Iron History

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01/10/2002 Entry: "Iron History January 11-17, 2002"

First, a note about these notes: If more than one date is offered
for a situation it is because I have found those dates over the
years and have not been able to ascertain which is correct. So,
hoping for feedback from readers who may have the answer, I
include what I have.

Also, please be aware that if you want me to respond to your
comments, I need your email address. Thanks...

Jan 11, 1884
Dietrich Wortmann was born in Leipzig, and would love the iron
all his life. In 1901, at age 17, he joined the Brooklyn Central Y,
but when officials there prohibited him from organizing some
weightlifting activities, he switched to the German-American
Athletic Club [GAAC] where Adolph Rhein was already in place
teaching lifting. At a bodyweight of 140 pounds, Dietrich could
press 150 for 5 reps.

Later Wortmann became president of the GAAC, then national
chairman of the AAU Weightlifting Committee, and eventually
president of the International Federation of Weightlifting.
He died September 20 or 21, 1952, and was buried at the Little
Stone Chapel, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. The inaugural
Dietrich Wortmann Memorial Weightlifting contest was October
8, 1955 at the West Side Y in NYC.

Jan 11, 1893
Antone Matysek was born in Mistek, Moravia, Czech. In my
collection are two Matysek shot-loadable dumbells, each has a
hole in the handle so that they can be used as barbell plates by
inserting a bar, thus creating a barbell from a pair of dumbells.
Antone published his own training course, which later in 1966
his second son Daniel had reprinted. Matysek was one of the
masters of muscle control. Around 1951 he was running a gym
in Baltimore at 1017 N. Charles (or Charels) Street. [Anyone
know what is at that location these days?] In 1958 he stopped
by York to chat with the guys.

He could reverse curl 88 pounds on a bar 3" in diameter.

Jan 11, 1961
Joe Price died, born either 1883/1884. As of 1938 the Health &
Strength Annual publication listed Price as the British amateur
lifting champion for 1922-1923. He stood 5'10" and weighed 15
stone (210 lbs). Could right hand deadlift 430 lbs and left hand
deadlift 409.75., both British records at the time.
Price published a course on hammer lifting, and at age 75 in 1957
was still working as a blacksmith.

Jan 12, 1921
John Davis was born in Smithtown, Long Island, NY. By 1939 at
age 18, John held all three American weightlifting records: press
267.5, snatch 267.5, and C&J 353. By the summer of 1944 he was
stationed in Hawaii serving in the military. In 1948 a John Davis
lifting club had been formed in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, which was about
the time that John erased Manger's eleven year-old 319 lb press
record by hoisting 321 at the Sr. Nationals.

Davis C&J the Apollon railcar wheels which weighed about 365 lbs,
but dropped them on one attempt causing the bar to bend. Midway
thru the century on May 13, 1950, Davis received a trophy for being
'The Greatest Weightlifter of The Century'. In 1967 he was inducted
into the Helms Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

Sadly, in 1975 his apartment was robbed and all his medals and
trophies stolen. John was seldom defeated in lifting from 1938 to 1953.
Was gold medal winner in the Olympics in 1948 and 1953; won the
World championships six times, the Sr. Nats 12 times, and placed
second in the Sr. Nats three other times!
He died July 13, 1984 and is buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Jan 12, 1935
Sig Klein, weighing 152 pounds presses 229.5 lbs at age 32. Sig
was a consistent physical culturist who was among the final links
between old time strongmen and the modern era. By age 64 he had
maintained a bodyweight of 148 pounds for a decade. In 1968 he
was honored at a Dan Lurie Testimonial Dinner.
KLEIN'S BELL was published from June 1931 thru December 1932,
the same month Strength & Health began. KB requires 19 issues
for a full collection.

Jan 12, 1939
Bob Hoffman bent pressed the lighter of the two Rolandow dumbells,
the 209. The other weighed 235, 237, or 238 depending on the
source. Both bells have now disappeared, though the Rolandow
barbell rests in the York Barbell Hall of Fame in York, PA.

Jan 13, 1913
Chester Teegarden was born. Wrote for Ironman in the early years
and for Lifting News during its run, and published his own news-
letter for awhile. Started a lifting club at the U of Indiana at 111
N. Dunn Street in Bloomingdale (what's is there now?).
After Chester died on October 1, 1989, his friend Randy Strossen
came to Illinois and we drove to Indiana in search of Teegarden's
gravesite, but thru a monumental mix-up were unable to find it.
Where were our wives when we needed directions!

Jan 13, 1958
Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay were married. He had won
the NABBA Universe in 1955, and began selling photo sets of himself
later that year via P.O. Box 458, Indianapolis 6, Indiana. He returned
to competition in the NABBA Pro Universe in 1963 and placed 5th in
the tall class.

Jayne in 1958 for Mr. America magazine wrote: "Why I Go For A
Well Built Man!"

They divorced August 26,1964.

