Road Work

Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2018 by John Wood
If you’re going to be an athlete, you better be prepared to run. Shown here is George Hackenschmidt training in Chicago to face Frank Gotch for the second time. (Taken in 1911) Hack is flanked by his training partners Dr. Benjamin Roller, Gus “Americus” Schoenlein, and Jacob Koch, the former World Champion from Germany — and they all appear to be in fine fettle.

Martin “Farmer” Burns

Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2018 by John Wood
Iowa-born Martin “Farmer” Burns was a champion wrestler and America’s premier grappler at the turn of the last century. The “Old Farmer” trained hard, and that made him hard to beat. Plenty of wrestler’s bridges gave him a 20″ neck at a bodyweight of only 165 pounds and his level of conditioning was legendary, regularly tiring out much larger and stronger opponents until they could easily be pinned. Burns wrestled over 6000 matches, lost only 7 and held the World’s Championship on two separate occasions. Once his competitive career came to an end, the “Old Farmer” as he was known, focused on managing and training other wrestlers and athletes. His most famous pupil was Frank Gotch, who, thanks in large part to Farmer Burns’ coaching, became arguably the greatest wrestler of all time.
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.

Antonino “Argentina” Rocca

Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 by John Wood
Antonino “Argentina” Rocca was one of the greatest pure athletes to ever enter the squared circle. His incredible jumping feats and aerial maneuvers left an indelible mark on the world of pro-wrestling. His signature move was the “Argentine Backbreaker” although it was flying dropkick after flying dropkick which often put his foes down for good. Rocca was trained by Stanislaus Zbyszko. It should also be noted that this magazine was published by none other than Joe Weider.
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.

Gustav Fristensky

Posted on Saturday, November 4th, 2017 by John Wood
Gustav Fristensky Bohemian Hercules
Physique-wise, Gustav Fristensky was said by many to be as impressive as Sandow but since he was not as well known, did not get his due. Regardless, Fristensky was certainly an exemplary strength athlete as both his lifts and wrestling achievements show. The above image is from the cover of a book written about Fristensky’s life and exploits which was published in 1970.
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.

Dr. Benjamin Roller

Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 by John Wood
Dr. Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Roller was an early catch wrestler who sparred with the likes of Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, The Great Gama, and Stanislaus Zbyszko. Aside from wrestling, Roller was a great athlete in other sports, captaining the football and track teams at DePauw University where he attended in the late 1800’s. Roller briefly held the world record in the discus.

Roller was actually a legitimate Doctor having graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Roller played a bit of professional football to pay the bills after that but eventually accepted a professorship at the University of Washington. Shortly after, in a rather interesting twist, he instead chose to chase fame and fortune — mostly fortune — as a professional wrestler.. Roller’s first professional match was against Jack Carkeek whom he defeated in two falls after 17 minutes and for which he received $1600 which was a rather princely sum in the early 20th century.

Roller was a very good (but not great) wrestler although he did win his fair share of matches, and held the American Heavyweight title on three occasions. Roller wrestled the likes of Farmer Burns, Fred Beell, Raymond Cazeaux, Hjalmar Lundin, Raoul Le Boucher, George Lurich, Jim Londos, Ed Lewis, and Joe Stecher (among others.) Eventually he became a training partner for George Hackenschmidt during the time Hack famously tussled with Frank Gotch.

In the years after, Roller wrote a syndicated column for newspapers around the country on health and physical culture topics and even came up with his own training system dubbed “Rollerism.”

The Wrestler’s Bridge 3

Posted on Tuesday, October 31st, 2017 by John Wood
Another fantastic shot of The Wrestler’s Bridge in action. Unfortunately, it was not recorded who these gents were but the fellow on the bottom performs a picture-perfect nose-to-mat bridge to save what would probably have been an easy pin. Superb.
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.

Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 by John Wood

The greatest pro wrestling match ever held is undoubtedly on April 3rd, 1908 when the Frank Gotch and George “The Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt stepped in the ring to face each other after years of build-up. The undefeated Hackenschmidt was favored to win but after two hours of grappling, he finally submitted to an ankle lock by the American Champion Gotch. The match took place at Chicago’s Dexter Park Pavilion. The referee (middle, above) was Ed Smith.

Gotch and Hackenschmidt would face each other once again on September 4, 1911, this time at Comiskey Park stadium in front of 30,000 fans. Gotch won the rematch in two straight falls and would go on to hold the heavyweight title until he retired in 1913.

The Wrestler’s Bridge 2

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2015 by John Wood
The wrestler’s bridge is a fantastic exercise for building neck size and strength and here’s a good look at why it is so named and practiced by grapplers. In a match, the neck can act as an extra ‘limb’ which, if strong enough, can keep the shoulders off the mat. Shown here is a Greco-Roman featherweight class match from the 1912 Stockholm Summer Olympics with Swedish wrestler Ewald Persson (bridging) vs. Norwegian champion Ragnvald Gullaksen. This match ended in a decision after 59 minutes, with Gullaksen taking the win.
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 Spalding Special Friction Wrestling Machine

Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014 by John Wood

Here’s an interesting one from days-gone-by: The Spalding Special Friction Wrestling Machine, or, in other words, two long handles attached to a friction brake. For combat training purposes one would bend or pull this way and that, with resistance of course, focusing a great deal on the muscles of the waist and trunk (what they evidently call the “core” these days.) This might even fall under the “functional” training designation today. Regardless, I’d say this design has many interesting possibilities. By the way, the $12 price tag would equal over $300 in today’s money when adjusted for inflation.

Kettlebells in Japan

Posted on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 by John Wood
Kettlebells in Japan

Japanese amateur wrestler Kitahata Kanetaka is shown here doing a few neck bridges with a 32kg kettlebell in each hand, circa 1937. Kitahata was taught kettlebell lifting by the Estonian strongman/wrestler/boxer Jan Kentel who introduced kettlebell training to Japan in the early 1930’s.