According to him, big biceps are not always an indicator of strength, just as a big belly does not talk about good digestion. The main thing is strength is will, strong tendons and ability to control your muscles. Amazing Samson monument in Orenburg, Russia. Soon his family moved to Saransk. Once, his father took Alexander with him to the circus. The boy looked with admiration at the riders, acrobats, and trained dogs. But especially he liked the mighty strongman, breaking the chains, and bending the horseshoe. At the end of his speech, the artist, traditionally turned to the public, inviting those wishing to repeat some of his tricks.
Several brave men went out to the arena, but none of them could neither bend the horseshoe nor tear off the ball bar with a very thick neck. Under the laughter of the spectators, the brave ones returned to their seats. There were no more people. Alexander knew that his father was very strong. Sometimes he showed his strength to the guests.
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And so, the strong man handed his father a horseshoe. And to the surprise of the audience and the athlete himself, the horseshoe in the hands of Father Alexander began to unbend. The audience applauded, shouted Bravo! Since then, Alexander fell ill with a circus. In the backyard of the house, with the help of adults, he set two horizontal bars, hung up a trapezoid, got hold of household weights, and made a self-made primitive bar. And so, little Alexander with incredible tenacity began to train. The passing of Oscard saw an Englishman named Somerton brought into the show, and that he was a very Hrong fellow may be taken for granted, otherwise the Saxons would not have had any use for him.
Some time after Somerton left, he challenged Inch under the pseudonym of "Loco," but although reams of paper were covered with pen tracery, the men never ,met, as Inch insisted on lifts at which he was specially good, Loco naturally doing the same. Then Arno moved out, his place being filled by Herman Hennig, Arthur's brother, then but a youth of seventeen years.
Amazing! - Samson's Village
But what a youth! Handsome features, a beautiful head' of hair, a figure moulded on classic lines, he looked like a Greek god come to earth. He, like Launceston Elliott, could always have made a living in the fuong'man business by relying on his looks alone, but be was a true brother of Arthur, preferring to lift rather than to pose.
Weighing 12 stone only, I have seen him do lbs. This, by the way, was at the old " Standard," now known as the ViB:oria Palace, a hall where Strong shows always paid well for booking owing to its proximity to military barracks, some of the befi lifters and 5I:rongefi men of that day being found in the Army. This was Kurt; and with his inclusion, the combination was made stronger than ever, for, before long, he proved himself every bit as good as Herman.
For quite a while they continued together, these three brothers, then Herman left the fold and toured the halls in a solo. During this time, the services of Adolf Berg were again requisitioned. But when Arthur decided to put on his laSt and greateSt aCt, he recognised the value of Herman's company.
So the prodigal returned, and Adolf finally left this muscular triumvirate to harrow a lonely furrow. Constituted thus, the Arthur Saxon Trio-the name they went by now-toured the world, demonstrating to all and sundry their truly superhuman powers. With Wirth's. Circus they toured India and South Africawhere the champion wrestlers had to strike their flag to Arthur all the Saxons were good wrestlers, it is of interest to record , whilst America made their acquaintance through the agency of Ringling's Circus.
In his journey round this country, Arthur was continually confronted with requests to prove his extraordinary ability in one hand lifting, which he did in the following interesting way. Wherever the trio was billed to appear, the weight-lifters of that neighbourhood would be invited to bring along their own weights for him to lift with one hand-providing that they did not weigh more than lbs. This settled them I - His first official record on the Bent Press in England was made on April Sth, , at" the South London Music Hall, the feat being accomplished at a special matinee performance, the weight of the bell lifted being exactly lbs, Later, he broke this record with a lift of 33Si lbs, at the same hall.
This, by the way, was his greatest official performance on this lift in this country, although he came within an ace of succeeding with lbs. Prior to that, he had on December r zth, lifted the enormous weight of lbs. And from what I know of the business, it is likely to remain the record for a long time yet.
Without wishing to introduce too many technicalities into my Story, it is only fair to Saxon to say that his failure at the N. Otherwise, in my opinion-and I am not alone in holding that opinion-the result would have been different. The bar of the bell in question was no more than I inch in diameter, whereas that of the bell with which he performed most of his big lifts was no less than 3 inches in diameter.
Again, the bell used by Saxon at the N. These faaors contributed very largely to his failure, although he made no excuses. Six times he pressed the bell to arm's length, only to have itroU out of his fingers as he endeavoured to Stand erect beneath it. The thin shaft cut deeply into his hand, and it was 'evident that.
Try as he might And 50 Arthur Saxon's wonderful lift of lbs. Unofficially, however, he improved even on this, several times-once notably at Apollo's School, then situated in: Little Newport Street, W. Witnesses of this feat were W. The latter, a whole-hearted admirer of the great Arthur, will subscribe his name any time. It happened this way J Arthur had been out all day in convivial company. Starting about 10 a. And during the course of conversation, Mr. Bankier, evidently curious, and presumably uninformed, inquired whether it was really true that Arthur had ever lifted lbs.
Dumb-bells, ring-weights, all were pressed into service and affixed by cord to a barbell, which Arthur, to the spectators' undisguised dismay, announced his intention of lifting. But Arthur was not disconcerted overmuch on this point. He removed his cap and coat, and with two hands raised this extraordinary barbell to his shoulders. Arthur did not drop the bell, however. He swung it round into position, and was pressing it to arm's length, when a knot loosened, and the 56 lb. Arthur lowered the weight, removed his collar and tie, re-fastened the knot, and went at the lift again.
