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.

Whipper Watson Barbell Plates

Posted on Friday, February 22nd, 2013 by John Wood

Whipper Watson Barbell Plates

The list of athletes who had their own line of barbells is a pretty short one, but one surprising example is the great Canadian professional wrestler “Whipper” Billy Watson. Like many “signature” plates, these were mostly available in sporting goods store ~ although they are very tough to come by these days. Watson had many side ventures, one of which was evidently the barbell business. Perhaps the idea came from Doug Hepburn, who used to wrestle and perform feats of strength at shows promoted by Watson.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

Launceston Elliot, The First British Olympic Champion

Posted on Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by John Wood

Launceston Elliot - The First British Champion

Already a strength star in his teens when he won the British national Championships, in 1896, Launceston Elliot traveled to Athens, Greece to represent England at the very first modern Olympic Games. Elliot had been trained by Eugen Sandow and bared quite a resemblance to his mentor. Things were a bit different back then in weightlifting: they contested two events: the “one-hand lift” and the “two-hands lift” (i.e. the “clean and jerk.”)

In the first contest, the “two hand lift” Launceston tied with Viggo Jensen of Denmark when each lifted 111 kg (244-1/2 pounds). The Gold medal, however, was awarded to the Dane because the judges thought he lifted the weight “in much better form” than his English competitor. In the one-hand event, Elliot lifted 71 kg to the Dane’s 57 and thus Britain’s first Olympic Gold medal winner was crowned!

At the 1896 games, Elliot also competed in the 100m dash, wrestling, and rope climbing events. Elliot performed credibly well in each even but did not match his weightlifting success. After his Olympic achievements, Elliot returned home to England, won the first major physique contest ever held and toured the country as a performing strongman.

The William J. Herrmann Institute of Physical Culture

Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 by John Wood
Herrmann's Gym
William J. Herrmann was a very knowledgeable physical culturist who taugh and heavily influenced Alan Calvert (in fact, Calvert’s classic book “Super Strength” is dedicated to him.)

Herrmann’s gym, once located at 1325 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was one of the popular hangouts for many of the strength stars of the early 20th century, most notably Sig Klein and Milo Steinborn, who performed a number of strength feats there. Sandow trained at Herrmann’s place whenever he visited the US. At Hermann’s, classes were taught in boxing, wrestling, fencing, body-building, calisthenics, Indian Clubs, gymnastics and acrobatics.

This picture was taken in 1931 and shows Milo Steinborn getting in a quick workout on the newly added open-air section of the gym (used for hand ball and training in the fresh air and sun shine, among other pursuits.) Herrmann’s son (also named William) won the bronze medal in tumbling at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

George Brosius and The Frankfurt Squad

Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2012 by John Wood

George Brosius and his Frankfurt Squad

George Brosius (far right) is shown here with his famous “Frankfurt Squad.” This seven member team was composed of the most talented individuals from the Milwaukee Turnverein of which Brosius was the long time teacher.

Against thousands of the best athletes that Europe had to offer, Brosius’ team shocked the world in 1880 by winning five out of twenty-two prizes at the international gymnastic competition held at Frankfurt, Germany. They also took first place in a separate German wrestling competition.

From left to right: Hermann J. Koehler(2nd prize, also Brosius’ nephew, FYI) , Anton Schaefer (4th prize), Friedrich Kasten, Carl Paul (21st prize), Wilhelm Lachenmaier, Otto Wagner (3rd prize), Carl Mueller (5th prize), George Brosius (director)

Also of note is the bust of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn looking down from above.

The Bruno Course of Bodybuilding

Posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2012 by John Wood

Here’s a look at the cover of the incredibly rare “Bruno Course of Bodybuilding” authored by The Living Legend himself, Bruno Sammartino. You can see by Bruno’s thick bone structure that he was a man built for some serious horsepower but don’t forget that he still had to work for his strength.

In The Bruno Course, he covers a dozen or so basic exercises which were his favorites, some “weight” exercises, some bodyweight movements and some conditioning work… simple, but highly effective. You can read more about The Bruno Course in The Dellinger Files Volume I.

Sandow’s Medal

Posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2011 by John Wood

Sandow's Medal

The great Eugen Sandow won this fine medal, not in a test of strength, but for his wrestling skill. It was awarded to him by the Athletic club of Florence, Italy in commemoration of his having handily defeated three opponents in one match, one of whom was the Italian champion Basilio Bartoletti. Sandow was quite proud of this achievement and wore this medal often, it can be seen on his chest in many of of his most famous photographs such as the one above.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 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 © 2005-2019 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.

Club Swinging for Health by Tom Burrows

Posted on Friday, October 7th, 2011 by John Wood

Club Swinging for Health by Tom Burrows

Here’s a real treat: an extremely rare Indian Club training course from Tom Burrows, published in an issue of Health and Strength in 1905.  Burrows was a champion in boxing, wrestling, fencing, gymnastics, the broad jump, the long jump, the hundred yard dash and the mile run — in fact, he won whole track meets by himself.

It was Burrows’ feeling was that swinging Indian Clubs was the finest all around exercise for health and strength.

In this particular course, Exercise 1 is for chest expansion, balance and leg development…  Exercise 2 is for building the waist and arms… Exercise 3 works the trunk… Exercise 4 develops the shoulders and thigh muscles… Exercise 5 is for the abdominals… Exercise 6 works the arms, legs, trunk and thighs… Exercise 7 is for chest development and Exercise 8 is for arms, legs and trunk development.