in 1910, 1911 and his last in 1913.

As you might guess by the image above, Grafl possessed immense pressing power. In Vienna, circa 1912, Grafl pressed 220.5 lbs for 18 repetitions. This was not "military" style but even more strict: with his heels together. It was later estimated by strength historian David P. Willoughby that this was equivalent to a maximum single of 344 lbs.

Hans Kavan: The Austrian Hercules

In March of 1925, Hans Kavan "The Austrian Hercules" noted wrestler and sometimes strongman performed this "human link" feat to win a wager. Kavan was thankfully not torn asunder with two horses on each arm, pulling in opposite directions. Kavan had a brother named Franz who was also a decent wrestler. (That's right, Hans and Franz from Austria was a real thing!)
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