This time a kettle-we-ight labelled 60 lbs, swung loose at the back end and crashed against his occiput, Arthur said" a few words, lowered the. Up again to the shoulder the bar-bell was taken, when the 60 lbs, kettle-bell came untied. This dropped off, the weight passed out of control, but the three spectators, springing forward as one man, upset Saxon on the wrestling mat and saved the flooring. Incidentally, they each collected a few bruises in the process. Oh, I can tell you, Arthur was annoyed! There were but vestiges of skin left between his right forefinger and thumb.
But he took no notice of this; he was out to conquer that weight, or die in the attempt. That weight had positively got to go up. And at the fourth or fifth attempt the spectators were far too nervous to" keep count , Arthur's arm straightened, his body grew erect, and the colossal mass of iron had been mastered, A small weight previously attached had fallen off-not the 60 lbs, kettle-bell, which had been re-affixed-but on that score Arthur did not worry.
The authenticity of this performance rests solely on the testimony of Messrs. Bankier, Klein and Murray, any of whom would take great pleasure, no doubt, in denying that they were present, if only-able to reconcile the statement with their consciences. Now, although myself a member of a fraternity notoriously sceptical so far as the feats of some others are concerned, I 'personally would be the last to doubt any feat with which Arthur Saxon was credited. For, with my own eyes, I have seen him perform many feats equally as remarkable.
In his atl:, he used to support anything from twelve to eighteen men on his feet, seated on a long, Stout ash plank; and the heavier the men were, the better he seemed to like it, As if this' were not enough, he would then bring from behind his head a barbell weighing lbs.
The total poundage of this feat used to run into figures well over a ton-and he did it many hundreds of times. In the manner in which he displayed his- superhuman Strength, the redoubtable Arthur was extremely versatile; juggling, balancing, supporting, as well as actual lifting feats, at each and all of these he shone. As an example of the former, it may be mentioned that the Saxon Trio opened their act by spinning and twirling kettle-bells in a very spectacular way.
The weight of the kettle-bell used by A rth u r was I 19 lbs. The example spreading, several others then had a shot, and two more were successful. In view of this, it certainly seemed that the Saxon Trio would not.. The Saxons, apparently blissfully unconscious of the State of penury to which very shortly they would be reduced, went through their act without a "hitch, and then the announcement was made from the stage that the competition would take place.
The suspicion of a smile seemed to lurk round Arthur's mouth as Adolf made his speech, and there certainly was a twinkle in his eye. Meanwhile, competitors were making their way towards the Stage, encouraging cries greeting them from all parts of the house. Arthur's giant barbell was placed in the centre of the Stage. Up-ending it, the champion grasped it firmly in the middle and, taking it easily to the shoulder, pressed it Steadily aloft to arm's length overhead.
He then transferred it into the grasp of both hands and replaced it gently on the ground. The competitors, now minus coats and waistcoats, and with sleeves rolled up to the fullest: extent, then came forward. But, Strange to say, not one of them succeeded in lifting the bell as much as half an inch from the ground. Y ou see, the bell was now loaded, weighing at least lbs. When it reposed outside the hall in the morning, it was empty, its weight being slightly less than half those figures.
Yes, the Saxons knew how to advertise! I have previously spoken of Arthur Saxon's versatility! Many believe, I know, that he was a one hand lifter pure and simple, but such is not the case. So far as his ability in lifting a bar-bell with two hands is concerned, I would not commit myself definitely, but I can truthfully say that I have seen him take two square half-cwts.
Again, I have seen him put a sack of Rour overhead with two hands, aSlory which I will tell later. So far as carrying was concerned, Arthur had little to fear by a comparison between himself and Milo of Croton. I haveseen him place a lbs, bar-bell across his shoulders, on which Herman was seated by Kurt. Eight men were then invited to hang on to the bar-bell four each side , which they did, to be carried from one end of the stage to the other and back again with no sign of really Strenuous effort.
Occasionally, he would vary this procedure by swinging the men round and round, much to their ultimate discomfiture. For upon slowingup, the men were dizzy; and their efforts to walk Straight from off the stage after having been replaced on terra firma never failed to provide a fund of merriment for the audience. This sack weighed lbs. Throughout their long sojourn in this country, no one ever succeeded in accomplishing this feat. Impossible of achievement as the lifting of this pinticular sack proved, it was, nevertheless, but one of their court cards.
The ace they kept up their sleeve in view of possible eventualities. Extremely careful men were the Saxons when it came to the phrasing of competition conditions, very little being left to chance. Their significance will be seen shortly. The Saxon Trio, billed to appear at the Camberwell Palace of Varieties it was their second visit to this hall , were getting their weighty "props" in on the Sunday morning preceding the Monday opening of their show, when their baggage man, one William Slade, himself a very strong man for his weight, proceeded to give Arthur some well-intentioned advice concerning the advisability-or, rather non-advisability-of displaying the sack competition poster in this particular neighbourhood.
