Iron History

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01/23/2002 Entry: "Iron History Jan 25-31, 2002"

Jan 25, 1890
James Walter Kennedy was born on December 12, 1860 and by the time a strength contest was organized on January 25 in 1890 by Richard K. Fox (founder of the publication THE POLICE GAZETTE") the 29 year-old Kennedy was living in Quincy, Illinois on the eastern banks of the Mississippi river.

Fox had a block of iron cast to weigh about 1,000 pounds, with two handles on top of the block at a height of 24" from the ground. This weight was termed a 'dumbell' and in fact weighed 1,030 pounds.
Strongmen from the USA and Canada converged in New York City 112 years ago today to try to win the championship, jewel- studded belt being given to the winner.

Kennedy lifted the weight by straddling it (hence the Kennedy lift) but Ajax, Duncan Ross, Charles Jefferson, and Sebastian Miller, the other competitors could not hoist it clear of the floor. Kennedy weighed 190 pounds, and stood 5'11" tall.

Jan 25, 1927
In September 1924, which was six months after Prof. Louis Attila had died, his daughter, Grace, was introduced to Sig Klein. On January 25, 1927 Sig & Grace were married in New York City. The following year their daughter Jeanne was born. Just as Attila was one of the final remaining links to the strongmen of the previous century (he taught Sandow the bent press), so Sig became that link into the later sections of the 20th century, before he passed away on May 24, 1987.

Jan 25, 1959
If you were asked to name some bodybuilders from the 1950s and 1960s who, in addition to being well shaped, were also brutally strong, your list would have to include Chuck Sipes, who on January 25, 1959 won the IFBB Mr. America contest.

Jan 25, 1959
Female bodybuilder Laura Creavalle born.

Jan 26, 1894
Selig Whitman [stagename Ajax] on this date became a part of the 'strong arm of the law' by joining the New York City Police Dept. Before, he had toured with the famous boxer John L. Sullivan, and had wrestled and lifted as his part of the performance. Whitman came from Manchester, England, and became quite adept at pushing vehicles uphill as a demonstration of strength. Weighing only 162 pounds at 5'8.5" he once pushed a frieght car weighing 27,400 pounds up a slight grade.

Jan 26, 1946
At Ocean Park Arena in Santa Monica, California, Vic Tanny presented a physical culture show. Offered as a door prize was a York olympic barbell set (that is an idea which deserves re-instatement). Bert Goodrich and George Redpath performed their handbalancing act, Tony Terlazzo weighing 148 got 5 reps in the press with 225. Bill Trumbo posed as did Art Bianco [Art White] and Gene Myers inside a specially built posing cabinet. (Years ago I spoke to Grena Trumbo, ex-wife of Bill, but she declined to allow an article to be written about her.)

The highlight of the show was an appearance by John Grimek, who had planned his rountine for that cabinet, but an audience uproar of complaint caused it to be removed. Still, the 3,000 fans screamed approval of his posing and "John did his chest chain breaking with ease that pleased the crowd".

Jan 26, 1958
Fred Schutz won Mr. Chicago

Jan 27, 1902
George Hackenschmidt performed a hack lift with 187.4 pounds. This was about a year and a half after Hack had turned pro, and, keep in mind, the Hack Lift or Hack Squat that he performed was nothing like you see today. His was a knee-bend on TOES, with hands TOUCHING behind the back, which, of course, prevents any forward leaning and turning the lift into some sort of bar behind legs deadlift. Hack on this occasion weighed 205 pounds, and Willoughby calculates this Hack Lift translates into a regular squat of about 500 pounds.

Jan 27, 1908
Walter Good was born, and with his brothers Bill and Harry teamed to be known as The Good Brothers. Even at age 76 Walter could use a pair of 75 pound dumbells for shrugs. He had been in the employ of the York Barbell Company for a while. Walter died on July 10, 2001. Harry had passed away on July 22, 1998, so only Bill who will turn age 92 on May 14th, 2002 remains. He still works out! The famous bell that Bill Good hiplifted on each of his birthdays- doing one rep for each year of age- is now on display outside at a spring water company near Adamstown, PA.

Jan 27, 1940
Physique contests hit regular stride in the very late 1930s, and 62 years ago today several dozen contestants vied for the title of Mr. New York City, with Lud Shusterish taking the title at the Brooklyn Central YMCA. My records show him to have been age 17. [Lud I understand passed away in 2001; can anyone provide a specific date?]

Jan 28, 1891
On this date at the Royal Aquarium in London, Eugen Sandow presented a strength demonstration which included setting a personal best in the bent press of 273.25 lbs. Then he restrained two teams of horses trying to pull him in opposite directions, an impressive but non-measureable feat.

