We always knew women could never build muscles, at least not, uh, real women. Muscles belonged on men, and women didn’t want any. They didn’t need them, either, not for typing 70 words a minute, not for staying at home all day baking cakes for honeybun. But we also always knew women could never run marathons, and now we have Grete Waitz breathing down Bill Rodgers’ neck. Even more unexpectedly, we have Laura Combes’ sensational double biceps pose.
Outside the auditorium, or Pavilion, as it’s called, it is a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at the Mountain Park amusement center in Holyoke, Mass. A roller coaster clatters up and down a wooden trestle. Children fly around in little whirly things that look like boats with wings. There are clam bars, pizza stands, dart throws, cotton-candy booths, a commando machine-gun stall. The sky is raucous blue, the sun is hot and a lot of people are laughing. Outside Mountain Park, on all sides, stretches Holyoke suburbia, big homes and fine lawns that make the place feel mischievous and isolated, an island of gaudery in the midst of all that yawning green. Especially today. Today in the Pavilion a body contest is going on, a “Festival of Flesh”—maybe the gaudiest of all sporting events and strange as a llama race to the average suburban fan. Leon Brown, who works in a laundry in New York, is in there posing for the 1972 Mr. East Coast title.
Titans Of Testosterone The (mostly) juiced-up athletes competing for the title of World’s Strongest Man tote stones, toss kegs and tow trucks for puny paychecks and the glory of exposure on late-night cable TV
You see them at all hours of the day and night, lifting cars,
pulling buses, lugging around absurdly large rocks. They are big
men with big arms, big chests, big shoulders, big legs and
sometimes big bellies; sweaty, scary men trussed in bandages and
harnesses and belts; gargantuan mummies come eye-poppingly to
life. They compete in something called World’s Strongest Man
(hereafter WSM), and their esoteric exercitations are replayed
with numbing frequency on ESPN and ESPN2. But it’s
difficult–particularly at 4:30 in the morning–to wrap your
mind around this whole strongman thing. You have questions.