Charles Phelan and His GIANT Kettlebell

Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 by John Wood
How about that kettlebell? Charles Phelan billed himself not as the World’s strongest man but the World’s most entertaining strongman as he told jokes between his strength feats while he performed at Coney Island. He weighed only 140 pounds but held five world records: a one-finger lift of 506 pounds, 700 pounds with two fingers, a hand and thigh lift of 1125 pounds, a hip lift of 1600 pounds and a backlift of 2500 pounds. Phelan was taught how to be a strongman by Warren Lincoln Travis and was a good friend of Vic Boff.

Warren Lincoln Travis ~ Coney Island, 1915

Posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 by John Wood
Warren Lincoln Travis allows a motor car to run over him during his act at Coney Island back in 1915. There is certainly no shortage of onlookers. What a way to make a buck!

As a side note: according to a newspaper article from 1921, a typical breakfast for Travis was as follows:two glasses of warm milk, a dish of apple sauce and two thick slices of rock-hard stale whole-wheat bread.

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“The Brooklyn Strongboy” Charles Phelan

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 by John Wood
“The Brooklyn Strongboy” Charles Phelan was the American Professional Lightweight Champion and also performed a strongman act for many years at Coney Island and around the New York area. Notice the outstanding show weights: the unusually large kettlebell and the thick-handled globe dumbbell.

Charles Phelan was a protege of Warren Lincoln Travis and eventually taught much of what he knew to Vic Boff.
Phelan told jokes between feats of strength, also billing himself (quite uniquely, I might add) as “The World’s Most Entertaining Strongman.” Phelan only weighed 140 lbs, but could backlift 2500 lbs.

John Hajnos ~ The Navy Hercules

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 by John Wood

John Hajnos, The Navy Hercules, balances a fellow officer in a chair clenched between his teeth

John J. Hajnos, originally from California, became a professional strongman after serving in the Navy in World War I. He performed a number of traditional feats but his most well-known is pictured here, supporting a fellow officer (in this case J.F. Kaska, who weighed 175 pounds) seated in a chair clenched between his jaws – an incredible test of balance as well as neck/jaw strength. Hajnos was a student of Lionel Strongfort’s “Strongfortism” system and actually once defeated Warren Lincoln Travis at an impromptu contest held at Coney Island.

‘The Great’ Joe Rollino

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 by John Wood

Joe Rollino

Joe Rollino learned the strongman trade as an assistant to Warren Lincoln Travis at the famed Coney Island. In the 1920’s, Rollino branched out into his own strongman act.

Joe stood 5’5″ and weighed just under 150 pounds but possessed the strength of someone twice his size. He easily performed all the traditional feats of strength such as back lifting, finger lifting, nail bending, phonebook and playing card tearing and, shown here, bending a spike in his teeth. He once lifted 635 pounds with one finger.

Rollino was also a boxer under the name “Kid Dundee” and, like many strongmen of the day, was a very good hand balancer. Joe was a lifelong vegetarian and lived to 105 years old. He passed away a few years ago, not from sickness or disease but from getting hit by a van while crossing the street to pick up his morning paper.