The Iron Sheik’s Persian Club Challenge

Wrestling has always held a special place in my heart. Thanks to my grandparent’s old VHS collection, I grew up with the WWF and later the WCW firmly moulding my impressionable mind. Like countless others I was a ‘Hulkamanic’ growing up but I was always fascinated by the Iron Sheik.

Known for kickstarting Hulk Hogan’s meteoritic rise to fame in the 1980s, Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri or the Iron Sheik, was an incredible wrestler in his own right. Aside from having possibly the best heel personality for his time (although fans of Nikolai Volkoff may disagree), the Sheik also held the distinction of being a champion Olympic weightlifter. Trained, in part, in the Persian wrestler tradition, which I have yet to cover, the Sheik really was a specimen of an athlete.

Like many other wrestlers in the 1980s, the Sheik created his own strength challenge for other wrestlers to try their hands at. It was here where the Sheik really caught my young attention. Unlike other wrestlers who used the bench press or some form of callisthenics, the Sheik came to the ring with 75 pound Persian meels. The challenge itself was simple. If anyone could swing the meels for as many reps as the Sheik, they would win $2000.

Now oftentimes the challenge descended into a farce as the Sheik would attack the challenger long before they could win. The above video is evidence of that. Nevertheless the Sheik was influential in popularising the meels to Western minds and, in my own life, encouraged me to take up Indian club swinging. I doubt I’ll ever match the Sheik’s reps so in that sense, he managed to humble me without putting me in the camel claw.

As always … happy lifting!


  1. Hello Connor, I have an article I wrote in a forum, it’s about female bodybuilding. Could you share it on your blog?.

    Short history of female muscle

    We are going to review the history, the rise, the rejection, the decline and the resurgence of the female muscle. This will be a master of sociology and history of physical culture, let’s begin.

    In ancient Greek culture, when the cult of the body develops, the sculptures that show muscular anatomy were about men and only men competed in Olympic sports.

    In the 19th century, with the arrival of the Renaissance, new sports for men appear, but they are sports for gays as soccer or maraton, strength and muscle are not considered something valuable, that’s why the strongmans have to work in the circus.

    These big men are engaged in feats of strength, a century later they will no longer be exposed in the circus, now they more respect.

    Meanwhile, the first bodybuilders appear who are not interested in demonstrating their strenght, they want to do muscular poses similar to those of the status of Greece and Rome. Bodybuilders innovate, create new training methods, invent new poses, experiment with different diet approaches, supplementation and drugs. The scientific method becomes essential.

    A few decades later, we have many bodybuilding competitions worldwide, weightlifting is in the Olympic Games, powerlifting begins to develop as a new sport.

    We reach the key point of our history.

    In the 70s and 80s, women began lifting weights and the first bodybuilding contests appear. Never in the history of mankind had a woman developed muscle to expose it through poses on stage. This is a revolutionary fact that will change broad spectra of Western culture.

    If muscular mens are rejected by society in general, muscled women have it much worse, because they have to fight against the stereotypes and sexual roles that have remained for millennia. Therefore, when bodybuilders begin to get bigger and harder, federations and companies reject this image and decide to introduce new divisions with softer women who dont show their muscles with the characteristic poses. Its the arrival of fitness models that compete in beauty contests, get magazine covers and contracts with companies of industry.

    Olympia and Arnold eliminate female bodybuilding, all federations have bikini and very few have womens physique, nobody wants extreme female muscle, only the IFBB Pro League maintains the division of female bodybuilding. Many believed it was the end, but something is changing, the ideal of the thin and weak woman is no longer cool, women no longer do aerobic shits, now they want to lift weights, we have the strongwoman competitions, instagram is filled with hoes with biceps, abds and hard buttocks, women want to feel and looking strong, powerlifting meetings have more and more females.

    El mié., 11 dic. 2019 a las 17:42, Physical Culture Study () escribió:

    > Conor Heffernan posted: “ > Wrestling has always held a special place in my heart. Thanks to my > grandparent’s old VHS collection, I grew up with the WWF and later the WCW > firmly moulding my impressionable mind. Like countless others I was” >

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