Chris James – Strength Athlete Extraordinaire

by Malcolm Whyatt, D.Phy., M.A.I.C, Historian of Physical Culture

Chris James, of 201 Margam Road, Margam, Port Talbot, S. Wales UK SA132AB

Chris was born 29th July 1970 and is married to Paula and they have 3 children. I first heard about Chris in 1998. I had been judging a contest and afterwards, a member of the audience thought I might be interested in a young man who was setting some remarkable feats of strength. Also, that he had recently nearly lost his life.

Chris James with the Millennium Dumbbell. The Millennium Dumbbell weighs 226 pounds. The hand grip circumference is 7 3/4 inches. The hand grip diameter is 2 3/8 inches and the handle is 3 inches. This picture was taken at the OHF Hall of Fame Dinner in 2002.

As the founder of the Oscar Heidenstam Foundation one of our awards is the Dr.Tom Temperley award. This is for those who having suffered trauma, continue to inspire others by outstanding endeavour. From my initial enquiries it was clear that Chris was a more than worthy honouree.

In December 1998 late at night, he was walking home with a friend when an unknown assailant stabbed Chris in the lumbar spine. The 9 inch knife missed his kidneys and spleen but the repair to his Colon and abdominal wall, left a scar from his pubic bone to the sternum. The surgeon said it was a million to one chance that he wasn’t killed and only his muscle density saved him. A normal person would almost certainly not be alive today. 8 weeks later he was back in light training and 3 weeks later, March 1999, we honoured Chris at the 8th annual OHF Hall of Fame Dinner. He impressed everyone by his refreshing modesty and surprised me on the night when I enquired about his hand grip strength. Quite casually he picked up the No:3 IronMind Captains of Crush Gripper and with audible clicks closed them for 3 reps with either hand!

At the 9th OHF Dinner 2000, Chris who at the time weighed 16st 4lbs, cleaned two handed the Thomas Inch Dumbell and single handed, push pressed it over head at 11.30pm. The first man in history to do so and witnessed by David Webster, myself and 60 of 179 guests. Earlier in the evening, he had also cleaned and single handed pressed John Citrones’ famous 112lbs blacksmiths anvil and did 20reps with the ships 92lbs anchor! Just for a laugh, Chris also cleaned & pressed his father overhead for 15 reps. (All above is on OHF Video No:6) His father Eddy, born 1944, share the same birthday 29th July and who won the 1994 Drug Free world power lifting championship and recently on the dead lift, did 11 reps with 400lb (age 59yrs, weight 12stone (210lbs), height 5ft 8inches). His father Wilf Len James, was a famous strongman and mentioned David Websters’ book Sons of Samson.

Chris James clean and pressing John Citrone's famous Blacksmiths Anvil, which weighs 115 pounds. This picture was taken at the OHF Hall of Fame Dinner in 2000.

At 13yrs Chris trained in his garden, became the schools boxing champ and a Karate black belt. He works at a Steel Foundry and where workmen often ask him to try lifting various items. Two examples are that he cleaned and did 10 reps with a 2inch diameter railway axle weighing 260bs and with either of his little fingers, curled a locomotive coupling; which normally takes two men to lift. Chris trains at local a youth club Tai Bach (little House); which has 3,000lbs of Olympic & free weights plus block weights, scrap iron, axles, chains etc.

He is 6ft tall and varies his bodyweight from 16 stone to 21stone Absolutely DRUG FREE he doesn’t use a lifting belt, wraps or other aids. He follows the world of weights with passion and is an avid reader of olde-time strength feats. His main interest is unusual strength lifts; usually for reps and to emulate the feats of Arthur Saxon, Hermann Gӧrner, Louis Cyr, Doug Hepburn and Marvin Eder et al. Seeing is believing! I have a video of Chris in training. His incredible feats almost defies description. Chris James Strength Athlete Extraordinaire.


