Born in England in the early 1900s, Saxon Brown (real name Henry Brown) was briefly lauded during the 1930s as ‘Britain’s strongest youth‘ & ‘the world’s strongest young man’. Though his time in the physical […]
1896 was a special year for athletes. Long touted in the making, 1896 marked the first Olympic Games in over 2,000 years. Through loans, promises and sheer determination, Pierre de Coubertin and his cohort of plucky fitness enthusiasts had somehow managed to organize an international sporting event comprising over 280 athletes from 14 different nations competing in ten different events. Held in Greece, the birthplace of the original Olympic Games, few could deny the importance of the modern day games.
Despite the many obstacles involved in creating such a spectacle, the first modern Olympics were heralded as a success. This was particularly true in the case of Olympic Weightlifting, which was one of the ten sporting events featured in 1896.
During the prime of his career, Eugen Sandow was known for having ‘the perfect physique’ and for being one of the foremost proponents of physical culture. Physical culture being broadly understood as the social movement concerned with health and strength that swept across Europe and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. A man built to a Grecian ideal of beauty and presented as the ideal of what good health should be, Sandow toured the world performing and lecturing the masses about the importance of physical and spiritual health. Such was Sandow’s mass appeal in the late 19th and early 20th century, that some commentators have credited him with launching the body obsessive societies of today. His influence stretched from America to Australia and many places in between. Much has been written about Sandow’s time in Great Britain and the United States, but few have examined Sandow’s time in the south of Ireland in the late 1890s. His time in Ireland was brief but it was to leave lasting results.
Is it a Christian’s duty to be strong and muscular? Does strength equate with Godliness? How should a man behave? These were just some of the questions that permeated the 19th and early 20th century in Victorian England and the United States. They were the questions at the forefront of a movement better known as Muscular Christianity. In the maiden article for this website, we briefly introduced the idea of Muscular Christianity but today we will look at it in greater detail.