In addition to his cannon-ball catching feat, Holtum’s performance also consisted of various strength feats which usually involved either lifting, balancing or juggling cannon balls. Remarkably, Holtum retired from the cannon-ball catching business on his own terms without serious injury, and later partnered with his brother Fred to become successful wine merchants.
John Holtum, originally of Denmark, was aptly known as “The Cannon-ball King” from his act where he actually did catch a cannon ball fired from a real cannon. This took a bit of practice though, he had a couple fingers blown off the first few times he tried it. After catching the cannon-ball, Holtum would once again load the projectile into the cannon and hit a target some yards away, showing everything was on the level. It was said that the cannon he used was a relic from the Crimenan War.