Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ian Mac Batchelor - Charles A. Smith (1952)

A few more articles on Mac Batchelor are here

It's also definitely worth noting how well this article is written.
Charles A. Smith, top shelf Iron Game Author!

The glories of any era and any sport have always tightly grasped the imagination of the young, the experienced, and the old aged in an embrace that was sought out and welcomed. Strange, how all men sigh for the past, wander among its dim lit rooms via memory's corridors, and with a nostalgic longing seek to recapture the event, and live again with the colorful personalities that were its inhabitants. 

Why this strange fascination for things gone by? Why this longing for the glorious deeds of the men who lived generations ago? The mind finds it pleasant to wander unchecked, to speculate, to relive the lives of those who are no longer with us. 

Youth finds inspiration, while the experienced seek further adventure. Old age is itself justified, and basks in the sunlight of traditions. In no other sport is this so true as in weight lifting and bodybuilding, and we are very blessed, for the men who have made our sport famous are ageless. They will be as much alive three hundred years from now as they were in their heyday. Their timeless feats of strength will serve as the spur to greater things when you and I are dust. 

Today, we have our links with the past. We read of the mighty power of Cyr and Swoboda. We dream of strength that was Saxon's and Sandow's and we long for the immortal mantle of Hackenschmidt and Zbyszko. 

There are men alive who can speak familiarly of the Heroes of the Iron Game, who tell us what they did and the lives they lead. They will tell you of the mighty muscles, the incredible power of the Giant of the barbell. They will tell you their like will never be seen again. They speak with wistful longing of the "good old days". They mention the lusty living, the enormous appetite and the zest for life of the Game's greats and they never fail to add these words: "Wish there were men like them now." 

How mistaken they are! Gentlemen, I give you a man who is the reincarnation of all that Swoboda and Steinbach and Cyr stood for, that salty old son of a spigot . . . MAC BATCHELOR! 


No mealy mouthed puritan this Mac! Here is a man after my own heart . . . warm . . . human . . . lovable, MIGHTY MAC BATCHELOR. 

Sure, the boy likes his beer; sure he loves his "vittals" and why shouldn't he, for if ever a man reminded you of past glories and future greatness that man is Mac, a giant, genial good natured Hercules. Mighty of arm and back and thigh, and loving all the good things of the earth. Standing close to 6 feet 2 inches in height and weighing as much as 335 pounds, his round, moon-like countenance is graced by a curling pair of mustachios as luxuriant as those on a quarter of bull walruses. 

His fingers and hands possess an incredible, frightening power, and a strange gentleness that can caress the violin he loves as a man plays with the tresses of his sweetheart. Here is a modern strong man in the Grand Manner. Powerful and lusty, a giant trencherman with a personality as colorful as the traditional rainbow. Strongman-ism is in his blood and part of his family's history for centuries. 

 Mac Batchelor, top row, 3rd from your left.
How many in that photo can you name? 

Mac was born in Aberdeen, Scotland some forty-plus years ago, of ancient and noble Scots lineage. His mother was of the Clan MacFarlane and his father of the Royal Clan Stewart. Mac's father was a naturally powerful man and all his uncles on both sides of the family were noted for their fleetness of foot and hardy nature. The grim, granite-grey Scotch moorlands never spawned tougher breed than the Batchelor family! 

One of the family, a Robert Batchelor of Vancouver B.C., a sea captain at 21 years of age as well as a pilot for many years, saved innumerable lives at sea with the strength of his arms. At climbing aloft his reputation was as his prowess . . . phenomenal; while at rope-climbing he was never beaten. When the "crimps" tried to take his crew ashore against his wishes [Shanghaiing or crimping is the practice of kidnapping people to serve as sailors by coercive techniques such as trickery, intimidation, or violence. Those engaged in this form of kidnapping were known as crimps.], he picked up the ship's anvil and threw it over the side into their longboat as it lay by the ship. Mac's dad was just as strong and bold. Once on a Canadian ranch, a bull had gone berserk. Father Batchelor sprang into the enclosure with a length of trace chain in his hand. One sweeping blow and the bull was stretched insensible at his feet. At 80 years of age, Father Batchelor is still hale and hearty.

