Ahmed Madrali ~ “The Terrible Turk”

Posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 by John Wood

Ahmed Madrali, The Terrible Turk, lifts a large kettlebell.  Two globe barbells are at his feet.

Ahmed Madrali was actually the second well-known wrestler with the nickname “The Terrible Turk” (The first being Yusuf İsmail about a decade prior.) In one of the biggest matches of the time, on January 30, 1904, Ahmed Madrali took on “The Russian Lion” George Hackenschmidt at Olympia Hall in London, England. Anticipation for this match was high… not only were these two great competitors, there was also more than a little bit of bad blood as Madrali was managed by Antonio Pierri, who Hackenschmidt had previously defeated in 1902.

A record crowd of 20,000 people were in attendance (which also caused the largest traffic jam ever recorded up to that time.) Unfortunately the match did not end decisively… less than a minute after opening bell Madrali dislocated his elbow after being “thrown” by Hackenschmidt and could not continue. Though not ideal, this victory put Hackenschmidt’s name on the map in the wrestling world and increased his fame considerably.

Also, fortunately, Madrali’s injury was not serious and he was back wrestling again three months later. In 1905, Madrali made up for this defeat by winning the wrestling championship of southern France defeating “The German Oak” Ernest Siegfried. As evident in this rare picture taken from around that time, “The Terrible Turk” was also clearly a big fan of kettlebell training.

Georg Lurich

Posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2012 by John Wood

George Lurich

Estonian born Georg Lurich was a great wrestler and strongman during the early 1900’s. He was was a great friend and training partner to George Hackenschmidt (It was actually Lurich who introduced Hackenschmidt to weightlifting.) Lurich’s brother-in-law was Alex Aberg, another champion wrestler of the time period.


Lurich won the World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championship in 1912 and was the last man to face Frank Gotch before Gotch retired in 1913. As far as strength feats, among others, Lurich is credited with a one-arm jerk of 267 lbs., and a two-arm clean & jerk of 344 lbs — both of which would still be impressive today.

The Great Gama: Lion of The Punjab

Posted on Sunday, March 4th, 2012 by John Wood

The Great Gama: Lion of The Punjab

Ghulam Muhammad, The Great Gama, is the greatest Pehlwan, or Indian wrestler, who ever lived. He is the only wrestler to remain undefeated throughout the course of his entire career which spanned over 5000 matches.

The Great Gama publicly challenged all comers and easily defeated the likes of the American Champion Dr. Benjamin Roller (who he “threw” 13 times in 15 minutes), Stanislaus Zbyszko of Poland, the European John Lemm of Switzerland, and Maurice Deriaz of France. Interestingly, Gotch and Hackenschmidt refused to face him.

Gama’s daily training routine consisted of thousands of traditional squats and pushups… and after seeing him train, many would-be challengers wanted no part. The object Gama is seen holding here was not a piece of training equipment but an ornamental scepter known as a Gurz, the Indian Wrestling version of the Championship Belt.

Edwin Zello

Posted on Thursday, November 24th, 2011 by John Wood

Edwin Zello lifts over 400 pounds with one finger

Edwin Zello, of Platt’s Valley, Nebraska is shown here with a one-finger deadlift of well over 400 pounds. Zello performed many traditional strongman feats around the turn of the century, and so did his wife Alice, who was also part of the act, and quite a performer herself. Also of note is that Zello once wrestled George Hackenschmidt to a draw in an exhibition match in Canada.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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 Lion George Hackenschmidt

Posted on Sunday, June 12th, 2011 by John Wood
George Hackenschmidt, The Russian Lion, has the unique distinction of being a Champion wrestler, a Champion Strongman, a strength author, and and early physique star.

His matches with Frank Gotch are widely regarded at the most famous wrestling matches of all time.

As far as strength feats go, many of Hackenschmidt’s best marks are just as impressive today, even a hundred years after they were originally set!

These include a pullover and press (in the wrestler’s bridge position) of 311 pounds for two reps, a 279 pound overhead press and a crucifix lift of two 90 pound dumbbells…You sure won’t find many people who can even get close to those numbers today.