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Picture Thoughts

Tom Black

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If I casually state in a post that I can lever a 6-pound hammer while juggling two clubs in my other hand wouldn’t most people question that? Not that 6-pounds is all that heavy, but it does sound kinda hard to do. Well, my inclination when doing a workout is to not have the camera ready to go most times. However, when I make a PR lift and I think I can do a second attempt I tend to want to go get the camera. I like to have the pictures for my own reference, and while I do have a website, only a small fraction end up there so its not my chief motivation for taking the pictures.

I pondered this morning about something that has bothered me for the last couple of years. In my quest to find old pictures of Strongmen for my Gallery on Ironmen I have tried to favor pictures of actual lifting. I have not been very successful at all in my quest. On some of the very old pictures from the 1800’s the issue may be that the pictures had to be taken in a studio. Why not drag some weights into the studio to get the shot? Arthur Saxon did it, perhaps he was confident that the pictures would stand the test of time, and they have. Maybe others were not so confident? I’ve begun to think that there may be some historical significance to our very simple request here on the gripboard. Maybe I’m overemphasizing our importance here, I don’t know, but perhaps in 100 years someone will be staring at David Horne’s lifting of the Inch-replica in that box with 25 kg attached and say WOW. Contrast this with thinking about Apollon’s near snatch of a huge thick handled dumbbell or Cyr’s huge one finger lifts (over 500-pounds, but just how much padding?). Photography was available at that time, but we are denied pictures of these things. Perhaps we have no pictures because nobody asked, or because photography wasn’t as convenient as today, but I’m not so sure about that.

Oh yes, and one final thing. It’s not real easy to get a picture of that sledgehammer/juggle thing. I had to put the camera remote in my mouth and aim it precisely at the camera while levering and juggling, but here is the shot:


To the best of my knowledge, this is the only picture on the Internet of such a thing. Now, if I could only bounce a ball on my head too, that would really be something...

If I can do all that, certainly someone can get a picture of less complicated maneuvers.

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So that's the camera remote in your mouth, I thought maybe one of the clubs knocked your front teeth out :D .

Seriously, cool pic!

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YOU DA MAN! O.K, so you proved to us you can juggle and lever... but have you closed that #3 yet? :mellow

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There could be a lot of reasons. I think cameras were pretty rare back then. Usually a photographer had to be paid to take the photos. Old photos in general are hard to come by. Then its possible the photos were taken and lost over time.

It seems a lot easier now, but in a 100 years how much of what is floating around no will still exist? I was looking for some 20 year old martial arts magazines. They were VERY hard to find! Worse yet if it's a digital photo, will there be a way to access it? Will the media degrade?

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Funny how there's a lot of pictures of old time strongmen with there arms crossed and looking defiant, but few with actual lifts. I collect old cameras, they were very popular at the turn of the century and becoming very common just by judging how many of the old ones there are left. Syber, I've answered your question a number of times before in various places. Right now, I'm not closing it (or any gripper) due to an elbow injury that lucky does not seem to effect my other lifts.

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Gees, Tom shouldn't you be wearing a helmet or something! That picture gets my vote for grip pic of the year!

I find it awesome and yet hillarious at the same time!!!!!


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I’ve only hit myself once with a club when I was learning to juggle with them and never with a hammer :whacked . That picture is from last year, so it can’t be grip picture of the year. Not really worthy of that title anyway in my opinion. The only reason I re-posted it was to illustrate an example of a difficult picture to take.

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Indulge me on this theory: maybe the pics of strongmen of old are of the posing kind because a moving photograph would be "blurry". I remember my grandfather took a pic of us kids with his old Browning, and he told us to stand still, otherwise the pic wouldn't come out right. Modern photographic equipment doesn't have such problems.

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Well, yes and no. 25 ASA film was common in the 40's, which is slower than 100 ASA which is more of the standard now for good photos. I've used 25 ASA myself for fine detail work and its really not that slow. Outside its not a problem in sunlight and will give shutter speeds of 1/250 of a second, and 1/60 with clouds (these are estimates). My insight was derived a bit from an old juggling book that I have with many pictures from pre 1930. And yes, they are sharp. On you Grandfather, don't forget kids move around a lot and his has were probably shaky.

