Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Letter From Adolph Nordquest - Earle E. Liederman


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A Letter From Adolph Nordquest
by Earle E. Liederman


*This letter was received in 1922.

A brief explanation is necessary as to how and why Adolph Nordquest wrote me the following letter. I think it is the only one I ever received from him, for our personal associations made it unnecessary to correspond; but I recall that, at one time, he went on the road, while I remained in New York where I was guiding an army of students. Anyway, I needed some personal material from him at the time, due to my writing another book in which mention was made of him and his famous brother, hence the right-to-the-point response from Adolph. As so, here is what I read at the time.


Dear Earle,

It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you and I am only too happy to furnish you with brief highlights of Joe and myself.

To begin with we were both born in Ashtabula, Ohio. I was born in 1892, and Joe was born in 1893. Our diet is essentially the same. We believe in plenty of beef, particularly when in training, supplemented by vegetables and whole wheat bread, which is made of whole rye meal. This diet is further added to by fruit for its laxative quality. To maintain proper elimination we never resort to laxatives other than found in the foods we eat. A light breakfast, with the two main meals to follow in their turn is our rule, and about two hours before retiring we take a light lunch which brings on relaxation so necessary to bringing sleep. A person slightly hungry before retiring is not altogether relaxed.

In regard to training I am in favor of a varied program; light and heavy exercises, and I also favor a certain amount of running and jumping and other outdoor exercise of a lively nature.

The lifting of heavy weights appealed to me early in my career, as it imparted to my body a degree of muscular development I think I could not have attained by any other exercise.

The program I followed was a strenuous one, which I should not advise for the beginner. He should, I think, first condition himself through the lighter forms of exercise, after which he can gradually take up the heavier forms of exercise within the limits of his strength. The main thing is to have a definite goal in view, and that goal should be the attainment of perfect health and strength.

I shall now relate an incident of an amusing nature. In Fort Worth, Texas, in 1911, where Otis Lambert and I appeared for the week at the Majestic Theater, the following took place:

After we received our salary for the week we returned to the Terminal Hotel. I was seated in a comfortable chair in the lobby when about 15 men confronted me in costumes resembling Night Riders. They were known as the Bovinians. The leader asked me to join his order and to donate a sum of money for the benefit of the Cattlemen’s Convention then being held at Fort Worth. Upon my refusal to join the order, the leader said, “Boys, take hold of this maverick and bring him along.” In the good natured play that followed I succeeded in bringing to the floor three or four members. At this point of the affair I found myself seated on the floor busy the while pulling their legs from under them. This kept up until they decided to give up the job.

The Fort Worth papers came out Sunday the following day, with an amusing account of the incident, saying that the maverick the Bovinians were trying to brand, turned out. to their surprise, to be a well known professional strongman; and after their failure to “initiate” him, were content to limp home and liniment.

In 1917 at O’Rourke’s place, Park Row, New York, I lifted with two hands a dumbbell from the floor, said to weight 649 pounds. Warren L. Travis, I think, knows the correct weight, as he formerly had it in his collection of weights in Brooklyn. I have been told that the weight had never before been lifted in the manner described. the thick bar made it a difficult task.

In 1917 at Coney Island, where I exhibited, I lifted from the floor with one hand a barbell weighing 490 pounds. Some years ago Louis Cyr lifted 470 pounds in that style of lift. His lift was the world’s record at the time. I did not make the record official, but I had several witnesses to the lift.

At Philadelphia, at the Milo Barbell establishment in 1917, I succeeded in lifting with two hands, using over grip, a barbell weighing 638 pounds. This lift was made official, and acknowledged as a world’s record in that style. The over grip is more difficult than the reverse grip in lifting off the floor.

My brother Joe’s strength is phenomenal, I should say it is almost superhuman. At the Police Headquarters in New York in 1917 Joe lifted with two arms a barbell weighing 402 pounds, in what is now known as the shoulder bridge lift. The lifter in this style lies on his back and pulls weight past head to chest, then presses weight to arm’s length. Arthur Saxon made a lift of 386 pounds in this style.

At the Greek Athletic Club in New York, Joe pressed overhead with his left arm a barbell weighing 301 ½ pounds. He made this lift several days in succession, witnessed by many well known strongmen who were attracted to the club by his feats of strength.

Just recently Joe gave an exhibition of lifting at the Sovinta Hall in Ashtabula. I will mention the outstanding lift. In a lying down position, he pressed with both arms a barbell weight 210 pounds, while holding it at arm’s length, two heavy men astride the barbell. One of the men weighed 280 pounds, the other 190 pounds. Total weight supported 680 pounds. It was the heaviest barbell he had seen at the time, otherwise he would have lifted many pounds above that weight. At Coney Island Joe, while lying on his back, lifted a barbell to arm’s length which weighed 380 pounds, while holding barbell in place, three men added their weight, making a total over 900 pounds.

One lift performed by Otis Lambert impressed me very much. From a position flat on his back with me doubled up alongside of him, with a 20 pound dumbbell attached to my body, I weighed 200 pounds, he succeeded in lifting the combined weight from the floor with one arm to a standing position, with me and the weight to arm’s length overhead.

Hoping all I have written will suffice for your needs.

Your friend,
Adolph Nordquest.

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