Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Saxon Trio

by Dennis Mitchell

The Saxon Trio

Back in he late 1890s Eugene Sandow was the king of strength in England. A gentleman by the name of Arno Saxon (His real name was Arno Patschke) saw the interest that the public had for strong men acts and also the possibility of making a good living by forming his own strongman act. Arno was a German wrestler and strongman. Traveling back to Germany in 1897, he formed the first Saxon Trio. Arno Saxon teamed up with  Oscar Hilgenfeld and the 19 year old Arthur Hennig, who later changed his name to Arthur Saxon. The three traveled to England and put on a genuine strong man act. There were no false weights, tricks, or illusions. Just honest lifting, supporting and juggling heavy weights.
The first to leave the trio was Oscar Hilgenfeldt. He joined with Albert Attilla to form their own act called The Attilla Brothers. His place was taken by a man named Somerton. Somerton stayed with the trio only a short time and was replaced by another German named Adolf Berg. More changes were to come when the originator of the group, Arno Saxon left. Arthur Saxon had his 17 year old brother, Hermann, take his place. Once again the ever changing trio changed again when Adolf Berg left and was replaced by Arthur’s youngest brother, Kurt. We now had the true Arthur Saxon Trio. But not for long as Hemann decided to do a solo act and once again Adolf Berg returned. After a time Hermann returned and once again the three brothers were billed as the Arthur Saxon Trio.

Arthur was born April 28, 1878. Hermann was born March 17,1882 and Kurt, March 11,1884. All were born in Leipsic, Saxony. They started training at an early age using stone weights, and putting on shows in their back yard when Arthur was 15 years old, Hermann,11, and Kurt 8 years old. They offered ten Pfenning (2.5 cents) to any one up to the age of 15 who could defeat them. When Hermann was still 16 years old he could bent press 100 kilos by holding together two 50 kilo kettle-bells. Kurt at the age of 11 could swing 50 kilos. Even as the members of the trio kept changing they were quite successful and traveled with the Wirth Brothers Circus through Europe and India. Not only did they lift weights but were quite skilled in wrestling.

Other than their outstanding lifting the Saxon Brothers were “Strong Eaters.” At a typical breakfast they would eat 24 eggs, 3 pounds of smoked bacon, porridge with cream, honey, marmalade and tea with lots of sugar. Lunch served at about 3PM consisted of 10 pounds of meat, with vegetables, sweet fruits, sweet cakes, salads, pudding, and tea with lots of sugar. Supper was usually smoked fish and cold meat. There was never any whiskey or brandy, but they did drink some beer. The stories of their beer drinking were greatly exaggerated. After their 3 o’clock meal they would rest for a couple of hours. During this time Kurt would do the shopping for their next days food. He was the cook.
It was now time for their workout. They never did a light workout and did a large variety of lifts with ring weights and barbells. They would warm up with leg presses. (No leg press machines) The bent press was done at every work out, doing as many as thirty lifts at each training session. The only non lifting exercises the did was jumping and swimming, and sometimes wrestling. They trained six days a week for four hours.

When Arthur died, August 6, 1921, Hermann and Kurt continued the act for a wile with great success. However Hermann did not have the heart to continue, as it was not like the old days. Kurt continued on his own until he was injured August 24, 1924, when a bridge and car that he was supporting collapsed and put an end to his career as a strong man. He then worked at the University of Leipzig as a trainer, and for a wile ran his own gym until it was destroyed during the second world war. Kurt died September 5, 1952, and Hermann, February 12, 1961. Arthur was best known for his bent pressing, an official lift of 371 pounds, and the two hands any how lift of 448 pounds. Listed here are some of Herman’s and Kurt’s lifts.

Kurt                          Hermann
Right hand snatch                                                        213 pounds                  206 pounds
Left hand snatch                                                           189 pounds                  202 pounds
Right hand bent press                                                332 pounds                   332 pounds
One hand clean & bent press, right hand             275 pounds                  272 pounds
Kettle bell swing right hand                                         187 pounds                  196 pounds
Two hands clean and jerk                                            341 pounds                  330 pound

Below is a comparison of their measurements taken by Dr. Sargent of Harvard University.

Kurt               Hermann                    Arthur
Height                                       68.1″               67.6″                         69.5″
Neck                                         15.5″               16.0″                         16.5″
Chest                                        43.0″               45.0″                         45.7″
Hips                                          36.0″              36.5″                          36.5″
Biceps                                       15.5″              16.0″                          16.5″
Forearm                                    14.2″               14.5″                         14.2″
Wrist                                         8.2″                 8.1″                           8.1″
Thigh                                        23.0″               22.0″                         23.2″
Calf                                          16.0″               15.0″                         15.7′
Weight                                    164 pounds      163 pounds                204 pounds
Age                                          26 years          28 years                     32 years

History of the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet

Written and Compiled by Dale Friesz

There has been 15 Deanna Springs Memorial Meets.  Joe Garcia owns this meet – he has won 9 of these meets.  He participated in two others – 2003 and 1997.  Amazingly he failed to total in 2003 and 1997.  In 2003, he was unable to do a Hand and Thigh Lift and in 1997 he failed in the Hip Lift.  He could not do the Hand and Thigh Lift in 2003 as he had been kicked by his own horse! In 1997, his choice of weight in the Hip Lift was too heavy.  That amounts to 9 wins in 11 contests. My hat is off to Joe!!

