The Mr. Olympia contest is still the pinnacle of the bodybuilding calendar. Previously on this website we’ve looked at the competition’s contest report which spoke of the great Larry Scott, who swept all other challengers aside. Well, thanks to STG Strength and Power we also have video footage of the competition itself.
Readers of this blog will undoubtedly be familiar with my fondness for Indian club swinging, that great Hindu and Persian practice which became all the rage in England and the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The history of Indian club swinging has been previously covered here with one big exception. I have said little to nothing of my favorite Indian club athlete, the great Tom Burrows.
Burrows was an Australian athlete who came to Britain in the late nineteenth century to train soldiers at the Royal Army Physical Training Corps gymnasium in Aldershot. Once there, Burrows became a minor physical culture celebrity owing both to his expertise as a coach but, more importantly, his ability to swing Indian clubs for hours on end. This is no exaggeration. By the late 1900s, Tom Burrows could swing Indian clubs for eighty hours without resting. Such was his popularity and demand that he even went on a world tour during this time to showcase his abilities to foreign audiences.
Today’s post, which is based on an article I wrote for Sport in History, centers on Burrow’s ultimately failed efforts to swing the Indian clubs for 100 hours without rest. Interested? Read on.
Perhaps I cannot do better than begin this series of talks with one which shall serve as a definition of Physical Culture. First of all, I should like to make it clearly understood that I […]
Sports uniforms have come a long way since they first appeared. Originally, the idea was to have all the players in the same team dressed the same in order for their teammates to see them better and not mistake them for an opponent. However, very soon after they were introduced, sports uniforms started representing the team’s spirit and values, as well as striking fear into the hearts of opponents. Nowadays, they are designed to provide maximum comfort to players wearing them, while at the same time designers are trying to make them as appealing as possible, so that millions, or even billions of fans around the world would also buy the uniform of their favorite club. So, let’s take a look at how these uniforms have changed when it comes to the most popular sports around the world.
Today’s short post comes primarily from Nigel B. Crowther’s wonderful chapter on Ancient Chinese sport and physical education. Looking primarily at Chinese physical cultures, Crowther found that weightlifting, archery, weight throwing, tug of war, boxing and a host of other activities were practiced by Chinese men. Of interest to us today, was the use of Ding’s as feats of strength.
Earlier this week I was given a very generous gift. The gift in question was a complete set of Wills’ Cigarette Cards. Produced for an Irish and English audience in 1914, the cards depicted various physical culture exercises one could engage in to keep fit and healthy. The irony that the cards could only be obtained by buying a packet of cigarettes was evidently lost on the manufacturers.
In any case I gleefully went about examining my present and stumbled across the below photographs. Said to be breathing exercises with dumbbells, the movement represents an early iteration of the pullover exercise.
As is so often the case, I set to work uncovering the history of this particular movement with the result being this very article. So today, we’ll begin by examining the popularity and history of the pullover from the early to late twentieth-century. The pullover exercise has fallen from grace in the lifting community, from a once hallowed movement to a more niche and often poorly executed assistance lift.
While many credit Eugen Sandow as the father of modern day bodybuilding, very little is said about William, ‘Billy’, Murray, the world’s first recognisable bodybuilding champion. Today’s post will look at the interaction between Sandow, the unofficial father of bodybuilding and Murray, its first official king.
So who was William Murray? How did he win? And why has his place in bodybuilding history been largely forgotten?
Take a moment to envision the famous figure of King Henry VIII known for his six marriages and numerous unorthodox decisions (pardon the pun), wearing the very first custom-made pair of soccer shoes. In 1526, the very same year the Tudor ruler started courting his soon-to-be second wife Anne Boleyn although already married to Catherine, he also made another historic decision – to have his soccer shoes made.
The game of football as we know it today does stem from England, and the king’s single capricious demand may have very well been the catalyst for the footwear we use today. The game itself, however, is over 3,000 years in the making, dating back to the old Mesoamerican cultures, so it took us a substantial amount of time to get to the level of superior engineering that today’s football players enjoy. Here’s a brief, but thorough glance at how this quite literally game-changing footwear has come into existence.
Having previously looked at the history of the squat, bench press and even the smith machine, it seemed about time that we did a history of the deadlift. We’ve been putting this one off for quite a while, even looking at the Romanian Deadlift en lieu of the actual thing.
The stumbling block in approaching the history of the deadlift is the amount of smoke and mirrors surrounding one of the most popular exercises in the Iron Game. Someone writes something in a training book or blog and suddenly it becomes part of the popular lore. Actual research is a lot harder to come by. Nevertheless, it’s clear that deadlifts and variations on the deadlift have been around since time began. Man and woman kind has seemingly always displayed an insatiable desire to pick heavy things up from the ground.
For the sake of my sanity and timekeeping however, we’ll begin in with the eighteenth-century when a variation of the deadlift, of heavy lifting, briefly took England by storm.
Today, awards and trophies are a huge business. No matter if they are being lifted above winners’ heads after a grueling sporting match or if they are being handed to actors and singers at gala events, they have a clear purpose to award achievement. Each trophy tells you that the person holding it is a champion—they are the best of the best. They leave such a big statement that people of all ages from all sorts of organizations and branches get awarded trophies for their success. Since we live in a material world, most of us have a weird fascination with everything sparkly and glitzy, but trophies go beyond our love for glitter and gold. Want to know more? Here’s a brief history of trophies and awards.