The bulk of the training was, I’m sure wrestling — holds, take-downs, blocks, breaks and plenty of sparring. Of course, the “Old Farmer” knew that wrestling was only “part” of what made a good wrestler — physical training was important too. He had his students throw the medicine ball around, hit the speed bag, jump rope, use light dumbbells, develop their chests with breathing exercises, use traveling rings, swing indian clubs, climb ropes, and do enough calisthenics in order to make them stronger, tougher and more conditioned than any man willing to step in the ring with them. The advertisement above is from 1920.
It had to be quite an experience to train at the Farmer Burns School of Wrestling and Physical Culture. Farmer Burns believed that every athlete should train like a wrestler – and I agree.
Here’s a classic shot of boxer Billie Miskie training with a medicine ball, circa 1920. Miskie was deep in training to face the great Jack Dempsey for the World’s Heavyweight title in Benton Harbor, Michigan on September, 6th of that year (a fight Miskle lost by Knockout in the 3rd round, the only time he got knocked out in his entire career.) For you trivia buffs, this was the very first heavyweight title match that was ever broadcast on radio. Medicine ball training was always very popular with the oldtime boxers, and for very good reason.
If you ever get a flat tire, you won’t need a jack if “The Amazing Samson” Alexander Zass is on your friend list. This picture was taken around 1920. Cars were pretty heavy back then and there isn’t much leverage to be had from this position, this is no small feat.