Pierre Gasnier: The French Hercules

Posted on Friday, December 9th, 2016 by John Wood

Pierre Gasnier was the quintessential Oldtime Strongman: BIlled as the “French Hercules,” He performed feats of strength for the Barnum and Bailey circus in the late 1890’s: tearing decks of cards, bending horseshoes, breaking chains, and lifting his special “challenge weight” globe dumbbell shown here.

The dumbbell had a handle of 2″ in diameter and weighs 236 French Livres (which equals 260 pounds) Gasnier weighed only 138 pounds at a height of 5’3″ yet was able to lift the weight with ease, a feat that such other noted strongmen of the day such as Sebastian Miller, Hans Beck, and Franz “Cyclops” Bienkowski could not duplicate.

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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.

Axle Öfverstén

Posted on Sunday, January 10th, 2016 by John Wood

Axle Öfverstén was a Swedish strongman who performed with the Carl Busch and Mosebacke Circuses. His signature feat was to lift a horse, and as you can see, he also had excellent taste in equipment. Öfverstén’s protégé, Oscar Wahlund also went on to become a famous strongman.
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.

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 © 2005-2019 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.

Siegmund Breitbart Circus Poster

Posted on Saturday, July 25th, 2015 by John Wood
Here’s one that no one has seen for a long time: a rare poster of Siegmund Breitbart from the Paris stop of his European Tour.  Breitbart is shown supporting a woman playing the piano, two horses and a crowd of people all on his chest.
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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 Osman Trio

Posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 by John Wood
Three great strongmen formed the act known as the Osman Trio. From left to right: Wilhelm Turck was a butcher by trade who became the World’s Weightlifting Champion in 1898. He could perform a two-hands anyhow dumbbell lift of 279 1/4 pounds, a 140 lb. dumbbell in the right hand, and a 139 1/4 lb. dumbbell in the left. Georges Jagendorfer was a very popular strongman who performed with Cooke’s Circus. Franz Stahr was one of the first strongmen to lift 200 pounds overhead with one hand. The trio often used elaborate stage weights and costumes in their performances around Europe. There were several different lineups of the Osman Trio over the years.
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.

Karl Abs at The Winter Circus

Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 by John Wood

Karl Abs at The Winter Circus

Here’s an extremely rare poster from the late 1880’s, when Karl Abs was the featured attraction at the Cirque d’ Hiver (Winter Circus) exhibition hall in Paris, France. Each night, Abs harness-lifted a horse and challenged all comers in the wrestling ring, (among other feats.) It’s pretty awesome that the Cirque d’ Hiver, which opened in 1852, is actually still going strong to this day.

Joe Lambert

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013 by John Wood

Joe Lambert, a strongman from Boston, ran off to join Louis Cyr’s circus when he was 16 years old. He traveled the country and the world performing feats of strength first with Cyr’s circus, and later with Barnum & Bailey’s, The Ringling Brothers, the Vaudeville circuit and even in South America with the Pablione Circus. He was good friends with Clevio Massimo and Adolph Nordquest.
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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 Russian Strongman Vsevolod Kherts

Posted on Monday, October 14th, 2013 by John Wood
Vsevolod Kherts
The Royal Moscow Circus has performed on American shores for many years. If you caught their show from 1956 through 1967, you also probably got a chance to see Vsevolod Kherts lift some pretty amazing weights in entertaining ways. This pullover and press from a bridge with a 300 lb. thick-handled globe barbell is pretty outstanding on several levels.

Apollon

Posted on Thursday, September 19th, 2013 by John Wood

Apollon, The French Strongman

It was said that the famous French strongman Louis “Apollon” Uni ran off and joined the circus at 14 and started performing as a strongman a year later. Even at a relatively young age, Apollon’s potential for great strength is evident by his thick bone structure. Strength ran in the family, he was descended from Pompelius Unicus, an undefeated Roman Gladiator. As was the custom at the time, Apollon was fond of lifting thick-handles weights — which certainly contributed to his incredible forearm development. The French blockweights at his feet are still a nice touch though.
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.

Gustav Wain

Posted on Saturday, June 8th, 2013 by John Wood
Gustav Wain
>Gustav Wain was a German strongman who performed in several circuses in the early 1900’s. As you can see by this rare poster, one of the signature portions of his act involved juggling a kettlebell whilst blindfolded.
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.