What happened to the likes of Georg Hackenschmidt and Frank Gotch?

Discussion in 'Wrestling' started by ronki23, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member

    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

    Dara Singh-


    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.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  2. Rand86

    Rand86 likes to butt heads

    Can't speak for others, but as for Pudzianowski...

  3. callsignfuzzy

    callsignfuzzy Is not a number!

    I think we're seeing a separation between "functional strength" and hypertrophy-based "get big muscles" training that didn't exist, or at least wasn't predominant, in that era.

    Modern Olympic wrestlers and combat athletes are among the most fit in the world. See: Sean Sherk, Matt Hughes, Alexandre Karelin, Steeve Guenot, Andre Galvao, etc. However, modern body-building competitions emphasize a different look. I suspect this is largely due to the amount and types of supplements that are availible now, as well as a better understanding of how to create hypertrophy.

    Bottom line: bigger muscles burn more oxygen, so combat athletes participating in events that go on for more than a few minutes are going to have a leaner look. Body builders and even strongmen don't have the same gas tank, or need one for their normal activities for that matter, as your Frankie Edgars and Manny Pacquiaos.
  4. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member

    But all the great bodybuilders WERE champion powerlifters and/or strongmen first: Jack LaLanne,Dr Squat, Tom Platz,Dave Draper,Arnold (for his time he was strong), Franco, Lou, Mike Mentzer (stronger than Arnold I hear), Dorian, Ronnie,etc.
    No offence to Dorian/Ronnie or even those forgotton ones like Lee Haney, Samir Bannout, Chris Dickerson were the beginning of when bodybuilding was appearance-only or (at best) powerlifting and size.
    Those in the 70's also had functional strength beyond powerlifting e.g. handstands, moving cars around,blowing up hot water bottles,etc.

    Do you get any more people like this nowadays? The only one(s) I can think of are Brock,Lashley and Overeem (both are not only big but are powerlifting strong as well as strong in their sport specific training).

    Also, has it actually been proven that 'big muscles gas out quicker'? If you train for hypertrophy/anabolic you also get hyperplasia/androgenic (MORE overall blood cells).
  5. Late for dinner

    Late for dinner Valued Member

    Looks aren't the only thing...


    Considered one of the strongest men of all time there is little shapely about Louis Cyr....

    ''The Grade 4 class visited the museum Louis - Cyr . Then we did some research to find out more about Louis Cyr who was one of the strongest men in the world. Louis Cyr was born en1863 in Napierville, Quebec. He died in 1912 at the age of 49. He was buried here in the cemetery of Saint-Jean-de-Matha. It measured 79 1 m (5 feet 10 ½ inches). He weighed over 300 pounds. The extent of his neck was 55.9 cm and he had big biceps. It was impressive feats of strength. His wife's name was Melina Comtois and her daughter named Emilianna Cyr . With his family, Louis Cyr has spent many years in St-Jean-de-Matha, because his wife was from our village. Did you know that this is Louis Cyr who created the first circus in Quebec? By: Sophie and Leony Cleassens Gadoury''

    His recorded feats, including lifting 500 pounds (227 kg) with one finger and carrying 4,337 pounds (1967 kg) on his back, show Cyr to be, according to former International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness chairman Ben Weider, the strongest man ever to have lived.

    Largely (no pun intended) born that way... no power lifting/drugs needed :' )



    Attached Files:

  6. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Specialization, money and drugs happened (ie evolution)
    The old time pro wrestlers had to double as strongmen/entertainers because there wasn’t enough money in the sport to live on they had to do other things, plus lets not forget pro wrestling was entertainment so doing other feats to entertain people was not that big a jump……if they could have made the money from just wrestling they would have, look at the Indian wrestlers the true pro athletes of their generation, they didn’t need to do circus stunts or other sports to make ends meet and thus their level of skill in their specific sports was unmatched as the great Gama showed

    Drugs and more money
    Before the 70’s it was very hard if not impossible to get big just on body split routines, they require way to much volume to do naturally, so what happened was you build the size using the big powerlfits, and build the definition much later using special body part training, the introduction of drugs made the first part unnecessary, and the money that came into the sport after Arnold made it unnecessary for them to have to do other events like power meets or highland games to make ends meet, they could concentrate on bodybuilding full time they didn’t have to be strong, they simply had to look strong

    Specializationand money
    As more money came into the various sports, people had to specialize more and more, gone are the days your average shotputter could enter a highland games or strongman comp and do well, now you have to practise the lifts a lot in order to be competitive, ever tried log pressing or walking with a car, its something you really have to spend a lot of time on
    Likewise powerlifting with the money involved in the pro meets and the gear they use is a specialized sport which takes years to master, ever tried benching with a shirt on? totally different feel and technique to free benching, like wise using a squat suit, the gear also makes the time needed to invest in training increase and increase, a raw squat workout can take 30 minutes, a geared workout can last hours its just the way it is
    Pro wrestling now has enough money involved for people not to have to spend hours doing strongman comps and the risk of injury that entails, when you are getting paid a few hundred pounds for a wrestling show, getting a little extra taking part in a highland game can be very appealing, when you are on a 6 figure contract to the WWE, risking injury for a few thousand pounds is just not worth it,

    Also the actual lifts used in strongman, Ol lifting and powerlifting have become much more specialized, and thus you have to train the lifts on a constant basis, in the old days strongman comps used one hand lifts, two person lifts, odd objects, barbells, dumbbells kelltebells they used raw powerlifts and Ol lifts and lifts like two hands anyhow etc people who were just strong could take part in various different comps without practising the actual lifts…so jumping from one to the other was easy (Kaz powerlifting and dominating strongman for example) now with the specialised gear used in powerlifting, and the fact a lot of the strongman lifts used are very technical (dragging buses, Hercules holds, stones etc) and need constant practise you simply need to specialize in one over the other. Case in point Big Z was a powerlifting champ before becoming a strongman, but he had to specialize in strongman in order to become good at it

