Iron History

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12/19/2002 Entry: "Iron History Dec 20-31, 2002"

This edition of ends our year long chronology, and though much has not been included, much has been. The year has sped by for me, and though we have considerably fewer readers now that has become a pay site for certain sections, we plan to continue as though the whole iron world is watching, and we plan to fill the archives with materials to attract more subscribers. $10 per year is an inexpensive birthday gift for an iron buddy.

FIRST MENTION that I have seen in the printed media regarding the passing of Vic Boff is in Steve Gardener's MUSCLE MOB from England. See December 2002 issue. Iron Game History, from the U of Texas is planning a feature on Vic.


David Chapman's latest book: RETRO STUD: Muscle Movie Posters From Around the World is now available, and is an excellent resource book for those who want to see how the various countries advertised via posters the various 'sword and sandal' or 'peplum' movies which hit mainstream about 1959. Posters from nine countries are presented-and with only an exception or two are all in vivid colors.

For those who study or enjoy history, the posters provide details about casts and studios which would require many hours of tracing without these poster images.

Further, David's notes and text offer settings for the span of the genre. So there are only a few days remaining before Christmas! Get to it! It is orderable from any bookstore.

For those who do not know, David is one of our foremost historians, and the only one, so far as I know, who when asked, 'What have you been up to lately?' -which I asked the other day- will reply, 'I have been reading some in Italian strength sources'. Yeah, me too!

He also translates from French, and is continuing to hone his translation of Desbonnet's, Kings of Strength book. He also reads some German. But I think I can take him in pig latin.

He writes for Ironman magazine and for Iron Game History, and his new book Retro Stud Will become another worthy addition to his work and your resources. Available in book stores.

Dec 20, 1920 John Terry born in Pittsburgh. As an adult stood 5'1" and weighed 132. I have also seen his height as 5'3". John competed at the 1936 Olympics in weightlifting and moved to York, at Hoffman's request.

David Chapman, in Ironman Mar 1994 relates how John roomed for awhile with John Davis, and later after he had married, Terry argued with his wife, and killed her, and was sentenced to a long prison term.

Dec 20, 1946 Steve Reeves and Bob Weidlich took the Pacific South Railway to Portland for the Mr. Pacific Coast contest. This was the first of two times that Steve would win the Mr. Pacific Coast contest. The next time he won it, May 24, 1947, he would later incorrectly remember as the Mr. Western America contest- a contest he asserted he had won, though in fact he never did. Chris LeClaire, using some documentation I supplied was finally able to convince Steve of this matter. Even the website devoted to Steve [SRIS] last time I checked, has some incorrect contest info on Reeves.

Dec 21, 1977 Paul Anderson's mother passed away.

Dec 22, 1909 Ron Walker born; died Oct 25, 1948

Dec 22, 1946 Steve Reeves and Bob Weidlich boarded the train in Portland to go to Oakland, California, after Reeves won the Mr. Pacific Coast contest.

Dec 22, 1955 Kathy Sipes, Chuck's daughter, born. His other daughters are Daphne and Patricia (Trish), the former younger, and the latter, older, than Trish.

Dec 23, 1891 George Jowett born; died Jul 11, 1969 A man of uncommon strength in some feats to whom has been attributed an anvil lifting feat that does not border the ridiculous, it crosses the border and settles in the heart of ridiculous: grasping a 168 lb anvil by the horn, he cleaned it then pressed it overhead. All using only one hand, of course. In the gallery we have a photo of the real 168 lb Jowett anvil, which, unfortunately is not at all the same anvil as seen in those famous two photos of the anvil lift. The 168 is much larger, has a different horn curvature, and has a different base formation, but these facts flee the notice of those who perpetuate the myth.

Jowett explained his technique for lifting thick bars by saying that he began with a handle size he could manage, and as that size became easier, he wound tape around the handle to increase the diameter slightly, and worked with that until it became easier, then added more tape. An excellent training technique!

Dec 23, 1899 Larry Barnholth born; died May 23, 1975 Larry on Dec 5, 1943 at the Ohio State Weightlifting Championships, weighing 173 lbs lifted a total of 550 lbs, and the following year managed 560 at the same event, then the next year got 565 at the Pittsburgh Jr. Nationals.

By 1950 he and his brother Lewis were planning to write a book on the squat technique for the snatch in weightlifting, and in late 1950 he visited York Barbell with proofs of his book which became available for $1 (the good old days), was titled SECRETS OF THE SQUAT SNATCH and could be ordered from him at 212 Crittenden St. Akron 5, OH.

