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George Hackenschmidt and Frank Gotch?


I have been reading that in the 1800s/early 1900s, a lot of the pro wrestlers were not only legit amateur wrestlers, but they were exceptionally strong (doubling as strongmen and powerlifters) AND pioneered bodybuilding. Whatever happened to this era/why did it split?
Are there any present-day versions? These people have it all: size,strength and skill.

George Hackenschmidt

Frank Gotch

Clarence Whistler

Donald Dinnie

ok these guys are not from that era but they still ticked boxes

[B]Dara Singh[/b]-

Karl Gotch

Lou Thesz

Even people like Eugen Sandow, Arthur Saxon, and later John Grimek and Clancy Ross were noted to be champion strongmen,powerlifters AND bodybuilders.

What happened along the line?

If I recall correctly, didn't the bodybuilders of the 70's (Arnold,Fracno,Lou,Mike,Jack,etc) still knew strongman/endurance training as well as conventional powerlifting? Bruce Lee tried to do everything and was good at lots of things but only for the weight he was at.

To me Franco stood out as he was a boxer,powerlifter and strongman before bodybuilding. Arnold did a bit of powerlifting and strongman (how strong was he on the latter?) and boxed when he was young (how did that go?).

Nowadays it's always at best, two things people are good at- Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates were champion powerlifters and bodybuilders, Mariusz Pudzianowski was a champion powerlifter and strongman, most pro wrestlers were good at amateur wrestling and mediocre at bodybuilding (big but not defined)-these people never ticked all the boxes of bodybuilding, powerlifting, strongman,olympic lifting,martial arts,etc.


What happened is that the competitions evolved and the competitor pool grew. No one is going to reach the top echelons of a sport trying to do everything at once. You've got a pick a goal and damn well nearly dedicate your entire existence to achieving it. Think of guys like Flex Wheeler and Kevin Levrone. They did everything they could to achieve the best physiques possible and they couldn't even win a single Olympia. How far do you think they would have gotten if they'd been fucking around with strongman and boxing as well?

All the guys you mentioned came from a time when those competitions either weren't very evolved or didn't even exist. Could any of them even place in a bodybuilding comp today with those physiques? I doubt it.

If Derek Poundstone cuts weight to do a bodybuilding comp, he loses strength and subsequently loses WSM.

Maybe a freak of nature like what you're suggesting exists, but I think that mostly belongs to an era that's long gone. It's just not realistic.


I'm pretty sure most of those physiques wouldn't even get on stage at a natural bodybuilding show. One of those guys has 15' biceps. I don't even remember the last time my arms were that size and I almost NEVER do direct arm work!!

I think Cimmerian said it best - there's no way to win if you're all over the place. Once upon a time it was possible to know everything about computers too - now you have all kinds of specialties : network guys, hardware guys, database guys, etc., etc. There's just too much evolution for someone to keep up.

A lot of those guys you mentioned gravitated to their natural inclination and talent. Franco may have been a boxer but he wasn't competitive so he only used it to supplement his body building in the end.

It's a fun era to look back on and I still love how these guys trained - big lifts, explosive work, and just plain having fun without checking the mirror every 45 seconds or freaking out about bf% or pr's.

For what it's worth, Chris Jericho plays in a band, is a good hockey player and obviously lifts weights, and is a former WWE CHAMPION!


I've got GH's book, he still has a record which remains unbroken, something like a 1000LB wrestlers bridge. My two favorite old time strong men were Herman Goerner and Arthur Saxon, both still hold records which to this day remain unbroken. Doesn't answer your question but I thought they deserved a mention!


A discussion of noteworthy bodybuilders who were also very strong men cannot be credible without the inclusion of Bill Pearl. Mr. Universe in 1953, 1961, 1967, and 1971 are counted among his many titles and awards. And during part of his Hall of Fame career, he performed a strong man act, which included tearing license plates and bending 70-penny tent spikes with his hands, and blowing up hot water bottles with his lungs until the bottles exploded. All done with class. And WITHOUT steroids. A well-built man. A strong man.


I would bet the old school guys probably kept their strength and conditioning for later life because it was earned through hard work and sweat, there is something really honest and beautful about how they trained, funnily enough alot of the pillars of the strength game of old are coming back into the mainstream


without steroids....I'm not sure many will believe that.
Still no proof either way. Bill was always a favourite of mine


In an interview on another web site, when asked if he ever did steroids Bill Pearl answered:

BP: Yes, I have taken steroids. I would not take them in this stage of my life, but I got caught up in this thing like everybody else did.

That's pretty good proof right there, but he's still one of the greats.

I would pretty much assume that anybody involved with professional bodybuilding after 1958 was more than likely on steroids at some point. Especially considering that they were legal back then.


That only shows what a joke "natural" bodybuilding is.


None of those guys did anything remotely like todays bodybuilding, so I don't think it's a good comparison. I slso don't think the Mighty Stu is a joke as I believe he said he has 17" arms when dieted down to contest shape.


