Gustav Fristensky

Posted on Saturday, November 4th, 2017 by John Wood
Gustav Fristensky Bohemian Hercules
Physique-wise, Gustav Fristensky was said by many to be as impressive as Sandow but since he was not as well known, did not get his due. Regardless, Fristensky was certainly an exemplary strength athlete as both his lifts and wrestling achievements show. The above image is from the cover of a book written about Fristensky’s life and exploits which was published in 1970.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

J.C. Tolson ~ The Young Mighty Apollon

Posted on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 by John Wood
J.C. Tolson, of Yorkshire, England, took the stage name of “The Young Mighty Apollon” after his hero the original Apollon”, the great French Strongman. Tolson was a master of many different strength feats, including bending steel as shown here. The image above is actually from the Apollon Bar Bending Course which is posted in full in The Iron LeagueTolson was not a large man but had tremendous full-body power. In 1927, at a bodyweight of only 185 pounds, Tolson easily deadlifted 550 pounds, one of the first men to do so. .

Dandurand Lifts an Engine!

Posted on Sunday, October 15th, 2017 by John Wood
Many of the oldtime strongmen were famous for their ability to lift heavy, awkward objects. Their reasons were simple: Not everyone can relate to a loaded barbell… but everyone knows that if you can “lift” a piano, anvil, safe or a cannon on your back you must be pretty damn strong.

Here’s a look at the famous Canadian strongman Arthur Dandurand as he supports a 406 lb. Ford engine block on his shoulder. Dandurand was only 5’8″ and 180 pounds but possessed very unusual strength. He was documented as having first accomplished this feat on January 17th, 1930 and could do it any time he was asked. — and perhaps, even more impressivly, no other strongman was ever able to duplicate it! You can read more about Arthur Dandurand in Physical Training Simplified by Mark H. Berry.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Strongman Stunts Made Easy by George F. Jowett

Posted on Monday, October 9th, 2017 by John Wood
The “Strongman Stunts Made Easy” training booklet, along with five other individualized courses in the “Molding” Series, appeared sometime around 1930 and George F. Jowett claimed to have sold hundreds of thousands of them all over the world.

Like much of Jowett’s writings, the material is surprisingly timeless, of course, this booklet is devoted specifically to feats of strength — the Bent Press, lifting a human being, finger lifting, steel bending, how to tear a deck of cards etc.

In what should also not be a surprise, Jowett describes the training for each feat in great detail. Copies of “Strongman Stunts Made Easy” are not easy to come by but FYI, this course is available in its entirety in The Iron League.

Henri Toch – “The Cannon Man”

Posted on Sunday, October 8th, 2017 by John Wood
Henri Toch was a Belgian strongman in the late 1800’s who was billed as “L’Homme Canon” or “The Cannon Man.” It was with pretty good reason, his unique performance included the incredible strength feat of holding 365 Kilogram Cannon on his shoulders while it fired. Toch met an unfortunate end in 1890 when when a cannon on his shoulder was accidentally mis-loaded with powder and blew up.

Apollon

Posted on Thursday, September 19th, 2013 by John Wood

Apollon, The French Strongman

It was said that the famous French strongman Louis “Apollon” Uni ran off and joined the circus at 14 and started performing as a strongman a year later. Even at a relatively young age, Apollon’s potential for great strength is evident by his thick bone structure. Strength ran in the family, he was descended from Pompelius Unicus, an undefeated Roman Gladiator. As was the custom at the time, Apollon was fond of lifting thick-handles weights — which certainly contributed to his incredible forearm development. The French blockweights at his feet are still a nice touch though.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Paul Von Boeckmann’s Breathing Gymnastics

Posted on Saturday, July 21st, 2012 by John Wood

Many people think “Strength” only comes down to the muscles – it doesn’t. One Oldtime Strongman who understood this concept very well was Paul Von Boeckmann from New Braunfels, Texas whose “Breathing Gymnastics” course focused on building lung power along with great strength and development.

Von Boeckmann was certainly on to something as he won many championships in both wrestling and weightlifting. He could bent-press of 201 pounds, do a “hand and thigh” lift with 1652 pounds and has an immense “challenge” Indian club that no one could shoulder.

Unknown Strongman #1

Posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 by John Wood

There were hundreds, if not thousands of strongmen who were very successful yet never got their due since the flow of information back then is certainly not what it is today. Consequently, there are many examples of oldtime strongmen whose images remain but whose names are lost to history. Here’s one example of an image you probably haven’t seen before and won’t see anywhere else. We don’t know who this guy is, but he certainly had excellent taste in equipment.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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 Great’ Joe Rollino

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 by John Wood

Joe Rollino

Joe Rollino learned the strongman trade as an assistant to Warren Lincoln Travis at the famed Coney Island. In the 1920’s, Rollino branched out into his own strongman act.

Joe stood 5’5″ and weighed just under 150 pounds but possessed the strength of someone twice his size. He easily performed all the traditional feats of strength such as back lifting, finger lifting, nail bending, phonebook and playing card tearing and, shown here, bending a spike in his teeth. He once lifted 635 pounds with one finger.

Rollino was also a boxer under the name “Kid Dundee” and, like many strongmen of the day, was a very good hand balancer. Joe was a lifelong vegetarian and lived to 105 years old. He passed away a few years ago, not from sickness or disease but from getting hit by a van while crossing the street to pick up his morning paper.

Earle E. Liederman

Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011 by John Wood
Earle E. Liederman
Earle E. Liederman began his career as a strongman on the vaudeville circuit and traveled the country performing feats of strength and acrobatics. Liederman eventually grew tired of the traveling life and settled down to write a series of books and training courses which became incredibly successful, making him one of the first of the Mail Order Muscle Barons.

His first training course showcased a number of exercises that could be done with chest expanders and bodyweight exercises. Theses courses were very popular since they did not require a lot of equipment and could be done at home.