Henry “Milo” Steinborn

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014 by John Wood

Henry "Milo" Steinborn

Henry “Milo” Steinborn was a German strongman and wrestler who came the the U.S. in 1921 and immediately caused a big splash in the world of physical training. At a bodyweight of 210 pounds, he could snatch 220 pounds with one hand, military press 265 pounds and clean and jerk 347-1/2.

Milo was most well-known for introducing hard and heavy squatting to this side of the world.
Milo could tip a barbell loaded to 550 pounds up and onto his back unassisted and then perform five deep reps with it — a feat yet to be duplicated.

Karl Abs at The Winter Circus

Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 by John Wood

Karl Abs at The Winter Circus

Here’s an extremely rare poster from the late 1880’s, when Karl Abs was the featured attraction at the Cirque d’ Hiver (Winter Circus) exhibition hall in Paris, France. Each night, Abs harness-lifted a horse and challenged all comers in the wrestling ring, (among other feats.) It’s pretty awesome that the Cirque d’ Hiver, which opened in 1852, is actually still going strong to this day.

Alex Aberg

Posted on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 by John Wood

An extremely rare picture of the great Estonian wrestler Alexander Aberg who was also Georg Lurich’s brother-in-law. On his way to the World Wrestling Championship in 1915, Aberg defeated the likes of Dr. Benjamin Roller (of America), Wladek Zbyszko (of Poland), Pierre La Colosse (of France), Harry De Nys (of Belgium) Leo Pardell (of Italy), Sulo Hevonpaa (of Finland) and Johan Tigane (of Mongolia).

George Hackenschmidt in 1902

Posted on Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 by John Wood

George Hackenschmidt

1902 was a pretty good year for “The Russian Lion,”George Hackenschmidt. That year he won the European Greco-Roman wrestling championship and took 3rd
place in World weight lifting championships in Vienna, Austria. This rare picture was taken in January, 1902 and Hackenschmidt certainly looks ready to compete for just about anything.
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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2021 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.

Magnus Bech-Olsen

Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2013 by John Wood

Magnus Bech-Olsen

Denmark-born Magnus Bech-Olsen won the wrestling world championship in 1892 and held the title until 1903. During his competitive years, Bech-Olsen had many memorable battles with the likes of Karl Abs, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Alex Aberg, Antonie Pierri,Paul Pons, “Ursus” Jankowski, Paul Belling, Ernst Roeber, Constant Le Marin and even Frank Gotch. A few years after retiring from wrestling, Bech Olsen established his own traveling circus.

Maurice Deriaz

Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by John Wood

Marice Deriaz, Globe Barbell Lift

Maurice Deriaz, the great Swiss strongman, is shown here setting a record in the one arm clean and jerk with a lift of 211 French Livres (about 228 pounds.) Maurice was one of several brothers who were all celebrated strength athletes (the others being Emile, Adrian, and Ulysses.) Maurice was also a good wrestler, once beating forty-four opponents in a row to win a Greco-Roman tournament.

Stanley Radwan ~ The Iron Man

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012 by John Wood

Stanley Radwan ~ The Iron Man

Stanley Radwan was a catch-wrestler and strongman who performed during the 1940’s and 50’s in the Cleveland, Ohio area. This event poster from 1949 advertises Radwan pulling cars with his teeth, biting through steel, breaking chains, bending horseshoes, bend nails and spikes, nail driving by hand, tearing decks of cards, and performing the human chain feat. It was said Radwan could also bend coins with his hands. As a side note, St. Josaphat’s Hall is still around, it was converted to an art gallery a few years ago.

Paul Von Boeckmann’s Breathing Gymnastics

Posted on Saturday, July 21st, 2012 by John Wood

Many people think “Strength” only comes down to the muscles – it doesn’t. One Oldtime Strongman who understood this concept very well was Paul Von Boeckmann from New Braunfels, Texas whose “Breathing Gymnastics” course focused on building lung power along with great strength and development.

Von Boeckmann was certainly on to something as he won many championships in both wrestling and weightlifting. He could bent-press of 201 pounds, do a “hand and thigh” lift with 1652 pounds and has an immense “challenge” Indian club that no one could shoulder.

Dimitrios Tofalos

Posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2012 by John Wood
Dimitrios Tofalos, Greek Weightlifting Champion
Demetrius Tofalos was a Greek weightlifter who survived a serious childhood
injury and went on to defeat the great Austrian lifter Josef Steinbach to win the Gold Medal at the 1906 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. The winning effort for Tofalos in the “two-hand barbell lift” (i.e. clean and jerk) was 142.4 Kilograms.

t really was a “clean” and jerk, according to the rules of the time, lifters were penalized if the barbell touched any other part of the body as
they brought it to their chest. Tofalos’ record stood for the next eight years.

Tofalos was also a very successful professional wrestler although a defeat by American Champion Frank Gotch forced his retirement. Tofalos eventually went on to manage “The Golden Greek” Jim Londos.

Today, a sports arena is named in Tofalos’ honor in his hometown of Patras, Greece.

Ahmed Madrali ~ “The Terrible Turk”

Posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 by John Wood

Ahmed Madrali, The Terrible Turk, lifts a large kettlebell.  Two globe barbells are at his feet.

Ahmed Madrali was actually the second well-known wrestler with the nickname “The Terrible Turk” (The first being Yusuf İsmail about a decade prior.) In one of the biggest matches of the time, on January 30, 1904, Ahmed Madrali took on “The Russian Lion” George Hackenschmidt at Olympia Hall in London, England. Anticipation for this match was high… not only were these two great competitors, there was also more than a little bit of bad blood as Madrali was managed by Antonio Pierri, who Hackenschmidt had previously defeated in 1902.

A record crowd of 20,000 people were in attendance (which also caused the largest traffic jam ever recorded up to that time.) Unfortunately the match did not end decisively… less than a minute after opening bell Madrali dislocated his elbow after being “thrown” by Hackenschmidt and could not continue. Though not ideal, this victory put Hackenschmidt’s name on the map in the wrestling world and increased his fame considerably.

Also, fortunately, Madrali’s injury was not serious and he was back wrestling again three months later. In 1905, Madrali made up for this defeat by winning the wrestling championship of southern France defeating “The German Oak” Ernest Siegfried. As evident in this rare picture taken from around that time, “The Terrible Turk” was also clearly a big fan of kettlebell training.