In 1957 he was elected to the Goodyear's Summit County Sports Hall of Fame.

At age 61, Larry could deadlift 400 lbs.

Those of you who have access to Osmo Kiiha's exquisite publication The Iron Master, see the May 1996 issue for an article by Crewell. Excellent! And full of details about the five Barnholth brothers and the American College of Modern Weightlifting (ACMWL).

Dec 23, 1941 Serge Reding born; died Jun 27, 1975. Perhaps the article title used by Tommy Kono in Strength & Health Feb 1973 says it all: Serge Reding, The Hapless Champ. He probably HAD more strength than he could properly demonstrate, and some thought him to be stronger than Alexeev, but just not able to come through in tense competitions. He almost pressed (not push pressed or jerked) 502.5 lbs back in 1970, the same year Alexeev broke the 500 lb barrier.

Dec 23, 1972 Charles Atlas died; born Oct 30, 1892/1893. Unlike today;s bodybuilders, who express more cuts than a Don Rickles' monologue, Charles had a pleasant physique, though hardly accurately described as muscular by today's standards, or even by the standards of his day among his iron peer group.

He is credited with and became famous for Dynamic Tension- a method of pitting one body part against its opposite and pulling, pushing etc instead of using weights. Not many sales I suspect to one-armed people.

It is generally believed that Atlas developed his physique using standard barbells and dumbbells, but knowing the market was filled with manufacturers of those items, chose a dynamic new route. As a youngster, I never paid much attention to Atlas ads-preferring the Jowett ads in comics, and of course the implements offered by Weider and Hoffman and Rader. But millions did pay attention, and paid money.

Dec 23, 1972 Roland Essmaker, Mr. America 1939, moved to San Marcos, CA. Roland died earlier this year, which reminds me- if you know of anyone in the sport who passed away this year, please share that info thru the comment button so that our necrology next month will include the name.

Dec 24, 1924 Charles Rigoulot weighing 192.25 lbs cleaned and jerked 336.25 lbs; he was age 21. (born Nov 3, 1903-died Aug 22, 1962). He cleaned and jerked the Apollon railcar wheels five and a half years after this C&J of 336.25 lbs.

Side-track: Next month we begin looking at Apollon, and how misunderstood his strength levels continue to be. For example, Willoughby attributes one hand deadlift estimates (based on other, known, feats) when perfomed using a 2" diameter bar-which is approximately the diameter to the wheels, and offers that Apollon, on a 2" bar could one hand deadlift 350 pounds. Yet we have people asserting that Apollon did not clean and jerk the wheels, but was merely able to two hand deadlift the 366 lb wheels. Uh, the other hand added only 16 lbs of strength?

Dec 24, 1946 Steve Reeves, back in Oakland, California, worked out at Yarick's Gym. At one time it was suggested that his name should be spelled Reves.

Dec 24, 1953 John Davis' mother passed away.

Dec 24, 1964 Mark Weider, Ben's third child, born

Dec 25, 1901 Joe Bonomo born; died Mar 28, 1978. The website Natural Strength by Bob Whelan recently had a story on Joe, which is worth your attention.

Dec 25, 1959 Charles A. Smith's wife died at age 42. Charles had quit at Weider in the early part of 1957, and three years later, on Christmas, lost his wife. There is a photo of her in the gallery

Dec 25, 1967 Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Reg Park for Christmas. Arnold was age 20.

Dec 25, 1967 Angel Teves born in Hawaii; fitness model. See profile on Oxygen magazine May 1998.

Dec 26, 1892 The Rasso Trio renamed itself the Three Apollons. This was eight days after Apollon lifted overhead a 341 lb barbell that defied their efforts to properly deadlift.

Dec 26, 1906 Bert Goodrich born; died Dec 6, 1991

Dec 26, 1989 Kimon Voyages died; born Jan 2, 1922 Placed 2nd in the 1941 Mr. America, and in his six other tries for that title his best placing was in 6th in 1947 when Steve Reeves won. Kimon also tied for 6th in 1949 with Val Pasqua when Jack Delinger won.

His gym was at 572 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, Long Island. Two years later he competed for the final time in the Mr. North America event and placed 4th in class B (middle height). Gene Bohaty won.

He then judged in some contests including the IFBB Mr. America in 1964, and the inaugural Mr. Olympia in 1965.

Dec 26, 1994 Sylvia Koscina died; born Aug 22, 1933 Was Steve Reeves co-star in Hercules (as you will see when you buy Retro Stud).