Slade was a native of Camberwell, and had good reason to know the capabilities of some of the strong men resident there-of which, at this time, there were quite. He also knew that this man had signified his intention of entering as a competitor. And so positive was Slade that this prodigy was not overrated, that he advised Arthur to have the competition bills blotted out. Arthur smiled. It says nothing about lifting the sack on to the shoulders, nor does it say the sack to be lifted is the one that Herman uses.
We, too, have heard of this man; and if he can lift the sack we shall have in readiness to-morrow as I, not Herman, lift it, then all I can say is that he is waSting his time working at a Hour faaory. Bring our emergency sack, Herman! This was quite an innocent looking affair, at first glance, but it was full of surprises to those in the know.
Neither round, nor oblong, nor square, but a cross between - all three, it presented no taking-hold surface. And, on top of that, it was very slippery, having been liberally treated with French chalk. As if this were not enough to make it almost impossible to lift, it had a S6lbs. He could do nothing. Arthur then removed his coat. Straddling the sack, he bent down and placed his arms around it, interlacing his fingers. What hands he had, by the way: simply prodigious. Then, lifting sheer, he raised the sack from the fioor on to his knees.
A heave, and it was resting on his chest, from whence' he "jumped" it until it laid lengthwise, with his hands beneath it, at the shoulders. One supreme effort, and it was-half pushed, half jerked-at arms' length overhead. We stood spellbound. Eventually Slade found his tongue. Monday nighrcame, and with it a host of competitors, among them the giant whose reputation had preceded him. Undoubtedly an extremely powerful man, he nevertheless failed to raise the ordinary sack as high as his knees, so, therefore, was spared the shock which he would have received had he been introduced to the emergency sack.
The competition, as a matter of faa, was won by Slade himself, who had a unique method of dealing with this particular problem, as I will now proceed to describe. Slade would seat himself on the Stage with the- sack between his legs, pull it over on to his chest and push it up therefrom until it rested on his knees, which he would draw up after pulling the sack over.
Then, retaining its balance with one hand, he would use the other to assist himself to rise, after which he would clasp it with both arms and "jump" it up on to his chest, M'any others, after watching Slade perform, endeavoured to employ this method, but when the sack came over, more often than not it completely flattened them out. Their efforts to free themselves used to amuse the spectators immensely. Luckily, however, the Saxons were always on hand to help; otherwise, the hospitals and undertakers might have had some additional work found for them.
Arthur used to demonstrate how really easy it was to lift the barrel, which weighed lbs. Noone ever succeeded in lifting this barrel higher than the shoulders, although many expressed themselves confident of drinking what it was supposed to contain. I think, however, that they would have had to travel some considerable distance to approach the Saxons even in. For, as has already been hinted, the Saxons were no Pussyfoots. They were recklessly brave men, the Saxon Trio! One of their feats, staged for the first time at Hengler's Circus-on the site of which the Palladium Music Hall now stands:.
They had an immense wooden bridge vconstructcd, which ran across the circus from one entrance to the other, weighing, it was ascertained, just over 2 tons. Underneath the middle of the bridge were placed two cushiond rests. Whilst reclining on their backs, the Saxons would bring their legs up at right angles to their bodies, and placing their feet beneath the centre of the structure, lift it dear of its supports by straightening their legs.
The car would then pursue its journey over the bridge, down the decline,. It was both a colossal and terrifying feat, and had to be seen to be believed. Performing this feat at Brussels, with twelve men piled on to the motor, the car swerved and left the channelled bridge, which collapsed sideways, and the pillars went to hospital. The total weight supported by Arthur and Kurt on this occasion was juSt over 6, lbs, Everyone thought they were killed, but although pretty badly mangled, they escaped with their lives. Kurt was pinned by an iron bolt through the leg to one of the timbers, and Arthur had several bones broken.
This mishap, however, failed to quench Arthur's indomitable spirit; and when he eventually recovered, he decided to repeat the feat, although to do so it was necessary to press Herman into service. Kurt had no further use for what used to be very appropriately described as " Brooklands on Four Legs. Acclaimed the strongest man in the world of that day, his many astounding feats left no other option but to accredit him indeed the most worthy of all claimants for that proud distinction. Sic transit. His feats were so remarkable that the others who sought public fame had to fall back on showmanship rather than on records to establish renown of any kind.
But whilst Arthur Saxon was in the field they had, perforce, to refrain from inviting comparison. Some of them did not pose specially as weight-lifters, although it is fairly safe to presume that they had developed their physical powers and muscularity by such means. And little doubt exists but that, despite the handicap of Saxon's presence, they could have won fairly enduring fame at the sport, if the public had been educated in those days to the institution of proportionate comparisons.
Oscard and Albert Attilla, better known as the Attilla Brothers, were notable examples. Oscard, who, it wiU be remembered, was associated with the formation of the firSt Saxon Trio, was a wonderfully Strong man at double-handed lifting, and on this he used to specialise. But Albert's speciality was the Bent Press. In this Style he used to lift a most formidable looking bar-bell weighing about lbs.
Together, they used to give a very polished and spectacular show, and the competitions which they held wherever they went were eagerly anticipated by certain individuals, who regarded this feature of the strong shows of that day as heaven-sent opportunities for adding to their income. More will be said about the Attilla Brothers later. He had, and possibly still has, one grievance with fate. Though , comparatively a small man physically, he repeatedly challenged the great Eugen Sandow to a tes] of Strength, this to be decided by weight-lifting pure and simple, or by any other tests to be agreed between them.
