Charles A. Sampson at Prince Albert Hall

Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 by John Wood
Step right up… a rare show poster from Charles A. Sampson’s performance at Royal Albert Hall, London England, on November 22nd and 23rd, 1899. If you had been in attendance, you would have seen Sampson perform his signature feats: harness lifting, coin bending, lifting heavy thick-handled globe barbells, and breaking chains wrapped around his bicep.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Pyotr Krylov

Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2018 by John Wood
Billed as “The King of Kettlebells,” The great Russian Strongman Pyotr Krylov was well-known for exceptional his shoulder development and the large tattoo of the double-headed eagle gracing his chest. In the early 20th century Krylov performed a Crucifix Lift with a 90-pound kettlebell in each hand — a record that has never been equaled or beaten. One of Krylov’s favorite feats as a strongman was to break chains across his chest or with his arms. Like most other strongmen of the day, Krylov was a great wrestler (and had an excellent mustache.).

Bill Pearl Strongman Bodybuilder

Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2016 by John Wood

Bill Pearl is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, having won many different bodybuilding titles over his colorful career. Something you may not realize though is that Bill also began performing traditional feats of strength such as license plate ripping (pictured), chain breaking, spike bending, card tearing and even Nail Driving because he “felt that he should BE as strong as he looked.” I don’t think we’ll see his ilk again any time soon.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Gasnier Visits Harvard

Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2015 by John Wood

A Surprise to Harvard

Last Tuesday afternoon, a number of Harvard students were given a great surprise by a sturdy little French athlete Pierre Gasnier, whose exhibitions of strength have been one of the features of the great Barnum & Bailey shows for the past six years. Gasnier was introduced to Professor Sargent. After Professor Sargent had made a thorough examination and taken the different measurements of the tremendous athlete. Gasnier, in the presence of over 150 of Harvard’s best athletes performed feats of strength which called forth unstinted applause from the students and caused Professor Sargent to step forward, shake the hand of Gasnier and exclaim “Gasnier, you are a physical marvel!”

Among the more difficult feats accomplished by the sturdy Frenchman were the breaking of a piece of chain which had been tested to sustain a weight of 750 pounds by expanding the chest… breaking a similar piece of chain with his biceps… stretching three strands of rubber out to arm’s length while the combined strengths of five students could only stretch then four inches… lifting and placing at arm’s length above the head, with one hand, a dumb-bell, the largest and heaviest in the gymnasium, weighing over 200 pounds… and many more feats of strength just as extraordinary. Considering the size and weight of the man, Professor Sargent says “all of his feats of strength are marvelous,”

Pierre Gasnier stands a little under 5 feet 3 inches in height and weighs 137 pounds yet his chest measurement is 47 inches.

– The Boston Post, Nov. 17, 1903.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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 American Hercules” Edwin F. Morrison

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2014 by John Wood
Edwin F. Morrison was a talented strongman whose exploits were nearly lost to the sands of time. He is shown here on the cover of the January, 1905 issue of the early French magazine La Vie Au Grand Air which often had features on strongmen, weight lifting and wrestling. Morrison’s relative obscurity is likely due to the fact that he performed mostly in Europe, with engagements at Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and the Royal Aquarium in London, England during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Morrison’s specialty was breaking chains by flexing his arm, by chest expansion or a powerful blow of the first. He could bend pennies and shillings with his fingers and easily ripped multiple decks of cards at once. (As seen above, his card tearing prowess will haunt your dreams at night.)

Morrison also could walk across a stage supporting a platform loaded with sixteen people and could bent-press 336 pounds, a fact which was loudly announced in public to be 18 pounds greater than Sandow’s record. Morrison challenged the great Sandow to a match seventeen times but Sandow never did take him up on his offer.

Charles A. Sampson, The Chain Breaker

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014 by John Wood

We’ve covered Charles A. Sampson before but here is another look at one of his signature feats: breaking a chain by striking a blow with his fists. Sampson claimed he developed his great strength after being struck by lightning as a young man, whether true or not, his development was still impressive. Sampson WAS a pioneer as far as performing strongmen are concerned, and quite literally set the stage for many who followed him.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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 Mighty Atom Escapes!

Posted on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 by John Wood

Back in the Summer of 1939, “The Mighty Atom” Joseph Greenstein attempted an amazing (and quite dangerous) feat. He would be chained to a chair with a car traveling at 40 miles per hour spaced out far enough to give him two minutes of lead time. If the Atom couldn’t break free of the chains in time the speeding automobile would run right over him! A news magazine was on hand with a photo crew to document the action, and, as you can see, the Atom made it …barely.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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 Santell

Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2013 by John Wood

Arthur Santell was just a kid from Los Angeles with an interest in physical training who talented enough to be featured the newspaper every once in a while. What we do know of Arthur Santell is that he could drive a 20 penny nail through two 1-inch boards with his fist, break chains with his bare hands and scroll a 1-1/2-inch x 1/4-inch steel band around his arm. This picture was taken on May 6th, 1930. Santell was 18 at the time.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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 Amazing Samson’s Chain Breaking

Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 by John Wood

The Amazing Samson Chain Breaking

The Amazing Samson” Alexander Zass was a master of many different strength feats, among them chain breaking of various sorts. This is a shot of one of his more original efforts, snapping a chain secured underfoot and wrapped around his neck.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Stanley Radwan ~ The Iron Man

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012 by John Wood

Stanley Radwan ~ The Iron Man

Stanley Radwan was a catch-wrestler and strongman who performed during the 1940’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.