Frank E. Miller

Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015 by John Wood
Frank E. Miller was the physical director of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Dallas, Texas in the late ninetieth and early twentieth century. In 1900, Miller wrote an excellent training guide for Indian club swinging entitled “Indian Club-Swinging: One, Two, and Three Club Juggling.” Due to his club work, Miller was unsurprisingly also an expert fencer and golfer.
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.

William Needham

Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2015 by John Wood

Health and Strength League member William Needham was the Tasmanian Club Swinging Champion of 1911. Needham swung a pair of 4lb. Indian clubs for 24 continuous hours to set the Tasmanian record in April of that year. At times, he did 300 circles per minute but his average was about 150 per minute. Eyewitness accounts reported that Needham looked surprisingly fresh at the conclusion of his record swing.

A few years later, in 1913, Needham swung a pair of 3 lb. 3oz clubs for 100 hours and 4 minutes to establish a new record. Not only that, during one of his memorable endurance swinging performances, Needham allowed his barber to give him a shave, while continuing to swing, of course!  Needham engaged in several memorable Endurance Club swinging matches against Harry J. Lawson.

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.

Miss Carrie Davenport

Posted on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 by John Wood

Miss Carrie Davenport was a vaudeville performer during the late 1800’s. She was an expert at Indian club swinging as well as a champion clog dancer, so she was never out of work.

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.

George H. Benedict

Posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 by John Wood

George H. Benedict, of Chicago Illinois, was an early amateur boxing champion and the U.S. National club-swinging champion of 1885. He quite literally wrote the book on Manly sports, covering the aforementioned topics along with wrestling, dumbbell training, gymnastics, swimming and fencing. This rare engraving shows him in fine form while swinging a pair of nifty Spaulding exhibition clubs AND… we’d like to point out that he is also wearing a pair of roller skates — FUNCTIONAL TRAINING!
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.

Sim D. Kehoe

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by John Wood

Sim D. Kehoe

Simon “Sim” D. Kehoe was a manufacturer of gymnastic equipment who was introduced to club swinging during his travels abroad. He observed clubs of various sized being swung by British soldiers who, in turn, had learned club swinging from their counterparts in India. …police, soldiers, wrestlers and “anyone else whose caste renders them liable to emergencies where great strength of muscle is desirable.”

Once Kehoe tried the clubs for himself he instantly understood their value. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1862, he set up shop to manufacture Indian clubs and introduce club swinging to the American public on a wider scale. His efforts certainly worked, swinging Indian clubs of various sizes became wildly popular in many circles. (no pun intended) More on Sim Kehoe and his clubs at a later date…

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.

Gus Hill and his Indian Clubs

Posted on Sunday, February 16th, 2014 by John Wood
Gus Hill, Club-Swinger
Another look at the great Indian Club swinger, Gus Hill and some of his fabulous clubs. I can’t say much for his outfit but the shoulder development and wiry physique from regular club work should be evident.

Spalding Ebonite Indian Clubs

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014 by John Wood

Spalding Ebonite Indian Clubs

“In introducing our new Trade-marked Indian Clubs, we should call special attention to the perfect shape, beautiful finish, and correct weight of each club. We select the very choicest timber for these clubs, turn them by hand, and work each club down to the exact troy weight, and this care in making, together with the beautiful ebony finish, highly polished, and banded in gold, with nickel-plated heads, makes them the most beautiful and desirable Indian Clubs ever placed upon the market, We purposely keep these clubs up to the very highest grade, and to protect ourselves and customers against cheap imitations, our trade mark will be stamped on each club, as represented in the above cut.”

Spalding produced a number of interesting Indian Clubs and here is a perfect example from way back in 1886. These clubs were made of ebony, a particularly sturdy dark wood which is also quite heavy. Given the look, style and makeup, these clubs must have been a lot of fun to train with. We hold ourselves to the same standards over a hundred and twenty years later.

George Roth

Posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014 by John Wood

George Roth

George Roth, from east Hollywood, California, (and eventual USC grad, class of ’42) managed to accomplish a feat which will never again be equaled: at the 1932 Los Angeles games, he won an Olympic gold medal in the sport of Indian club swinging. Club swinging, which was part of the gymnastics program at the time, has not appeared in the Olympic games since then.

Also in the probably-won’t-see-this-again department, Roth, after accepting his gold medal in front of 60,000 people, hitchhiked home.

Philip Erenberg and William Kuhlemeier, also both of the USA, finished with the Silver and Bronze medals respectively. Francisco José Álvarez, of Mexico, finished fourth.

Indian Club History: Endurance Club Swinging

Posted on Friday, February 7th, 2014 by John Wood

Indian Clubs

In the early 20th century, the unlikely hot spot for the even more unlikely sport of “Endurance Club Swinging” was Australia. The gentleman in the middle is the American champion, Harry J. Lawson, flanking him are his manager G. J. Jones (at the right), and Carrie Jones (his manager’s daughter) at the left. Lawson’s two training partners Bill Stanley and George Simmons are behind.

This picture was taken in 1910, and it was worth the very long trip by steamship to Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia where Lawson set a (then) endurance club swinging world record of 73 hours, 8 minutes with a pair of 3lb. 3 oz. clubs.

One of the reasons that Lawson traveled such a long way was to challenge the great Tom Burrows to a match…

Gus Hill, Champion Club Swinger of the World

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011 by John Wood
As a means of physical culture, the Indian Clubs stand pre-eminent among the varied apparatus of gymnastics now in use. The revolutions which the clubs are made to perform, in the hands of one accustomed to their use, are exceedingly graceful.

Besides the great recommendation of simplicity, the Indian Club practice possesses the essential property of expanding the chest and exercising every muscle in the body concurrently.

Note in the crowded thoroughfare of Broadway now and then an occasional passer-by, with well-knit and shapely form, firm and elastic step, broad-chested and full blooded, and you may mark him down as an expert with the clubs.”

Gus Hill
Club Swinging Champion,

circa 1890