But if he failed in his one great ambition-which was to prove that" Bonnie Scotland" could breed equally as Strong men as any hailing from foreign shores-William Bankier did, at least, succeed in making many acquainted with new and possible applications of Strength. Apollo, who possessed a superb development, gave a show which the public liked. Opening, he posed after classical statuary, then went on to display the Strength which his development indicated.
One or two feats with billiard cues usually formed the lead up to the more imposing ftuff, among which was a one hand lift overhead of a man clad in a suit of armour, after which Apollo used to jump clean over the back of a chair, holding in each hand a bs. This feat always got a good round of applause. The Scotsman then used to place himself beneath a large platform, which he supported across his knees and shoulders, his head appearing through a specially cut opening, his arms and legs forming the four pillars of support.
Upon this platform, by the united efforts of some seven or eight men, a grand piano would be placed, after which the men would mount the platform, and with one taking his seat at the instrument, a novel concert party would be held for a brief period. I t was a very spectacular feat. His show used to conclude with a sack of flour competition, as for several years did that of the Saxon Trio. Apollo'S competition, however, was run on different lines, for whilst the famous brothers stipulated that their sack should be lifted and carried off the ftage " body erect," the men who made a bid for Apollo's prize money were compelled to lie face down on the stage, pull the sack over on to their back, then rise and carry it off.
When Apollo went to India, however, it was quite a different matter. The mysteries of leverage and Strength application ceased to be mysteries in the Orient several generations ago, and I have heard it said that when Apollo invited Hindooand Mussulmanftrong men to cope with the feat, he found far more successful competitors than he had encountered in this country.
This was really a great performance. The, sack would be dropped on him from a height, and Apollo would catch it, without being crushed by the falling weight. I t was a novel and daring innovation. He also Staged another feat which was very spectacular, This brought in a motor-car. Lying on the ground, Apollo would endure the passage of a motor-car, loaded with men, across his neck. There was no trick about this feat, which admits of simple explanation. He resifted the passing weight by the concentrated Hexion of his neck muscles, there being very little doubt that he picked up quite a few wrinkles in this connection from his association with the Japanese jiu-jitsu wrestlers, who used to make quite a feature of their strength of neck as a prelude to the serious business of their show.
Apollo, some may remember, at one time managed Yukio Tani. This clever Japanese exponent used to allow six men to bear down with all their might on a Sl:out bamboo pole placed across his throat whilst he laid on his back on the ground. After sustaining this pressure for an appreciable length of time, Tani would adroitly free himself by a turn of the neck and a somersault.
The herculean business, it seemed, had been exploited pretty thoroughly. This was Bert Wickham, a man of many parts-also a man of many sweaters. Wickham had one forerunner, a painfully thin-limbed Austrian, who passed by the name of Herr Georg Lettl,a man who prattled of his electric energy and 'who professed to be, more or less, supernaturally gifted. Anyway, for a ,Start, he Stopped motor-cars in transiton the Stage. Yes, he actually did this. But these, I have always understood, were exceptionally light in the rear, thus enabling him to lift them clear of the ground, so that, when the engines were thrown into gear, the" back wheels failed to grip the floor.
This manoeuvre, of course, was not perceptible to the audience. Letrl, who made a feature of displaying a. In the end he disappeared, without any public exposure.
But not before he had collected considerable largesse as a reward for his ingenuity; and presumably indulged in many full-sized laughs at the expense of the great British public. One has to hand it to Wickham! No man in this line of business ever secured so much free publicity, and no single one ever made such prolific and profitable use thereof. He appeared initially somewhere in Wales, I believe, but it was at Hengler's Circus that Londoners firSt saw his show.
He claimed to be able to pull up motor-cars in full career, and in his att, apparently, he did. Cross-examined in his dressing-room one night on this feat, out of the interlocution grew an episode fantastic in the extreme. Three or four.. Here the group halted, Still discussing his more or less miraculous powers.
And like lightning came the answer. His case was proved!
All the evening papers, and not a few of the more, sober morning dailies, had columns about it. The provincial papers, less careful of the probabilities, told their Staggered readers that Bert Wickham had pulled up an L. They did not trouble about accuracy of detail. Nor did it matter, for Bert Wickham was made. Mattressed in his many sweaters, he toured the country at no small profit to himself.
At this time, wrestling was beginning to be the big noise, so Bert " travelled" several wrestlers, The Star of his troupe he would volunteer to match, for good money deposited, againSt the best that could be found. And as he was usually wise enough, or lucky enough, to pick good men, he would generally manage to stimulate sufficient interest to fill up half an evening's entertainment. Then the great man himself would come on the scene, with motor-car complete. He always" travelled" his own, by the way, and was invariably able to fix up with a local chauffeur who would liSten to reason.
Incidentally, he would tear packs of cards and break horseshoes, the latter of which could only have fitted elephants -moniftrous things, which would be brought up to him amid protests from the spectators. N ext would come Then, finally, Bert's colossal feat of holding back two motor-cars. Chained between the two, Bert--or any M. Then the motor-engines would be started, the spectators would be able thanks to a ray of limelight to observe that Bert's features were horribly contorted owing to the terrific strain, and the miracle would be manifest.
