Iron History

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01/16/2002 Entry: "Jan 18-24, 2002"

Jan 18, 1892
On January 18 in 1892 Louis Cyr lifted his hallmark, famous dumbell loaded
to 273.25 pounds, in London, at the Cafe Monica in the International Hall,
he brought it to the shoulder with two hands and then using one hand pushed
it overhead. He also performed some other strength feats on that occasion
including a one finger lift of 535 pounds which was raised a few inches clear of the floor.

That dumbell is now located in the York Barbell Hall of Fame display area in
York, PA, and is anchored to a shelf. It was generally said to weigh 202 pounds
when empty, though 209 pounds is sometimes mentioned. Anyway, along with
the Thomas Inch 172 pound dumbell and the Apollon railcar wheels, this dumbell
bids for a fair claim as one of the most famous objects in the sport. Cyr was
28 years old when he performed the above feats. [ some of the objects in the
York Hall of Fame are displayed with no designation as to how much the bell
weighs, which is, of course, the very first question that would come to the mind
of a lifter ]

Jan 18, 1942
In Hastings, Nebraska on January 10, 1942 Gary Cleveland was born. By 1966
his total on the [then] three olympic lifts was 1,015 and rated him seventh in
the world in the 181 class! Earlier, Gary had won the Sr. Nats in 1964 and 1965.

Currently Gary publishes his own newsletter called: The Avian Movement Advocate,
A publication of the Louis Cyr Institute of divine avian fluid movement. You'll keep
your grip nimble trying to pick out the serious thoughts from among the other
thoughts, but this is one fine, fun, well- written paper! With his two [imaginary?]
sidekicks Brenda and Prycer, the trio goes ambling along the trail to Daftville.
There is also some serious content- a recent issue had a wonderful piece on
Saxon. Write to 3200 64th Avenue North, Brooklyn Center, MN 55429-2237

Jan 18, 1947
Long Beach, California hosted the Mr. California contest and some recognizable
names competed: Pepper Gomez, Bill Trumbo, Vic Nicoletti, and Charles Putnam.
Putnam won, using the alias he was famous for: Eric Pedersen. Eric would later
be tied on first ballot with Steve Reeves for the 1947 Mr. America title, with Reeves
winning out and Pedersen going into the wrestling world. Eric died in 1990 from
throat cancer.

Jan 18, 1977
What Steve Reeves' Hercules movies were to motivating the previous generation
to train with weights, Pumping Iron was to its generation. Arnold Schwarzenegger
starred as the movie opened on this date in New York City at the Plaza Theater,
and the man who morphed muscle into mainstream meaning charmed his way into
America's heart via this film. The small waistline he displayed is not evident in
today's contest line-ups, nor is his charisma and impact.

Jan 19, 1893
Exactly one year and one day after Louis Cyr performed his one finger lift
(see above), Michael Schart, a lifter from Munich, using only one middle finger,
raised 606.25 lbs.

Jan 19, 1910
The improbable strongman marquee name of Max Sick was changed to simply
'Maxick'.Then in London on this date he exhibited some strength feats to
show his ability.

He had challenged Thomas Inch to a contest in 1907 which brought no response
from Inch; then Maxick reached England in October 1909, and wanted to contest
against Inch for the middleweight title, but Inch whose weight had inched upward
used some delaying tactics, and when January 19th of 1910 arrived, Maxick
decided to publicize his strength.

He: cleaned and pressed, with body erect and heels together, 222 lbs.

cleaned 240 lbs and then using the press style popular on the Continent,
put it overhead.

cleaned 254 lbs and pressed it.

The latter two lifts would have qualified for world records had there been a
weightlifting association in place to certify them, but that organization was
not born until Jan 17, 1911. (BAWLA: The British Amateur Weight Lifters' Assoc.)

He also got 302 lbs from floor to overhead, which was double his bodyweight.

Jan 20, 1900
David Webster shows the certificate given to Launceston Elliot for his lift on
this day: "Right Hand Alone, of a Bar-bell Weighing 216-3/4 lbs. From the Floor
to Arm's Stretch Above the Head at Sabinger's Riding School." see Dave's book
Iron Game, page 25. Launceston was born in India in 1874 and died in Australia
in 1930, where he is at rest in an unmarked grave.