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Tom Black,

Before I joined this forum I generally believed what I heard....about the past and of the present.

Having been around the likes of Pfister and Big Tony and Whit and Neese several times as a kid(well as a specator)and being around guys-on an almost daily basis- like Mike Dean,Sean McCabe and now Josh Bigger(we also have a 64 year old man at our gym that has squated 611 in a meet and deadlifted 600 in a meet and has done more in the gym)Sooooooo... I just presumed there has got to be thousands of guys out there like them !??? :blush I also thought that certainly the old strongmen of the past- even though they were pretty small by todays standards -that their 'claims'were probably true?(before we lost all our genetically gifted-fast/big/strong mutants to the NFL,NBA,MLB and even the WWE :dry )

Although generally not all that big as todays athletes they had time to hone their craft?Practice their 'feats of strength'and were at least the genetic mutants of THEIR time?(or so I thought)The guys were smaller -and Nutrition not as advanced -but there was NO lure of making millions in other sports- thus they had time to practice and lift and work up to these incredible feats of strength.They didn't have the distactions of today either...so again I generally BELIEVED things.

Roarks report on Anderson has got me thinking even more and keep in mind Anderson is a fairly 'modern'strongman!?

And this Thomas Inch?that old movie clip?the obvious manipulation of his dumbells?overt trickery......and now you've(Tom Black) got me thinking.Plenty of flexed poses and bad ass scowels?Plenty of bicep shots and most muscular?Plenty of bodybuilding shots(ironic some strongmen make fun of bodybuilders and thats the only photos we have to remember the old timers by? :inno )

Where are the lifts?Ok cameras not a plentiful...not as technologically advanced -but these guys were minor celbrities of their time?Where is the documentation?

There wasn't as much to do in those days -as far as entertainment goes-and less sporting events....didn't anybody EVER get a shot of some of these spectacular 'lifts'.???

Did they even goes as far as(as in some rock concerts or some casinos)NOT allow cameras at their shows?(Probably didn't go that far) It doesn't seem that they were that eager to have the lifts photographed.....????sort of like Dr.Size...Isacc Nesser :angry: Are we perhaps being duped by many(most)of these guys?

I really wanted to believe this...I have no axe to grind :D .

Some were my heroes...and again I sort of thought(and in my mind it was even logical) heck if these local yokels(Sean,Mike,Josh) are this strong...and Pfister shows up fresh out of the hills of West Virginia in 98 and walks about 100 ft with a 410lb stone in his hand (first try)why COULDN'T these old time strongmen be true?WHY not..they at least had time to practice these feats?

But WHERE are the photos?And if Anderson(or the people around him)could fool people in the 50's and 60's...and INCH could dupe people a few decades before that what about ALL the rest of these guys?

I'm beginning to doubt them all! :dry

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Baby. Bath water.

Each case is unique for study.

No general swath can cover a genre.

Do the deceivers lead the believers or do the believers

follow the deceivers?

Even now with evidence, some choose to borrow blinders from horses and trot along the cobblestoned streets that give them comfort.

No cause for alarm, Tom, but there is cause for further investigation.

Just because a few very strong men can lift certain

implements does not mean we should conclude all

strong men can do so. In reverse, just because some

past performers pretended strength levels beyond their abilities does not mean that all were guilty of the practice.

Saddle up, long ride ahead. :rolleyes

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I can get into my time machine and see them taking away my camera at the door....("sorry son this is being taped for later release"........oh yeah-MUCH later :dry) and the lighting is dim so we can't see the wires and the mirrors.....or the assistants -that with slight of hand- make the real weights- that the audience has already tested disappear....

Hooks-that had been hidden in the shirt sleeve of the strongman-assist with the lift.

An audience member has a fit of coughing-well timed-so that the audience is distracted for a split second.

Siegfreid and Roy make Tigers disappear......

A new sceptic is born.

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Sceptic is good. It merely reinforces the notion that

the affirmative has the burden of proof.

