The Mystery of Arthur Saxon’s Death

by Al Myers

Arthur Saxon (April 28, 1878 to August 6, 1921)

Arthur Saxon was an old time strongman who never left any questions about what weight he lifted – his lifts where often weighed and people who questioned his strength were silenced. Saxon preferred barbells and dumbbells in his strength shows and never performed show acts that included trickery or slight of hand. Even when the famous Scottish Strongman Donald Dinnie questioned whether Arthur Saxon could do what he said he could Arthur sought out Dinnie and preceded to prove himself by lifting on Dinnie’s equipment. He bent pressed 340 pounds using Dinnie’s weights!! Donald Dinnie became a believer that Arthur Saxon was a strong as he said he was.

However, despite living a lifting career that never left questions unanswered – his death was quite different – and clouded with mystery.  I have read three different accounts of how Arthur Saxon died – and I don’t really know which one is correct. All sources seem to be reputable. I am sure these accounts are debatable – and if anyone knows more on this please email me so we can discuss it.

Story 1: After WWI, Arthur resumed putting on Strength Shows by himself.  The war had caused the Saxon Trio to break up. Times were tough and Arthur continued to put on show after show to make ends meet. Due to his long hours and poor working conditions, he developed pneumonia but declined medical attention.  He continued to put on performance after performance until eventually the pneumonia overcame him.

Story 2: Arthur was at the height of his career.  During one of his strength shows, he was doing a support lift where he was supporting a heavy wooden bridge that a car was driven over. Apparently, the wooden bridge broke and the car and several people fell on him causing great injury. He was in the hospital a long time, and had operations where “iron bolts” were driven in at several places. He never fully recovered, and died from pneumonia as a complication of his weakened condition.

Story 3: Arthur was married to an English girl that he met while putting on his strength show tours throughout England.  However, he was in Germany while she was still in England when the war started. After the war, circumstances arose that prevented Arthur and his wife from being reunited. This caused Arthur to go into a deep depression, and on a cold winter night, he went on a drinking binge.  The police found him the next day, lying in the street dead. The cause of death was given as pneumonia.

Which story would you like to believe?
My pick is Story #1 – a mighty strongman never quitting until his dying breath!!

Which story is true?
Who knows. Even the whereabouts of Arthur Saxon’s  gravesite is unknown!!

Arthur Saxon died at the age of 43 – the same age that I am now. This is the reason that I am honoring Arthur Saxon at my 2010 Dino Gym Challenge by hosting the “Arthur Saxon Pentathlon”.

IAWA Team Postal

Individual Results from the IAWA World Team Postal Competition

by Al Myers

Rick Meldon - Top Individual at the World Team Postal Competition

Along with figuring Team results, the meet organizer Steve Gardner, also figured individual results from the IAWA World Team Postal Competition.  The individual winner of this postal competition was Rick Meldon, England, of the Sunbury Club. Congratulations Rick!!! Rick’s team also won the Team Title – making him a double winner.  Rick Meldon has been winning championships in the IAWA since the IAWA origin, starting with his first overall best lifter victory in 1990.  He was the Best Master Lifter , Best Open Lifter, and the Overall Best Lifter in the 2008 IAWA World Championships held in Burton, England on October 4th & 5th, 2008. At this meet, he was crowned “Champion of Champions”. The Meet Director, Steve Gardner, had invited all the previous Overall Best Lifters to this meet to compete against each other to decide who was the Champion of Championsl!  Rick has won two other Overall Best Lifter titles at the IAWA World Meet, in 1992 and 2004. Rick has more Overall Best Lifter titles at the World Meet than anyone else in the history of the IAWA.

Top Individuals in the Postal Competition

1.   Rick Meldon, England        432.5 pts
2.   Al Myers, USA                   379.5 pts
3.   Steve Sherwood, England  369.5 pts
4.   Nick Swain, England          349.4 pts
5.   Steve Andrews, England    346.8 pts
6.   Chad Ullom, USA               329.4 pts
7.   Peter Phillips, Australia      324.1 pts
8.   Graham Saxton, England   321.3 pts
9.   Phillipe Crisp, England       312.5 pts
10. James Gardner, England    298.9 pts

These point totals were calculated using bodyweight adjustments, age adjustments, and applying the Blindt Formula.  For those not familiar with the Blindt Formula, it involves multiplying each lift by a factor that is supposed to bring all lifts to the same weighted value.  Every lift has a different factor.  The intended purpose of using the Blindt Formula is to keep the heavier lifts from being a bigger part of a lifter’s total than the lighter lifts.  The Blindt Formula has not been used recently in any USAWA competitions.


