A History of Strength, Muscle and Power

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Forums Personals – Meet Other Bodybuilders Post Your Pictures A History of Strength, Muscle and Power

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    Louis Ferrigno (born 1951, still living)

    Born in Brooklyn in November 1951, Louis didn’t have the best start in life. A series of ear infections meant that by the time he entered kindergarten he was as much as 80% deaf, but the condition was not formally recognised until then and as a result was bullied for it with classmates calling him “deaf Louie” because of how he sounded. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to hear that as soon as he was able to he sought out a hero to try and redress the balance, and who was that hero you may ask? It was none other than Hercules himself, or to be more accurate Steve Reeves’ portrayal of the Greek legend and so in 1964 he starting training citing Spider-Man and the alter ego of David Banner as role models.

    Well, it certainly worked because after graduating from school in 1969, he started winning contests his first being the teenage class of the 1971 Pro Mr. America contest and from then on there was no stopping him winning Mr. America in 1973 and Mr. Universe in 1974, but 1975 was the year that brought him to international attention as his rivalry with Arnie became the background for Pumping Iron and although he failed on that occasion, his media career was born that day.

    After all, despite all these wins he was still working as a sheet metal worker, but following an accident where a friend lost a hand he gave up that work and became a football player for the Toronto Argonauts and considering he was 6ft 5 and 285lbs at the time is it any wonder that he was a defensive linesman, but he was cut after just two games having never played football before. He even dabbled in the World’s Strongest Man contest in 1977 coming fourth out of eight, but after that contest it was almost as if the world had turned full circle because in 1977 he was cast in the role that had inspired him, the Incredible Hulk.

    Starring opposite Bill Bixby, who he described as a father figure, he played the role for four years, including one episode where the Hulk took part in a bodybuilding contest against Lou’s bodybuilding character and won, plus appearing in three more TV movies after the show’s run was cancelled, but like most actors he had caught the bug and his next appearance was another wheel coming full circle as he appeared as Hercules (and just like Steve Reeves, not once, but twice) within two years and even had a go at appearing as Sinbad too. In a press document for the first Hercules movie Lou said “”I’ve fulfilled a lifelong fantasy, and there’ll never be another film like this one.”

    In the same year he appeared in “Trauma Centre” but then took a break from his media appearances for a reason as in 1992, he appeared on the bodybuilding circuit again weighing a massive 315lbs and although he came 12th and 10th in the next two Olympias he entered in 1994 he was the runner up in the Master’s contest, which many people believed was not justified given his high profile.

    Since the millennium, he has been an actor through and through appearing on “The King of Queens”, “I Love You, Man”, “Sonny with a Chance”, and proving just how circular things are appeared as a security guard in the 2003 film “Hulk” and in 2008 was recognised for his career by getting to voice the Hulk not just the once in the 2008 film, not even twice in the 2012 Avengers movie, not even three times in “Avengers : Age of Ultron” from 2015 but four times when in 2016 he appeared as a playable character in the Lego take of the Avengers movie. Add to that an appearance in Star Trek in 2014 and you see what a well-rounded actor he is.

    And when you consider that between 2006 and 2013 he was a fully deputized US deputy and in 2012 he appeared on “The Celebrity Apprentice” against a certain Donald “You’re Fired” Trump and it is safe to say that if he ever decided to move into politics, like his Mr. Olympia rival, Arnie, we would have such an electoral battle on our hands that not even a new Hercules movie would be able to distract people’s attention from it.

    He-Man (born 1967, still living, created 1983)

    The 1960’s were a wonder for the American space programme all inspired by President Kennedy’s desire to send a man to the moon and in 1969, that’s precisely what the Americans did, but if you believe some people the Americans were far more ambitious than that with a suggestion being banged around that the Americans wanted to reach Neptune by probe by 1970, land a man on the planet by 1980, having a global space station by 1990 and by the millennium be able to travel anywhere in the universe. All those plans however were put on ice when in 1967, Captain Marlena, the first woman ever to pilot a long-range space probe disappeared from the screens during a routine training mission from Earth to Mars. Despite all their investigations, NASA simply didn’t know what happened and so President Nixon suspended the programme without formally recognizing the contribution she had made and the programme was swept under the carpet never to be talked about again.

    However, Captain Marlena was quite all right. What had happened was that just as she swung past Mars on the return journey, she encountered a wormhole, a kink in space time, that meant she crashed on a planet in the same year but several light years away, the planet was called Eternia. She was recused by a young man, Randor, who was the son of the crowned family and over the course of the next year or so, the two fell in love, married and had a bonny baby boy, Adam, who was hailed as the future of the planet. Twenty years later, and Randor and Marlena were King and Queen with Adam the heir apparent, but it was also a troubling time on the planet for evil stalked the land in the form of Skeletor, a wizard who wanted to become the King of the planet. There was, luckily, a magical force in support of the current system, but that force needed a champion, and so looked for someone that was good of heart, could be brave when needed to be and had that little something extra as well, and when they came across Adam, the combination of an Eternian man and a Terran woman, all the signs were in alignment, so this force presented him with a sword and told him that whenever he felt the planet was in danger, he was to raise the sword and declare “By the power of Grayskull!” at which point he would become He-Man, the self proclaimed “most powerful man in the universe”

    Of course, there wasn’t really an extra secret space programme in the 1960’s, but when Arnie launched the Conan franchise in 1980, Mattel, the toy company, wanted in on it. However, the people who made the movie didn’t like them for it and in 1980 sued them and so in 1982, the company relented and promised it wouldn’t make a Conan action figure. A year later, they unveiled the He-Man action figure, complete with the above back story, animation and books. The movie people smelt a rat and counter sued Mattel, but this time lost and thus Mattel own the rights to He-Man.

    So how big and powerful is He-Man? Well, he’s six foot eleven for starters, weighs three hundred and twenty pounds, and based on estimates that he has a 58 inch chest, 33 inch biceps, 31 inch quads and a 30 inch waist has a BMI index of 32.7 (obese for normal people but comparable to the likes of Jack Delinger who won the Mr. America title in 1947) and an estimated bodyfat rating of absolutely nothing and how strong is he? Well, he’s managed to battle Superman and be evenly matched, thinks nothing about ripping a wooden door off its hinges, holding up the roof of a collapsing mine whilst sat in a meditative position and perhaps the feat of strength that would make even Hercules bow down in admiration, he pushes the moon of the planet (estimated to weigh 7.35 times ten to the power of 22kg) against its own orbit (in other words pushing with 4.95 times ten the power of 19 times his own bodyweight) which when you consider that Dolph Lundgren who played him in the 1987 live action movie could only bench 315lbs at a bodyweight of 235lbs (1.34 times his own bodyweight) shows that he was really the most powerful man in the universe

    Mr. Strong (created 1976)

    I believe it was William Shakespeare who wrote “Some are born great and others have greatness thrust upon them” and that was certainly the case with Mr. Strong, he was born strong. And how did he achieve this? Simple, he ate eggs. We’re not taking about one or two, or even three a day, we are talking hundreds a day. The typical Mr. Strong breakfast consisted of twenty-three eggs, lunch was another forty-two, dinner saw him scoff at least thirty and to before he went to bed, he allowed himself a little nonalcoholic eggnog. So how strong was he? Well, he walks into buses when not looking where he is going (and the bus ends up the worse), he breaks his front door, knocks over trees and even manages to lift a barn over his head, fill it with water from a river and put out a stubble fire. Of course, that was in the 1970’s, today he’s your average handyman and gym owner, although when you are as strong as he is, nine times out of ten, he’s the reason you called him to repair something.

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