[quote]Cimmerian wrote:

All the guys you mentioned came from a time when those competitions either weren't very evolved or didn't even exist. Could any of them even place in a bodybuilding comp today with those physiques? I doubt it.


of course not because todays guys are on the jucie,but you also clearly do not undersatnd the late 19th-early 20th century era of training they prized health,longivity,vigor/vitality,health and strength first..the building of muscles was looked upon as a "REWARED" for doing the right thing in and out of the gym and lifing the health lifestyle 24/7.


No franco stopped boxing becaue as memroy serves he either killed a man in the ring accidently or came close to it.


I had a book written by Bill Pearl called "Getting Stronger" and he did mention he used them for some time, but it sounded like he did not use them for most of his competitive career. I can't remember all the details.

To me that's believable. He was naturally a pretty big guy and competitors at the time weren't as crazy lean as today.


The doses they used back then were no where near as high as today's pros. It's like I said, though, these guys could get on a prescription and be monitored by a doctor. They weren't stacking huge doses of multiple steroids like guys do today.

The most common denominator for the guys of the Golden Era is hard work. They worked their asses off and built their physiques through dedication. While the steroids undoubtedly helped, they were low doses by today's standards and I have no doubt that they were not a huge part of Pearl's success.


I would agree. Those old school guys are definitely inspirational.

With regards to the first post there are a couple lifters that excel in several disciplines but they are more an exception than the rule. Training for competitions has become a lot more specialized. If you watch some of the Oldest World's strongest man competitions (from the late 1970s) there are competitors from various sports such as American Football, Track and Field, Bodybuilding, Powerlifting and Arm Wrestling. Now most of the competitors specialize in strongman.

There are always some FREAKS though. Mikhail Koklyaev of course does olympic lifting, powerlifting and strongman. Mark Henry was a great powerlifter, but also competed at high levels of olympic lifting and strongman in addition to doing the pro wrestling. Wrestling legend Alexander Karelin also competed in olympic lifting when he was younger and did a clean and jerk with something like 190-kilos (can't recall the exact number)


I agree that each sport/competition has specialized to the point where one can only really hope to train for and compete in one or two at the most. There will always be genetic freaks, but you just won't find someone being able to be competitive in strongman, powerlifting, bodybuilding, and pro wrestling at the same time. The competition is just too great to spread yourself that thin. That doesn't mean that someone couldn't do each one at different points of their careers, of course.


Hi guys, not been on here a while but I think the 60s/70s had the best bodybuilders: Arnold,Franco,Lou,Sergio,Reg Park,Steve Reeves,Chet Yorton,Jack LaLanne,Tom Platz,Mentzer bros.

Arnold,Lou and Franco in particular were amazing powerlifters; all 3 of them were benching over 400 (450 for Arnold and Lou and 500 for Franco) and deadlifting over 600 (Arnold did 710, Franco 750 and Lou allegedley 850!). Franco squatted 600 I think (Arnold's Squat was pretty weak-only 450).Not saying today's guys are weak per se but only Dorian Yates,Ronnie Coleman,Stan Efferding and Johnnie Jackson are much stronger.

Ok Jay Cutler's a little stronger than Arnie and Lou but for someone near 300lbs he's not that strong (630lb Deadlift and 520lb Bench) considering Arnie and Lou are smaller-Franco much smaller but stronger from his powerlifting days. The guys I mentioned earlier were much fitter too aerobically.

Dexter Jackson however, is pretty strong! 450lb Bench and his Curls are at 200lbs-good for one of the smaller guys!

Mariusz Pudzianowski is one of the few guys who can do well in Powerlifting AND Bodybuilding as well as Strongman but his MMA sucks. Brock Lesnar's probably one of the strongest UFC Champions AND biggest. Can't comment on Chieck Kongo and Bobby Lashley as they don't have impressive wins yet.


Don't mean to bump this

But Dara Singh has passed away after cardiac arrest ,his kidneys failing and going brain dead-he was sufferning for several days. His son said he had a rare brain disease and several years ago had been paralysed.

Not sure if he won commonwealth titles in amateur or pro wrestling but he did pehlwani when he was young to get to that point.

84 years-gone too soon


Times change, people change, and eras change as well. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. I think it had to do with a lot of the general population and what THEY wanted. Who wants to watch a 3 hour wrestling match? You had other sports come along that weren't so time consuming, boxing and baseball come to mind.

You might find some athletes today that honestly posess some of these traits. Most of them are also-rans.

It was always my opinion that Sandow was a fraud. If you have to go to court to prove yourself, you've already lost respect right there. Saxon proved himself time and time again, even to people like Donald Dinnie. Grimek was undefeated as a professional bodybuilder, and yet hardly anyone knows of him.

Possibly. They knew that strength was a very big part of bodybuilding, but it was a piece of the pie. Unfortunetly, bodybuilding back in the 70's didn't pay jack squat, and a lot of those guys had to do other gigs just to make ends meet.

Bruce Lee was an amazing specimen of human endurance, speed and skill. But remember: he was an actor.

Arnold also did a bit of acting, figuring out that bodybuilding was a stepping stone to bigger things to come.

Because it's way too much to do all of that and still be remembered for being good at just ONE thing. If you throw up a name like Ronnie Coleman, my first response is that he's a well-known bodybuilder. Same thing for Dorian Yates.