But keep in mind that while a lack of evidence is not in itself evidence, it sure does hinder belief.

What happens tomorrow at my house will happen,

and four of us will witness it. We will KNOW what happens,

and that will not change if no photos or films capture

that happening. But for proof, and to convince others,we four will need something other than our eyes.

Undocumented reality is nonetheless reality.

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The '64 year old man'with the 611 squat and 600 deadlift?

No photos but he has done these lifts officially in SEVERAL of the alphabet soup organizations-I believe ADFPA,NASA,APA,AAU,etc. etc.

His Name is DeEdwyn Shaw.He weighs less than 220-has even competed in 198's.His recent squat-611- was done at the age of 64.I have SEEN him pull 650 in th gym and he squats ROCK bottom..so judgeing is irrelevant?

I have seen him do EZ front squats with 315 also..

He has some big hands-very long- too :D(he really does..) gives me an idea. ;)

He was talking to this other guy who lost his grip and dropped the weight in a meet and DeEdwyn said that he doesn't give his grip a second thought nor does he even think about it when lifting....

Again-no photos-but his lifts are official.

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My doubts about this issue began a long time ago. When I researched and read about the feats of the great strongmen of old, I always wondered why there were rarely any photographs accompanying these claims. I became so frustrated that I began to believe that all of the old-time strongmen were fakes and used trickery, as well as flat out lied regarding their strength, or lack thereof. Now, I look at each person individually, and before I cast judgement upon them, I look for photos, video (if available), and anything that might substantiate their claims. Simply put, based on any evidence that I find, I'll make a choice whether or not to believe the claim being made. It's frustrating not to have more photos or documentation of the old-time strength greats especially when you can find quite a bit of pornography from the late 1800's and early 1900's (so I'm told)! I guess it's simply a matter of what was considered a priority then. It's good to be a skeptic, and it's always good to raise intelligent questions regarding the authenticity of the old-time claims of strength. Sorry to bore anyone, this is just my two cents worth of dung!

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Thats interesting trivia about the porn.Quite serious.

You'd think if they could go through all that trouble for something that might actually have been an illegal activity????????

Seems like SOMEBODY could have set up and filmed something like strongman 'feats'.....if not films? it would seem a few photographs would exist??

It's not like these guys were shy.Plenty of poses and some of them wearing very little clothes.Why no lifts?Flexing their biceps and looking oh so scarey...ooooohhhhh :erm

There are more photos of the Loch ness monster than there are old time strongmen actually lifting anything?

And-I'll catch some heat for this...but most of them really?just didn't look very strong.Sorry.Even in their best poses.possibly pumped up...favorable angles...OF COURSE A lot of guys ARE stronger than they look but????But put one of these guys standing next to Mark Henry?or Svend?Brad Gillingham?or Pfister?or even one of the smaller guys like Ahola(who outweighs me by about 7 or 8lbs :ohmy )...Again can't tell a book by it's cover..no doubt about it but..........???????????But that would likely even look comical.

Also-don't try to convince me that they didn't care how they looked?or that they were strongmen...NOT bodybuilders??that they didn't train for bulk or mass...

Then....why all the poses. :ninja

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Perhaps? at the old timers at their given specialties(assume they are true)they would dominate?? But with 400lb farmers implement in EACH hand?flipping an 1100lb tire or loading 6 stones that now go up to 420lbs?or harnessed up pulling two semis?or sprinting 1oo ft.with 880lb on the back in 15 seconds(and less)???

I'd take the modern guys. :rock

I think Mark-because of his lucrative WWE contract and Pfister because of his relative inexperience in weight training....have YET to hit their Strength peaks..and Brad has yet to really try pro Strongman...

5 years ago FarmersWalk with 265# was heavy...now its a sprint..and Heavy is 340#-360# even 400 ...look for 450 per hand on the farmers in 5 years.

Stones 5 years ago?5 stones up to 340 was Heavy in a full contest.Now several contests are up to 6 stones(one xtra)and weights up to 420.5years from now look for 450 in a contest and perhaps someone loading a 500 in an exhibiton...

