My Quarter Century in the Iron Game
by Siegmund Klein
- In reply to a challenge contest with Lionel Lilly, Siegmund Klein listed the ten lifts he thought should be used to determine the stronger man. This list was published in the old “Strength” magazine and they were: two hands curs, crucifix, two hands pullover, two hands clean with 100 lb. dumbells, one hand clean and side press, one arm get-up, two hands military press, dead lift, deep knee bend, and press on back. The following comment by the magazine’s editor, Mark Berry, was printed in the following issue.
After this letter was published, Mr. Lilly, as was expected, answered, and here is his letter:
Having been informed as the lifts which Mr. Klein proposes shall be the basis upon which our forthcoming contest will be held, it is most evident, judging from the feats he has selected, that his desire to win is most extreme; and while I cannot blame him for wishing to make certain of clinching the title, I think it possible to make a better proposal and one, by the way, which he should not hesitate to accept. Mr. Klein is generally acknowledged to be the American Professional Middleweight Champion, while I prefer to consider myself his superior in any contest wherein the lifts might be chosen with no favoritism towards either himself or myself. As to the lifts, or rather feats of leverage and strength which he proposes, it is my contention that the same would too greatly favor Mr. Klein. For one thing, the majority of those feats have never been practiced by myself, and so far as I can discern have never generally been practiced by lifters, at least in this country. Looking at the matter from another angle, it would appear to me as though a champion should be judged and acclaimed on the basis of popular lifts and especially those accepted as proper for contests. We all know well enough that professional lifting enjoys neither the regulation nor the prestige of the amateur branch of our sport; nor can it be denied that the amateur side of lifting is ever gaining in popularity. It is therefore my proposal that we should include in our contest such feats as are officially accepted by the amateurs.
“Moreover, there is today a growing tendency to pay little or no attention to what a strong man can do, unless he performs officially in public on the so-called championship set of five international lifts; Charles Rigoulet is today accepted as the peer of strongmen, and his greatest feats are found among this official set. Why not then have our contest on a basis which is at least similar?
“As arbitrator of this proposed contest, Mr.
Yours in Strength – Bill Lilly”
After the Lilly letter was published, I wrote another letter to Strength magazine which I believe should also be recorded here to clear up some of the controversies that usually go on before two professional lifters contest. After reading Mr.
I was surprised to see your comments as appended to my letter of March 11 as published in Strength, April issue. While I realize that you doubtless made the suggestions in good faith and in the hope that they would serve as a guide in the matter of determining what lifts shall be included in the contest, I feel that I must remind you that I have already given you the basis for selecting the lifts.
“It seems that history would bear me out when I say that controversies of this nature have always arisen among professional weight lifters when it came to the selection of the lifts to be included in any contest. I know you will agree with me that the challenged and the challenger has always been accorded the choice in the selection of weapons or whatever was to determine the contest. I know you will also agree with me that the Olympic lifts are generally accepted as the standard, but since you have already granted that Mr. Lilly cannot surpass me in those lifts, I gladly omitted them from the list of lifts submitted to you in my letter accepting the challenge. And furthermore, I think you will agree that it is customary for the challenger to offer some proof of his ability in the subject for which he claims the right to contend for championship honors. In other words, I feel that Mr. Lilly should have offered proof that he may equal my own records which have earned me the title of middleweight weight lifting champion. I feel that I have been entirely fair to Mr. Lilly in the choice of lifts I submitted in my letter of acceptance, especially as I included several lifts in which he is supposed to excel. In the event that this contest does not take place under the terms outlined in my letter, I shall, at the next weight lifting show under the auspices of yourself or the A.B.B.M. (Association of Bar Bell Men), set up a standard mark in each of these lifts which I shall expect any professional challenger to equal within five percent in weight lifted in each lift, before I accept his challenge. I also reserve the right to include in any such contest the so-called Standard Lifts, namely:
“One-Arm Snatch; Two-Arm Snatch; Two-Arm Clean and Jerk; Two-Arm Military Press; Two-Arm Continental Press.
“I want you to realize that I fully appreciate your efforts to promote this contest, as you are doing our mutual sport a great service. The more interest that can be aroused in our sport the better it will be, and I shall be the last man to do anything to obstruct any contest which will do weight lifting a good turn.
With kindest personal regards, I am,
Sincerely yours, Siegmund Klein.”
Of course much talk was created about this proposed contest, and I started to train very hard for the match. It really looked as though it would materialize, but much to my regret this contest never came about. Since I had been training for the match, it occurred to me that I might just as well try to get officially credited for some of the lifts I had been practicing, and had unofficially made some records in doing so. I wrote