A word from the Organiser:

This postal competition was organised as a ‘Fun’ team event, for teams of three, but also with the flexibility to allow individual lifters to join in to see where they rank amongst the other lifters. We had lifters from England, USA and Australia taking part, and from the ages divisions of Juniors 13 + Under through to the Masters  75+. Well done to all who took part, I will organise another competition for next year with four different lifts. Please see below that the results are figured first as teams and then as individuals. Best Wishes and Happy Lifting – Steve Gardner

(3 Teams comprised of only 2 members, but there were also 3 individual lifters, so the individuals were added to those teams as ‘guests’ to round things up into teams of 3.)

Pos.     Team                                      Team Members                                             Amended Points

1          Hastings Warriors 1 (Eng)         Nick Swain   Phillipe Crisp  Sam Hills                        963.6

2          Sunbury1 (Eng)                       Rick Meldon  Tom Meldon  Tom Chantler                   961.3

3          Dino Gym (USA)                      Al Myers Chad Ullom   Darren Barnhart                    931.8


4          Haven Hotshots (Eng)               Steve Sherwood   Tom Allsop  Stewart Brookes        920.8

5          Powerhouse Gym (Eng)            James Gardner  Jon Eccleshall Graham Saxton          890.9

6          Belmont WA (Australia)             Peter Phillips   Samuel Trew   Nic Porter (Guest)       808.1

7          Old and Done (USA)                 Jim Malloy   Scott Schmidt  Bill Crozier                     745.3

8          Granby Grippers (Eng)              Steve & Daniel Andrews  Karl Birkinshaw (Guest)     735.1

9          Hastings Warriors 2 (Eng)          Steve Shah   Ed Shortle  Gordon Fairey                   703.4

10        Haven Heroes (Eng)                  John Kavanagh Dave Moreton  Peter Lee (Guest)      674.4

11        Sunbury 2 (Eng)                       Jeff Luther  Trevor Evans  Nick Sayce                       598.8

Individual Amended Totals – Ranking of all lifters

(After Bodyweight, Age and Blindt Formulas are applied)

