T Nation

Eugen Sandow and His Untimely Death


Eugen Sandow, the pioneer of bodybuilding and health & fitness. With size and physique beyond his contemporaries, one would think that Sandow would live a very long, healthy and active life. However, he died at the age of 58 from a stroke?!?!

Does anybody know in more detail of why/how someone of his physical prowess and his seemingly healthy/active lifestyle could have passed away at such an early age?

My best guess is the physical stress from the shows he did and emotional stress with his family...I really don't know any other guess I can make.


Stroke refers to more than one disease process. There are thrombotic strokes caused by abnormal blood clotting in a cerebral artery, and hemorrhagic strokes, caused by bleeding into the brain. Thrombotic strokes are more common.

He might have had a congenital intracerebral aneurysm, a weakness and bulging of the wall of an artery in or around the brain. It could have burst, causing bleeding into the brain substance and death. A person can live with an intracerebral aneurysm for decades and not know they have it, until one day it bursts. He might have suffered from unrecognized and untreated high blood pressure which would have greatly increased his chances of thrombotic stroke. He might have inherited a blood clotting disorder making his blood more likely, or less likely to clot. Plus, the post-mortem exam might have been wrong. Being physically fit doesn't necessarily protect one from early sudden death.


From what I've heard he drove his car into a ditch. He attempted to pull it out by himself and died trying.


Some people can live as healthy as they can manage and still die young. On the other hand you hear about the people who smoke and drink and eat crap into their 90s. Lo que paso, paso.


Uhm, this was the early 1900's. Are people really unaware that advances in medicine are the only reason our life expectancy has INCREASED over the last 100 years? Considering when he died, 58 is pretty damn normal.

Why relate this to acrobatics or his family?


Florence Griffith-Joyner was in great shape as well and died before the age of 40 with no warnings at all.

Guess what, people (especially the OP)....humans die all of the time with no warning and it doesn't mean they did something wrong. Your heart could stop tomorrow no matter how great you ate or how many push ups you did on a bosu-ball.

That is why making the most of your time and working on quality of life makes a hell of a lot more sense than trying to live forever by eating more tofu than everyone else or taking in less than 1,000 cals a day because some monkeys lived longer in a lab.


he could have had a genetic predisposition to strokes. but X is right it was the Victorian era when he died (i think) so it wasn't like they could stick a stent in.


This is probably among the least kept secrets of the Iron Game so I am surprised no one has mentioned it as of yet... Good ol' Sandow died from untreated syphilis. Unlike todays "champions" though he really was a good ol' chap in regards to how he gave a damn about more things than just hitting the gym living the "cool" bodybuilding lifestyle (pop roids, wear a cap and shades in the gym and charge a buch for most every breath that is aimed at the fan). Then again, his flaws was in the frivolous sexual department along with perhaps not being the best family guy on the face of this earth...



What, no allegations of steroid use?

(yes, I'm probably only amusing myself here)


In a way I feel ProfessorX already covered that topic in this thread by briefly bringing up Fl-Jo...who by the way was not as fit and in shape (had several seizures in the past) as was indicated. Not that her use of Cro-Magnon medicine etc would have had anything to do with her early demise though.


Some people are just too buff to live.

Too buff to live, too proud to die, as they say.


Was he the one that was known as a "legendary drinker"


What's that saying...?

Eat healthy, stay fit, die anyway.

or was it...

All these health and fitness nuts are gonna one day be sitting around confused, wondering why they're dying from nothing.


A post-hole digger.

For digging holes, for posts.


Genetics man, Mel Siff died at an even younger age despite living the healthiest lifestyle of anyone I know.


I think you have easily enough evidence and cause to exhume the body here. Let us know what you find out


Life expectancy in the USA in 1900 for men was about 46 years of age, and by 1925 was about mid 50's. So living into his 50's was living about 10-12% longer than average - or at least he lived the full life expectancy for the time. Some speculate Sandow had syphilis. Syphilis is cured with penicillin which was not invented for a few years after his death. Plus the diagnosis of syphilis was probably a bit unreliable back then - as was medical care in general. So did he have it, did he not have it? If he had it they had no good treatments for it. The inflammation of syphilis does increase the risk of stroke.

But in any regards he lived longer than was average, or at least was average, for a male at the time. It would be hard to argue his training hurt him at all. He was an old man, by the standards of the day, and was probably more vigorous than most - he was more vigorous than most 50 somethings by todays standards


Life expectancy does not work that way,

Their average life expectancy was lower because a lot of children died.

Even today you have a much higher individual life expectancy once you hit 60 than average because if you have made it so far you will likely make it past 80.


There's a lot of shit that can go undetected and yet kill you with no warning.

Leukemia and some other cancers can go undetected for a while, and can masticize to other areas before they're detected, and yet the individual can still be asymptomatic. Often, the first symptom of hemochromatosis, a harmful buildup of iron in the liver, is catastrophic multi-organ system failure. Aneurysms can very often be fatal and happen with little warning.

Of course, exercise and a good diet dramatically reduce your risk for damn near everything (except STDs since we're all so damn sexy). Lift heavy, eat clean, don't smoke, wear your seatbelt, and you'll have a really really high chance of living a very long life with a very high quality of life.


This. This a thousand times over. This is my basic response to the people who tell me "caloric restriction is healthier than what you're doing!!!"