Friday, April 24, 2009

Charles (Vansittart) Vansart - The Man with the Iron Grip

Once a part of Georg Hackenschmidt's "Troupe" of performers, Vansart is thought to be the undeniable champion of grip strength by most Strongman historians.

Probably the most famous feat Charles performed in front of witnesses was when he challenged, and defeated the brutish strongman Cyclops in a closely contested test of grip strength. After easily matching everything Cyclops pulled out of his bag of tricks, Vansart produced a newly purchased tennis ball and tossed it to his opponent that evening. Cyclops, confused, struggled with the ball to no avail. Charles then took the ball and crushed it using only his fingers and palms. It was said that Cyclops was initially very silent, but once it sunk it that he had been defeated by the true master of grip strength he became very humble and congratulated Vansart on his victory.

Bending was another specialty of Charles', and he was able to crush an old school railroad tie with relative ease (and it was said that he did not aide the bend by using his thighs as most modern day "benders" do)

I'm sorthing though more info on Vansart, and will try to have more facts regarding his feats, as well as his measurements up here soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Petr (Pyotr, Peter, Petr, Петр Крылов) Krylov - The King of Kettlebells

Known for his incredible crucifix lifts, Krylov was nicknamed "The King of Kettlebells". Although only 5'7" Petr was able to handle weights usually reserved by the larger, heavier strongmen.

I am working on breaking down all of the facts regarding his life and exact lift poundages. I should have them all up here very soon.

Height: 5'7"
Weight - 194 lbs
Chest - 48"
Biceps - 18"
Neck - 19"
Forearm - 14"
Thigh - 26"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gustav (Gus, Gusta, Gustav Frištenský) Fristensky

Gustav Fristensky 1879 – 1957

"Gustav was born May 7, 1879 in Kamhajek, Bohemia (part of the modern day Czech Republic) and was apparently very sick at the age of one, as was typical of many infants in those days. He was taken care of by village healers and had a hard life in childhood. His father took over the grandparent's farm, so being the oldest son (he had 6 younger siblings, he had to help with the farm work whenever his father had to be away, travelling to town or during the harvest. Sometimes he even had to skip school entirely, but the schoolmaster understood. The stronger the young Gustav (called Gusta) became, the more frequently he missed school. When he was 14, the family started thinking of his future as the farm work could now also be done by his younger brother Karel, the second son of the family. It was decided that Gustav should learn some trade. Nobody asked young Gustav. His parents decided he would become a blacksmith. This seemed natural, since one of the familiar faces at family get-togethers was Mr. Semerad, a blacksmith from Krechor. But eventually he went to apprentice in Kolin to a Mr. Jech on Sokolska Street. Early in his apprenticeship, he had an accident and severely burned his hand. He went home for three months. During that time, he assisted a local butcher bringing him cattle purchased from Gustav's father. As his hand healed, he became hesitant to return to the harsh conditions at the blacksmith's shop, and he decided to become a butcher's apprentice instead, which to him was a more promising trade.

Eventually, he completed his apprenticeship and it was decided that he would then move away from home to gain some experience. He moved to Brno, and became interested in various sports clubs in Sokol, eventually taking up the sport of weightlifting in his free time. Gustav visited the town of Vyskov, where there was an exhibition and on that occasion found several wrestling matches scheduled. He entered and won the first prize in his competition. Further trips to sporting events followed shortly. He defeated wrestlers from various Prague and German clubs in Brno. He then won the championship of Austria defeating all Viennese wrestlers. His ambition was fulfilled when he had been paired in matches with foreign wrestlers in the European Championship at Rotterdam in Holland. Gustav was very powerful and could do the continental press with 308 lb with his strength, he grew an impressive physique. He was to win a World Physique Championship in 1903 at 6 foot tall and weighing 220 lbs. with extremely low body fat. Gustav was one of the best built of the Victorian bodybuilders and his physique would be remarkable even today. He possessed near perfect genetics for bodybuilding.

