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Best bender ever?

Nathan Say


74 members have voted

  1. 1. Best bender ever?

    • Siegmund Brietbart
    • Young Apollon (JC Tolson)
    • John Grunn Marx
    • Tom Topham
    • Joe Greenstein
    • Vansart (Charles Vansittart)
    • John Brookfield
    • Samson (Alexander Zass)

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Notable stuff on these guys:

Breitbart: bent an iron bar 7' long & 1/2" thick into a clover shape & always bent things faster with his hands than a blacksmith using his hammer & anvil

Tolson: bent 4 60 penny nails together, bent a carriage bolt 3/8" thick & 6" long, bent double a bar 5" long & 5/8" thick (this is about the same as bending a railroad spike & I know what John Brookfield says about it but Ed Aston witnessed Zass do the same thing)

Marx: broke 3 horseshoes in 2:15

Topham: bent a poker 3' long & 3" in circumference around his neck & straightened it out again

The Mighty Atom: broke a horseshoe with his teeth, bent a bar 8-9" long & 1/2" thick

Vansart: bent a square bar 3/8" thick & 7" long along the diagonal instead of along the flat part

Brookfield: bent double a big 8" file guaranteed for a lifetime, bent a 10" Craftsman crescent wrench (can't forget that one)

Zass: bent double a 5" bar 5/8" thick

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Guest RobbyTooSlobby

That is sweet!!!  I've not had any experience with breaking or bending things except for spoons in ice cream ;)

I wanted to know if there are different size horseshoes in terms of thickness?  We have horse shoes that we used to play with and those suckers are tough!!  I find it amazing if someone can break one of those.  And do the shoes really break? or it seems to me that they would bend and not break?

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There are shoes which are weak & shoes that are strong. You've still got to have brutal hand strength to do it though. I've never heard of a better performance than Marx's. (maybe someone else has though-I better not pretend I'm an expert)

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Guest 115-1005574997


You missed off Ben Read, king of nail benders.

He holds the Guinness Book of records for bending 10 nails in 24.6sec, 100 nails in 10 minutes, 200 nails, and 730 nails, none stop (all nails cut from 6mm thick EN8 steel and bent through 90 degrees and put through a 2" hole).  Ben also held the barrow pushing record of 4,788lbs over 200 feet, on 12Jan 1985.  Arguably he still holds it as Ben loaded every brick then pushed the barrow, whereas the current Canadian record holder did not load the barrow himself.

Ben gets my vote.

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the strange thing about tolson is that 3/8" carriage bolt. I know that this bend was listed in that sandows meuseum website, but next to his other bends its like bending a clothes hanger... heck i've even dented an 8" long one... makes you wonder why it would even be listed.

ps. you also forgot the grippboard's own tom black- some great bends there...

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5" X 5/8" bent double?  BS, I say trickery was involved.  Where are you when we need you Roark?

My vote went to Brookfield.

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John Grun Marx was the ultimate master of bending horseshoes, even shoes that nobody thought he could bend.

John Grun Marx gets my vote.  Brookfield a distant second.

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  • 4 months later...


Since you asked me, here is my ignorant two cents:

I seldom post on bending topics because of all the

variables involved- especially manufacturing variables

over the decades- I am not being coy, but simply

acknowledging my ignorance.

Regarding horse shoes, which strongman was it that

said the secret to bending them was in locating the

'right' blacksmith?

This is one thing that Ironmind should be credited with-

apparently, their bag of nails is consistent in bending difficulty,

and therefore a fair comparative test. I have no first hand

experience, just listening to others who have had it.

I saw the Power Team perform at a local church and I suspect that the handcuffs they broke could be broken easily,

and I mean, easily, by several of our board members here.

They also announced that the log one of them cleaned and

jerked, required 15 men to carry into the church. Nevermind details such as how would 15 men line up under a 7' log? And

I know one of the 5 men who carried it into the church, who said it did not in fact require all five of them.

In an old Health & Strength there is an article about the tricks

of the strongman trade and how some of these feats were faked. Perhaps I should put it in ironhistory.com as an extra.?

Anyway, there is no more mysterious aspect to strongmanism than the bending of metal and the breaking of chains- it is the

least consistent and the most difficult to compare, especially as manufacturing techniques changed.

If grippers marked with the same number can vary as much as

we know they vary, then why cannot metal bars also vary

significantly? That is a question, not a criticism. Most nails etc

are not tested for quality control to the degree that fine

olymic lifting bars are tested. Most nails have one design

purpose- to be struck several times with a hammer and left

lodged there for a long time.

That's just my opinion.

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Roark, the Strength and Health article sounds very interesting. It's sad that you have to wonder about how much the steel varied but also if there were any intentional alterations made. I read one about tearing cards that also mentioned a little "trick" that could make it an easy stunt.

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That would be the trick. I haven't tried it. It would probably work better with paper cards than plastic LOL...

I bet a lot more heat would do wonders to steel bar or gripper springs...

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My vote is with John Brookfield.Bending to a great extent is dependent on the varied makeup of the material being bent,what covering  is applied for leverage and hand protection,and last the technique being used. Bending is a "cousin" of grip strength with the shoulders,chest and applied body levers all changing the main focus of the crushing,pinching,and supporting that are the long accepted integral componants of "grip". That being said I will say that Brookfield bent things (which I was given to keep AND examine) that to this day are beyond what I thought to be humanly possible.He IS a great one that did and still does it for all to see!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Youngguy

My vote goes to John Brookfield, because he is truly amazing.  Here is a bend that mostly impresses me is being able to bend the head of a 40d nail with his thumb.  Holding the nail in just his palm. :crazy

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Guest 115-1005574997

David Hornes no mug when it comes to bending stuff

I think Daves bent 6 double (2x60d nails) taped together in 28 sec and put a kink into the ironmind red as well as making some great sculptures

He also did ok at the british nail bending championships (see Iron Grip magazine)

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