Jan 28, 1969
Wilfred J. Diamond was born in Liverpool, England in 1883 on November 29. He died January 28, 1969 after a lifetime of service to lifting. In 1933 he was elected to the presidency of BAWLA [British Amateur Weight Lifters' Assoc] and that year began writing his memories for the American magazine Strength & Health. He also wrote on other subjects such as BLOOD, SWEAT, and JACK DEMPSEY; and on religion. By the time he moved to Florida in the mid 1960s he had published eight books.

Around 1946 he switched from York to Weider for a few years, writing three part series on Thomas Inch and on Alexander Zass, and Jack Johnson. Ironman in March 1977 recounted the claim that Diamond had witnessed Sandow break a coin. If Diamond believed this, particularly Sandow having this ability, it lessens his reliability as an historian.

Jan 28, 1974
Joe Greenstein [The Mighty Atom] had married Rachael Leah Kaspersky in 1911. He was 18, she 16, and they enjoyed 63 years of marriage before Leah died on this date.

Jan 28, 1991
Charles A. Smith, editor for Joe Weider from 1950 to 1957, and worked on several of Joe's magazines. Those were the days when Joe also was publishing non-bodybuilding mags: boxing, wrestling, some mild girlie type mags named JEM and MONSIEUR- I have a couple of these mags and by todays standards they are prudish. Betty Brosmer (Joe's future wife) posed in some of the issues, though never topless. There was one photo where Betty was presented as topless (in another publication), but the photographer later admitted he altered the photo by placing Betty's head atop some other lady's torso. Anyway Charles was food and beverage editor for these two mags. After Charles left Weider, he worked in law enforcement.

I spent a week as Charles' houseguest in the 1980s. He was then connected to the Todd-McLean Collection at Austin, Texas as a research assistant, where he would instantly know which clippings belonged where. So we would go to the Collection each morning, he would file, and I would file separate materials, and several hours would pass in this manner, then we would have an evening meal and return to his house, where I would ask him dozens of questions and he would display remarkable, instant recall and answer in detail. After several pages of questions had been gone through this way, and I had nothing else prepared, he said, 'I thought you were going to ask me some questions!"

Smith in his day was a bull of a man, and even when I met him was thick armed and solid, and occasionally trained while sitting in his wheelchair, from which he would rise only to pivot into a vehicle or some other task.

Charles had, it seems, had regrets. He had left Weider and gone into law enforcement, and when bodybuilding became really popular and even hinted at becoming mainstream because of Arnold, Charles lamented, however quietly, that he was no longer in the hub, and missed the days of Weider. He felt left behind.

He had a collection of beer steins with depictions of weightlifters embossed on them. One had been a gift from Sig Klein, and Charles particularly treasured it because Sig seldom released one of his steins. After Charles passed, I lost track of his one daughter I knew (had never met the other daughter). Charles' wife had died many years before. So I have no notion of what happened to his books or his steins. Terry Todd, who of course, manages the Todd-McLean Collection with his wife Jan, does not know what became of Charles' items, either. I suspect Charles would not have liked how all this turned out. He wanted his place in the history of the sport. It was he who urged Weider to get into the supplement business. Wonder how that idea ever panned out? He also convinced Weider to begin covering olympic lifting at least on a small scale. Not a big deal? Try getting a weightlifting magazine to include bodybuilding.

Charles was British and was born on March 27, 1912. In my collection I have perhaps 300+ pages of correspondence from him, typed on his last-leg typewriter in a style that had to be interpreted as coming from a very skilled writer, which he most certainly was.

He was a fine man, albeit in some ways, an unhappy man, having lost his wife to cancer on Christmas day 1959, and, who, after a few days in the hospital, passed away Jan 28, 1991. But if you read Weider's magazines from the period when Charles was editor, you realize how skilled a man he was in the publishing business, and he delighted in Joe Weider acknowledging that by presenting Charles with the IFBB's Distinguished Service Award in 1989.

Jan 29, 1904
Joseph Curtis Hise, of Homer, Illinois became well known in lifting circles for popularizing high rep squatting for weight/muscle gains. His older brother William Frank Hise was born Jan 29, 1904 [Curt was born Aug 10, 1905]. William died April 25, 1985, and had stored the Jackson 1-A barbell set in his house for years after Joe died in 1972. I bought the set from William's widow, and later traded it for an Inch replica dumbell. Not a wise decision because I could at least lift part of the barbell set...The 1-A set was precision plates-on-bar, no sloppy holes; beautiful craftsmanship, and Andy Jackson told me that he remembered making that particular set for Joe Hise in the early 1950s.

