Gough performed feats of strength in carnivals, fairs and vaudeville houses all over the country. In addition to “traditional” strongman feats such as The Human Link, Nail Driving, and bar bending, Gough came up with many of his own including dangling from a rope tied to an airplane by his teeth, with a 50 pound weight in each hand, biting keys in half, and juggling a 300-pound anvil!
One of his many adventures was to perform feats of strength as publicity stunts for the Louisville, Kentucky-based Oertel Brewing Company which is the origin of the ‘Barrel’ barbell pictured here.
Bending bars, spikes and nails has always been a traditional Oldtime Strongman feat, not only do many people find it incredibly impressive but merely doing it will build tremendous strength throughout the entire body.
You can tell that rectangular stock (like the spike above) was actually hand bent by the shape. If a piece of steel was truly hand bent, it will bend on the angle, not the flat edge.
Though this photo is well over a hundred years old, you can still plainly see that Vansittart had the genetics to be a strength champion. You can read about some of Vansittart’s favorite exercises HERE.
Now that’s impressive!
The Mighty Atlas often demonstrated feats of strength before his matches, bending iron bars, snapping chains, ripping phone books etc. He learned the secrets of strength from his father who was a strongman in the Russian Circus in Minsk.