Evolution....and lots of photos :D

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When did they do the farmers walk with 400 pounds indepently ineach hand.Louis Cyr shouldered a 400lb barrel with one hand , Goerner deadlifted 727lb with ONE hand , Apollon nearly snatched a weight that todays strongmen can,t budge from the ground , Herman Goerner was one hand snatching dumbells that were practically the same dimensions of the Inch dumbell everynight in his show that only a handfull of strongmen can deadlift properly and only two men in recent history has cleaned.

Goerner performed a farmers walk with 2 barbells with well over 600 lbs a much harder feat than todays farmers walk because of the balance, he also walked 50 feet with a 1400 lb wieght on his back something that even Kaz struggled with just to lift a few inches on the platform lift in the Le Defi Mark 10.

No i will still stick with the old timers :rock:bow

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I agree with chris i think that if you could bring back the oldtimers and they could use todays training as well as there own plus todays

supplements(not gonna go down the steroid path :blink )they would still be champs! :dry

But we must still give credit to all the people today who are pushing the strength bounderies.I also think that even though the evidence shows

that thomas inch was a cheat,he was still a very impressive strongman in other lifts and he gave us one of the greatest instruments to test our strength against,the mighty Inch d/bell! :blink

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Hmmmm, how to put this.....


With all the recent controversy over what people believe today's athlete's can do (and the amount of proof necessary), you still accept Goerner's 727 one-hand lift, farmers walk with 2x600lb barbells and Apollon one-hand snatch claim?? How did Goerner even pick up the 2x600lb barbells? It's hard enough to pick up even 1........

Well, my own incredulity aside, part of the idea behind this thread was about having pictures of these feats, not just pictures of those strongmen "posing". If you're going to say that you don't need any kind of proof to "believe" then I guess we should all bow down to Angus McCaskill as the strongest man ever. 5 ton anchor for a mile, or whatever it was.....and hey, his hands would have been bigger than Tony Scrivens'..... :dry

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You left out the part where MacAksill replaced an animal

to complete some field plowing!

The anchor feat is attributed to three different cities, and

the weight of it varies considerably from report to report.

He worked in a circus that didn't even exist in the time

frame etc etc

Many mythological tales which are far more myth than


He will be one of the characters we examine next year

in ironhistory.com.

Oh- and don't forget he stomped his foot leaving a

shoeprint in the wooden floor! :laugh

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The lift Goerner did do was over 300 lb in each hand making a total of over 600 combined.There are photos of Goerner lifting and one of him deadlifting 595 with 2 fingers of each hand easily.I also had proof of a person who actually witnessed some of his amazing feats.

Angus Macaskill lifted a half ton anchor for about 1/4 of a mile.

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In 2000 B&B contest was 341 several of the competitors went over 100ft(top of my head but i think Schoonveld,samuelson,pfister,janne).Phil did some exhibiton with 360 for a charity..don't have the weight or distance off the top of my Head but it was well documented.The Arnold was 405 per hand...yes it was not exactly a farmers walk-because the implemnts were attached in front.. but come on Pfister could do that with tanks,suitcase or whatever.

Steve Kirit has practiced with 380 and so has Schoonveld.

Zilstra hold some sort of 'worldrecord' over 100 ft with I believe 387...and he isn't really the best at this event.

Big Tony has done some practice runs with close to 400.

There was a report that 52 year old Odd Haugen walked some distance with over 400lbs.

Odd is putting on the upcomeing B&B someone could ask him.

Roark could ask Schoonveld about his poundages.

Pfister and Henry and others did 800 total at the Arnold ina sanctioned contest.

I will have someone ask phil what he has done in practice..we can ask Big Tony at the Snowman.

Again i would like to see more than Poses after having read the story on Anderson and having been looking around the internet lately and finding so many other activities so well documented(tight rope walking,vaudeville acts,dancing bears,porn,boxing,wild west extavaganzas,big bands,war,etc.etc. and lots of guys poseing but not lifting)

Not saying I don't believe they were strong but I think details were s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d and stories were exagerated.

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