All lifts witnessed with many on film and photographed.  Doesn’t use weightlifting belt, straps or other aids. Equipment used: Dumbells, 2 inch diameter bars – main plates 25lbs, Olympic Barbells, 2 inch diameter bar, Pinch Grip, Thumb & first two fingers, Block weight 80lbs – 4ins thick – 6ins wide – 12ins long

PINCH GRIP BLOCK WEIGHT –  80lbs carried 15yards – clean and press – either hand

PINCH GRIP WEIGHT PLATE –  75lbs clean and press – either hand


ONE HANDED DUMBELL SWING  –  180lbs (Louis Cyr used a 1inch diameter)

ONE HANDED DUMBELL SWING –  110lbs x 48 reps



ONE HANDED BARBELL FARMERS WALK – 350lbs (carried suit case style)

BARBELL FARMERS WALK – One in each hand 300lbs each (carried suit case style), 2 home made oxyacetylene bottles each weighing 165lbs plus 135lbs iron blocks welded on side!

SEATED DUMBELL PRESS – 150lbs x 5 140lbs x 8

STANDING DUMBELL CLEAN & PUSH PRESS – 160lbs x 2 150lbs x 7 140lbs x 12 125lbs x 21 either hand

INCLINE DUMBELL PRESS – 175lbs x 10 x 3 sets

CHINS (full hang) –  200lbs x 4 150lbs x 8

TWO FINGER CHINS – 110lbs x 8

PARALLEL BAR DIPS – 242lbs x 8

ONE HANDED DEADLIFT (overhand grip) – 500lbs x 2 400lbs x 10

STRAIGHT LEGGED DEADLIFTS (overhand grip) – 500lbs x 20

DEADLIFT (overhand grip) – 660lbs x 5

DEADLIFT FROM KNEES (overhand grip) – 1,100lbs x 3

BENCH PRESS – 505lbs x 8 460lbs x 6 420lbs x 10 400lbs x 20 308lbs x 40


INCLINE DUMBELL BENCH PRESS  – 175lbs dumbells 10 x 3 sets

STRAIGHT ARM PULLOVER (strict) – 166lbs x 8 (bodyweight 14st 4lbs)

BARBELL CURL (Strict with back against wall) – 210lbs (bodyweight 14st 4lbs)

BARBELL CURL (loose style) – 220lbs x 5 (bodyweight 14st 4lbs)

EZ BAR CURL – 315lbs!

BENT OVER BARBELL ROWS – 400lbs x 5 x 4 sets 360lbs x 5 x 4 sets

BARBELL PUSH PRESS off rack Awesome! – 410lbs x 3 310lbs x 10 250lbs x 20

SQUAT (lift from the bottom of power rack) – 650lbs x 3 580lbs x 10 410lbs x 20

HALF SQUAT – 770lbs x 18 (to protect knees – does not specialise on the squat )



880lb Barbell at rack high pin – just short of lock out – Press to Lock out and hold (same as John Grimek)

200lb Kit bag of sand plus two 56lbs coal weights inside (312lbs) – Clean and shoulder

Two 125lbs Olympic barbells. Clean one with left hand – bend down, clean the other with right hand, stand up and press both overhead.

The Chain (Die Kette) one of Hermann Gӧrner favourites. One hand dumbell snatch swing, followed by one hand press, followed by a curl or clean to shoulder and then another press. Starting at 50lbs working up to 180lbs – either hand.

One hand barbell snatch Right hand snatch to across left shoulder or left hand snatch to across right shoulder. Start weight 220lbs working up to 232lbs and Chris makes it look easy – either hand.

Continental & Push Press Behind Neck – a favourite of Arthur Saxon. 330lb barbell 2inch thick – hack lift with palms away from body – bend over lift bar to lumbar spine, roll bar to upper back – change to normal hand grip – push bar to nape of neck – Stand up Push press behind neck to lock out – lower bar to neck – push press over head – lower to front of shoulders – lower to floor.

Absolutely awesome! and no W/L belt! This is on film.

Malcolm Whyatt D.Phy., M.A.I.C 12 Nimrod Drive Hereford HR1 1UG England Tel:(01432) 358 339 Tel int +44 (0) 1432) 358 339