Cyprien Noe Cyr – World’s Strongest Man

by Dennis Mitchell

Louis Cyr

Cyprien Noe Cyr was born October 10, 1863 in Saint Cyprien Napierville Canada ( now Quebec ). He was the second child of seventeen children born to Pierre and Philomene Berger Cyr. He was never a frail or slight child as he weighed 18 pounds at birth. His father was quite strong and worked as a lumberjack and farmer. However Cyprien Noe inherited his exceptional physical power from his mother who stood 6′ 1″ tall and weighed 265 pounds, and could toss around 100 pound sacks with ease. At the age of 8 years, it is reported that he carried a calf in from the field when it did not want to return to the barn. He went to school from age 9 to 12 years, and then went to work in the lumber camps in the winter, and on the farm in the summer. Though gentle by nature, he soon had the admiration of his fellow workers for his unusual strength. Legion has it his mother decided he should let his hair grow long like Sampson in the Bible, and was said to curl it regularly. In 1878 the Cyr family moved to the United States in hopes of greater financial gains. It was at this time that Cyprien Noe changed his name for a more American of Louis. By age 17 he weighed 230 pounds, liked to play the violin, dance and work out with weights. In spite of his size and strength, his chubby pink cheeks and long blond curls gave him a babyish look, and made him the butt of jokes and teasing. At the age of 18 he entered his first strongman contest in Boston where he lifted a full grown horse off the ground. The horse stood on a platform that had two handles attached. The total weight was three quarters of a ton. There were no more jokes or teasing. His family moved back to Quebec in 1882. He was married that year to Meline Comptois and for a while worked as a lumberjack. From there he and his wife moved to Saint-Helene, where his parents had moved to. They soon organized “The Troupe Cyr” and performed through out the province with great success. For about two years he worked as a policeman, and for a short time owned a tavern. But soon organized another troupe of wrestlers, boxers, and weightlifters. He later defeated Canadian strongman David Michaud in one hand lifting and by lifting 2,371 pounds on his back. He also worked for Ringling Brothers Circus for a year and then with Horace Barre opened their own circus, with jugglers, strongmen, and acrobats. They performed for five years. In 1900 Cyr’s health started to fail. His over eating and large size and the onset of Brights disease put an end to competition and performing. He died at his daughter’s home November 10, 1912 at the age of 49. Dr. Dudley Sargent of Harvard University measured Cyr when he was 32 years old. He measured him at 5’8.5″, neck 20″, biceps 20″, forearms 16.3″, wrists 8.2″, chest 55.2″(expanded 60″) waist 47.4″, thighs 28.5″, and calfs 19.2″. His weight at that time was 291 pounds. He did reach the weight of 365 pounds later. Some of his bests lifts were: 500 pound one finger lift, back lift 4,337 pounds, bent press (more of a side press) 273 pounds, hand and thigh 1897 pounds, crucifix 94 pounds right , 88 pounds left, one hand dead lift with 1.5″ bar 525 pounds, and a “Platform” squat of 2,371 pounds.