Bert would strain, and continue to Strain; whereupon the cars, despite the protest of their engines, would slowly roli back to him. A great feat I A feat which transcended even the elephant lifting of the mighty Sampson, until one unhappy night at a Lancashire music hall, when something went wrong with the works, the how and why of the going wrong now being due for description. It was a hired chauffeur who played this scurvy trick upon him; played it, too, almost at the Start of a circuit engagement for which he had angled long and most assiduously.
Bert had, as usual, looped around himself the chains from each of his two motor-cars, when the wicked local man, inStead of reversing the secret of this feat , jammed his gear lever into one of the forward speeds and went off the stage, right through the scenery into the wall of the theatre itself, trailing poor Bert himself and his own old "bus" behind. This was, of course, Wickham's finish. It is not right to dispose of Bert so summarily, for he was more than an episode. And with these he would chat until his train commenced to move out. Then, leaping forward, he would grasp the handle of a carriage door and, after conspicuously putting out aU his power in one mighty pull, swing it open and depart, waving adieux, leaving the gaping spectators with the firm conviction that he had aCtually arrested the speed of a locomotive.
Sounds a bit farfetched, writing now, I am prepared to admit. Nevertheless, it is perfeCt1y true. A feat just about as genuine was the one in which the horseshoe figured. On arriving in any town where he was due to appear, Bert would visit the leading blacksmith and order a special horseshoe to be made. The special shoe, it was customary to state, would come up for judgment on the Friday or Saturday.
And, upon inspe8:ion of the shoe when it was made, Wickham would approve so highly of it that he would order a duplicate to be made at once. An extension of the advertisement, he was always careful to point out. Along would come the eventful night, and with it the special horseshoe. Amid a silence.
The locomotive farewell" Stunt," however, prompted one of the best music-hall burlesques ever Staged. After travestying many of Wickham's feats, a huge 'commissionaire would rush on and protest about something ; whereupon Bikkam would clutch this giant and Ring him back into the wings-from whence he would immediately return, to swing backwards and forwards across the stage, manifestly suspended by a wire. The travesty would close with the snorting, ,- puffing entrance of a "property" locomotive, which would be grasped and swung in circles round his head by the Strong man parodiSt.
So although for some time now Bert had gone, by satire his memory was still kept verdant. A showman of equal. After working a while, the sculptor wearied, and concealing his masterpiece behind curtains, Stretched himself at length upon a couch, soon to be ostensibly asleep. The curtains thereupon parted on their own account, revealing the Statue in another classical pose, again refleaed in the mirror.
Then once more they closed, only to re-open and repeat their re-opening to the revelation of ever fresh poses and reflections, until finally the Statue and mirror reflection confronted each other in a famous wrestler's attitude: A pause, and then the mirror fell crashing as the.. This twirl, by the way, was very smartly done. As Frank Ieant back to be supported on Monte's palm, the lifter would interpose a revolving disc on which his brother's back rested, Thus, when Frank had been pressed aloft, it enabled Monte to spin him.
At this junelure, the sculptor would commence to stir, whereupon both statue and "refletl:ion" would leap back and resuming their original poses, thus satisfy the now awakened chiseller of marble that all which had transpired was afrually nothing but a dream. Monte Saldo was one of the very few men who have enhanced a reputation made on the fuge. First, that of Ben Hur, who in private life, Dick. Solomon fell back on the panoplied trappings of Ancient Rome to provide an impressive Stage setting.
A fairly hefty chap, his principal feat was to carry a sack of sand weighing lbs, off the Stage in the same way as did Apollo. His best overhead lift, though, was a 90 lbs, dumb-bell in each hand. Amateurs half the size of this performer can do this lift to-day. The Atlas and Vulcana troupe put on an excellent show, but where the poundage of their weights was concerned, they travelled a long distance from faa. Charming ladies used to perform a few light exercises with a pair of " I I 2 lbs," ring-weights,finishing by holding them' out at right angles to the body, while the male members of the troupe used to juggle with them in such a disdainful manner as would have made Paul Cinquevalli hide his head in shame.
They enjoyed a very successful run for some years, though, until, one week, they, visited Camberwell-at which place they underwent a rather humiliating experience, and learned, an obviously-much-needed lesson. Bertisch was another strong man whose conscience never kept him awake at night. One of his great feats was to toss ,. Take Ibs. Then there was Lionel Srrongfort, who put on one of the best shows ever seen in London. A wonderful showman, and a most imposing figure of a man, he drew big houses until little Albert Attilla.
An interesting happening, this, you would no doubt like to hear the full Sl:ory. Lionel Strongfort-previously known as Max Unger-was challenging the world at one hand lifting, apparently quite regardless of the dire consequences to himself that such a daring challenge would bring in its train. Strongfort, however, saw fit to disregard the warning, asserting that Albert Attilla was not.
And, cheerful optimist that he was,l;te carried on. Half way through the week, Attilla, who had been ,. Ultimately, his number appeared, and the firSt act of the drama was Staged.. Strongfort, firSt of all, gave quite a good exhibition of muscular posing, following this with a number of interesting feats of strength, after which came the challenge directed to any man in the world to lift his ponderous looking bar-bell, this being rolled slowly forward to the centre of the Stage. The bar-bell, it was said, weighed 3 12 Ibs.
