Alex Topka

Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2018 by John Wood
Alex Topka, from Berlin, Germany, was a strongman and sometimes wrestler who performed as “Audax Alexius” (Alexius the Brave) — usually in full Gladiator garb. Above, Topka with only one hand lifts a stone marked 6 “hundred weights” or about 300 kg. Not bad!
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

The Great Peters — The Man With The Iron Neck!

Posted on Thursday, February 1st, 2018 by John Wood
Aloys Peters was a German acrobat who developed an unusual skill — he could jump off a platform 75 feet in the air with a hangman’s noose around his neck and yet not hang himself. He had figured out the knack where he could maneuver his body mid-air and “tame the arc” taking the jolt out of gravity’s cruel grasp. Peters performed this feat initially for the famous Strassburger Circus in Berlin and then the Sells-Floto Circus on US shores in the early 1930’s.

The German Wheel

Posted on Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 by John Wood
Here’s a lost piece of training equipment that you sure don’t see every day the German Wheel. Also known as a Gym Wheel or a “Rhönrad”, Otto Feik, a metal worker from Germany devised this unique device in 1925 as a means of building full-body strength and stamina (while also having a good time doing so!)

It consists of a giant metal frame, about seven feet in diameter, with straps for the feet and overhead “rungs” which are gripped with the hands during use. A user then controls the movement of the wheel with body power – they say it’s a great “core” workout.

In 1936, at the Berlin Olympics, there was an exhibition of “Wheel Gymnastics” which spread the popularity of the Gym Wheel to other countries. Today the German Wheel” is virtually unknown in the U.S. but there have been contests and even world Championships going on in Europe and Japan for decades.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Arthur Saxon’s Incredible Plank Feat

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017 by John Wood
As if you needed further proof that Arthur Saxon was one of the strongest men who ever lived, behold the following: Arthur and the other members of the Saxon Trio used to perform several supporting feats in their act and for these feats, they employed a large, heavy wooden plank.

Unbeknownst to many, the trio of strongmen also used this plank as a training tool to develop grip strength, each taking turns lifting it in various ways between their shows. While the other brothers did their best to deadlift it, Arthur Saxon could actually snatch the plank overhead with ease, something no one else could duplicate and a feat which humbled noted Strongman Siegmund Breitbart who visited the Trio at the Bush Circus in Berlin, Germany in 1922.

Kurt Saxon considered this to be Arthur Saxon’s greatest strength feat… pretty impressive condsidering some of Arthur’s other record achievements.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

The Wrestler’s Bridge

Posted on Friday, December 11th, 2015 by John Wood

THIS is why wrestlers practice bridging ~ a strong neck may just be the only thing keeping the shoulders off the mat. This outstanding example of bridging occurred at the 1936 Berlin Olympics Greco-Roman wrestling event. The fellow doing the bridging is Germany’s Kurt Hornfischer (who won the Bronze medal) while Estonia’s Kristjan Palusalu is up top going for the pin. (Palusalu quite impressively took the Heavyweight gold in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling events in Berlin.)

Apollon vs. The Piano

Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by John Wood

Talk about “Odd Object Lifting!” The great Apollon’s grand finale at the Reichshallen Theater in Berlin during the 1897 season was to walk across the stage carrying a piano (AND it’s player!) on his mighty shoulder.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

The 1936 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team

Posted on Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by John Wood

The 1936 US Olympic Weightlifting Team

A look at the U.S. weightlifting team, taken in the Olympic village in Berlin, Germany during the 1936 Olympics. From left to right: Mark Berry, Dave Mayor, Bill Good, John Grimek, Stan Kratkowski, Joe Miller, John Terpak, Walter Good, Bob Mitchell, Tony Terlazzo, John Terry and Dietrich Wortmann. Terlazzo won the Featherweight class with a 312.5 kg total to become America’s first ever weightlifting gold medal winner.

Mark Berry and John Grimek

Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 by John Wood

Mark Berry and John Grimek

Mark Berry (left) and John Grimek (right) at the time when Berry was the weightlifting coach for the 1936 Olympic games, held in Berlin, Germany. The Mark Berry Bar Bell Courses, which featured Grimek demonstrating a number of exercises, appeared shortly afterwards. As they had a lot of time on their hands, it’s conceivable that Berry and Grimek discussed the details of said courses on the boat trip over to Germany.

Berry was also the weightlifting coach during the 1932 Olympics, held in Los Angeles, California.