Jan 29, 1955
Jack King wins Mr. Tidewater

Jan 29, 1966
Boyer Coe wins Mr. Sooner

Jan 30, 1897
The St. Petersburg Athletic Assoc. was founded on this date in Russia by Count Ribeaupierre, and thus became that country's second such organization. The first, The St. Petersburg Amateur Weightlifting Club had been founded on Aug 10, 1885 by Dr. von Krajewski. Those who have David Webster's sterling book THE IRON GAME, please see pages 48-50 for many more details.

Jan 30, 1938
LeRoy Saba born. [sometimes LeeRoy] While still a teenager he won Jr. Mr. Oakland and Sr. Mr. Olympics in 1955. Took the Mr. Iron Man in 1958. In 1960 he won Most Muscular at the Jr. Mr. America. The last articles I have on file for Saba are: Ironman Jan 1961 his fave routines- by Leo Stern S&H March 1961 he models for a workout. He made cover appearances on: Muscle Builder Feb 1960; S&H Nov 1960 & May 1963; Ironman May 1961; Health & Strength Dec 15, 1961 Anyone know what became of LeRoy?

Jan 30, 1941
Joe Bednarski was born- no relation to Bob Bednarski. Joe became a pro wrestler.

Jan 30, 1965
A name often seen in the old mags, Tuny Monday, won Mr. Central State, and on the same day Von LaMon was first in the Mr. Bay Area

Jan 30, 1966
Sergio Oliva won Mr. Chicagoland on the same day that fitness model Amy Fadhli was born, and two more opposite body-types cannot be found!

Jan 30, 1991
WBF [World Bodybuilding Federation] press conference at Plaza Hotel in NYC to announce the names of the 13 bodybuilders they had signed for their organization: Berry DeMey, Mike Christian, Gary Strydom, Mike Quinn, Jim Quinn, Troy Zuccolotto, Aaron Baker, Eddie Robinson, Danny Padilla, Tony Pearson, David Dearth, Vince Comerford, and Johnnie Morant. The WBF eventually held two contests, both won by Strydom, then faded away.

Jan 31, 1948
Who is judging the judges? In San Francisco on Jan 31, 1948 at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, the Pro Mr. America contest was staged, and then judged, rejudged, and rejudged. The first results were:

1. Norman Marks
2. Jimmy Payne
3.Floyd Page

fifteen minutes later, these results came forth:

1. Norman Marks
2. Floyd Page
3. Jimmy Payne

then after all but 17 spectators had left the auditorium:

1. Floyd Page
2. Norman Marks
3. Jimmy Payne

Thus Floyd Page was declared the Pro Mr. America winner.

Jan 31, 1955
Steve Reeves, Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and age 29, married actress Sandra Smith, 18, in Sherman Oaks, CA. After a year and a half the divorce happened on Sep 4, 1956.

As promised from last week, here is the explanation for what is called a devisse: It is a stricter version of the bent press in which Batta managed 220.25 lbs, and Aston 209 lbs. The greater difficulty is to the manner in which the bell is brought to the shoulder.

The standard manners were: 1. Stand the bell on end, lean into the approximate center of the barbell grasping that center with one hand; the other hand may be used for the positioning, then cannot aid further, as the bell is sent overhead. 2. Clean, or Continental, the bell with two hands, but using only one hand for the overhead part of the lift. 3. The devisse required that the bell be brought clean (could not touch the body on its upward travel) by ONE HAND to the shoulder and, of course, only one hand overhead, so the devisse was a 'one hand all the way' bent press. Obviously, someone such as Arthur Saxon could almost double his lift using method 1 as opposed to the devisse.

An aside, to use the term 'a Continental clean' is to display ignorance, in the same way as using the phrase 'a clean Continental'. The clean did not allow for bar contact during the movement from floor to shoulder. The Continental did allow such contact, even so far as briefly 'resting' the bell on top of a large belt buckle, or on the upper thighs, or other body sections.

The terms are therefore mutually exclusive. Therefore, there can be no such lift as a Continental devisse.

An appeal: If you know where any of the former great lifters/ bodybuilders are, and are at liberty to share that info, I would be grateful to know it. Or if you know where any of the former greats are buried... I recently visited the gravesites of Grimek, Hoffman, and Terpak, and have been thinking it would interesting to present a listing for those who travel in a given area to be aware of where respects could be paid. Thank you.

Reminder: corrections are welcome. I had Teegarden born on Jan 13 and another source says Jan 31; for one oldtimer there have been three death dates spanning a two week period. Sometimes the inscription on a tombstone can solve the problem.

Replies: Comment(1)

Joe when did Denie pass away? I have searched hi and lo for a copy of his book "Psycho-blast" for years with no luck it is out of print.

Posted by blueshadow-JJ @ 01/27/2002 04:50 PM CST