He eventually married Miroslava Ellederova, who was the daughter of a prosperous brewer and was famous as a singer in her own right. They had no children. Gustav had served in the artillery during the Great War, and was so famous as an athlete at that time; the new president gave him property in Litovel, in what is now the Czech Republic. He was prosperous throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Unfortunately, like so many others, Gustav was sent to a German concentration camp during much of WW II. He had suffered in health, but due to his being in such good health beforehand, was later able to regain his strength after the war and died on April 4th 1957 at the age of 78. There is a statue of this great champion in a Prague museum with the title written beneath as "Mr. Czechoslovakia" and many of his medals are also displayed there .

Gusta trained by using 40 to 70 % of his single lift best for 50 to 75 repetitions. This obviously built an impressive physique, and irregardless of what most people think ... this is the way to hard, well defined muscles without having to resort to steroid use.
  • He stood 6' and weighed between 220 and 230 lbs
  • Performed the continental press with 308 lbs
  • World Physique Champion in 1903

Story taken from a natural bodybuilding forum, and verified by my research on the internet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oskar (Oscar) Wahlund - Sweden's "Naturally Strongest" Man

There is quite a lot of debate in Sweden between the purists and the "roid friendly" strongmen communities regarding just whom is/was Sweden's Strongest Man.
Of course natural strength is always much more impressive than chemically altered "strength" so my vote definitely goes to Oskar Wahlund.
I am still uncovering all of his lifts, feats, etc... but once I have them all collected I will be adding them to this post.
I wanted to go ahead and place him up here though, as the natural athletes deserve so much more attention that they've been getting in the modern times.

I will continue to add relatively unknown/overlooked strongmen to this blog and add more info on them as my free time allows.

Viktor Solovev (Виктор Соловьев) - Talented Wrestler and Strongman

This naturally forged gentleman is Viktor Solovev. Besides being a very powerful strongman he was also one of the top wrestlers of his time. I am working on translating his feats from Russian and it should be complete very soon.

Height - 6'1"
Weight - 200 lbs
Chest with the inhalation - 50"
Biceps - 18"
Neck - 19"
Thigh - 27"
Shin - 18"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Max Milian - Yet Another Overlooked and Underrated Strong Man.

Max is a very unique, and impressive Strongman from every aspect of the term. He was immensely strong, and actually juggled very heavy weights while descending from a chair.

I'm having an extremely difficult time locating solid info on Max, but I wanted to place him up early simply because he deserves the attention that he's currently lacking.

Note: If there's anyone out there with more pictures, and or facts regarding his measurements and lifts ... then please contact me and I'd love to post them on my blog for all to see.

Karl (Carl) Busch - The Underrated Strong Man

If you do a google search on strong men then you'll most definitely run into plenty of stories and images on Sandow, Saxon, The Russian Lion - George Hackenschmidt, and possibly even Jack LaLanne as he often performed feats of strength that could easily label him as a vintage strong man as well.

There are quite a few very nearly unsung heroes of iron though, and I would place Karl Busch very high on that list of sometimes overlooked masters of iron.

Karl was not only a very strong man but he was also an exceptional wrestler that once took on the likes of Frank Gotch (this match ended in a draw and was contested under the greco roman style). It was noted that Busch gave up 30 lbs of weight and was yet still able to hold one of the most accomplished wrestlers of that time to a draw, that's definitely an impressive feat in itself.

Here's a slightly cleaned up photo of Karl performing a "Two-Hands Anyhow" lift around the year 1900, possibly 1901. He also executed a "Bent Press" of 250 lbs at a bodyweight of 175 lbs. Now while I understand that many of the "strong man lifts" were more about leverage and timing it's still darn impressive to me that he was able to move weights that far above his own bodyweight.

There's not a lot of info regarding Karl out there, but I'm still digging and will glady add anything more that I might be able to find on here in the future.