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R.k.fox & birth of kennedy lift


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Richard Kyle Fox died 79 years ago today.

In 1890 he organized a contest for which Willoughby

says the determining factor was 'strength of grip'.

"Fox conceived the idea of having a weight of

1000 pounds cast, and of offering a trophy to

any man who could lift it with his hands alone.

A huge block-shaped weight was cast and two

handles affixed to the top, the grips being about

24 inches from the ground. Upon completion, the

weight, which was curiously called a  'dumbell',

was found to weigh 1030 lb."

Failing to lift the weight were Milo, Selig Whitman,

Duncan Ross, Charles Jefferson, and Sebastian


The winner was 29 year old James Walter Kennedy,

and his style was to straddle the weight, grasping one

handle in front, one behind, keeping the back and

arms straight, and clearing the floor a couple of inches.

Thus, The Kennedy Lift was born.

(see Ironman, January 1957 p 29 for more details)

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I wish I knew! As with so many of our sport's

artifacts, locations become secret, or iron

destroyed; the fate of this piece- I have no idea.

I can tell you that it is probably on the first floor

of whatever building it's in...

Once thought of composing a list of famous old iron

pieces, the Inch bells, the von Boeckman 80 lb iron

Indian club etc., and appealing to whomever has

these artifacts or knows of their locations to please

share that info with us. Would it not be wonderful

to see these artifacts as they are today, get precise

measurements and photos, and post them for all to


Regarding Fox's 1,030 lb weight- wouldn't it be fun to

include it as part of a World's Strongest Men competition!

Perhaps deadlifting it for reps. We can rule out the one

arm swing!

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Few people appreciate how much weight can be lifted in the straddle style. Before the arrival of a suitable rack at the gym where I currently train, my goal was to break the Smith machine with progressively heavier straddle lifts. A squat rack arrived shortly and so the Smith machine was spared.

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