The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

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Best Physical Culturists representing each decade during the past 100 years.

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Harry Hayfield
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The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by Harry Hayfield » Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:03 pm

Overview
After the First World War, it had become clear that the military of the world were not as healthy or as strong as they should have been therefore physical culture started to emerge as an actual thing. This was demonstrated in schools in the United Kingdom where regular vitamin supplements were made compulsory and PE classes were introduced. It was also the decade that Hollywood started to mass produce movies with stars such as Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chaplin. It also introduced the world to stars who were not afraid to show their muscles on the screen such as Johnny Weissmuller (who played Tarzan in 1929)

Rules
1) All nominees must have been born prior to 1900
2) All nominees must have come to public prominence between 1920 and 1929
3) Nominations will be accepted in text (name of physical culturist), images or video (labelled with the name, country of birth and date of image)
4) Nominations will close at 0000 PST on February 8th 2019
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)

peter yates
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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by peter yates » Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:31 pm

Hi Harry,
so i have two nominations if that is allowed. First up is Heinrich[Milo] Steinborn. Born 1894 in Seiburg, Prussia, started training while interned in Australia as a prisoner of war. Even training in less than ideal circumstances he built up his strength and a terrific physique and in the 1920 German championships came second to Karl Moerke. Soon after he went to The USA where he astounded everyone with his strength,speed and beautiful lifting style. He spent a large portion of his life as a top billing wrestler, ran a gym and trained other wrestlers. What makes him stand out though is him introducing the heavy flat foot squat into North America and forever changing weightlifting and weight training.

My second choice is the previously nominated Alan Meade. After losing a leg serving in WW1 he built one of the best physiques of his generation and became a first class exponent of Muscle Control. He opened a high class physical culture studio which featured many unique training apparatus designed by Meade. Main point though is his willingness to help aspiring trainees even at his own expense and also helping war injured recover from their wounds with his unique recuperative methods.
Come on guys get into the spirit of this and nominate a candidate.
Regards,Peter.
Peter Yates

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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by Handson » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:08 am

Peter

A.P. Mead has to be in the running.

Incidentally I have a bit of info which may be of interest on the high-brow Phillips-Mead family - they didn't use the hyphenated version.

Alan Phillips Mead (6 April 1894 - 29 July 1972, Greenwich) was one of four brothers all in the well-heeled family legal profession firm headed by their father John Phillips Mead Snr (1858 - 1931) three of whom -Alan included - fought in WWI.

Comparatively speaking Alan fared better than his two enlisted brothers and outlasted all of his siblings.

2nd Lt Christopher Phillips Mead (1888 - 28 September 1915) was killed leading a grenade attack on German trenches at Hohenzollern, Vermelles, France -attachment refers.

Regiment/Service: East Surrey Regiment, 'A' Coy. 4th Bn. attd. 2nd Bn.
Honors: Mentioned in Despatches.

Burial:
Loos Memorial at Dud Corner Cemetery
Loos-en-Gohelle, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais,

Two months later Geoffrey Phillips Mead (1892 - 1915) an Army Despatch rider died in a Hospital in Alexandria on 2 December 1915, from pneumonia a side effect of enteric fever -always a hazard in Egypt.

Their mother born Maud Helen Kate Church-King (1860-9 April 1944) had her fourth son John Phillips Mead Jnr (1886 - 2 January 1951) in support of his father in the firm of Mead & Co., 2 King’s Bench Walk, Inner Temple, Teddington, during these difficult times.

Maud was a prime mover in establishing the War Memorial and the War Memorial Hospital in Teddington where Alan probably did some of the physiotherapeutic work you mentioned.

I think Alan was a life-long bachelor.

Somewhere I have a photo of Alan in a different pose to the impressive 'traps' one usually shown.
Regards
Handson
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peter yates
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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by peter yates » Sun Feb 03, 2019 2:33 pm

Thanks Handson for this terrific information. So tragic to lose two sons like that,but unfortunately common in that war. Quite a few lifters lost life or limb in that conflict and lifting/exercise helped restore some of the damaged who came back.
Regards,Peter.
Peter Yates

sticksb
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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by sticksb » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:29 pm

Harry's overview and Hanson's historical post are beautifully composed . Observations
on how the military influences physical training date back to the Romans and Spartans.
I remember my dad looking at the Bruce Randall course that came with the Billard barbell
set and saying , " squatting , pressing , pulling and sit-ups , hummmm just like the corps
only we did it with a dozen guys at a time with a phone pole ". Dad did not exercise much
but remained a very strong man his whole life because of his training in the marine corps.
Relates to Dianes library topic thread about early hard training and longevity / quality of life.

peter yates
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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by peter yates » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:09 pm

So Sticks and Handson,your nominations please.
Peter Yates

sticksb
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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by sticksb » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:06 pm

Earl E Liederman .

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Internalfitness
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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by Internalfitness » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:12 pm

Public prominence a bit debatable I suppose, but (as well as Alan Meade), I'll go for:

Charles Atlas!

And, connected to old Charlie:

Tony Sansone (who a certain Mr Gentle is said to have remarked: "If Sansone had been born in Greek antiquity, he would have been immortalized as a god."). Word to the wise - go a bit careful if you're going to search for Tony Sansone pics in a public place ;)

It's difficult to pick out best physical culturists rather than just the best looking guys (or gals) from an era. Being a fan of vintage boxing, I've always liked the look of Dempsey and Tunney from this time as well (although Max Baer in the 30's probably would be my go to if I had to just nick someone else's body for my own).

Richie.

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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by Handson » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:48 am

The right honourable gentleman makes some very good points in his final paragraph.
The definition of physical culture is the development of the body by exercise.
Exercise as a means to what end -to look pretty per se or to incidentally become a fine physical specimen for reasons other than pure narcissism?
The question can easily become nebulous without further qualification.

Most fair thinking persons would take account of candidates who have overcome physical adversity and/or have excelled in activities requiring powerful bodies -the boxing personalities are cases in point but are not exhaustive of course.
Bill Pullum and some of his disciples and the already mentioned Alan Phillips Mead would score heavily in these departments and concomitantly had exceptional physiques.
But for most of the ‘Camberwell set’ their interest did not primarily lie in disrobing & looking aesthetically attractive for the sake of it and so would not necessarily come to mind immediately as leading physical culturists in the pure sense.

In days of yore people like Sandow came to prominence helped by his savvy business acumen and in more modern times personalities with mediocre physiques but with even more ‘snake oil’ type advertising could develop a certain aura around themselves (no names no pack drill).

For the reasons given above I’d give A. P. Meade and T. W. Clarke of the CWLC the nod though the field is wide open.

Handson

peter yates
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Re: The Best Physical Culturists of the 1920's

Post by peter yates » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:42 pm

Hi Handson,
i myself find it very difficult to pick one or even ten out from the amazing line up of PC practitioners of the period from the late 19th century to 1960. There were just so many capable all rounders who were not "All show and no go." It was a time when whether one trained for physique excellence or lifting ability or combat sports, there would be cross training among the various disciplines making for much better balanced individuals. Many also contributed in some way to the spread of PC and the betterment of their fellow man. I missed the first round and would have nominated Hackenschmidt as my first choice but then other still came to mind. Anyway Harry started this as a fun endeavor so joining in to help along although in reality i have no favorites.Like them all.
Regards,Peter.
Peter Yates

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