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In 1893, professor Louis Attilla opened the doors to the finest gym ever established before or since. Behold "Professor Attila's Physical Culture Studio." The above shot was actually the second location, Attila moved his gym in 1898 to a location on 37th street in midtown Manhattan. Needless to say, whenever any professional strongmen performed in New York, they made a point to stop by Attila's place.
C.V. Wheeler was the winner of the "Daily Express" Challenge Cup in 1919 and Heavy-weight Amateur British Weightlifting Champion of 1920. Wheeler was a student of W.A. Pullum and a member of the famed Camberwell Weightlifting Club. Wheeler's exact training program is listed in How to Use a Barbell by W.A. Pullum.
In the early Olympic games, the athletes had the choice of using plate-loaded barbells or shot-loaded globe barbells Shown here is the selection of weights for the 1924 Olympic games in Paris, France, the last time that this choice was available. The great French champion Charles Rigoulot won the Gold medal in the heavyweight class, and, interestingly, was the only lifter who chose to compete with the shot loaded globe barbells.
Tommy Kono graces the cover of the August, 1955 issue of Strength and Health magazine. Just a few months later, in October of 1955, Tommy would go on to take the Gold medal in the light-heavyweight (82.5 kg) class at the World Championships held in in Munich, West Germany. His winning total was 435 kg, and consisted of a 142.5 kg press, a 127.5 kg snatch and a 165 kg clean and jerk.
Maurice Deriaz, the great Swiss strongman, is shown here setting a record in the one arm clean and jerk with a lift of 211 French Livres (about 228 pounds.) Maurice was one of several brothers who were all celebrated strength athletes (the others being Emile, Adrian, and Ulysses.) Maurice was also a good wrestler, once beating fourty-four opponents to win a Greco-Roman tournament.
Shown is the famous French physical culturalist Dr. Georges Rouhet and some of his fantastic training equipment. Having been at this for a while now, our conclusion is that the French Strongmen had the best equipment available to train with. Also of note are the French blockweights in the foreground.
Clarence "Clancy" Ross, from Oakland, California, started weight training at 17 years of age (weighing all of 135 pounds) and built himself up into one of the greatest bodybuilders who ever lived. Ross won the 1945 AAU Mr. America title (plus the "Most Muscular" award.) He took the Pro Mr. America title the next year and Mr. USA the year after that. Rather than focus on "pumping" exercises which was often the suggested method at the time, Ross was not afraid to lift heavy on the basic multi-joint movements such as bent-over rows, squats, deadlifts etc -- and it showed. Ross appeared on the cover of over forty different bodybuilding magazines over his career.
Stanley Radwan was a catch-wrestler and strongman who performed during the 40's and 50's in the Cleveland, Ohio area. This event poster from 1949 advertises Radwan pulling cars with his teeth, biting through steel, breaking chains, bending horseshoes, bend nails and spikes, nail driving by hand, tearing decks of cards, and performing the human chain feat. It was said Radwan could also bend coins with his hands.
As a side note, St. Josaphat's Hall is still around, it was converted to an art gallery a few years ago.
One of the kings at the old Muscle Beach scene was "Big Steve" Marjanian. Here's one reason why they called him "Big Steve" ... an incline press with 460 pounds (which he made look easy.) Steve's best was 495 which has to be a record.