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


The current whereabouts of the Rolandow Dumbbell are unknown.

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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.

Professor Attila

Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2012 by John Wood

Professor Louis Attila

Professor Attila — real name Louis Durlacher — was the mentor of Eugen Sandow and the man who invented many of the feats of strength that we know of today: The Roman Column, The Roman Chair, supporting feats in the human bridge position and tearing packs of playing cards. It was Attiila’s idea to make globe barbells and dumbbells shot-loadable so that their weight could be adjusted. Attila invented the bent-press and was the first man to perform the lift with over 200 pounds.

In 1894, Professor opened his famous Studio of Physical Culture in downtown New York city and it became a hotbed for learning the strongman trade. In addition to Sandow, Professor Attila could list many other famous strongmen among his students: Warren Lincoln Travis, Anthony Barker, Horace Barre, Arthur Dandurand, Lionel Strongfort, George Rolandow, Louis Cyr, Bobby Pandour and Adolph Nordquest.

Attila’s daughter, Grace, later married Sig Klein.