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 TravisMy 40 years with the World’s Strongest Men
As a side note: according to a newspaper article from 1921, a typical breakfast for Travis was as follows:two glasses of warm milk, a dish of apple sauce and two thick slices of rock-hard stale whole-wheat bread.
Here’s the list of Travis’ ten strength challenges:
2. Pair of ninety pound weights brought from side of body to shoulders, then slowly pressing to arm’s length over the head.
3. Teeth Lift from floor, hands behind back, 350 lbs.
4. 350 lbs. from floor with one finger, eight times in five seconds.
5. One finger lift from floor, 560 lbs. once.
6. Two-hand grip lift, straddling the weight from floor, 700 lbs. twenty times in ten seconds.
7. Hand and knee lift from floor, 1600 lbs. once.
8. Back lift, 3660 lbs. once.
9. Harness lift, 3580 lbs. once.
10. 2000 lb. back lift, 250 times, seven minutes.
(Did I mention all these lifts must be accomplished in 30 minutes or less if you want to win the belt?)
The New Bodybuilding for Old-School results is sold out, but we can point you toward this classic Ell Darden title which is available on Amazon Kindle:
On the one finger lift, he has done around five hundred and sixty pounds, while John Pagano has also raised over five hundred pounds with one finger. The lift is not made with the bare finger, as you are no doubt aware. The finger could not grasp the object to lift it. The middle finger is used, and on it the lifter fits an iron eye that has a hook attached, which grabs the object to be lifted. It is necessary that the eye should fit tightly upon the finger up at the first joint, as close to the knuckle of the hand as possible, as the finger is crooked, the eye locks thereon. Just the same it has to be raised off the floor, and that takes power. The ligament of that finger becomes very thick. In some cases, I have seen it become so thick that it made the finger crooked. A few years ago I met an old Swedish lifter who had quit the profession, but in his day was claimed to be a great finger lifter. I remember quite well that the middle finger of his right hand was almost twice as large as any of his other fingers, just from practicing that lift.”
Unfortunately we don’t know the gent pictured above but he has a pretty sweet setup, and that barrel, if filled completely, must weigh somewhere between 300-400lbs. which makes a very worthy feat.