Bill Pearl Strongman Bodybuilder

Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2016 by John Wood

Bill Pearl is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, having won many different bodybuilding titles over his colorful career. Something you may not realize though is that Bill also began performing traditional feats of strength such as license plate ripping (pictured), chain breaking, spike bending, card tearing and even Nail Driving because he “felt that he should BE as strong as he looked.” I don’t think we’ll see his ilk again any time soon.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

Barus’ Spike

Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 by John Wood
Here’s a spike bent into a loop by the great strongman Milo Barus. Is there anyone today who could do this?
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

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.

Extreme Neck Strength

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014 by John Wood

When you build a little strength, sometimes you want to show off a bit… and that is exactly what’s going on here. Up top you’ll see my good friend Pat “The Human Vise” Povilaitis, bending a spike in his hands while John Wood provides the platform in the form of a nose-to-mat bridge. You won’t find many people that can hold a full bridge, even without a 180 pound man standing on top of him. If you aren’t practicing your “nose-to-mat” bridge, or at least working up to it, in our experience, you aren’t getting as much out of the exercise as you could…
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

Spike Howard

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by John Wood
Edward “Spike” Howard, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (unsurprisingly) earned his nickname thanks to his ability to bend and break spikes. A former Vaudeville strongman for many years, Howard is shown above breaking a chain with chest expansion. Performing feats of strength was actually not his only specialty: Howard also donated blood well over 1000 times which is also thought to be some kind of record.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

Spike Bending with “Bull” Bonvicin

Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2014 by John Wood
Dave “Bull” Bonvicin, from Oakland, California, was a performing strongman with many different talents. Among them was spike bending — he didn’t just bend these spikes in half but liked to make various designs and shapes out of them. “Bull” also had some pretty sweet equipment. (Is that a kettlebell I see in the background?)
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

Athleta

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.”

Ricardo ‘Hardtack’ Nelson, The Swedish Lion

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012 by John Wood

Ricardo Nelson, The Swedish Lion

Bending a horse shoe isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to do, but Ricardo ‘Hardtack’ Nelson bent one every morning, in his teeth, no less.

Nelson was a national hero in his home country where he was known as “The Swedish Lion” but was not as well known in the U.S. Nelson was famous for his steel bending feats: scrolling, spike bending, bending steel in his teeth, he was said to even be able to bend a coin with his fingers.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

Harry F. Griffin, The Strongman of Engine Company 13

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 by John Wood
There are many examples of strongmen who were famous in some parts of the country but virtually unknown elsewhere. One great example is Harry F. Griffin, “The Strongman of Engine Company 13” who was a local legend in Los Angeles and throughout the west coast. When he wasn’t fighting fires, Griffin performed many traditional strongman feats, twisting horseshoes, nail driving, chain breaking, bending spikes etc. His specialty, however, was jaw strength, as you can see in this rare picture from 1913. Griffin was said to have the strongest jaw of any man alive

The Human Vise Pat Povilaitis

Posted on Monday, September 5th, 2011 by John Wood

Pat Povilaitis, “The Human Vise”, is a modern strongman and one of the few human beings who can stand toe-to-toe with many of the oldtime greats. As you can likely tell by his moniker, “The Human Vise” excels at Steel Bending: spikes, nails, horse shoes, frying pans – no piece of steel is safe in his hands!  Pat also likes to do combo feats, usually bending something with a 300+ pound stone in his lap!
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.