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The Billard Barbell Company, out of Reading, Pennsylvania, hit the scene in the early 1960's and featured their equipment primarily in department and sporting goods stores. If you got one of their weight sets, you also received this nifty training manual featuring Bruce Randall., the 1959 Mr. Universe winner. Randall made appearances at sporting good stores promoting and demonstrating Billard equipment.
Billard was actually the third barbell company based in Reading, PA (after the Good Barbell Company and the Reading Barbell Company.) In addition to weights, the Billard Barbell Company also boasted a national championship calibre softball team.
The great French strongman Tonitoff was the talk of the town when he performed in the Grand Circus Lenka during the 1896 season. He was billed as "The World's Strongest Man" and easily supported several thousand pounds on his shoulders as he walked around the arena.
A look at the medal platform for the 1956 Olympic Weightlifting Bantamweight class: American lifter Chuck Vinci took gold (with a 342.5 kg total ~ an Olympic record), Vladimir Stogov from the Soviet Union took the silver medal (with a 337.5 kg total) and Mahmoud Namdjou of Iran, took the bronze (with a 332.5 kg total).
Munich, Germany, March, 27th, 1954: Adolf Grenzebach, given moral support by members of a Bavarian Brass Band, lifts a 508 pound stone during a contest for the strongest man of the Bavarian capital. In the competition traditionally held during the "strong beer" season in the Spring, the one who lifts the stone the highest is declared the winner. Adolph won with an 11-inch lift. Mr. Grenzebach's talents also weren't limited to stone lifting, he was also an egg eating champion, downing 26 in 30 minutes.
Paris, the great French strongman was known as "The Boat Man." Why? Because in his act he lifted boats! Paris often performed at the famous Folies Bergeres, and backlifted a boatload (literally!) of men, a total weight said to be over 1000 kg.
Willaim H. Thwaites, from Plumstead, Kent, shows off a 150 lb. one-arm snatch and his outstanding training equipment, about 1901.
What does the result of high intensity training look like? Check out Kevin Tolbert above. Kevin was certainly blessed on one level, but also keep in mind that he never bothered with "secret" exercises, just basic workouts, plenty of effort and no excuses. Kevin's exact training programs are outlined in The Steel Tip Collection.
Kevin is currently the strength coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Ironically, Anerican weightlfting champions often got more recognition from the international media than they did back home. Here''s John Davis, pictured on the cover of a French Sporting magazine in 1950 on his way to winning the heavyweight class the 1950 World Championship in Paris, France. By the weight on the bar, this appears to be Davis' winning snatch lift of 147.5 kg.
We pride ourselves on providing content that even the most grizzled Iron Game vets probably hasn't seen. Case in point, this truly excellent Milo Barbell Company advertisement from the mid-1920s. The man shown doing the "get up" lift is F. P. Jones from Philadelphia. What was the secret? ...The same thing responsible for all training results: Progressive Resistance Training.
Thomas Topham is known as the greatest strongman of the 18th century. Among his many incredible feats, on May 28th 1741, by use of a harness, Topham lifted three barrels filled with water weighing 1386 lbs.