The challenge delivered, up on to the stage stepped Attilla, curious to see what the weight of this bell really was. For that it really weighed 1bs. He knew, as well as anyone else, that rheonly man capable of lifting such a weight overhead with one hand was the redoubtable Arthur Saxon. His own capabilities ranged somewhere. To use his own words: "It. S 71 so over 19b. Aloft he held it for a few moments, then lowered ,and replaced it.
But AttiUa was not having any. He was an old stage-performer himself, and - he knew the game. Still Attilla refused to budge. At last, the. So finished Lionel Strongfort's attempt to issue challenges in what was at that time practically the centre of the weight-lifting world with a bar-bell not up to a weight to warrant such a sweeping deft.
Now for the sequel! The next morning, Attilla was in the sanctum of the Editor of the Sporting Life, giving that worthy details of the affair, when who should come hastening up the stairs but Tom Inch, with the news that he had Arthur Saxon downstairs, straight from Manchester , further, that. Up came the Saxon Trio's leader, as bidden, practically to explode when the i information was passed on to him. Checkmated as was Strongfort by Attilla, he could, in my opinion, yet consider himself a lucky man, for it was only the faCt that Saxon came a day too late that prevented a juggling exhibition being given with what he was pleased to describe as a challenge bar-bell.
Quite recently, I may add, Strongfort has Slated that the. These were, however, Strictly amateur events. That this supposition was erroneous was demonstrated when Thomas Inch, of Scarborough, who had made a Study of weight-lifting, came out into the open at the end of and challenged for the world's middle-weight weight-lifting championship. This looked to be a very bold bid, since at that time it was generally believed that weight-lifting was a sport which the Continental athletes had made their very own, and consequently it would be as idle for Britishers to dispute their preeminence as it would be for Continentals to challenge English and Australian supremacy at cricket.
Again, Inch was more or less an unknown quantity. An authority on matters physical, maybe! But could he lift? That remained to be seen. The challenge remained unanswered for several months. No Englishman seemed likely to accept. House, the middleweight amateur champion, apparently was not inclined to relinquish his amateur Sl:atus; Pevier and Elliott, amateurs also, could not do the weight. And it appeared that on the Continent the challenge had not been noted. Then, just as it seemed that nothing would materialise from Inch's deji, two acceptors turned up, Sl:range to say, praCtically simultaneously.
Maurice Deriaz, the Swiss middleweight lifter equally famous as 3: wrestler and artists' model , came over, only to be informed that he was too late, as W. The match was brought off at the old German Gym. It marked the break between the old and new S! Caswell the' now obsolete shot-loaded type. There was no. True, this had, at firS1:,a dual identity, being. Still, a Start towards transforming chaos into some semblance of order had been made. The necessary sorting-out process followed later. This match was. When Sandow met Sampson, the tests set by the latter followed no precedent, being selected at Sampson's whim.
Sandow and McCann certainly" lifted," but under. The Inch-Caswell match, however,was decided by six lifts, conditions governing the execution of which were more or less universally accepted. But he achieved his greatest ambition, for he won the match by a. So, for the first time since Elliott's victory at Athens, Great Britain had a man holding a world's weight-lifting championship title. Inch, whose business as an inStruC:l:or had; by this time, grown to mammoth propardons, expressed his readiness to defend his title, but made conditions-and supplied an explanation.
ASton, whose ambitions were only equalled by his confidence in his ability, accepted the terms, and made the attempt at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, then the venue of a new series of world's weight-lifting championships. But he failed ,j and them, for a short time, retired from notice. Some moSt interesting -developments followed!
A remarkable German lifter, who claimed the Continental middleweight championship, arrived in England. He was a Bavarian, named M;lX Sick later. That is to say, he could control the action of any muscle, or group of muscles, at will, He was unquestionably a phenomenon, and had come to London, so it was announced, to challenge Inch for his world's middleweight title.
This challenge hit Inch at an even more inopportune moment than ASton'-s had done. A most successful man, he was busier than ever, whilSt his weight had gone. His profession of physical culture teacher was making such claims on his attention that to find time in which to train would have proved a matter of extreme difficulty, And, again, there was the question of making weight.
Inch, obviously, was on the horns of a dilemma. But the conqueror of Caswell was ingenious. He suspected, and -probably not without good reason, that there was a little more behind the arrival of Sick than would seem evident to the eye of casual observation. So again he played a good card. He would, he said, be prepared to train down to weight and meet Max Sick, provided the phenomenal Bavarian would firSl: meet and defeat Edward Aston. The opposition had apparently forgotten ASton j Of, if they remembered him, presumably reckoned him to be of but little account.
Be that as it may, they agreed to the qualifying teSt. In the early S'lages of the match, Sick, who was putting up some remarkable poundages for a man of 10 st. Whereupon Inch, looking facts squarely in the face, resigned his middleweight title in Aston's favour, and conjectured that the Sick campaign had met with defeat. A8:ually it had, although the other side had by no means exhausted its ammunition.
