Tag: Physical Culture

Read More

1903 and the birth of American Bodybuilding

XC1999_17_000

After three years of pumping up, slimming down and posing, Britain, and the world was treated to the first ever bodybuilding competition in 1901. Hosted by the legendary Eugen Sandow, the ‘Great Competition’ as it was known claimed to have found the most perfect specimens alive. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t long before other nations, notably America, began to hold their own bodybuilding shows.

Within two years of Sandow’s ‘Great Competition’, the US was hosting its own bodybuilding show. Today we tell their story.

Advertisements

P.G. Wodehouse – The Physical Culture Peril And How the Nation May Easily be Saved From It

cn2u7876_l

Easily one of the wittiest English writers of the early twentieth-century, P.G. Wodehouse was famous (or infamous) for his biting satire. Writing for Vanity Fair in May 1914, Wodehouse turned his sights on physical culture, a topic he was already well acquainted with. Perhaps you may recognise your own health behaviour in the article? Sadly I certainly can… The article goes well with our previous posting on ‘the Food Fadist‘.

Physical culture is in the air just now. Where, a few years ago, the average man sprang from bed to bath and from bath to breakfast-table, he now postpones his onslaught on the boiled egg for a matter of fifteen minutes. These fifteen minutes he devotes to a series of bendings and stretchings which in the course of time are guaranteed to turn him into a demi-god. The advertisement pages of the magazines are congested with portraits of stern-looking, semi-nude individuals with bulging muscles and fifty-inch chests, who urge the reader to write to them for illustrated booklet. Weedy persons, hitherto in the Chippendale class, are developing all sort of unsuspected thews, and the moderately muscular citizen (provided he has written for and obtained the small illustrated booklet) begins to have grave doubts as to whether he will be able, if he goes on at this rate, to get the sleeves of his overcoat over his biceps.

Is the Mr. America Contest an Athletic Event ?

victory_podium

The following article, written in Peary Rader’s Ironman magazine in 1964, deals with a question most bodybuilding fans have to answer. Namely, whether or not the pursuit of muscle building can be viewed as a sport or athletic event in its own right.What differentiates Rader’s time from now is that back then, physique competitors were also expected to perform weightlifting feats as part of the competition. A stipulation one could hardly think possible in today’s Mr. Olympia competitions. Nevertheless the article raises and answers some interesting points from one of the industry’s most respected figures. Enjoy!

The controversy over phyisque contests has become one of the touchiest events you can discuss and perhaps for this reason we should keep quiet, and yet we have some convictions about this thing that we feel ought to be presented. It has been some years since we discussed the problems of phyisque contests in Iron Man and perhaps it is time to bring it up again since, instead of lessening, the difficulties seem to be increasing.

Sandow, Hercules and the Birth of Modern Weightlifting

weightlifting_

While Eugen Sandow has long been been held in esteem in the lore of bodybuilding, fans of weightlifting have seldom seen the Prussian as a figure of great importance for their sport. This is unsurprising given that over the past half-century, Sandow’s image has become so integral to bodybuilding that the sport’s top contest, the Mr. Olympia, hands out miniature Sandow busts as trophies. Nevertheless part of Sandow’s fame, at least initially, came from his raw strength which he used to set records, wow audiences and defeat opponents.

With this in mind, today’s post looks at Sandow’s 1890 weightlifting contest with ‘Hercules’ McCann, a controversial bout during which the men’s weights measured to a tee, the first time such precision had ever been introduced to the growing sport. The contest can thus be seen as a pivotal moment in the evolution of weight lifting as a recognised sport in its own right.