The Human Vise Strikes Again!

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 by John Wood
Why do they call Pat Povilaitis the Human Vise? This collection of bent steel should explain it: about a hundred pounds of bent, mangled steel: nails, spikes, horseshoes, rebar, bolts, wrenches, drill bits, screw drivers, ripped card decks… nothing is safe when “The Vise” does his thing.

Vansittart’s Spike

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2015 by John Wood

They used to call Charles Vansittart “The Man With The Iron Grip” for good reason — he could bend an Old English penny, rip a tennis ball in half and bend a spike like the one pictured above.

Bending bars, spikes and nails has always been a traditional Oldtime Strongman feat, not only do many people find it incredibly impressive but merely doing it will build tremendous strength throughout the entire body.

You can tell that rectangular stock (like the spike above) was actually hand bent by the shape. If a piece of steel was truly hand bent, it will bend on the angle, not the flat edge.

Saxon Brown

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2014 by John Wood

Saxon Brown

In 1924, at seventeen years of age, Saxon Brown was Britain’s strongest youth. As a professional, he performed many traditional feats of strength such as Nail Driving, Nail Bending, Card Tearing, The Human Chain and Steel Scrolling.

Brown could also lift a car from the side and would let a motorcycle drive over his neck as a part of his act…he is thought to be the first man to pull a bus with his teeth. Brown was also clearly a big fan of chest expanders.


Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2013 by John Wood
Athleta Strongwoman
There weren’t many performing “strongwomen” …but there were a few, one of the greatest of whom was Athleta Van Huffelen, of Belgium. In the late 1800’s, her solo act at the Eden Alhambra Theater in Brussels caused quite a stir in the strength world as she performed feats that, at the time, were thought all but impossible for a woman. Athleta lifted barrels, bent horseshoes and spikes, and, as shown above, danced a waltz while supporting three men and a loaded barbell on her shoulders. The French strength historian Professor Desbonnet had never seen anything like it, so much so that he listed Athleta among the great strength athletes in his classic book “The Kings of Strength.”

Sailor Jim White – Champion Strongman of the Navy

Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2012 by John Wood

Sailor Jim White - Champion Strongman of the Navy

Sailor Jim White “The Champion Strongman of the Navy” pulls a loaded bus down the streets of Washington D.C. with his teeth on October 6th, 1921. White accomplished this prodigious feat to generate awareness and money for unemployed servicemen and it was not the first time he did so for a cause. He also used his great strength to sell war bonds, raise money for the Red Cross and recruit for the Navy as well.

White became the Navy’s official strongman while serving aboard the battleship U.S.S. Texas in 1917. His repertoire was not limited to stunts of jaw and neck strength, “Sailor” also was a champion nail bender and was featured in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” many times over.

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 Amazing Samson” Alexander Zass

Posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 by John Wood

Alexander Zass - The Amazing Samson

As far as Oldtime Strongmen go, few were more impressive than “The Amazing Samson” Alexander Zass. Bending and breaking nails… twisting horse shoes …driving nails by hand… supporting feats… scrolling steel… breaking chains… teeth lifting… carrying horses or pianos on his back… Samson did it all. Interestingly, Zass attributed much of his strength and development to isometric training.