Jan 13, 1987
The Dean of American Posers, Tony Sansone, died. He was
born September 19, 1905 and ran a gym in NYC at 671 Third Ave and
was best known for his symmetrical physique and graceful lines.
Vic Boff referred to Tony as the uncrowned Mr. America (not to
be confused with TOM Sansone, who did in fact win the Mr. A).
By age 79 Tony was still jogging on Coney Island. Grimek considered
Tony a 'master of display'.

Having cared for his ailing wife at home, when she passed, Tony
followed her two weeks later in early 1987.

Jan 14, 1959
John Brookfield, who simply must be on anyone's list of World's
Strongest Hands, was born. In April 1994 John sent me a package
of cold chisels he had bent and broken. These were 1/4" and 5/16"
cold chisels.

His accompanying note read: "Here are three more chisels from
different companies. So much for the famous Stanley tools. As you
can see the chisel that broke did not bend even a fraction of an
inch before it broke. It took all that I could give to break it. It was
very tough." Convinced me.

I asked John why he chose such short pieces of metal to bend, and
he said that if you choose something longer then some strong
football player may come up on stage and put a slight bend in the
piece by using his knee, and this places doubt in the mind of the
audience. Ever tried to bend a 1/4" cold chisel over your knee?

Jan 14, 1977
One of the contestants at the June 10, 1939 Pro-Am Mr. America
contest, Dave Asnis, died on January 14, 1977. He had placed
6th in the tall class in that contest, which class also contained
the eventual winner, Bert Goodrich, who beat short winner Elmer
Farnham and middle winner Carl Hempe (still living, I spoke with
him in 2001). Asnis did win best abs in the contest though.
Was S&H coverman August 1939, and Your Physique March 1941.
Died at age 64.

Jan 15, 1955
Mr. Los Angeles:
1. Jerry Ross
2. Ron Lacy
3. Joe Barrata
4. Harry Schwartz
5. Lyn Lyman
of these men only Lacy would go on to become Mr. A.

Jan 16, 1921
Leo Robert was born. He won the Your Physique magazine self-
improvement contest in April 1948, and continued to improve himself
to the point where he won the NABBA Pro Universe on June 11,
1955. Eleven years later his final guest posing stint was at the
IFBB Mr. Eastern America.

Recently Leo began his own website.

Jan 16, 1993
Jon Pall Sigmarsson, world champion strongman in 1984,
1986, 1988, and 1990, and the man generally considered to be
Bill Kazmeier's nemesis in strength, died on this date. His son,
David, by now would be about age 17.

Jan 17, 1911
The BAWLA [British Amateur Weight Lifters' Assoc] came into
being. Previously, records for British lifting events were less than

Jan 17, 1930
No, no, no, the car is supposed to carry the person forward! But
on this date Arthur Dandurand shouldered a Ford engine said to weigh
either 406 or 455 lbs. In 1908 he moved a 4,300 pound wheelbarrow
28 yards. He was still wrestling at age 65 in 1943! He was also
credited with a one-arm deadlift of 552 pounds.

Jan 17, 1983.
This one is personal, because on this date the iron game's wonderful
historian, David P. Willoughby died. If his research and writings are
erased from our record, we would be without direction for many
facts and dates.

Steve Wennerstrom, who is the IFBB's Historian for the female side
of the sport, and who, I don't think he would mind me saying, pro-
bably cares as little about the male side of the sport as anyone,
used to occasionally drive over to visit DPW in his garage, to chat.
Steve says those were wondrous visits- that David could instantly
find an article he had written years ago, and his reserve of knowledge
was fantastic.

Ironman ran David's Kings of Strength series from May 1956 thru
June 1963. If you care about the history of strongmen, beg, borrow,
or steal these!

DPW wrote for virtually EVERY major physique publication for
several decades, even Animal Life for Weider, because, of course,
David knew about the great apes and horses, and...

If you have friends who have old magazines which contain his
articles, ask for photocopies, place them in a ring binder in order,
and you will have one of the greatest reference 'books' available!

As this column evolves, please feel free to send me a comment
on the direction it should take. Would you rather have more
detailed articles and fewer 'blurbs'? We will consider your input.
If you want a response, please include your email. Thanks.

Replies: Comments(2)

At the old IU lifting club on 111 N. Dunn St., Bloomington, is an Ice Cream Parlor. The name of the place is White Mountain Ice Creamery. It is a independently owned gourment ice cream place that has been there a long time. That area of town is very old but the buildings are very well kept.

Great Ice Cream! They can give Graeters in Cincinnati a run for their money!!

Posted by
Mark Pauli @ 01/16/2002 06:39 PM CST

Hey, nice colume. In the future I would like to see more directed stories, for example, a history of a certain stregnth magazine that has been influential or certain lifts (i.e. how did it come to be so that everyone seems to be obsessed with abs, curls, and bench pressing, when did that start?).

Thanks for taking the time to share this history with us.

Posted by Chris B. @ 01/11/2002 12:52 PM CST