How Strong Are You? The Strong Men

Chances are you never got to see these lads but so begins the weekend festivities of Wally’s Classic– a unique event to come to Carleton Place– make sure you attend!
Pierre Gasnier – French Hercules
b.1862 d.1923

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Gasnier was born in France and was one of the first most influential of the old time circus strongmen and performed for Barnum and Bailey Circus. Gasnier could rip a deck of cards in half but his most famous feat was breaking a chain over his chest while expanding his ribcage.

Interesting Fact: Gasnier stood only 5’ 3 tall and weighed just 143.5lbs and was able to lift a dumbbell weighing 260 lbs over has head. A feat that many strongmen twice his size could not do

Angus MacAskill – Giant MacAskill
b. 1825 – d.1863

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MacAskill was born on the Isle of Berneray in the Sound of Harris, Scotland and emigrated to Nova Scotia . MacAskill was known as the world’s largest “true” giant, (no growth abnormalities). By the time he was 20 he was 7 ft 4 in (223 cm), eventually reaching 7 ft 10 in (236 cm) and weighed 580 pounds. In 1849 he entered show business and went to work for P.T. Barnum’s circus appearing next to General Tom Thumb. MacAskill most famous feat was lifting a ship’s anchor weighing 2800 lb. to his chest . He also had the ability to carry barrels weighing over 300 lbs. apiece under each arm.

Interesting Fact: Queen Victoria heard stories about MacAskill’s great strength and invited him to appear before her to give a demonstration at Windsor Castle. She proclaimed him to be “the tallest, stoutest and strongest man to ever enter the palace”.
Pierre Gasnier

Alexander Zass – The Iron Samson
b.1888 d.1962


Zass was born in Vilna, Poland, but lived his early years in Russia. Like many other strongmen of his era, Zass was motivated to develop his strength when he attended a circus and saw the feats done by the circus strongman. Zass started with bending green branches and twigs, climbing trees, and running with home made dumbbells and barbells. Later he trained under some of the great Russian professional strongmen. Zass developed tremendous strength that allowed him to carry a horse on his shoulders but his greatest talent was bending steel bars and breaking chains which were the center piece of his exhibitions.

Interesting Fact: In 1914, While serving in the Russian army during the First World War, Zass was wounded and taken prisoner by the Austrian forces. As a prisoner of war he continued to develop his strength with the use of isometrics by pulling on the bars and chains. Zass escaped from prison and never returned to his homeland.

Eugen Sandow
b. 1867 d. 1925


Eugen Sandow is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Bodybuilding” Sandow was born in Prussia (now part of Germany) and began his career as a sideshow strongman. With the help of showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Sandow decided it wasn’t enough to simply demonstrate his strength, with acts similar to the one pictured above but to actually display his muscular physique as though it were a work of art. He soon made his “Muscle Displays” the main feature of his stage show. Sandow performed all over Europe and organized the first ever bodybuilding contest on in 1901. He called it the “Great Competition” and was held in the Royal Albert Hall, London, UK. Sandow judged the contest along with, Sir Charles Lawes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The contest was a huge success and was a sell-out with hundreds of fans turned away.

Interesting Fact: When Sandow died in 1925 it was reported in the press that he died of a stroke shortly after pushing his car out of the mud. However his actual death was more likely caused by complications from syphilis. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Putney Vale Cemetery at the request of his wife.

Siegmund Breitbart
b1883 – d1925


Breitbart was born in Poland into an Orthodox Jewish family of blacksmiths. Facing continuing challenges from other strongmen and relentless anti-Semites, he was determined not to defame his people. This inspired him and made his astonishing acts of strength even more sensational. His feats included, bending iron bars around his arm in floral patterns, biting through iron chains or pulling them apart, and lifting a baby elephant while climbing a ladder. Unfortunately, while on his last tour of Europe, Siegmund was hammering a railroad spike with his bare hands through a 5 inch oak board that was resting on his knee. (like pictured above) The nail pierced his leg and as a result he contracted blood-poisoning. After 10 operations including the amputation of both legs Breitbart died eight weeks later.

Interesting Fact: Before the accident Breitbart planned to appear in Palestine and recreate the famous feats of Samson to gain world-wide attention for all Jews to join him in creating a Jewish homeland. Also, Breitbart’s life was fictionalized in Werner Herzog’s 2001 film Invincible.

Then there is Volundur Wally Thorbjornsson from Carleton Place


Want to see the video of Volundur Wally Thorbjornsson  lifting one huge rock? Click here. 

Facebook won’t allow me to share it here on WordPress….

In the video Volundur Wally Thorbjornsson took the Husafells stone for a walk when he was sorting out all the equipment for the Wally’s Classic Strongman competition. It’s HEAVY. We will give 10 people from the audience a chance to win prices if they can lift this 400 pound rock more than an inch from the ground.




Do You Rock?– A Carleton Place Challenge

Sneak Peak into the TUG O War coming up at the 2016 Wally’s Classic Strong Man Competition!

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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