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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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Galen Gough

Billed as "The World's Miracle Strongman," Galen Gough from Howard''s Grove, Kentucky certainly lived up to his title. Gough was terribly injured while serving in World War I, but built himself back to health and strength through physical training. His results were so dramatic that a career as a performing strongman soon followed.

Gough was one of the very first (if not the first)  strongman to impress crowds by ripping phone books in half.

The Bowmill Exercise

The Bowmill ExerciseIf you were looking for dumbbell exercises from back around the time of the Civil War, here's one you might have run across: "The Bow Mill Exercise," as discussed by Dio Lewis in 1864:

"The Bow Mill Exercise: The apart position is taken from which the dumb bells are made to describe a circle, the circumference of which shall be as near as possible to the floor, and as high up on the right as possible, and thus is followed by another circle of the same description to the left."

The Human Vise Pat Povilaitis

Pat Povilaitis, "The Human Vise", is a modern strongman and one of the few human beings who can stand toe-to-toe with many of the oldtime greats. As you can likely tell by his moniker, "The Human Vise" excels at Steel Bending: spikes, nails, horse shoes, frying pans - no piece of steel is safe in his hands!  Pat also likes to do combo feats, usually bending something with a 300+ pound stone in his lap!

The Russian Hercules: Ivan Poddubny

Ivan Poddubny

Ivan Poddubny was one of the greatest of the Russian Strongman /Wrestlers (of which there were many). He was born in a small village and worked hard jobs even from a young age. After some training, he joined the russian circus, performing feats of strength and wrestling all comers. The sash he is wearing in this picture is most likley from the 1908 World Championship, which he won by defeating his friend Ivan Zaikin.  This was hiw fifth World Championship title.   Even to this day,  Poddubny is still a well-known sports hero in Russia and several big wrestling tournaments bare his name.

Dennis Rogers

Dennis Rogers

Over the last decade and a half, Dennis Rogers has become the most widely seen Strongman in history. More people have probably seen Dennis than all the other performing strongmen - ever!

Dennis has appeared on The Discovery Channel, The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Stan Lee's Superhumans and dozens of other television shows in the US and all over the world.

You may not believe this but Dennis Rogers weighed 79 lbs. in high school and even today tips the scales at only 160 pounds. Even though he may not fit what you think of as a typical "Strongman" Dennis has performed feats that have yet to be duplicated.

Health and Strength Magazine: October 26th, 1907

Health and Strength Magazine: October 26th, 1907

The great British strongman Thomas Inch graces the cover of the October 26th, 1907 issue of Health and Strength Magazine with his latest feat: holding a loft a bicycle and its rider.  These old Health and Strength mags are all but impossible to find, luckily, we just came across a few of them...

'The Great' Joe Rollino

Joe Rollino

Joe Rollino learned the strongman trade as an assistant to Warren Lincoln Travis at the famed Coney Island. In the 1920's, Rollino branched out into his own strongman act.

Joe stood 5'5" and weighed just under 150 pounds but possessed the strength of someone twice his size. He easily performed all the traditional feats of strength such as back lifting, finger lifting, nail bending, phonebook and playing card tearing and, shown here, bending a spike in his teeth. He once lifted 635 pounds with one finger.

Rollino was also a boxer under the name "Kid Dundee" and, like many strongmen of the day, was a very good hand balancer. Joe was a lifelong vegetarian and lived to 105 years old. He passed away a few years ago, not from sickness or disease but from getting hit by a van while crossing the street to pick up his morning paper.

The Big Wheel at Zuver's Hall of Fame Gym

The Big Wheel at Zuver's Hall of Fame Gym

At Zuver's Hall of Fame Gym, everything is BIG, including the unique piece of equipment seen here: The BIG Wheel. That's a heck of a way to do pulldowns. Check out the handle, and that's a pretty good sized anchor chain too.  Dr. Ken Leistner, who trained at Zuver's long ago, actually had a reproduction of the Big Wheel made for his Iron Island Gym (made by Jim Sutherland.)

Jaw Strength

Many of the Oldtime Strongmen used teeth lifting in their performances and also as a neck developer. If you do decide to incorporate this lift into your training, please do so safely. Here's a classic shot of Jim Murray, managing editor of Strength and Health Magazine, using a York Barbell Company custom-made mouthpiece to lift a 200-pound dumbbell.

Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett

Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett

Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett was the first African American on the Harvard University staff and the director and curator of the Harvard Gymnasium from 1859 to 1871. He also taught gymnastics, boxing and the use of dumbbells.

He is pictured here with the tools of his craft: boxing gloves, Indian Clubs, Dumbbells, medicine balls and the wooden wand. It should also be known that this picture represents the very first time a medicine ball was photographed in the US (taken around 1860). Interestingly, at the time most physical culture figures generally recommended very light apparatus work but Hewlett appeared to favor much heavier clubs and dumbbells. Also of note are those pretty nifty "dumbbell clubs" on the left.

Two other items of interest about Mr. Molyneaux:

His daughter, Virginia married Frederick Douglass.

In 1900, his son, E.M. Hewlett, became the first African American lawyer to win a case before the Supreme Court of the United States (Carter vs. Texas).

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