Impressive Strength Feats
by Earle Liederman
Now I’m not claiming that feats which have stood the test throughout the generations will not be bettered, for unquestionably they will. They must, because the athletic race is improving. All track records of bygone yesteryears have been surpassed in the recent Olympic Games, and all Olympic lifts have been shattered in many classes of lifters, with John Davis presently holding marks which will take a mighty good man to beat. But one day that good man will come forward power which has never before been shown. Who he is or when this will happen, no one knows. Maybe I won’t be around when it does occur, but as surely as I writing these words, records will continue to be broken in almost every pastime.
If I am to start at the beginning, when I was a kid, I first must mention Pierre Gasnier who, at the time weighed 150 lbs. and who was performing in the sideshow of a circus. This was back around the turn of the century. Gasnier at that time was able to bent press with his right arm twice his own bodyweight which, to my way of figuring is blamed good, and I am presently wondering if anyone else has done this. In other words, Gasnier pressed slightly over 300 pounds. How many have accomplished that pressing poundage? For instance, Arthur Saxon did over that, Harold Ansorge of
I have seen Travis perform back lifts while under a long platform upon which stood at least 20 men, perhaps more. However, I think that he understood leverages so well and balances accordingly, that he used an extra long platform, or an extra wide and lengthy beam so as to distribute the weight and not have it all directly over his own back. I think Mac Batchelor could explain this better than I, as Mac has done a lot of that sort of back lifting. Warren Travis also lifted with his teeth, arms and back, a small carousel which was set in rotating motion while off the ground and with a dozen or more men riding upon the backs of the dummy horses. How much this actually weighed is a conjecture, but it certainly weighed a lot, which offers no dispute. Anyway, it was spectacular impressive and a cause to always remember the sight. Travis made claims of 6,000 lbs. in the back lift which has made many strongmen raise eyebrows and slightly smile. But, as I said, Travis was a finished showman and his feats were more for spectacular entertainment and impressiveness, which they certainly were. And as I am writing about impressive feats of strength and not claiming all world’s records, I must be allowed to ramble along for your interest, I hope.
Feats of strength need not necessarily apply to weightlifting, for I consider now a couple of performers back in the old vaudeville days who did one or two things which cannot be forgotten. One, Gilbert Neville, who weighed but 126 lbs. and who was very strong, too, used to accomplish an outstanding feat in handbalancing. Neville did a one-hand stand atop an upright. From a perfect balance he would lower himself until his legs were spread on either side of his hand under his bent arm. Next he would press up to a perfect one hand posture. He did this 16 times in succession! His legs did not touch his arms or hand during the dipping or collapse of the balance but he held on with his one hand grip and freely raised his legs until both were stiff and his toes were pointed. Those of you who may be good handbalancers might delight in performing this stunt but once, therefore, if you consider 16 repetitions it surely should go down as an accomplishment worthy of remembering.