Jan 20 or 22, 1871
Paul von Boeckman, known for his stupendous hand strength was born.
One of Irondom's missing artifacts is his Indian club, said to weigh between
80 and 85 pounds; it stood about 20 inches high and Willoughby describes:
"Grasping this club at the small end with his hands close together (in baseball
bat style), von Boeckman could readily lever it up and over his shoulder."
Sandow failed completely, Charles Atlas managed to tilt it slightly, and only
Joe Nordquest was able to match von Boeckman and shoulder the club. Does
anyone know what happened to this piece of iron history, or shall it remain on
the list of missing marvels of strength lore?

Boeckman also claimed to be able to chin himself for three reps using only
the middle finger of his right hand- a feat that David Webster, and perhaps
any thinking person, disputes. In a refreshing bit of honesty, he acknowledged
"...that he could not bend a coin with his fingers, and moreover doubted if
anyone else could really do so". Not too long ago on the Grip Board, a member
marked a quarter (American .25 cent piece) and handed it to a man who claimed
he could TEAR it in half. The coin handed back to the board member was NOT
the same coin. Literally, a two-bit trick. Von Boeckman died November 7, 1944
(the same day Ken Patera was born)

Jan 21, 1862
For my money the strongest man, in terms of upper body strength, among
the oldtimers was Louis Uni, whose stage name was Apollon. His enormous
powers were geared so that even his casual attitude toward exerting them
were staggering. And only when goaded would he switch to a higher gear;
otherwise he would employ only enough threshold strength to win.

Particularly frightening was his hand strength. John Grun Marx, said to Apollon
one day that only he (Marx) had been able to deadlift a specific bell off the
floor with one hand. The bell weighed 226 pounds and had a handle 2.36" in
diameter (the same diameter as Hermann Goerner's 330.60 pounds challenge barbell).

Upon being challenged. Apollon grabbed the bell and thrust it up and over his
shoulder trying to snatch it, but lost his grip on the bell and it landed (not rolled)
several feat behind him!

For those who believe that Apollon could not have lifted the Thomas Inch
172 dumbell, consider this: Apollon did the above on a bar of 2.36" diamter
weighing 226 lbs. The Inch bell weighs 54 lbs LESS and has a handle of 2.38".
Apollon would have toyed with the Inch bell. But Inch was VERY careful regarding
who he allowed among the super strong to try his challenge bell. But that's another
Apollon died October 18, 1928.

[ For those who may not have seen the notice: It is planned to have a
replica set of Apollon's railcar wheels in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday Feb 24, 2002
as part of the inaugural Strongman contest to be a part of the Arnold Classic.
The non-revolving wheels weighed 365 pounds and have a bar/axle that is 1.93"
in diameter. I have seen 1.87" as the diameter in an old reference, but 1.93 is
given more often. Only four men in history have put taken the original wheels
from the floor to overhead, but the original wheels have not been allowed to
be touched in years, so this replica set will do as a test for modern strongmen ]

Jan 21, 1926
Steve Reeves born: Within and without the bodybuilding community of the
previous century NO ONE was more famous than Steve Reeves, who was born
January 21, 1926. Other bodybuilders may have had as much in-house impact,
but when non-muscle segments are polled, Reeves was the man. Women
swooned at the smile of his face, and men admired his form, muscular yet
not overly so as was then the standard. Pudgy Stockton tells me that she
and Steve used to walk along Muscle Beach and crowds would actually follow
them. Well, okay, that may not have had anything to do with Steve...since
Pudgy (not at all a descriptive nickname) was strutting along.

