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The 12th Man to lift "The Water Barrel" at Zuver's Hall of Fame Gym

It was on July 1st, 1968 that Dr. Ken Leisner became the 12th man to lift the Zuver's Gym "challenge" water barrel overhead. Nobody knows exactly how much the barrel weighed but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-250 lbs. And, if you have done any barrel lifting, you know that it's a whole different deal than a barbell. If you ever get to talk to Dr. Ken, get him to tell you the story on how this came about.

Henry Wittenberg

New Jersey born Henry Wittenberg, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 91, was one of the greatest wrestlers who ever lived. Unbelievably, he never even wrestled until he got to college but by his Junior Year, he was doing very well in many prestigious tournaments.

After college, he entered eight AAU tournaments - and won all of them. In an era where many people inflate their numbers, Wittenberg legitimately won over 300 straight matches. He won a Gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics and came back to win Silver in 1952 at Helsinki. He doesn't have any World Championships to his credit because his employer, The New York Police Department, would not allow him the time off.

One of the notable things about Wittenberg is that he was one of the few athletes at the time who actively lifted weights. His coaches at the time forbade him to do so, but Wittenberg understood how important it was and would not hear of it. Hi coaches eventually gave in and allowed him to keep lifting weights so as long as he didn't let it be known.

Later on, Wittenberg wrote this book on Isometrics which has gone through five printings.

The Nautilus Compound Leg Machine

The 'point' of any tool is to give yourself an advantage that could not otherwise be had... in this case, a machine which will allow a for the performance of a very specialized (and VERY effective) training technique: pre-exhaust.

The Nautilus compound Leg Machine combined a leg extension with a leg press, allowing a trainee to move from one exercise to the next in the quickest possible time -- and creating one of the most intense leg workouts ever devised.

Mighty Joe Young vs. 10 Strongmen

The 1949 film 'Mighty Joe Young' features a number of familiar faces. In a memorable scene, Mr. Joseph Young of Africa plays tug of war with 10 strongmen in a nightclub. The strongmen in question are played by Mac Batchelor and Primo Carnera and famous wrestlers 'Killer' Karl Davis, William 'Wee Willie' Davis, Henry Kulky, "Slammin" Sammy Menacker, Man Mountain Dean, Ivan Rasputin, Sammy Stein and 'The Swedish Angel' Phil Olafsson. (The strongmen never had a chance, Mighty Joe easily prevails, pulling them one by one into a pool of water.)

Charles Rigoulot's One-Arm Snatch

The great French Strongman Charles Rigoulot snatches 242 pounds with one arm in old, Old, OLD Vienna, circa 1929. Note the continued use of globed barbells and dumbbells long after they went out of style.

Just a few years earlier at the 1924 Olympic Games, the athletes still had a choice of either using a solid, revolving, plate-loaded barbell like you would see these days, or the archaic shot-loaded globe barbells of year's past. All the members of the French weightlifting team, including Rigoulot, chose to lift with the oldtime globe barbells instead of the modern plate-loaded ones... Interestingly, Rigoulot won the gold medal in the light-heavyweight class while his teammate Edmond Decottignies also took home the gold in the light-weight Class.

John Y. Smith

John Y. Smith, shown above bent pressing a 185 lb. dumbbell, was another great strongman who was small in stature but large in strength. He was 5'7" and weighed around 165 lbs. in his prime yet could perform feats such as a right hand one-arm deadlift of 450 pounds (435 lbs. with the left), a hand and thigh lift of 1640 pounds and a press with a pair of dumbbells totaling 225 pounds. Smith was also a lifelong lifter, and quite impressively won the New England's Strongest Man Contest at 60 years of age.

Russian Olympic Set

One of the interesting things that you would find in the old strength magazines was Olympic sets from some of the different countries - and they did a fine job. pictured here is a famous Russian Olympic set brought in by Leo Stern for use in his gym. Oh yeah, that's also Pat Casey 'unofficially' bench pressing 525 pounds.

German Weightlifter

Berg-Hantell barbells and plates were the inspiration for all modern Olympic sets. Here's one in use by the German lifter A. Wiedmer who shows how it's done in winning this early weightlifting contest sometime in the 1920's.

Strength From The Highlands: Scottish Hammer Throwing

The Scottish Hammer is an event in traditional Highland Games Heavy Athletics. The 'Hammer' itself is a length of rattan or wood with a weighted spherical head. There are actually two different types of Scottish Hammer records kept: heavy and light. For Men, the heavy hammer weighs 22 pounds and the light hammer weighs in at 16 pounds.) For Women, the heavy hammer is 16 pounds and the light hammer is 12 pounds.

The Hammer is wound around the body and thrown from a standing position. An interesting modern development is that athletes now wear boots with long spikes in them to anchor themselves to the ground which allows them to generate more force.

The current World records are as follows:

Men's Heavy Hammer: Daniel McKim: 132' 2.75"
Men's Light Hammer: Daniel McKim: 157' 7.25"

Women's Heavy Hammer: Valerie Adams 99' 1"
Women's Light Hammer: Shannon Hartnett 120' 1"

Strength From The Highlands: Caber Tossing

Caber tossing is one of the most famous events at the Scottish Highland Games. A caber is a log, usually made of pine or larch, which the competitor stands upright and then hoists end over end. Scoring is not based on height or distance thrown but how closely their throws approximate the ideal 12 o'clock toss on an imaginary clock. If successful, the athlete is said to have "turned" the caber.

If no one can 'turn' a particular caber, it can be cut down a bit to give a better opportunity to so but a caber that has been successfully turned remains intact from that point forward. Since cabers are made from natural wood, each one differs in length, weight, taper, and balance.
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