Mac himself was always interested in sports. His Dad had him running almost as soon as he could toddle, and at the age of 8, Mac was rowing boats in a nearby bay. Before reaching his 'teens, Mac could swim a mile in choppy water, little realizing the tremendous foundation he was laying. In school he was always much stronger than any other boy and participated in all the major and minor sports. 

Weighing around 200, Mac could clock "evens" for the hundred yards, 22 seconds flat for the 220 and 51 seconds for the quarter mile. He also tossed discus, flat footed and with no spin in the "circle" for a distance of 125 feet, and he also threw the javelin 185 feet with either hand, as well as putting a shot 46 feet . . . and he did this consistently over a period of three years. Mac got his school letters in track and field . . . in basketball, football, swimming, cross country running and was NEVER defeated in rowing. As a matter of fact, during the annual three summer months vacation, Mac averaged five to eight miles daily row no matter what the weather. 

To Man belongs the honor of beating the first single cylinder outboard motor over a two mile course, Big Mac handling the oars of course. Another terrific feat of strength and endurance was when Mac pulled a 30 foot motor launch off a sand bar, and then towed the darn thing a distance of 15 miles . . . all with the aid of a 12 foot rowboat, a pair of oars, and his mighty muscles.

You think you heard something? Get ready for more! 

On what Mac calls his "lucky day" he took part in a track meet. A local bigwig had donated an array of gold medals and a gigantic loving cup for the best all around athlete. Mac won the 100 yard dash, the 220, the 440, the shot put, the discus and javelin throws, gaining a gold medal for each event and the gold cup . . . as the best all around athlete . . . naturally. It was nothing for the big kilty to compete in the 100, the 220, the 440, and as the anchor man on the 440 relay. 

Figuring he didn't get enough exercise anyway, Batchelor often played on two football teams t the same time. The Junior Team in the morning and the Varsity Team in the afternoon, with no one the wiser. When he left school, Mac played professional football, wrestled amateur, then professional for several years, and still thinks Grappling's a great game in spite of everything.  

Cycling was his next preoccupation and Mac thought nothing of making 20 or 30 miles a day with a case of beer strapped onto his back. Cycling over as much hilly country as possible, Mac would seek a secluded spot where he replenished the perspiration lost on the way in fierce pedaling. The return trip was, strangely, a lot swifter with an empty knapsack and the memory of Arthur Saxon and his beer drinking propensities to waft him along.

Mac got his first glimpse of weights in High School. A pal had an old Milo catalogue with photos of their "remarkable cases". George F. Jowett illustrated many of the exercises and was Mac's first inspiration. Some of the local boys purchased a 100-lb set and Mac started to use it. In three months he had a 16 inch neck, arms and calves, a 45 inch chest and 24 inch thighs. He was proud, real proud of his muscles, and told the athletic coach it was his ambition to be a strong man. The coach, after recovering from his fit of screaming warned Mac of the dire consequences that followed in the wake of weight lifting . . . you could become muscle bound, get restricted muscle motion and every disease from rheumatoid arthritis to clubfoot. "And, young man," he went on, "all strong men have pimples." That was the heaviest shot from the anti-weightlifting cannon. It impressed Mac more than somewhat. The coach was a well built guy with big chest and arms (Mac later learned he secretly training in his cellar with a Milo barbell set). Renouncing the weights, Mack took to high jumping but returned to the fold in the early 1930's when he read more of Jowett's literature and Alan Calvert's books. 

He followed the old Milo courses . . . 5 reps for the upper body, increasing by 1 rep every third workout until 10 were reached . . . then drop to 5 and start all over again with a greater weight. Mac obtained excellent results,  making haste slowly as it were and remaining well within his limit. Always has Batchelor worked for great reserve energy rather than all out expenditure every workout. He prefers to wind up with a feeling of stimulation rather than enervation. 