Chris LeClaire, while researching his book on Reeves, stayed at the Reeves
ranch for a few weeks, and chatted with Steve many times. Even Steve
believed, as does his ongoing website SRIS, that Steve won the Mr. Western
America contest. He did not. This is one of those odd encounters of the
first-person kind, when checking with people who were there! They get it
wrong sometimes. Anyway, Steve won the Mr. Pacific Coast twice, as his
mentor Ed Yarick ably pointed out at the time, and only after Steve's memory
was refreshed with this fact did he acquiesce and Chris's book therefore
became one of the very few sources where Steve's contest history is
accurately listed. For the record here is Reeves complete contest summary:

December 21, 1946 Mr. Pacific Coast, winner
May 24, 1947 Mr. Pacific Coast winner
June 29, 1947 Mr. America, winner
March 13, 1948 Mr. USA, 2nd place to Clancy Ross
Aug 16, 1948 Mr. World (aka Plus Bel Athlete du Monde), winner
March 26, 1949 Mr. USA 3rd place [1. John Grimek 2. Clancy Ross]
June 24, 1950 Mr. Universe, winner
[Joe M. points out the omission of Steve's Aug 13, 1948 second place
finish to John Grimek at the Health & Strength sponsored Mr. Universe.
That was on Friday the 13th, then on Monday the 16th of August,
Steve won the Mr. World. NABBA did not form until 1950, and Steve
did in fact win their inaugural amateur Mr. U; their pro division began
in 1952. I had all this in FLEX Feb 1999; perhaps I should refer to my
own notes..., but thanks, Joe!]
Reeves became a star in the movies, most notably for his Hercules portrayal
and he was similar to the Enengizer Bunny's impact on the sport of bodybuilding,
continuing with an occasional refresher mention in the bodybuilding magazines.

On May 1, 2000, Steve passed away.

Jan 21, 1994
Ira Hurley, whom some of you may recall as an official in bodybuilding
circles in Illinois, died.

Jan 22, 1913
Sam Loprinzi was born in Portland, Oregon. On June 2, 1946 he won the
Most Muscular award at the Mr. America. He ran a gym at 2414 SE 41st
Avenue in Portland, which is shown in Strength & Health Nov 1962 p 19.
He also ran a gym at 414 SE Grand Avenue.

He married Helen Smith in 1945 (her first look at Sam was when he appeared
on the March 1945 cover of S&H)

Sam won the 1948 Mr. Pacific Coast.

Ironman ran a story on Sam in Feb 1963 and heralded that he was as good
at 50 as he had been at age 25. By December 1979 he was wanting to retire
and did so in 1980. He and Helen then took long walks together, and used
swimming for exercise.

Sam left us on October 12, 1996, dying at home. He is buried in
Williamette National Cemetery.

Jan 22, 1894
The strongman Batta performed a devisse of 220.25 lbs. (This is a test
about a very rarely mentioned lift. I have seen it mentioned only twice.
In next week's column I will tell what it is, and will mention the names of
those who write in via the 'comment' box below with the correct answer.)

Jan 23, 1949
In connection with a novice weightlifting meet in Chicago, Roy Hilligen(n)
guest posed as about a dozen young men posed for the title of Jr. Mr. Illinois.
Robbie Robinson (no not that one) finished out of the running, and the top
three were: 1. Jim Park 2. Ed Zon 3. Clarence Custer

Jan 24, 1885
Louis Vasseur was born in Roubaix, France, and his inaugural lifting
competion was for the amateur French champinships in 1907. Later at
a bodyweight of 205 he was able to perform a right hand snatch with
209.5 lbs. When he weighed 214 lbs he upped this to 220.5 lbs, a record
that would stand until Charles Rigoulot rolled onto the scene more than
a decade later. Even in 1925 at age 40 Louis could right hand snatch 213.
His wrists were thick: 8", and his forearm 14.2" at 220 lbs bodyweight
in 1913 in his prime as a professional.

As an aside keep in mind that forearms in those days were measured
with the wrist straight in line with the forearm, no goosenecking of the wrist,
nor bending at the elbow. So when comparing measurements to the oldtimers
always use this method to be fair to them. A clenched (making a fist) hand
was permitted. And, anyone, even today, who has a forearm measuring
twice the wrist (measured this way) has a wonderful ratio.

Replies: Comment(1)

Great column Joe! Will be looking forward to every Friday from now on. One thing you forgot to mention re Steve Reeves' contest history. He placed second to John Grimek at the 1948 NABBA Mr Universe contest held in London about a week before the Mr World contest in France.

Posted by
Joe Matrisciano @ 01/21/2002 07:38 AM CST