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Denmark-born Magnus Bech-Olsen won the wrestling world championship in 1892 and held the title until 1903. During his competitive years, Bech-Olsen had many memorable battles with the likes of Karl Abs, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Alex Aberg, Paul Pons, Sebastian "Ursus" Jankowsky, Paul Belling, Ernst Roeber, Constant Le Marin and even Frank Gotch. A few years after retiring, Bech Olsen established his own traveling circus.
A very happy birthday to one of the all-time great lifters: Mr. Norb Schemansky celebrates #88 on this day. Norb was the first weightlifter to earn four Olympic medals, taking Silver in the 1948 London Games, Gold in 1952 in Helsinki and Bronze in 1960 in Rome and Tokyo in 1964. Notice that ne missed the 1956 games in Melbourne, making this accomplishment that much more impressive.
Here's a rare look at a cabinet card featuring a young Thomas Inch, demonstrating his card tearing ability. Inch won the title of "Britain's Strongest Youth, at sixteen years of age, so this cabinet card from 1899 would make him around eighteen. Of course, Inch also went on to hold the title of "Britain's Strongest Man" and it's certainly not hard to see why.
Going through our archives is always an interesting experience. There are the well known names, books, courses etc of course, but we often run into other items which are rather mysterious. This 1909 advertisement would certainly fit that bill. Can't say that I've ever come across Dr. S.C. Hall's name elsewhere. Build strength by lifting weights? Pfftt-that's for the birds. Dr. Hall's Electo-Vigor machine will "send glowing, electic fire coursing through your nerves and vitals." Where do I sign up?
Joe Price, the Gloucester Blacksmith, did a lot of leverage work with sledge hammers and even wrote his fantastic (and aptly named) "Vulcan" course about these special exercises. Though this image is not of the greatest quality, you can still clearly see that Price's forearm development is quite impressive.
Ireland's Strongest Man, Michael "Butty" Sugrue, used to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by performing feats of strength in his pub in Kilburn. One of them was to lift a two-hundredweight barrel of beer overhead. Sugrue was a colorful character and led a pretty interesting life, among other accomplishments, he promoted the Muhammad Ali versus Al "Blue" Lewis fight in Croke Park in Dublin in July, 1972.
Peary Rader's Iron Man magazine covered many different lifting topics but focused primarily on bodybuilding. For those who were more interested in heavy lifting of other types, in June of 1954, Iron Man started "Lifting News" which covered competitive Olympic weightlifting and what would eventually become the sport of Powerlifting. Lifting News ran 142 issues.
Above, you'll find the cover of the October, 1968 issue featuring Mel Hennessey, lifting in the 242 lb. class (at a body weight of 217 pounds!), bench pressing 560 pounds at the Northwest Invitational Power Meet held June 22nd of that year in St. Paul Minnesota.
What do we know about the Composition Barbell Company? Pretty much nothing other than this advertisement from a 1914 Physical Culture magazine. In fact, I've never seen or heard of this company or their equipment otherwise. Also, before getting in a tizzy about the 6 cents per pound price tag on their weights, it should be understood that this equals $1.38 in today's dollars when adjusting for inflation. I'm not at all surprised to hear this, given the time and effort that goes into producing quality equipment.
Maurice "Rocket" Richard was one of the all time great hockey players. With the Montreal Canadiens, he was the first to score 50 goals in 50 games, the first to score 500 goals in a career and likely the first hockey player with a signature hand gripper. Whether this gripper helped his hockey prowess is anyone's guess, but there's no doubt that extra hand and grip strength certainly does help out on the ice.
Strength legends are generally treated differently in other countries than they are here. Case in point, here's a nifty commemorative envelope from Germany, circa 1991, celebrating the great Arthur Saxon. Note that the stamps are also related to lifting.