In comparing the feats of the old time strong man with his modern counterpart, Mac doesn't hesitate to state that the present day strength athlete is a better all round workman than the old timer. This is because of the use of precision weights, a more scientific approach and the fact that greater dexterity and balance is required in accomplishing record poundages in the modern lifts. This factor has encouraged men who did not possess giant bulk to train hard and become record holders in their lighter bodyweight classes.

Mac has tried many weightlifting schedules but has always returned to a few basic exercises which have proven to be the keys to strength, altho not always the solution to a perfect all round build. Batchelor realizes that this requires a particularly specialized type of training which will bring out each muscle group to its limit. 


A sample of the Batchelor workout is enough to give the strongest man the staggers. He usually does all his leg work in one training period . . . he starts off Hip Lifting . . . 3 sets of 20 reps with 2,000 pounds if you please . . . and a two minute rest between each set. Then comes quarter squats with the positively wispy poundage of 1,200 . . . 3 sets of 20 again . . . then he does a "light" routine of FULL deep knee bends with an infant's weight of . . . I hate to even mention it . . . 350 pounds, 3 sets of 20 reps. 

The next workout Mac does might be as much as a week later and exercises his upper body. He does dumbbell curls with poundages ranging from 60 to 90 pounds in 10 pound jumps, 8 reps each set. Stiff legged deadlifts, 300 x 20 for several sets. Deadlifts, 500 x 8 for several sets. Bench press, 275 x 3 sets of 10, 300 x 3 x 8, 350 x 3 x 3. Then he heaves a few FULL beer barrels around and calls it a day.

Mac doesn't know his limits in any of the lifts butt has performed a perfect OLD STYLE two hands military press with 275 pounds, has bench pressed 375 for a single, deadlifted 580 x 8, and curled 200 pounds time out of number, and with the "hands alone front grip" has raised 1,055 pounds just off the ground.            

His impromptu feats of power would fill a good sized book. Among the most remarkable of them is pulling a 20 foot high banana tree up by its roots (witness, Willis Reed). Perhaps the most remarkable gripping feat ever performed is the muscling out of two 15 gallon beer kegs filled with water up to 60 pounds weight. Mac held these out grasping them by the chines. He has also knocked a young bull insensible with a well timed blow to the forehead. His coin bending, bottle cap squashing, wrist turning feats are too well known to bear repeating here. Mac has NEVER been defeated at any one.

"Life," says Mac, "begins at forty and for me the future is indeed bright. I look for my personal ambitions to be realized within the next decade. Youngsters are certainly fortunate that they live in an age when weight lifting has come into its own!

Mac's current measurements at a weight of 300 pounds are as follows:

Height: 6 ft. 1-1/2 in.
Neck: 21
Chest, normal: 54
Waist: 43
Hips: 46
Upper Arm: 19-1/2 cold
Forearm: 15, straight
Thighs: 30
Calves: 19-1/2

Macs choice for the greatest in the world is . . . JOHN DAVIS . . . "If you judge a man by the international lifts then John is my choice," opines Mac, "otherwise you'll have to choose men famous at specialties . . . Saxon in the bent press . . . Rigoulot in the single arm snatches . . . Swoboda in the continental jerk. No doubt in my mind that Davis is the greatest of them all."

Gentlemen of the Barbell, I again give you giant, genial Mac Batchelor. Athlete, bon viveur, and gentleman. The world has been a grand place with him, a lot more laughter, a heap more good fellowship and tolerance with no mealy mouthed piety.

Mac loves life and life has indeed been good to him. Yes, the world has been a grand place with Mac, it might well have been a lot worse off without him. Here's mud in your eye, Mac, and may the good lord take a liking to you!           

Born May 24, 1910, Petaluma, California
Passed August 10, 1986, Torrance, California.


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