Deanna and Al Springs, performing a 2-person Cheat Curl

The following is from the USAWA Strength Journal, Vol. VI-7 11/25-1995:

Deanna Springs Dies in Auto Crash
by Kerry Clark, a national USWF titlist like Deanna, contributed the following eulogy for her close friend.

On October 5, 1995, Deanna Springs was killed in a car accident at the age of 45. Deanna was the wife of Al Springs of Dearborn, Missouri. Deanna met Al when she came to his fitness center for rehabilitation for shoulder and wrist problems. She lifted in her first USAWA meet at Steve Schmidt’s in 1992, and although she continued to battle back and arm problems she developed into an excellent and enthusiastic lifter over the last few years.  Al and Deanna were rightfully proud of her record-making marks of 600 pounds in the Hand and Thigh and 1100 pounds in the Hip Lift. But more than a devoted lifter, Deanna Springs was a wonderful person.  She and Al came to all of our meets at Clark’s Gym. Deanna was always the friendliest and most supportive person in the room.  She worked hard to become a better lifter herself and she always gave out encouragement, even to her competitors.  I always looked forward to our meets because I knew that Deanna would be there.  At her funeral, the minister spoke of Deanna’s accomplishments in the USAWA and her National Championship medal was placed in the casket with her.  I felt glad to know that Deanna cared so much about the USAWA because I know that my experience in this organization was enriched by her presence. Deanna Springs was a great lifter, supporter of the USAWA, and a friend. She was also Al’s greatest booster.  Her death was an unexpected blow and she will be greatly missed.

Past Winners of the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet:

2010 – 3/28
56 215 3770 3611.64
2009 – 3/28
55 240 3950 3711.88
2008 – 4/06
42 239 3525 2948.17
2007 – 3/25
25 171 3610 3534.55
2006 – 3/26
52 245 4035 3655.85
2005 – 4/02
23 165 4105 4111.98
2004 – 4/04
50 231 3980 3650.87
2003 – 4/06
47 215 3940 3654.37
2002 – 4/07
48 241 4120 3627.67
2001 – 3/31
47 242 3195 2783.60
2000 – 3/26
24 209 2960 2581.12
1999 – 3/28
45 241 4525 3876.54
1998 – 3/28
44 229 4140 3608.4
1997 – 4/12
39 226 4245 3553.07
1996 – 3/30
42 223 2550 2210.98

2004 – 4/04
28 188 1850 1712.18
2001 – 3/31
22 132 2140 2490.32
1996 – 3/30
33 175 1875 1810.50

Notes:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.


1996 – Cheat Curl, Zercher Lift, Crucifix, Jefferson Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift
1997 – Cheat Curl, Crucifix, Jefferson Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift
1998 to present – Crucifix, Cheat Curl, Deanna Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift


1996 – Springs’ Garage Gym (Dearborn, Missouri)
1997 to present – Clark’s Championship Gym (Columbia, Missouri)

Inspiration Photos

by Al Myers

An autographed photo of Steve Stanko, which is displayed in the Dino Gym, courtesy of Dale Friesz.

I have been collecting pictures for a long time – and if you have been to the Dino Gym you have seen my collection covering the gym walls. There are now over 100 photographs lining the walls of the gym! I find that these photos of lifters, some famous and some just lifters that I have great respect for, inspire me to train harder. I can’t really explain why – it’s just that when I look at these pictures during a workout and KNOW the hard work and dedication that each one of these athletes put into working out – it is INSPIRATIONAL to me. It makes me want to workout even harder! Most all of my pictures in the gym have a story behind them. I didn’t just didn’t pick them out random and throw them up on the wall for a little gym decoration!

My favorite photos are the ones that have been autographed. So far, some of my autographed pictures include great lifters such as Wilbur Miller, Norbert Schemansky, Bruce Wilhelm, Joe Dube, Bill Pearl, John Grimek and Terry Todd. I also have autographed pictures of great throwers such as Al Oerter, Al Feuerbach, John Godina, and Brian Oldfield. Among others are great athletes including Vince Young, the “best Highland Games athlete of All-Time” Bill Anderson, Jesse Marunde, and Tom Manno. I probably have some more that I didn’t mention here. I am not the only one that has this fascination with inspirational photos. Thom Van Vleck has more pictures in the JWC Training Hall than he has weightlifting plates (and he has TONS of plates). I have been in Thom’s gym several times and each time I notice a photo that I hadn’t seen before. When I attended the USAWA Club Challenge this spring hosted by the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, I noticed the many pictures they have lining the staircase as you descended into the dungeon of iron that is known as the Ambridge VFW BBC. By just looking at their photograph display, you are motivated to lift before you even enter the gym!

This is one on the many reasons why I prefer small club gyms over commercial gyms. You very rarely see pictures on the walls of commercial gyms – instead you see promotional posters trying to sell you something. Inspirational photos give a private club gym the “personal touch” that you don’t get in a big commercial gym – and this results in a better workout!

Paul Anderson’s Neck Training

by Dale Friesz

Paul Anderson training the Neck (photo courtesy of Glenda Anderson, Paul Anderson Youth Home, Vidalia, Georgia)

“This is a picture of Paul Anderson doing a Neck Lift with a side to side swinging motion. I find this very interesting. I also have an old VHS video tape that shows him do a Neck Lift with a 360 degree continuous swing.” – Dale Friesz

(Webmaster’s comment – I sure would like to see that tape!!)

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