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.


  1. Drew,

    Good article, good picture, but I am confused by the second to last paragraph. You wrote:

    After the Great War of 1914 – 1918, the world changed. Women were given the vote and started to stand for elections and the men started to realise that after the slaughter on the fields of France perhaps they should celebrate life and not destroy it, “Mack Sick” demonstrated this wonderfully"

    What does that have to do with Gustav?

  2. according to the wrestling physical conditioning encyclopidia he would also supplement his workout with 50-75 reps of overhead squats in 1 set. now thats some killer endurance