Dec 27, 1880 Alf Hewitt born at 143 Abbey Street, Bermondsey. He was profiled in Health & Strength as 'Another Unknown King of Strength' by Pullum in the May 1942 issue.

Dec 27, 1881 Thomas Inch born; died Dec 12, 1963 So far as I know, in the modern era, say from 1860 or so, Inch holds the record for deception longevity, convincing literally thousands of people over the span of perhaps 90 years that he was able to lift from the ground to overhead his 172 lb solid Challenge dumbell one-handed.

We now know that he had at LEAST 5, not 4, bells which he foisted upon audiences as his Challenge bell. One of them, which is shot loadable with nutted ends, is shown in a 1939 film clip. Here, after two men grimace enough so that someone should be sent to fetch laxatives, but fail to even budge the weight off the floor, Tommy strolls up and with all the difficulty a man has smiling in the presence of a beautiful woman, lifts the bell casually to the shoulder and then overhead, and then picks up a separate weight in his left hand to compose a two hands anyhow lift total of 276 lbs. If the first bell were the 172, which it most certainly is not, then the second bell had to weigh 104 lbs. This is also unlikely as he curled it as easily as though it weighed 25 lbs.

One of the other two men who tried to lift the first bell, placed his hand on his upper thigh/groin area, to begin his pull. Even a beginning lifter knows this is improper technique for the best leverage.

The kicker is that Inch has a man using a hammer, tap on the bigger bell to show that it is in fact a genuine, metal dumbell. Perhaps a calibrated scale would have been of more proof? But proof was the very thing to be avoided where Inch's claims were bellowed forth.

And may I non-humbly add this: Until my research, culminating in our series here when INCH101 was presented, writers generally acknowledged that Inch was able to actually perform the feats he claimed with the 172 Challenge bell. Now, you will find some acknowledgment that he in fact did not, could not, have been that strong, and that deception, including the switching of bells, was what in fact happened. Wonder where those ideas came from?

Dec 27, 1952 Paul Anderson squatted world record 660.5 lbs and won his inaugural weightlifting competition via 275-225-300 for an 800 lb total

Dec 28, 1903 Luigi Borra's first performance under his new name: Brinn, The Cannonball King.

Dec 28, 1903 The finals of Macfadden's bodybuilding competition in Madison Square Garden; lasted thru Jan 2, 1904. (name is properly spelled with a lower case 'f')

Dec 28, 1992 Jack Delinger died; born Jun 22, 1926. Lost the Mr. America in 1948 to George Eiferman- some say because Jack took a friend's advice to stride deliberately to the posing area, and this may have seemed affected. But Jack returned in 1949 and scored 73.5 points out of a possible 75 to become Mr. America.

Dec 29, 1851 The first YMCA in America opens in Boston, MA. I understand that the famous bells of John Y. Smith may be housed there even to this day. If anyone reading this lives in Boston, what wonderful photos shots of those bells would make! Perhaps among them is the dumbell that Arthur Saxon was unable to clean. Again, sometimes the word 'lift' is used to describe what Saxon could not do with this bell. 'Lift' is a meaningless word in weightlifting; it begs for a modifier.

Dec 29, 1955 Candy Csensits born; died Jan 13, 1989 from breast cancer. Beautiful competitor, whose mother contacted York Barbell after Candy died, looking for a place to accept her photos and memorabilia so that Candy's memory could be honored.

Dec 30, 1953 Bill Kazmaier born in Wisconsin. Probably in his day the strongest man drawing breath on this planet. Is now narrating some of the strongest man competitions, and in 2002 was at the microphone at the Arnold Strongman event in Columbus.

Dec 31, 1919 Dr. Hy Schaffer born; died Jan 4, 1999. I have seen other spellings of his last name, and frankly, do not know which is correct.

Dec 31, 1976 John Fritshe died; born Nov 18, 1910. I do know Fritshe is the correct spelling, though, again, variant spellings have been offered.

Dec 31, 1978 Steve Stanko died. Steve was the first Mr. Universe. He won the title in 1947, and this situation leads to why these matters need to be well documented WHEN and AFTER they happen.

I mentioned that Steve was the first Mr. Universe, and this upset the widow of another famous competitor who thought her husband was the first Mr. Universe. She wrote to Ironman magazine wondering why I would write such a thing, so John Balik asked me to write an explanation, which I did, respectfully outlining the history, and proving that the sequence showed Steve to be the first.