1          Rick Meldon               (Eng)               432.5

2          Al Myers                     (USA)             379.5

3          Steve Sherwood          (Eng)              369.5

4          Nick Swain                 (Eng)               349.4

5          Steve Andrews           (Eng)               346.8

6          Chad Ullom                (USA)              329.4

7          Phillipe Crisp               (Eng)              326.3

8          Peter Phillips               (Australia)       324.1

9          Graham Saxton           (Eng)              321.3

10        James Gardner            (Eng)              298.9


Individual Amended Totals – Rankings Continued

11        Scott Schmidt                                   294.7

12        Sam Hills                                          287.9

13        Tom Allsop                                       285.4

14        Tom Meldon                                     284.8

15        Steve Shah                                      281.5

16        Jonny Eccleshall                               270.7

17        Stewart Brookes                              265.9

18        John Kavanagh                                262.0

19        Jim Malloy                                       260.9

20        Samuel Trew                                   250.8

21        Tom Chantler                                  244.1

22        Dave Morton                                   241.9

23        Ed Shortle                                      237.2

24        Nic Porter                                       233.4

25        Darren Barnhart                              222.9

26        Jeff Luther                                      210.5

27        Karl Birkinshaw                               210.1

28        Trevor Evans                                  210.0

29        Gordon Fairey                                 184.7

30        Nick Sayce                                      178.3

31        Daniel Andrews                               178.2

32        Peter Lee                                        170.6

33        Bill Crozier                                      189.7

Individual Class Winners and Positions – World ‘Open’ Postal 2009


Daniel Andrews          J13 +Under  55k Champion


Stewart Brooks           Open 70k Champion

Nic Porter                   Open  75k  4th

Nick Sayce                 Open 75k   6th

Jonny Eccleshall          Open 80k   2nd

Karl Birkinshaw           Open  85k  5th

John Kavanagh            Open 90k   3rd

James Gardner            Open  95k Champion

Phillipe Crisp               Open  100k  Champion

Gordon Fairey              Open  100k  2nd

Chad Ullom                 Open  105k  Champion

Samuel Trew               Open  105k  2nd

Tom Chantler               Open  125k Champion

Masters 40+

Nick Swain                  Open  90k  Champion  and  40+  90k  Champion

Al Myers                     Open 120k Champion  and  40+ 120k Champion

Darren Barnhart          Open 125+ Champion  and  40+ 125k Champion

Masters 45+

Steve Andrews            Open 75k Champion  and   45+  75k Champion

Rick Meldon                 Open 85k Champion  and   45+  85k Champion

Sam Hills                     Open 85k 2nd   and      45+  85k  2nd

Tom Allsop                   Open 90k  2nd  and      45+  90k  Champion

Graham Saxton            Open 110k Champion  45+  110k Champion

Masters 50+

Dave Morton               Open 75k 2nd   and   50+  75k Champion

Jeff Luther                  Open 75k 5th    and   50+  75k  3rd

Ed Shorttle                  Open 75k 3rd    and   50+  75k  2nd

Tom Meldon                Open 85k  3rd   and   50+  85k  Champion

Masters 55+

Steve Sherwood          Open 80k  Champion  and   55+  80k  Champion

Peter Phillips               Open 110k Champion and   55+  110k Champion

Scott Schmidt              Open 120k  2nd  and  55+  120k  Champion

Masters 60+

Steve Shah                  Open  85k  4th   and  60+  85k  Champion

Trevor Evans                Open  85k   6th  and  60+  85k  2nd

Masters 65+

Jim Malloy                   Open  115k  Champion   and 65+  115k Champion

Masters 70+

Bill Crozier                  Open 105k  2nd  and   70+ 105k Champion

Masters 75+

Peter Lee                    Open 85k  7th    and  75+  85k  Champion

Individual Lift Rankings

(After Bodyweight, Age and Blindt Formula is applied)

