Here’s a classic shot of Warren Lincoln Travis performing the classic strength feat “The Human Link”. Although out of the frame, travis actually has a pair of horses looped over each elbow, and it’s all he can do to stop from being torn limb from limb!
Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, physical educators such as Dudley Allen Sargent at Harvard University, were big on anthropometry which literally, translates to the science of human measurement. Dynamometers were very popular since they were portable as well as practical. This is an old woodcut of a chest dynamometer which measured upper body strength.
A look at a young Harry Shafran who was known equally well for his physique as well as feats of strength. Early in his career, he was a partner of Professor Adrian Schmidt and was featured in Strength Magazine as well as Strength and Health Magazine. He ran a series of successful gyms in New York City but eventually grew tired of it and moved everything to a location near Scranton, Pennsylvania. He kept all his classic equipment in a large barn (including quite a few pieces he obtained from Warren Lincoln Travis).
Giovanni Raicevich was an Italian professional wrestler known for his great strength. He won many international tournaments and two world championships in 1907 (defeating Laurent le Beaucairois.) and 1909 (defeating Paul Pons). Raicevich fought (but lost to) Frank Gotch in November of 1909 in a 2-out-of-3 falls match. Raicevich retired after his last professional match, a win against Hans Kavan, in 1929. His brothers were Roberto Massimo and Emilio Ruggerio Raičević who were also champion wrestlers.
Tom Owen “The Fighting Oilman,” claimed the world bare-knuckle boxing championship with a victory (in 50 rounds!) over William “Bully” Hooper on November 14, 1796. Owen was a pub owner, oilman, and is widely credited with inventing the dumbbell.
Many strongmen performed The Human Link Feat but around 1920, The Amazing Samson upped the ante by a bunch. He not only held back a pair of draught horses, he also bent a steel bar over his leg at the same time! Amazing indeed. It should also probably be mentioned that he attempted this feat as a result of a bet.
Lorenz Geer, the popular oldtime strongman from Munich, Germany, was known as “King of The Snatch” in the later part of the 19th century. He achieved a right-hand snatch of 165 pounds and 9 reps with 142 pounds. Geer was particularly fond of working with thick-handled equipment.