The Origin of The Kennedy Lift

Posted on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 by John Wood
“About forty years ago, at the height of the new wave of strong man popularity, the late Richard K. Fox, then publisher of the Police Gazette, the leading sporting journal of America, had a 1000 pound dumb-bell cast, but it was not in the shape of the dumbbells today. It was more like a massive block of iron. He offered a very valuable gold medal and title to the first man to lift this 1000 pound weight.

At that time there was a man known as James Walter Kennedy who was athletically inclined and developed. He was an oarsman and general athlete, leaning, however, more toward the strong man. He was about 6 feet tall and weighed around 190 pounds, had jet black curly hair and mustache and at a time was a special officer at The Globe Museum at 298-300 Bowery, New York City.

Kennedy took a notion that he could lift this 1000 pound dumbbell with his hands and he began to train with a big whiskey cask, not using whiskey in it, but water, sand and rock as he gained strength. In other words, he used the Milo Bar Bell system of gradually increasing weight as he improved in his strength.

The first time he tried lifting the 1000 pound weight he failed but some time later he succeeded. His style was to straddle the weight and have one hand in front of his body grasping the weight and the other hand grasping it in the rear of his body, this position being known as the Hands Alone Lift. His body was erect with the exception that the knees were bent about 2 or 3 inches.”

– Warren Lincoln Travis
My 40 years with the World’s Strongest Men