Squat Rankings

1          Rick Meldon               240.5               139.2

2          Al Myers                    272.5               128.8

3          Phillipe Crisp              240.5               120.3

4          Peter Phillips              210                  114.7

5          Nick Swain                 200.5               113.4

6          Steve Sherwood         160                  108.0

7          Tom Meldon               170.5               104.9

8          Chad Ullom                220                  104.4

9          Steve Shah                155.5               101.6

10        Steve Andrews            145                  97.8


11        Scott Schmidt              182                  96.4

12        Graham Saxton           190                  96.3

13        Tom Chantler              210.5               94.4

14        Sam Hills                    155.5               92.1

15        Darren Barnhart          210                  90.1

16        Tom Allsop                  150                  85.1

17        Jim Malloy                   137.5               83.7

18        Samuel Trew               170                  79.3

19        James Gardner            150                  75.8

20        Ed Shortle                   105.5               70.1

21        Nic Porter                    115                  67.6

22        Jonny Eccleshall           120                  66.3

23        Trevor Evans               95                    65.3

24        John Kavanagh            127.5               64.5

25        Dave Morton               95                    63.3

26        Bill Crozier                  92.5                 62.7

27        Gordon Fairey              125.5               61.8

28        Daniel Andrews           62.5                 60.8

29        Stewart Brookes          95                    58.4

30        Karl Birkinshaw           100                  53.6

31        Nick Sayce                  85                    49.4

32        Peter Lee                     60                    49.1

33        Jeff Luther                   70                    48.2

Pullover and Push Rankings

1          Rick Meldon               180.5               117.8

2          Nick Swain                 153                  97.6

3          Steve Andrews           127.5               97.0

4          Al Myers                     170                  90.6

5          Chad Ullom                160                  85.6

6          Steve Sherwood         110                  83.8

7          Phillipe Crisp              140.5               80.1

8          Graham Saxton          135                  77.5

9          Tom Meldon               110.5               76.7

10        Jim Malloy                  105                  72.1


Pullover and Push Rankings Continued

11        James Gardner            120                  68.4

12        Sam Hills                     100.5               67.1

13        Stewart Brooks           95                    65.8

14        Tom Allsop                 100                  64.0

15        Scott Schmidt             105                  62.7

16        Jeff Luther                  77.5                 60.1

16        Dave Morton               80                    60.1

18        John Kavanagh           100                  57.0

19        Peter Phillips               85                    52.3

20        Jonny Eccleshall          90                    56.0

21        Steve Shah                 70.5                 51.9

22        Trevor Evans               65                    50.4

23        Samuel Trew               90                    47.3

24        Ed Shortle                   60.5                 45.3

25        Karl Birkinshaw           70                    42.3

26        Tom Chantler              80.5                 40.7

27        Nick Sayce                  60                    39.3

28        Nic Porter                    55                    36.4

29        Gordon Fairey              65.5                 36.3

30        Peter Lee                     39.1                 36.0

31        Daniel Andrews            31.7                 34.8

32        Bill Crozier                  42.5                 32.5

33        Darren Barnhart           65                    31.4

Straddle Deadlift Rankings

1          Steve Sherwood          200                  96.5

2          Rick Meldon                 230.5               95.3

3          Al Myers                     250                  84.4

4          Peter Phillips               210                  82.0

5          Sam Hills                    190.5               80.6

6          Chad Ullom                235                  79.7

7          James Gardner           220                  79.5

8          Jonny Eccleshall          200                  78.9

9          Graham Saxton           200                  78.4

10        Phillipe Crisp               210.5               76.1


11        Nic Porter                    180                  75.6

12        Tom Meldon                 170.5               75.0

13        Steve Shah                  160.5               74.9

14        Steve Andrews             155                  74.7

14        Stewart Brooks            170                  74.7

16        Samuel Trew               220                  73.4

17        Nick Swain                 180.5               73.0

18        Darren Barnhart          235                  72.0

19        Ed Shortle                  150.5               71.5

20        Scott Schmidt             182                  68.9

Straddle Deadlift Rankings Continued

21        Tom Chantler             210.5               67.4

22        John Kavanagh           180                  65.1

22        Karl Birkinshaw          170                  65.1

24        Tom Allsop                 160                  64.9

25        Jim Malloy                  137.5               59.8

26        Dave Morton               125                  59.5

27        Bill Crozier                  100                  55.7

28        Peter Lee                    90                    52.6

29        Gordon Fairey             140.5               49.4

30        Jeff Luther                  100                  49.2

31        Trevor Evans               100                  49.1

32        Daniel Andrews           62.5                 43.5

33        Nick Sayce                  100                  41.5

One Hand Clean And Jerk Rankings (L or R)