Another match followed, in which these two wonderful lifters were again the contesting parties. Sick was leading at the termination of the match, but this proved nothing, as neither man had completed a total on the full set of lifts chosen, these being eight in number. PractIcaUy six months passed by before further weightlifting hinory was made, Inch and Afton meeting this time to decide the vexed question as to who better possessed the right to hold the ti tie of" Britain's Strongeft Man.
To Monte Saldo the winner gave the' credit for his superb physical condition, and there is little doubt but what this credit was correctly apportioned. I have mentioned earlier that Saldo was a trainer of more than ordinary talent, and only a few weeks were to elapse before he followed this triumph with another praC:l:ically as meritorious, piloting Soguel to viC:l:ory in his world's championship match with the celebrated Carquest, In - the' British professional weight-lifting world, Inch and Afion have been, of course, the most outstanding figures.
Their rivalry did much tostimulate a healthy interest in the game, the contributions of Monte Saldo admittedly appreciably assisting, In faC:l:, without Inch,. Aifl:oh, and Saldo, the weight-lifting movement in this country would have been devoid of much of the glamour that it threw out from the year right up to: the outbreak of war. And although all three are now veterans, the example they set is still firong, while the influence they wield yet is considerable. After the Afion-Maxick, Afton-Inch contefis,. This the Association did by holding championship meetings yearafter year until the clash of arms naturally put a Stop to its aCtivities.
It was as a member of this Association that I won fifty gold medals, fourteen national champion- - ships, and broke one hundred and ninety-two world's and British records, the majority of the latter Still S'l:anding to my credit, - despite the determined onslaughts made upon them by many ambitious men. The war. But this proved a superhuman task, and one in which only the amateur body has achieved any material success. Not that their organisation of to-day comes up to the pre-war S'l:andard, for this it most certainly does not. Still, it is functioning-c-and functioning very actively at the time of writing.
Championships are being held, and new record breakers making their appearance, which is something that cannot be said, unfortunately, of the professional weight-lifting fraternity. But whether the tale of success will continue so one-sidedly, of course, remains to be seen. Sincerely, it is to be hoped not! The reason for "the somnolence of' the professional weight-lifter is, without a doubt, the lack of public interest in his abilities so very manifest during the past few years, this, in turn, being due to the vanishing from the music halls, for the same length of time, of the professional strong man who first aroused that interest;' So far as spectacular exhibitions are concerned, there has been no- outSlandingfigure.
Weight-lifters there have" been in thousands--and there are StilI, as I can teStify. But of Stage performers of herculean powers there have been none for many years. N ever, that is, till the beginning of laS! Described as.. The Amazing Samson," this latest arrival has already, during his comparatively brief stay here, caused a revival of physical culture enthusiasm that bids fair to equal, if not outvie, the degree reached during the period covered by my Story. Strange it is how biSl:ory repeats il'seJf!
Always, it seems, it must: be a foreigner who is deftined to wake the Britisher from his lethargic State of mind concerning matters inseparably connected with his own physical welfare. Still, if Alexander Zass SUCCeeds in doing nothing else as a result of his appearance here than this, here is one man at leaSt who will be quite prepared to admit that he has placed us all under a heavy debt of gratitude.
And after you have read what I have to say--things that a sense of fairness alone demands should and must be said-probably you will think the same as I do: that "The Amazing Samson" commences an entirely new chapter in the interesling :ftory of " Strong Men Over the Years. Others have wished to know how they 3. Qrong, upon hearing that I was not alwa,.
My real name, you muft know, il AI!! Tbey haven't said this,. Bue I can think: of no other rcuon. Itl my hmily there were 6ve: two otherbrothen and two siSkm One of my bromcri wu very ncong. One of my -sisters was quite Strong, too, and my father was also a very Strong man; He is Still alive, you will be glad to hear. He is now eighty years old, and can perform feats of Strength although of this great age. A very wonderful man is my father, and so StriB:, too I I am going to tell you more about him now.
My father had charge of five large estates in Russia, where he had gone to live, and I used to work for him, and so did my brothers and sisters. As boys and girls, we spent our lives labouring in the fields, for we were a peasant family. We always had plenty to eat and drink, but all the same we had to work very hard for everything we got.
I did not like this work very much, I will tell you, but as there was nothing else for me to do, I just had to do it all the same. I did not tell my father this, you know, for he would have punished me. Now in Turkestan, which is where these estates were, the climate in summer is very hot, and I do hope you won't be shocked when I tell you that all day long in, the fields we used to work with scarcely any clothes on at all. In this country, I know now that to do this would be thought very Strange. But we did not think so, as it was our custom.
The amazing Samson suite - Picture of Malmaison Belfast
No one; therefore, took any notice. And because our bodies were exposed to the air and sun -which I have noticed you very seldom see here for long-we were always quite well. Also, our skins became harder than is the case when they are always covered up by clothes. I t is not good to wear too many clothes at any time. At least, that is what I think.
The amazing Samson suite - Picture of Malmaison Belfast - TripAdvisor
As soon as I was old enough to be entrusted with the work, my father used to send me long journeys ona horse with rather large sums of money, which I had to deposit in the bank to the credit of the princess who owned the estates, Many tons of corn the land produced; THE AMAZING SAMSON 83 and when this was sold, with other things, the money, had to be sent away. Sometimes my father took it himself. But after he had showed me once what to do, I was left to carry out this work for him. He always seemed to know when the time had come for him to take me on the journey, and he was always very anxious to get away.
