Many of the old timers were well-known for their barrel or keg lifting feats, including Louis Cyr (who was said to have been able to lift a 400 lb. barrel to his shoulders) and George F. Jowett who included a Barrel Lifting Course in his Molding a Mighty Grip training guide. I would imagine the “Cincinnati Strongman” Henry Holtgrewe lifted a few barrels and kegs in his time. He owned a tavern down on 6th street in downtown Cincinnati just after the turn of the century.
Several modern day strongmen have included barrel lifting in their training. Probably the two most well known are Steve Justa and Brooks Kubik who wrote extensively about barrel lifting in Dinosaur Training. Keep in mind that lifting a 200 pound FULL barrel is actually easier than lifting a 150 pound HALF-filled barrel.
The bosses were impressed and his reputation spread. Over the next few years, Bankier performed with several different circuses. Among other feats, for his act, Bankier would harness lift an elephant and perform a backward somersault over a chair while carrying a 56 lb weight in each hand. Bankier had a rather interesting method for building bicep strength and size which is covered here.
At Memorial City Mall in Houston, Texas, Dennis Rogers’ established a World Record One Arm Dumbbell Curl record of 98 pounds x 10 Reps with an Iron Master Dumbbell- he weighed 148 Pounds at the time. Not many heavyweights can even come anywhere close to such a display.