1          Steve Sherwood (R )   52.5                 81.2

2          Rick Meldon   (R )       60.5                 80.2

3          Steve Andrews  (R )    50                    77.2

4          Al Myers  (R )             70                    75.7

5          John Kavanagh (R )    65                    75.3

6          James Gardner  (R )    65                    75.2

7          Peter Phillips (R )         60                    75.1

8          Tom Allsop     (R )       55                    71.5

9          Jonny Eccleshall (R )    55                    69.5

10        Graham Saxton (R )     55                    69.1


11        Stewart Brooks (L )     47.6                 67.0

12        Scott Schmidt (R )       55                    66.7

13        Nick Swain (R )           50.5                 65.4

14        Chad Ullom (R )          55                    59.7

15        Dave Morton (R)         38.6                 58.9

16        Nic Porter (R )            40                    53.8

17        Jeff Luther (R )           33.7                 53.1

18        Steve Shah (L )           35.5                 53.1

19        Samuel Trew  (L )        47.5                 50.8

20        Ed Shortle (L )             33.0                 50.2

21        Phillipe Crisp (R )        43.0                 49.8

22        Karl Birkinshaw (L )     40                    49.1

23        Nick Sayce (R )           36.2                 48.1

23        Sam Hills (L )              35.5                 48.1

25        Jim Malloy (R )            32.5                 45.3

26        Trevor Evans (R )        28.7                 45.2

27        Tom Chantler (R )       40.5                 41.6

28        Daniel Andrews (R )     17.6                 39.2

29        Bill Crozier      (R )      25                    38.8

30        Gordon Fairey (R )       33.0                 37.2

31        Peter Lee (R )              17.6                 33.0

32        Darren Barnhart (R )    30                    29.4

33        Tom Meldon (R )           20                    28.2

Techniques for Pressing a Barrel

by George Jowett

There are several interesting ways of raising a barrel from the ground to arm’s length overhead. One way is by what Swedish athletes term the “slow hang” position. That is, you lift the barrel off the ground slowly to the position as shown in Exercise 5. There you pause a moment and with a snap move to the position in Exercise 6 and from thence to the shoulder as in Exercise 7(a), and to arm’s length overhead as in Exercise 7(b).

Another method is to pause as in Exercise 5 position and then in one movement sweep to the shoulders. This can be changed to sweeping the barrel from the ground to arm’s length overhead or to the shoulders only. Another movement which will stimulate powerful forces is to pause at the point shown in Exercise 5 and then in one movement sweep the barrel to arm’s length overhead.

Apart from the manner in which other muscles in the body will respond, the grip and the arms will obtain tremendous development through these exercises. You will not have to do much of this training before you will feel the results on the grip and in the arms. Man for man the old-time strength athlete was miles ahead of the present day athlete for grip. Rarely did one see a strength athlete of those days without a powerful and splendidly shaped pair of arms. The reason why we do not see so much grip and arm stunts today is because most of the crop of modern strength athletes are incapable. If they were equal to the tests they would perform them. A strong man is only bounded by the limitations of his own strength.

You should study carefully the illustrations accompanying these barrel exercises. I took great care when posing for them so that every detail would be caught by the artist. The finger grips and the hand positions are the most important, but overlook nothing. The stance of the legs, the position of the back and the distance when leaning back. The positions of the elbows are very important. Study them and you will find that progress will come faster to you in every way.

Credit: Molding a Mighty Grip by George Jowett, published in 1930

Bed of Nails

by Al Myers

Thom first got "comfortable" on the bed of nails, and then I asked him, "Do you really want to go through with this?"

This past weekend at the McPherson Scottish Highland Games in McPherson, Kansas my friend Thom Van Vleck and I did a noontime performance that was reminiscent of a classic old-time strongman show act – laying on a Bed of Nails!! Thom laid on the bed of nails while I broke a block of cement with a sledgehammer that was placed on his body! Thom is blessed with a thick hide, which is the only explanation how someone could actually endure something like this. When he approached me with this idea – I quickly volunteered to be the hammer man. I know now that Thom must really trust me as a friend – after all he didn’t even know if I could swing the 8# sledgehammer straight!! We warmed up “for the big event” with me striking the sledgehammer on an anvil, which was on his chest, a few times just to make sure I wouldn’t miss! (Truth be known – we didn’t even practice this beforehand which further questions our sanity). I knew I would have to make a pretty hard swing if the block was going to break – and I sure didn’t want it not to break and then having to make more than one swing!

The show turned out to be a big success! Afterwards, several spectators came up to “check out” the bed of nails to see if it was real. It was – Thom didn’t even take the points of the nails!!

I took a steady aim, brought the sledgehammer up, and then WAM!! - the block busted into many pieces!!!

Barrel Pressing

by George Jowett

Matt Tyler, of the Dino Gym, pressing a 205 pound keg (the modern version of a barrel) overhead for reps in a recent workout.

As I have remarked in this book, barrel lifting was very popular with the old-time strength athletes. For developing the fingers, hands, wrists and arms, there is nothing any better. Apart from this, barrel lifting is great for general body building. Of course, a barrel is not the handiest thing in the world to have around the house, but if a person is sincere in his search for great strength and muscular development he will always find a way to practice .

The difficulty lies in getting the barrel to the shoulder, therefore it is very necessary that the exercise be first practiced with a small nail keg or an empty regular-sized barrel. If you employ a regular-sized barrel you will find it easier to manipulate it if you will pull the barrel in close to the body, then back, and thus aid in the upward movement by allowing the barrel to roll up the body to the shoulders. From this point push the barrel to arm’s length overhead. This, in addition to developing great strength, will teach you equilibrium in lifting objects overhead as nothing else will.

Credit: Molding a Mighty Grip by George Jowett

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