Category: Biographies

Recollections of Louis Cyr by W. A. Pullum

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Once in a generation, it has been said, a super-athlete arises whose prowess astonishes the world. Several generations have come and gone, however, since Louis Cyr arose and showed what he could do. Since that time nothing approaching his extraordinary performances has ever been seen.

Louis Cry, French-Canadian, was born in the little hamlet of Saint Jean d’Iberville on October 11, 1863. His father was quite an ordinary man, a humble peasant, nothing above the average physically. His mother, on the other hand, was somewhat outstanding. She weighed, when she was 21, a little under 300 lbs.

Cyr, as a child, soon gave evidence that he was going to take after his maternal parent, so far as bulk and physique were concerned. At the beginning of his teens he was weighing well over 200 lbs., and at that time he was a very shapely fellow. That he was strong with it, too, there is plenty of evidence. At the different tests of strength, usually arranged in the district on “high days and holidays,” he easily excelled everyone.

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Weightlifting at the 1904 Olympics

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It was the first time that the Olympic Games were held outside of Europe and the first time they were held in an English speaking country. It was heralded as a monumental step in the internationalisation of the Olympic spirit and it was prompted as such.

Unfortunately, the reality of the 1904 St. Louis Olympics proved to be anything but. Owing both to the Russo-Japanese War and the sheer difficulty in sending athletes to the United States from Europe, the 1904 Games were largely bereft of elite athletes. Nevertheless, perhaps owing to the determined attitude of the organisers, the Games continued regardless.

Whether this was a blessing or a curse for the sport of weightlifting is up to the reader to decide.

Today’s post examines the re-emergence of weightlifting at the 1904 Olympic Games. The sport had been part of the inaugural games in Athens in 1896 but had failed to appear at the Paris showing four years later. As a sport still in its infancy, weightlifting depended on international showings to improve its popularity. While the first international weightlifting competition was held in London in 1891, the Olympic games five years later had seen significantly more media interest in the event.

Weightlifting in many ways needed genuine Olympic interest to attract more to the sport.

Sandow and Stout: An Irish Story

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The Irish alcohol industry has, at its core, always been particularly adept at marketing. From Whiskey to Guinness, sellers have used a variety of inventive advertisements to flog their wares to a thirsty public. Illustrating this is today’s post about a strange encounter between Eugen Sandow, a Prussian born strongman and Murphy’s Stout based in County Cork, Ireland.

The above image depicting Sandow lifting a horse overhead was one of many used by the brewing firm in the early years of the twentieth-century to promote their stout.

So how did Murphy’s come to secure the image rights of one of the world’s most popular figures? The answer seems to have come down to sheer serendipity.

A Life in Strength: William Joseph Murray

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Oftentimes this blog has focused exclusively on the star names of the physical culture industry. This, as perhaps can be guessed, is due to the extensive documents such men and women have left behind. The true physical culturists, that is those people who exercised for the joy of it, are much harder to track down.

Luckily, a discussion on a previous article has thrown up a fascinating source on one William Joseph Murray, an English born strongman of considerable interest to those studying the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A keen athlete, Murray’s life exemplifies several of the trends discussed in previous posts as well as reminding us that fitness is inevitably, a lifelong pursuit.

Who is the Best Bodybuilder Ever? An In-Depth Analysis

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The following post comes from the immensely talented Erny Peibst of jackednatural.com. If you’re looking for advice on the best natural supplements to take or simply a review of the latest training trends, I highly recommend it. 

Guys who’ve just hopped on the bodybuilding bandwagon might have heard of legendary names such as Ronnie Colemanand Dorian Yates whispered from the shadows in their local gyms…

But how good really were these guys?

And more importantly…who was the best bodybuilder ever?

If you’ve decided to become a bodybuilder, you owe it to yourself to know who the king of this sport was.

But the answer to this question all depends on how you define the ‘best bodybuilder ever’.

Here’s a few ways to judge who the best bodybuilder of all time is:

  • Who won the most Mr Olympia titles
  • Who’s made the most impact on the sport
  • The most aesthetic guy
  • The biggest and most shredded guy of all

The most Mr Olympia titles – Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman (8x)

Who had the biggest impact on bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was the star in Pumping Iron. If you haven’t already seen it, order it off amazon…like straight after you finish reading this article, it’s amazing.

The most aesthetic Mr Olympia – Arnold, Franco Columbo, Frank Zane or Lee Haney.

The biggest & most shredded: Ronnie Coleman or Phil Heath.

So it depends how you interpret the question ‘who is the best bodybuilder ever’.

However, Arnold Schwarzenegger is regarded by many as the greatest ever.

Why?

  • He won 7 Sandow trophies
  • He changed the world’s opinion on bodybuilding; from being disgusted to intrigued.
  • He built one of the greatest physiques of all time. Huge mass with a tiny waist – a look that’s still highly coveted by gym rats to this day (50 years later).

Arnie sounds like a worthy choice to me.

However, for entertainment purposes I’m going to select the top 5 bodybuilders of all time, and put them on stage against each other.

…So you can decide for yourself!

Lies, Snake Oils and Downright Deception: Selling and the Fitness Industry

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The fitness industry, was and is, a notoriously dubious business place. For every honest athlete seeking to help his fellow trainer, there are dozens of genetically blessed individuals who seek to make a living with half-truths.

This chicanery, is however, a time honoured tradition as evidenced by today’s article. Surveying the great names of the physical culture game, today’s post looks at the forerunners to the current market industry and demonstrates how many sought to promote their products over the truth. Unsurprisingly names like Sandow, Sick and Inch all feature.

So if you thought that deceit was a new phenomena in bodybuilding, you are sorely mistaken!