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List Verse For centuries strongmen have been entertaining crowds by their demonstrations of strength. Many strongmen relied on unique acts that would set them apart from other strongmen and usually claimed they were the only one in the world to perform such a feat. This list includes 10 of the most amazing and unique acts performed by the strongmen of yesteryear.
Gasnier was born in France and was one of the first most influential of the old time circus strongmen and performed for Barnum and Bailey Circus. Gasnier could rip a deck of cards in half but his most famous feat was breaking a chain over his chest while expanding his ribcage. Interesting Fact: Gasnier stood only 5’ 3 tall and weighed just 143.5lbs and was able to lift a dumbbell weighing 260 lbs over has head. A feat that many strongmen twice his size could not do.
Zass was born in Vilna, Poland, but lived his early years in Russia. Like many other strongmen of his era, Zass was motivated to develop his strength when he attended a circus and saw the feats done by the circus strongman. Zass started with bending green branches and twigs, climbing trees, and running with home made dumbbells and barbells. Later he trained under some of the great Russian professional strongmen. Zass developed tremendous strength that allowed him to carry a horse on his shoulders but his greatest talent was bending steel bars and breaking chains which were the center piece of his exhibitions.
Interesting Fact: In 1914, While serving in the Russian army during the First World War, Zass was wounded and taken prisoner by the Austrian forces. As a prisoner of war he continued to develop his strength with the use of isometrics by pulling on the bars and chains. Zass escaped from prison and never returned to his homeland.
Thomas Inch held the titles of Britain’s Strongest Youth and Britain’s Strongest Man. However Inch is best know for a dumbbell he created now called the “Inch dumbbell” The dumbbell weighed 172 lbs 9 ounces. To keep the dumbbell from bending it was made with extra thick handles which ended up making it very popular because it was so difficult to lift. In his day Thomas Inch was one of the few people that could lift the dumbbell and would offer 200 British Pounds to anyone who could. Interesting Fact: At the age of 72 Thomas Inch could still lift his namesake dumbbell. Even today very few people can lift it.
John Holtum, was a strongman from Denmark who drew immense crowds in cities around the world by perfecting the cannonball catch. With Holtum on one side of the stage and a cannon on the other, an assistant would fire a fifty pound ball which Holtum caught with his gloved hands and chest. The feat required immense strength, steely nerves and lightning fast reflexes. Several skeptics questioned the legitimacy of his act but were convinced after Holtum brought them on stage for a demonstration. Holtum appeared before Royalty in Europe and was a great success in the U.S. as well.
Interesting Fact: Holtum’s initial attempt to catch the ball, resulted in his losing three fingers. Holtum offered 3000 francs to anyone who would perform a similar feat but no one ever took him up on his challenge.