“The Brooklyn Strongboy” Charles Phelan

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 by John Wood
“The Brooklyn Strongboy” Charles Phelan was the American Professional Lightweight Champion and also performed a strongman act for many years at Coney Island and around the New York area. Notice the outstanding show weights: the unusually large kettlebell and the thick-handled globe dumbbell.

Charles Phelan was a protege of Warren Lincoln Travis and eventually taught much of what he knew to Vic Boff.
Phelan told jokes between feats of strength, also billing himself (quite uniquely, I might add) as “The World’s Most Entertaining Strongman.” Phelan only weighed 140 lbs, but could backlift 2500 lbs.

Harry Shafran’s Gym

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 by John Wood

Harry Shafran's Gym

Think you could get a pretty good workout here? …A unique look at some of the equipment once belonging to Harry Shafran and housed in his great gym. Much of what is shown here was previously owned by Warren Lincoln Travis. Some of this equipment has a very interesting story since the time this picture was taken… part of which will be covered in The Dellinger Files Volume II.

Professor Attila

Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2012 by John Wood

Professor Louis Attila

Professor Attila — real name Louis Durlacher — was the mentor of Eugen Sandow and the man who invented many of the feats of strength that we know of today: The Roman Column, The Roman Chair, supporting feats in the human bridge position and tearing packs of playing cards. It was Attiila’s idea to make globe barbells and dumbbells shot-loadable so that their weight could be adjusted. Attila invented the bent-press and was the first man to perform the lift with over 200 pounds.

In 1894, Professor opened his famous Studio of Physical Culture in downtown New York city and it became a hotbed for learning the strongman trade. In addition to Sandow, Professor Attila could list many other famous strongmen among his students: Warren Lincoln Travis, Anthony Barker, Horace Barre, Arthur Dandurand, Lionel Strongfort, George Rolandow, Louis Cyr, Bobby Pandour and Adolph Nordquest.

Attila’s daughter, Grace, later married Sig Klein.

John Hajnos ~ The Navy Hercules

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 by John Wood

John Hajnos, The Navy Hercules, balances a fellow officer in a chair clenched between his teeth

John J. Hajnos, originally from California, became a professional strongman after serving in the Navy in World War I. He performed a number of traditional feats but his most well-known is pictured here, supporting a fellow officer (in this case J.F. Kaska, who weighed 175 pounds) seated in a chair clenched between his jaws – an incredible test of balance as well as neck/jaw strength. Hajnos was a student of Lionel Strongfort’s “Strongfortism” system and actually once defeated Warren Lincoln Travis at an impromptu contest held at Coney Island.

‘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.