So was my dog, a big wolf-hound, who came with me every time. He, too, was very clever, and I used to teach him to do tricks, juSt the same as I used to train my horse to obey signals. Both my horse and dog many things I could get to do without once, having to speak to them. Animals always seemed to understand what I wanted them to do. Later, when with the circus, I was an animal trainer. And because I could teach animals to do tricks, lance got an opportunity to get more to eat when I was a prisoner of war. So my life went on I I t was not a very exciting one, being still made up chiefly of hard work.
I praCtically lived in the saddle, being absent from home for long times very often, as I had to journey from one part of the. I was, now a great help to my father, and he often used to say how sorry he would be when the time came for me to leave him. F or, I muSt tell you here, he had decided that I should receive a technical education that would fit me to become a locomotive driver. Before I could be this, though, you mufi know, I should have to serve as an apprentice in a locomotive engineering works. But I myself had no ambition to become an engine.
Indeed, all over the Continent these circuses travel. So fine the athletes and the animals looked. So ftrongthe men, so beautiful and graceful the women. And so very clever the animals; the bears, the horses, the monkeys and the dogs. So quite unknown to my father, I was thinking of circuses instead of thinking of engines. Of course, if I had said anything which would have made him believe that I did not want to do what he wished, he would have been very cross, so I did not say anything of the kind. He was, as I have told you, very striCt, and would have thrashed me without mercy if I had disobeyed him.
Even if he had thought that I might only be thinking of disobeying him, he would have thrashed me juft the same. And he was indeed a very strong man, was my father j one whose temper it was not wise to arouse. But although I never allowed my father to suspect that circus life seemed more attractive to me than the work of driving an engine, he was to find that this was true in the very near future. I t happened in a curious way, too! One day my father had to journey from Seransk, where we lived, to a town about fifteen miles away, for here a big market was held on certain days of the week for the sale of horses, poultry and cattle.
And at this market my father was to sell a number of horses: Fine animals they were, all bred on the estates, So big, so strong, so healthy looking, they would be sure to fetch many roubles. Early in the morning, then, we Started away, arriving at the market-town some few hours later. Not so very quick could we travel, you mus] understand, for it was rough and hilly country. As my father thought to do; he soon sold the animals, getting for all of them very. So we left our horse and cart-which my father had driven coming to market, I riding one of the horses which were to be sold-at a neighbouring inn and Started off exploring.
Great crowds were waiting to go in, and I asked my father whether" we also should not go. After a little thought, he said" Yes. Now as you do not have in England circuses like we have in Russia and other parts of Europe, I suppose you will not understand how very interesting and exciting are the different performances that are seen in them. So I mufi try and explain a little, so that you will understand, for I think that' you will be very interested to know about them.
Besides, I have to speak of these things soon, in any case, as much of my life is of the circus. So better commence now. Circuses, I must tell you go always travelling, unless they are very big ones having lots of performers and a great number of animals. To work in these is good, for of money and food there is enough to go round, and yet a little bit more.
But with the smaller circuses, of which there are very many, things are different. And as they do not understand why food is not there for them to eat when they feel hungry, they get sullen or ferocious, whatever is their nature. Then it is not good to be an animal trainer.
It is very dangerous. If you do not wish to live very long, then it is all right; but not otherwise With the circuses are many things: acrobats, wrestlers, Sl:rong men, gymnaSls, trapeze workers, clever swordsmen and knife-throwers, wonderful musicians, jugglers and conjurers, equestrian performers, magicians, freaks of nature, funny clowns, and performing animals.
In my time, though, I have seen all these performers under one canvas roof. It is a great life, is the circus, to those who love variety and excitement--and to those who do not mind hard work and short rations. But I mus]; tell you of this circus in the market-town, or I shall be forgetting something that I can see now was really an important event in my life. Also, I think you would like to know about it. Well, we got inside and sat down, and very soon the show commenced. Firs], there was some tumbling and hand-balancing, this being followed by a very clever display of bare-back riding by a little girl who could not have been much older than me.
And I, at this time, you should know, was no more than twelve years old. A wonderful magician then appeared-or so then he seemed to me. I could not believe my eyes, he caused such curious things to happen. The people were afraid of him, I can assure you. Perhaps you do not know, but the peasantry of Russia are very superstitious as well as very religious. They all believe in omens and signs, and anything that they cannot quite understand they will keep away from.
I hope you will not laugh at me for saying this, for you rnus]; not forget that then I was only young, and believed such things could be done. Later, of course, I knew different. But although I had been greatly interested in all I had seen up till now, what came after interested me still more.
A very clever "dog number" followed, which I suppose I ought to tell you means an act on the programme by performing dogs. What the animals did in obedience to orders from their trainer was so astonishing that I marvelled. You will remember, perhaps, that I told you that I could teach animals to do tricks, my horse and my dog. But they could not do tricks like those I was now seeing. Oh, no! Then came wreSl:iers-great, big, mighty men, with enormous muscles, yet so quick that, at times, the eye could not follow their movements.
I felt I wished to be like them when I grew up. To look so big! To feel so strong! To earn so mu-ch money! In later days I found that this was not so.