Elwood Holbrook – Master of the Bent Press

Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by John Wood
Elwood Holbrook took 4th at the 1941 AAU Mr. America Contest AND took home the “Best Arms” award (He had also competed in the afternoon’s weightlifting contest where he finished 6th with a 715-pound total in the 165-pound class.)

While Holbrook was a very talented strength athlete and equally good at bodybuilding as well as weightlifting, his real gift was the bent press — he won the national Bent-Press Championship in a contest held by Sig Klein.

Holbrook was also one of the few men to bent press the famous Rolandow Dumbbell – a feat which he did on his first try and without a warmup. Here’s a shot of a 48-year old Elwood Holbrook bent-pressing 240 pounds — 75 pounds above his bodyweight. That unique dumbbell belonged to Paul Anderson.

Elwood Holbrook

Posted on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 by John Wood

A look at strength star Ellwood Holbrook right around the time when he placed second in the light-heavyweight class at the 1944 Sr. Nationals with a 720 lb. total. Just a few years before, Holbrook rightly took home the ‘Best Arms’ sub-category and placed fourth overall at the 1941 AAU Mr. America Contest. Holbrook weighed only 165 pounds or so and routinely bent-pressed well over his bodyweight — his best was around 270 lbs. while he never weighed over 170 lbs. Hollbrook didn’t do any special physique training other than his focus on the bent-press. After a long day of construction work he trained in his garage with nothing more than an Olympic set.
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.

1941 AAU Mr. America Results

Posted on Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 by John Wood
Final Placing:

1. John Grimek
2. Jules Bacon
3. Frank Leight
4. Elwood Holbrook
5. Ludwig Schusterich
6. Terry Robinson
– Paul Como
– Johnny Davis
– Roland Essmaker
– Melvin Kahn
– Constantine Kosiras
– Tommy O’Hare
– Joseph Peters
– Steve Stern
– Kimon Voyages
– Elmer Witmer
– Harold Woomer

Most Muscular:
Ludwig Schusterich

Best Chest:
Frank Leight

Best Back:
Johnny Davis

Best Abdominals:
Melvin Kahn

Best Arms:
Elwood Holbrook

The 1941 AAU Mr. America contest is notable since it was the second time it was won by John Grimek — the first and last time any man won it twice. The next year they changed the rule so that someone could only win it once — figuring (probably rightly so) that Grimek would keep winning the contest indefinitely.

The contest was held at the Arena Sports Palace in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 24, 1941 in conjunction with the AAU Senior National Weight Lifting Championship (which several of the Mr. America competitors also competed in as well. — you sure won’t see that kind of thing these days!)

Above: John Grimek on the cover of the August, 1941 issue of Strength and Health magazine.

The Famous Rolandow Dumbbell

Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by John Wood

The Rolandow Dumbbell has a very interesting history. It was originally cast by the McLoughlin Iron Foundry in Brooklyn, New York in 1896 at the request of Warren Lincoln Travis who wanted to use it in his act.

The dumbbell was supposed to be 200 lbs. but came out of the mold just over it at 209 lbs.

A few years went by and fellow strongman G.W. Rolandow offered to purchase it from Travis, on the condition that Travis deliver the bell himself.

Travis grabbed the bell, hopped on the nearest street car, transferred twice and carried the bell two city blocks and up two flights of steps to Rolandow’s office.

Rolandow then stated that unless he could lift the dumbbell, there would be no sale. And with that, we walked over to it, hefted it to his shoulder and commenced to bent-press it no less than seven times!

After several decades, Rolandow closed his gym and his famous dumbbell eventually became acquired by Sig Klein who featured it as a challenge weight in his own facility.

If someone could succeed in bent-pressing the Rolandow Dumbbell, Klein put their name on an Honor Roll, here’s how it looked:

(1) G.W. Rolandow
(2) John Grimek
(3) Bob Hoffman
(4) Wally Zagurski
(5) John Davis
(6) Jack Kent
(7) Frank Bates
(8) Bob Harley
(9) Siegmund Klein
(10) Aurele Velleux
(11) George Hobby
(12) Elwood Holbrook

1900
1934
1936
1936
1936
1937
1937
1937
1939
1939
1940
1941

The current whereabouts of the Rolandow Dumbbell are unknown.

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.