This is bothersome to me. I do NOT CARE who was first or second, except that I care for accuracy. If Steve had been second, then that's fine with me, but we must adhere to what happened and not rewrite history based on faulty memory. Another man does not recall accurately how many times he competed against Grimek- he insists that it was once, when in fact it was more-as old magazine reports and photos prove! Another man claims he won best chest at a contest, when he was not the winner- these are all provable situations if the necessary reference tools are handy.

So collect all you can collect and READ/COMPARE/ and THINK! If you have no interest in collecting, then perform the other three functions carefully using the resources of those who have seen and studied the original sources. Fairytales should be for children.

Letter from Charles A. Smith to Joe Roark Dec 13, 1985

Was most interested to read the Grimek letter-or rather your comments on it- flaying Wayne. I can understand this since one must remember that for years, Grimek has been the Folk Hero of Bodybuilding and, no one can blame him, has accepted this role. Therefore anything said about him is taken as a slap in the face and not for what it really is-honest comment. I can recall he got very annoyed at me-or so I was told- for expressing the opinion that a certain Russian lifter had legs as well developed as his. And when I expressed the opinion that the arms of Melvin Wells were as good as his arms. I was told he got exceptionally irate. In other words, instead of making a temperate evaluation of the things praising him said about him, he began to believe them. No condemnation here. It is a very human, and often an acceptable trait. It's the same sort of reinforcing process used to boost the self esteem of infants- praise them for the small things they do. Or like kissing your wife to get her to do something she should have done without being kissed at all.

Different people react to situations in different ways. I don't give a shit who knows I have only one leg, or who talks about my amputation. I'll willingly, although not happily, discuss it with anyone. But that's me, and I can understand Grimek's sensitivity where his eye is concerned. And again, that's me. My opinion about Wayne's mention of it-and I haven't read what he said-is that it was not only uncalled for, but unkind and utterly chicken shit. I can see hurting a man's feelings if some good is accomplished by doing so, but I can't see hurting a man's feelings merely out of spite or for no reason at all except to hurt him. We should all be able to accept constructive criticism-and some of us can't- but none of us have to accept a willful act of unkindness. So I sympathize with Grimek

I think you act in handing the sister of Hise a copy of the film was most tactful-diplomatic-since it makes you more acceptable to them if you need to pursue a further fact of the life of Hise. Am surprised to learn he graduated from High School-where? Was it later on via a GED certificate?

[Roark note: The film Charles refers to was a home movie shot circa 1946 in Homer, Illinois and shows Joe playing baseball in the street and lifting weights, including juggling a kettlebell. The whole film lasts about 2 minutes. I gave a copy to Frances, but when I checked with her weeks later she still had not been shown the film, and setting up the machine etc was not something she was able to do alone. To this day I do not know if she ever saw her brother in that film. But tears flowed from her eyes when she remembered Curt, as she, and all Hise's early peer group called him]

Though I never measured his arms, and I worked with him for years when he and I worked for Weider- he as shipping clerk- I never taped the arms of Leroy Colbert and his arms were MASSIVE. Although he claimed, or had claimed for him, twenty inchers, my opinion was that 18 inches would have been a more reasonable measurement.

One thing I MUST ask you. PLEASE go careful about writing re my getting into the Hall of Fame. Let me state my opinion about this. I believe I am entitled to be there as a, what they call A CONTRIBUTOR. I have been writing now, starting with IRON MAN since 1938. That's close to fifty years. And I've written for mags not only in the USA but England. If the Hall of Fame is as they claim, non political, then I think that if judged worthy of inclusion, I should be included without any political maneuvering AND IN MY LIFETIME. It is gonna do me no good when I am dead, and I have always believed in a couple of British Navy Maxims, one is that if you have anything good to say about a man SAY IT NOW. And the second is you praise in public, admonish in private. So, to sum all this up, if there IS any likelihood of me being elected- and personally I think the prospect somewhat dim, for who knows me NOW-then I wouldn't want to have my chances blighted by what some might think of as LOBBYING for me. Do hope you understand. Write if you want to, but PLEASE be diplomatic.

[re Terry Todd] I have also asked him to get a shot of me at my long table in the magazine room of the Collection where I do most of my work. I do know he has several around. I have told him you want it for that article Lurie wants you to write.

I showed, that is donated, that XXX stuff to the Collection. Terry read it and we both got a lot of cynical chuckles out of it. The man is an out and out phoney. That sit up with 320 is ridiculous. Does he really expect anuone to believe that? Trouble here is that in the future these claims will be accepted as FACTS.

