The Mighty Sandow: How the world’s strongest man wowed Australian audiences in 1902

Infographic: A fold-out of Eugen Sandow’s arm from his 1902 book The Gospel of Truth

ABC reported this fascinating story about one of the earlier body builders of our time. I was particularly interested in the long strong arm because my own is not working very well at the moment, especially with ‘writers’ elbow’.

The most interesting thing about this story is the first paragraph…

His first Sydney appearance promised he would exhibit his “400 phenomenally developed” muscles, tear packs of playing cards in half, and lift – at arm’s length – a grand piano on which a musician was performing, and support on his chest “a platform (weighing 800lbs/363kg) on which three horses play at see-saw”.

With his golden curls, waxed moustache and bulging muscles, Eugen Sandow cut quite a figure when he performed in Australia in 1902.

Born Friedrich Wilhelm Mueller in Prussia in 1867, Sandow was billed as the strongest man on earth and has come to be regarded as the father of body building.

The National Library of Australia (NLA) has a collection of material related to his Australian tour, including handbills, newspaper reports and a local edition of his book The Gospel of Strength, which included exercises that outlined Sandow’s theories on physical culture.


10 thoughts on “The Mighty Sandow: How the world’s strongest man wowed Australian audiences in 1902”

  1. What a fascinating story! Such phenomenal strength seems incredible. I imagine he did accomplish the feat with the grand piano? That would have been really something to see.
    (Hope your elbow is getting at least a bit better now. I can imagine how painful and debilitating it’s been.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought that piano lifting feat was amazing. I don’t know, it does not say in his story from the National Library but, I guess he did lift it. My arm soreness transferred to my hip and knees – more physic today and chiro tomorrow. I am easing off pain-killers so hoping for a full usage of my arm next week. I guess the pain won’t go away until it full heals. Thank you so much Millie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really feel for tou. No pain is nice, but you seem to be having more than your fair share right now. It’s strange that it’s gone to your hip and knees. Surely that’s not caused by using a computer for too long? Whatever is causing all this, I hope the medics can sort it out soon. Take care of yourself, Joycelin.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your body will, eventually, heal. These things take time, frustrating as that can be. You’ll just have to slow your hectic life down for w while until all’s well again. Not easy, I know, when you’re used to being so active. I’ll send healing thoughts your way. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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