Harry Luft: The Brooklyn Samson

Posted on Friday, November 10th, 2017 by John Wood
Shown here is Harry Luft, age 17, performing his own specialty of tearing not one but TWO 2000 page telephone directories in half. Harry, who weighs but 142 pounds, stand 5 feet 4 and does other strongman feats such as bending iron bars in his teeth, is one of the “Samson Twins” of Brooklyn, New York. The other twin is his 15 year old brother Sol who also bends iron bars in his teeth and who emulates his older brother’s book tearing stunt by destroying Red Books, which are about 1/3rd as thick as the directories. Harry elected to tear these phone books lengthwise instead of the more common method of breaking the spine ~ impressive! Harry was inspired to become a strongman by Siegmund Breitbart. Luft was also a vegetarian.

Kong

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 by John Wood
The man known only as Kong, who claimed to have the world’s strongest neck, lifts 502 pounds. Another unusual feat of strength which he performed was having a partner smash bricks laying on his neck with a sledge hammer. Interestingly, “Kong” was also a vegetarian.
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.

Roy Hilligenn – 1951 Mr. America

Posted on Sunday, November 27th, 2016 by John Wood
South African Roy Hilligenn, seen above on the cover of the September/October 1951 issue of Iron Man magazine was the AAU Mr. America that same year. Hilligen was a tremendous all-around “iron athlete” — As a bodybuilder, he won the Mr. South Africa title in 1943, 1944, 1946 and 1976 as well as Mr. Northern California (1949), Mr. Pacific Coast (1949), and The World’s Most Muscular Man (1952). Hilligenn was the shortest man to ever win the AAU Mr. America title (at 5’6″).

As an Olympic lifter, Hilligenn was the first South African to Clean and Jerk double body weight.

His lifts in 1946 were Press: 245 pounds, Snatch: 255 Pounds and Clean & Jerk: 321 pounds. In the early 1950’s, and weighing just 173 pounds, Hilligen unofficially equaled the world record in the Clean & Jerk with a lift of 375 pounds. He actually finished second in the 1951 National championships to Norbert Schemansky.

Hilligen eventually Clean & Jerked 405 at a slightly heavier body weight, which was an unofficial world record at the time. It was voted as one of the greatest “lifts” of all time. Hilligenn also “cleaned” a pair of 142-pound dumbbells (but did not press them) at Ed Yarick’s Gym in Oakland, California in the 50’s.

Interestingly, Roy Hilligenn was also a life-long vegetarian and claimed to have never eaten meat ever.

Ray Van Cleef

Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2016 by John Wood

Many Iron Game fans will recall the name Ray Van Cleef from the pages of Strength and Health magazine. He was an Associate Editor and his column “Strong Men The World Over” appeared for many years. Before all that though, Van Cleef was a great strongman in his own right. Here’s a rare shot that most people haven’t seen before of Van Cleef performing a heavy one-arm snatch of a wagon wheel axle.

The article where this came from was authored by Van Cleef and the inclusion of this picture was to illustrate how one might be able to still train, or otherwise perform novel feats, without having a barbell on hand — a notion that we are definitely on board with.

It’s probably also worth a mention that Ray was a vegetarian.

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.