Ed Jubinville is a pretty nice fellow. I have never heard a word of gossip contra against him. He has also worked hard for the sport.

By the way, I think I told you I wrote to XXX thanking him for the mention of me in his book. No reply. My daughter looked at the book in a local shopping mall book store and almost gave birth to a tin of jam with excitement thinking it real fame. I told her not so. Did XXX ever reply to your letters? I have also been told that he lived with XXX's daughter who O'deed from some drug or the other. There seems to be something very sinister about that old dearie XXX.

I can remember the start of Joseph Curtis's first letter to me- "Dear Chas, as is my pappy's name".

I can just see XXX peeing his lace trimmed running shorts when he gets news of your Hise ferreting out.

Well, this is about all for now. If I have forgotten to answer any of your questions, rap me sharply over the knuckles with a stick of celery or a carrot strip. Best regards to you and yours, Chas.

Letter from Charles A. Smith to Joe Roark, day before Christmas 1985 [keep in mind that Charles' wife had passed away years before ON Christmas day, so it was an occasion of reminded sadness for him]

Ho Ho Ho Bah Humbug.

I am not surprised at the cool reception your proposal to the various magazines re Hise received. But nil desperandum. Keep on in there since JCH deserves a better place in the history of our sport, than to receive such cavalier treatment. Don't blame anyone in general. The so called modern crowd don't want to know about the pioneers. For this bunch they don't exist and they just don't want to know anything but how to get twenty inch arms, charge doctors' fees for seminars and horrendous payments for articles. It's the old American 'ethic'-note the sarcastic quotes- of getting rich quick- a so called ethic that's rammed down our throats night as day as 'The American Way.' I see nothing wrong in making money so as to live more comfortably and be free from want. But to make it for the mere sake of having it is not for me. You can only wear one suit of clothes at a time, can only eat one meal and this greed for cash shocks me.

As an example of how the modern bunch thinks and how little they know of the people and about the people to whom they are indebted more than they know, let me quote you what happened the other day. One of a bunch of young students were up in the Collection the other day doing some research for term papers. One of them held up an eight by ten glossy to me and asked, 'Who's this Mr. Smith?' I replied, 'Marvin Eder.' 'Oh, she said, 'just another one of those bodybuilders'. Words failed me. I seriously thought of going out and becoming a hatchet murderer. The tragedy of it is that in their ignorance of the past, these kids are robbing their future.

[re Hise] He was the first man who clearly saw that in order to gain weight and great power, one had to exercise the largest muscle groups of the body. In other words he reversed the dictum that as Klein put it 'Train for shape and strength will follow'. He saw that the reverse was true. That one should get strength first and THEN train for shape and that is what ALL the moderns do.

I am not at all surprised with what you have told me about XXX. I have always believed him to be a slimy bastard with a whore's mentality, a whore's greed, and a whore's outlook on life. Grimek will also tell you that they had to pull Jake Hitchens off him when XXX, who was sitting next to Jake's wife, held up his arm and said to her, 'Smell my arm pit. Ain't it sexy?' Hitchens was going to kill him.

To me XXX had it all and how anyone could say that Grimek was better than he I don't know.

As for XXX asking to be paid for his appearance at the Honors award, that is typical of that asshole. An indication of the amount of brains with which he is encumbered. Anyone with an ounce of sense would realize that not even the Oscar, Emmy, or Tony awards ask for, not do they receive or would receive payment for stepping up and receiving an honor.

Down a few for me at Xmas and the best to you and yours, Chas

And so ends our chronology for the year. Hopefully, by using the search function here at your friendly ironhistory hangout you will be able to find some info on major figures in the sport as well as find some references to read more about them or their lifts- the latter requiring access to some rare materials, but at least the references are here whenever they can be used.

In 2003, we will be examining some of the greats in more detail, and our focus will include little or no chronology, though I may include some repetition just so an honorable nod and a tip of the hat to our great forefathers can be offered.

We will begin where all true tales of oldetime strength begin, with Louis Uni, aka Apollon. Frankly, we have not decided what schedule to be on. So it may be that this effort appears in shorter installments several times per month, or longer installments less frequently. Whatever my time allows, so no longer look for the first and third Friday frequency. Instead, check the News column of cyberpump for new ironhistory issues. If we decide upon a regular frequency it will be announced, but my schedule for January and February is unsettled right now.

Here's hoping this holiday season surrounds you with peace and good health!