    Now at the local and amateur levels, a lot of people do still compete in powerlifting, bodybuilding and strongman, and even also do amateur fighting, you simply wont see it at the top levels of these sports for the reasons listed about

    And I have never seen any reference to the fighters you listed, Brock,Lashley and Overeem being powerlifter strong, can you show their stats for the deadlift, bench and squat? Because unless they are pulling over 650, squatting over 600 and benching over 400 they are not national level in those sports at even an amateur level
  7. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    It is worth mentioning that Karl Gotch, Frank Gotch and Lou Thesz were the only ones the OP listed I would even consider as legit wrestlers ("shooters") and they never actually did the whole strongman schtick.

    Gene Lebell, who trained under Gotch and Thesz, considers Gotch the toughest of all time
  8. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Hackenschmidt was a legit orld champion in greco i believe, and also toured the Uk spanking the catch guys
    Sandow was a champion in swiss folk style, (belt wrestling i believe), but still not many and id argue the level of competition back then was low
  9. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member

    Several careers

    George Hackendschmit was a Greco-Roman Wrestler and Donald Dinnie 'excelled' in Wrestling. Regarding the former, it seems these matches were real?


    Gotch and Thesz, although they weren't strongmen, I include them in here as they were amateur wrestlers. Ok, you get a lot of amateur wrestlers in pro wrestling but this whole thread is about the era when they AT LEAST knew two things: amateur wrestling and strongman, strongman and powerlifting, strongman and bodybuilding, powerlifting and bodybuilding, powerlifting and amateur wrestling, bodybuilding and amateur wrestling- most of these people knew AT LEAST two of these things AND were pro wrestlers!!

    I forgot to mention Georg Lurich

    Is there anyone today that is not only big and defined but can back it up with strength AND knows how to fight? The reason I mentioned Brock,Bobby and Overeem was because they are pretty big for MMA fighters and are quite strong.

    That's why I admire Franco Columbu, he came on the scene much later than the above and was a powerlifter,strongman AND boxer before winning Mr Olympia. I admire Arnold as well (what were his lifting records in both strongman and powerlifting before bodybuilding?) because he was strong (I hear) and he boxed when he was younger? Plus most of those bodybuilders were aerobically fit.


    Do you get people who can do 'everything' today?
  10. Rand86

    Rand86 likes to butt heads

    Refer back to my post on Pudzianowski.

    Good enough for you?
  11. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member

    He doesn't fight enough/is sloppy- anyone GOOD at all the things?
  12. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    not being funny but what was francos record in boxing, how often did he fight was he sloppy?

    alot of those you listed, gotch Thez etc never competed in anything other than wrestling...not strongman not powerlifting so why include them on the list?
  13. sakumeikan

    sakumeikan Valued Member

    strong men

    Hi, Check out Slim the Hammerman , The great Gama [Indian Wrestler ] and the Mighty Atom.The last guy was able to hold back a twin prop plane with his hair.He also could bite siver dollars in half .Pound for pound the greatest of them all. Slim [the Hammerm an] sorry forget his last name , is a protege of the MIGHTY ATOM . Joe.
  14. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member

    I love this thread. I didn't know about Gama!


    He puts Khali to shame.

    Did Dara Singh ever meet Gama?

    People like this are my heroes.

    Do you get people like this (strongman/powerlifter (strength), legit wrestler/fighter (skill) AND pro wrestler/bodybuilder (size) anymore?????
  15. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member

    1. Thesz and Gotch may not have competed in anything other than wrestling but they had physiques even Schwarzenegger admired AND were around near the time

    ^Was pro wrestling legit in those days as most of these guys' wrestling careers on youtube seem to be described as real (they were punched,kicked and bled/got KO'd in their matches)?

    2. Franco-champion boxer in Italy and 2 other countries. Also he was powerlifter AND strongman.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka4USCFQtVY&lc=yB75toejTocD0eAHq8RZV2TeU5klkTptM65df2u69AY&feature=inbox"]Franco Columbu "The Sardinian Strongman" - YouTube[/ame]

    3. How strong was Arnold in terms of powerlifting and (more importantly) strongman. How was his boxing?
  16. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I seen him punch a camel once.
    KO'd a horse.
    His boxing was clearly legit.
  17. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Hackenschmidt was a powerful guy who wrestled, but is NOT a "shooter" by any measure. Most insiders rate him as a powerhouse not a technician. Martin Burns was a technical wizard, and he trained Frank

    Great Gama was a force of nature

    Karl Gotch and Lou Thesz were workers, but back in the days when you had to be legit tough to act tough. Gene LeBell was a student of Lou and trained with Karl, as well as another guy that you missed Ed "Strangler" Lewis

    If big Strong guys Who can ruck interest you, You might also want to look at Bert Assirati
  18. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Shame...got a great book by him. Learnt the "arm-roll" from that book and used it in BJJ quite a bit.
  19. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member


    How much did he box/did he fight in any matches?
  20. ronki23

    ronki23 Valued Member


    Slim Hammerman-eat your heart out Triple H


    Might Atom


    Anyone in the present day have the ability to succeed in all three things? The closest I can think of are Jean Claude Van Damme,,Ronnie Coleman and Mariusz Pudzianowski but except Franco they can't do all things (size,strength,skills)
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012

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