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Louis Cyr Ties One On!


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Louis Cyr, who deserves top three placing on

any list of strongest men, was also known for

his finger strength. Though he is given credit

for lifting more with one finger, what he did on

November 2, 1889, was to tie two dumbells

together with a piece of cord, and lift the total

of 440 lbs with one finger using the cord.

The account of this appears in Strength & Health

June 1953 page 26 and does not indicate the

length of the cord, nor the type of lift; one assumes

a deadlift.

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Guest woody36


     Given his phenomenal finger strength has there

ever been any kind of referance to Cyr's Bending

capabilities.I would assume he was capable of horse-

shoe bends at the very least,given his overall power.

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Cyr's hand size was 7.75" x 4.25", so for a man

of about 300 lbs (not all muscle), his hand size

was not very large.

I'll do some checking, but I do not recall Cyr being

attributed with bending metal, but as you mention,

it would seem based on his phenomenal strength

of fingers, and arms and shoulders, if he mastered

the technique he could have been impressive at

bending feats.

I'll see what I can find.

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So far nothing on Cyr bending metal- perhaps someone

else on the board has some info?

Increased strength does not necessarily translate

into a greater ability at bending as is testified to by

Inch in Health & Strength Nov 26, 1921 page 383

where he describes his stage show:

"In my own show, after a short lecture, I used to

tear two packs of cards at a time, and bend huge

nails' also press out a strong expander, perhaps

between 20 and 30 strands. Lift a man overhead

by means of the bent press. My weight at the time

was only 10 st. [140 lbs]. Here is a problem for you.

In later years, when I could put over 100 lbs., and

in one case, the two hands anyhow, nearly 150 lbs.,

on my lifts as a 10 st. man and was apparently

twice as strong as at 21, I tried the nails again, and

could not bend one. (I used to make the ends meet,

20 nails a day!)."

Inch admits to losing bending strength even when

his other lifts has increased considerably. Odd,

don't you think?

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Inch was clearly showing the effects of being specific in training - I don't doubt that had he worked into it, the increased strength throughout his body would have translated to far fiercer bending power.

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You may be right, but it does seem a stretch,

that, at the beginning levels of one's strength,

nail bending, 20 per show, is possible, but that

when general strength increases (with heavy

grip emphasis), strength goes from 20 to 0.

By the way, that reference was the only reference I

have ever encountered where Inch mentions his

experience with nail bending.

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    I may be able to shed some light on this phenomena regarding Thomas Inch.  One, I agree with the above that without the specific training on the nails he would have had to work his way back to the 60-pennies, starting with hot-rolled steel.  I think, however, that another thing happened in the many years that he did not bend- the nails got stronger!  I suspect this is the case, and even have a well-reasoned explanation.    I’ve been thinking of contacting a nail manufacturer on this, but first let me relate what Slim the Hammer Man said about this.  He said to imagine a big piece of alloyed steel on the front of a bulldozer.  For years and years it is used to push heavy objects and dirt.  Finally, when the dozer wears out, the whole thing is scraped and it goes on its way to be recycled.  Well, the big chunk of alloyed steel is thrown in the mix along with the softer steel and this is used to make things like nails.  So if you get nails made from recycled steel you have a chance to bend metal mixed in with some other metals to make it very strong.  

  Going back to Inch and his long career spanning decades of strength, he would be a good person to have unwittingly found this out.  Back in the early 20th century I do not think it was as common to recycle steel, hence the nails were made from common steel or iron without any additives.  In fact, they might not of even known back then what metals to alloy the steel with to make it stronger, even if they did, they wouldn’t have been putting these metals into lowly things like nails.  Also, somewhere on the grip board someone mentioned that an old time strongman could bend four 60-penny nails together (maybe the strongman was Grun, I can’t remember).  Here again is proof too me that the nails were weaker then.  I don’t believe that even John Brookfield could perform such a feat today with the “weakest” 60-penny nails.

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This makes a lot of sense, Tom. I am not an expert on metallurgy but nails may well be much stronger now, which may explain some of the early feats. But even so, the nails would have had to have become very much tougher to stop Inch from bending them in his later years.

Joe - I've never heard anything on Cyr bending metal, which does seem a little strange for a strongman entertainer. Perhaps he had some sort of wrist/hand injury which prevented him from bending but still allowed other grip-type feats, but I have never heard this mentioned.

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Guest woody36


       It was my personal Hero,J.C.Tolson that could

bend 4x 60 penny nails.Even if the nails were of an

inferior grade it would still be a phenomenal feat.

He also bent a carriage bolt 6"inches x 3/8"diameter

for a bet of 100 pounds.He also duplicated Alexander

zass's feat of bending a square bar 5"x 3/8"diameter,

and was able to tear three decks of cards into quarters.

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    Woody, I completely agree.  The old timers were bending what was available to them.  I don’t see deception on their part, because many were able to bend some very thick metal.  No one today, however, is bending the same dimension metal, including John Brookfield, therefore I must conclude that it was weaker.

  I think I mentioned to you off the board that the minimum I could imagine per nail was 150 pounds to bend.  Thus 4x60-pennies may be around 600 pound to bend, which may be very close to John Brookfield’s bends.

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