Pierre Bonnes, Strongman of Paris, France

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Pierre Bonnes

From “Mighty Men of Old” Vol. I (n.d.) (Author unknown)

Pierre Bonne, Strongman, France

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"Pierre Bonnes of Paris, France.  He was one of the first men, along with Louis Vasseur, to fully exploit the possibilities of the fast split snatch with a wide grip.  It is hard to prove whether or not he was the first man to ever snatch over 250 pounds but he was certainly the first to snatch that much in the split style.  Once when he demonstrated his style before some prominent German strong men, using 220 pounds, they ridiculed his movements, laughed at the wide split and wide grip, said no one would ever lift much in that style and that he was foolish to continue to use it.  In March of 1940, Steve Stanko set a world’s record with the same split snatch of 301½ pounds.

Bonnes measurements were: height 5’8½”, weight 200 pounds, chest 483/8”, waist, 36”, thigh 25”, biceps 16¼”. Considered a small man in comparison with the strong men of that time, he nevertheless became Heavyweight Champion of the World.

The two styles of snatching, the squat and the split, were always a bone of contention between the German and the French lifters before France gained complete control of the Weightlifting Federation.  For instance, in one contest between the two nations the Germans disqualified all the split snatchers, so the French retaliated in the next contest by disqualifying all the squat snatchers.  It wasn’t until 1932 that the Germans finally considered the split snatch legal, though even today 80 percent of them still use the squat, for in the World’s Championships in 1931 in Luxembourg, Moktar Hussein lost his chance at the world’s title when he was disqualified for bringing his front foot back in too many movements in the split snatch.  Though the rules had been rewritten many times in order to give the splitter an even break, here was a technicality the German officials used hoping to discourage split snatchers.  When the French Federation rewrote the rules in 1935, they inserted a clause hoping to discourage squatters by making the lift illegal if the lifter failed to arise instantly, something that is very hard to do for a full squat snatcher."  

© Mighty Men of Old

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