May 30, 2017
"...Talking about feats with an anvil reminds me of a particular feat that I performed impromptu which takes a great amount of confidence as well as strength. It happened at one of the times that I picked up an anvil by the horn in a smithy shop, and after that stunt I pressed the anvil to arm's length by lying it on its broadside upon the flat of my hand, which is not as easy as it sounds. After I had done this I put the anvil on the floor on its base. We began to talk about various anvil feats being so difficult because of its awkward unbalanced construction. One man remarked that it would be some stunt to balance the anvil on the hand upside down. That meant the face would rest on the hand and the heavy wide base on top. Somehow I conceived the notion I could do it, and accordingly I took hold of the face with my right hand, and with the help of the left arm got the weight to the shoulder. Despite the wide base and the bad balance caused by same and the horn, I not only succeeded in balancing the anvil by its face, but pressed it to arm's length, to the amazement of all. I have done it many times since, and for this volume I performed the same feat, thinking it might interest my readers. The anvil weighed one hundred sixty-eight pounds..." George Jowett The Key to Might and Muscle, Chapter 9 Written in 1926
May 30, 2017
Strongman Joe Ragusa does a... actually I don't know what you call this one.. a neck lift? ... either way it looks pretty extreme. The bar is loaded to 655 pounds and it sure doesn't look very comfortable. Ragusa was originally from the Bronx but came out to Hollywood and like many strongman-types, got bit parts as a "heavy" in a few movies. As far as strength feats, he was deceptively strong: Joe could do a two-finger deadlift with 515 pounds and backlift an Elephant. This picture was snapped at Muscle Beach (Zabo Koszewski, always looking cool in his dark glasses, peers on at the upper left.)
May 30, 2017
A look at strength star Ellwood Holbrook right around the time when he placed second in the light-heavyweight class at the 1944 Sr. Nationals with a 720 lb. total. Just a few years before, Holbrook rightly took home the 'Best Arms' sub-category and placed fourth overall at the 1941 AAU Mr. America Contest. Holbrook weighed only 165 pounds or so and routinely bent-pressed well over his bodyweight -- his best was around 270 lbs. while he never weighed over 170 lbs. Hollbrook didn't do any special training other than his focus on the bent-press. After a long day of construction work he trained in his garage with nothing more than an Olympic set.
May 28, 2017
Selig Whitman is another perfect example of an individual who is small of stature but extra large in strength. Whitman stood five feet 8 1/2 inches tall and weighed but 162 pounds... His most famous feats include lifting a 1,030 lb. dumbbell with his teeth ...pushing a 27,000 freight car up an incline for 50 feet (at St. John's Park) ...tearing two packs of cards at once ...and turning a forward somersault with a 25 lb. dumbbell in each hand. In the early 1890's, Selig toured the country as "Ajax The Strongman" and actually appeared at times on the same bill as John L. Sullivan, Like many performers, Whitman eventually got tired of the traveling life and went to New York City where he joined the police force. Of course, his impressive list of strength feats only grew from there: on one particularly busy day, he arrested a drunk, but the patrol wagon was nowhere to be found, so he carried the 250-lb. man back to the station on his back... As if that weren't enough work for the day, a short while later a horse had fallen in front of the street carrier and neither horse nor carrier could be budged, Whitman put his shoulder to the car and as onlookers later reported "lifted it as a boy would pick up a baby." Whitman was the guy they sent in first whenever any "trouble" started -- he once captured four would-be rioters single-handedly. In his 26 years on the force, Whitman made over 2000 arrests.
May 25, 2017
The Cricifix Lift is a great Oldtime lift and a tremendous test of shoulder strength. Here Paby Salas of Monterrey, Mexico performs what he claims was a world record at the time: 55-1/4 pounds in the left hand and 55-1/2 pounds in the right at a bodyweight of 161 pounds. Paby is 50 years of age in this picture.
May 25, 2017
One of the few known images of Prof. Frank Dufrane, The Human Anvil. This one was taken by the famed Swords Bros. Photographers in York, PA likely in the mid-1890's. We've covered Prof. Dufrane before, but since then have unearthed a few more details about him, namely, that he performed many traditional strongman feats: he drove nails through one and two inch boards with his bare hands...bent metal bars across his teeth and neck and, of course, held a 1,000 pound rock on his chest whilst a member of the audience slugged away at it with a 17 lb. sledge hammer -- which could not have been comfortable any way you slice it. Dufrane was billed as "The strongest man of his weight on Earth" - which was likely true -- he weighed only 145 lbs.!
May 25, 2017
Elmo Santiago on the cover of the December, 1959 issue of Strength and Health -- He won the AAU Junior Mr. America contest that year. The popular (and quite prolific) New York bodybuilder also won the AAU Mr. New York Metropolitan contest in 1953, Mr. New York City in 1954, Mr. Eastern America in 1958, Mr. North America in 1960, and the 1965 NABBA Mr. Universe title.
May 22, 2017
Among the members of the Saxon Trio it was Arthur who got most of the spotlight but the other members were quite strong in their own right. Kurt Saxon for example, could bent-press over 300 pounds at a bodyweight of only 170. His exceptional muscularity is evident even in this old photo.
May 9, 2017
A Trio of early wrestlers, from left to right: Paul Pons, Raoul "Le Boucher" (The Butcher) Musson and Ivan Shemyakin. This rare shot was most likely taken at "Le tournoi annue de lutta de la Ceinture d'or" held at the Folies-Bergere in 1904.
May 9, 2017
Pierre Bonnes was a great French strongman and weightlifter who was at his best in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1898, he set the "official" world record in the One Arm Snatch with a lift of 85.5 kilos. He bested this lift on several other occasions albeit under unofficial conditions. Here's how Bonnes looked after winning the "World Strength Championship" in 1903. (Bonnes won again in 1905.)

May, 2017