Here’s a look back in time… Globe dumbbells, climbing ropes, Milo kettlebells, gymnastic rings, swedish bars — note the double handled kettlebells used for swingbell exercises. A half-moon bench can be seen in the foreground. This unique piece of equipment was used specifically for chest expansion exercises and used to be quite common. Also note the handbalancing stands on the right, with a dumbbell in between, presumable for lifting in the teeth at the same time — that’s old school! Look closely and you’ll also see a 150 lb. kettlebell.
The Mighty Young Apollo — A.K.A. Paul Anderson from Melbourne, Australia performed many unusual feats during his colorful career. He was fond of the Human Link Feat, letting cars and trucks run over him, and pulling railroad cars with his teeth. He once let an eight ton elephant stand on his chest! One of his feats — “The Bridge of Death” involved taking a wrestler’s bridge position whilst two men with heavy sledge hammers smashed a piece of granite on his chest, oh, and a hunting knife was placed on the ground below him with the blade at his heart! He made it through though, the Mighty Young Apollo actually was still performing amazing feats into his 80’s. Here he is bending a steel bar in his teeth.
Hermann Goerner was never too far from the weights, even when he was on vacation. Here he snatches 190 pounds with one arm, in street clothes, and standing ankle deep in loose sand. — Now that’s strong.
When you work at the York Barbell Company you get to lift some classic weights any time you want to. Here’s John Grimek about to do just that. The top one is the famous Louis Cyr Challenge Dumbbell. The middle one is a giant dumbbell which belonged to the great French strongman Apollon. You can see the football player Tim Krumrie lifting it here. The bottom globe barbell may have belonged to Warren Lincoln Travis.
Tehmurasp “T.H.” Sarkari lifting in a contest circa 1920. Sarkari owned a gymnasium in Bombay and was known as “The Indian Sandow” for promoting the importance of physical training and weight lifting in his native country. Sarkari was adept at tearing phone books, which is always an impressive feat.
Here’s a classic shot of Bob Hoffman at the old Broad Street Gym demonstrating one of his favorite exercises, squatting on the toes. That’s a pretty nifty globe barbell that ol’ BoHo is using, and, of course, he’s wearing his trusty York Barbell Club t-shirt. The fellow on the left is Frank Findley, the great physical culture coach and gym owner from Australia.
Arthur Leslie was just a guy who trained at Sig Klein’s Gym in New York City. The reason Leslie began training in the first place is that he became tired of being weak and overweight. At 46 years years old he had never touched a weight before but soon after he began training he began to see tremendous results. In fact his results were so dramatic, Sig Klein featured him in several occasions in his publication Klein’s Bell. Here he is with a great Thick-Handled show barbell. Leslie was 59 years of age when this picture was taken.
Melvin Tampke, from San Antonio Texas, was frequently featured in Alan Calvert’s Strength Magazine. Here he does a one arm clean and jerk with an excellent Thick Handled globe barbell. Tampke made it into Ripley’s Believe it or Not by doing 200 straight pushups. It was also reported that he drove a no. 20 nail through three 1-inch yellow pine boards and two pieces of no. 15 gauge iron all stacked one upon the other with one blow of his fist!
Harry Shafran was an oldtime lifter who owned a couple successful gyms in New York back in the 1920’s. Eventually he grew tired of big city lift and retired to a farm near Scranton, Pennsylvania where he converted the large barn in the back of his house into one of the greatest gyms of all time.
J.J. Brown doing a few overhead presses with a very interesting looking barbell in the new gymnasium at the Shakespeare Avenue police station in Chicago, Illinois, circa 1924.
History’s greatest performer of the One-Arm Snatch was the French weightlifter Charles Rigoulot. His one-arm snatch of 261 pounds will likely never be surpassed. Here, Rigoulot prepares to one-arm snatch only 220-1/2 pounds in Paris in 1925 while still an amateur .