by Al Myers
Charles Rigoulot and his Challenge Barbell
Charles Rigoulot was born in a small town close to Paris, France in 1903. He started to lift weights at an early age and soon became one of the strongest weightlifters in France. Rigoulot was a specialist in the quick lifts, and excelled at the Clean and Jerks, Snatches, and Swings. He was also great in the One Handed Snatch. So it is only fitting that Rigoulot would build a Challenge Barbell to give him “an edge” in these lifts. His Challenge Barbell was a special made bar that contained shot-loaded globes on the ends. The bar was over 8 feet in length and was exceedingly springy. Rigoulot mastered the technique of using this “spring” to enhance his lifts – much like the Olympic lifters of today do on the “new-age” Olympic bars. His challengers could not easily adjust to his Challenge Barbell flexing and rebounding, and often lifted less on it than if they were lifting on a rigid bar!!
by Al Myers
Hermann Goerner lifting his famous Challenge Barbell. This photograph was taken in Cape Town, South Africa in 1923.
Hermann Goerner had a Challenge Barbell that only he could lift. It had solid globe metal ends, connected by a 2-3/8″ diameter shaft, and weighed 330 3/4 pounds (150 Kilos). It was said the Goerner could lift his Challenge Barbell overhead anytime – day or night – for over 20 years. He didn’t even need warmups to do it – and often hoisted his Challenge Barbell overhead in street clothes. This really demonstrated the strength of Hermann Goerner’s hands – as most other challengers could not even pick it off the ground. Goerner would use a power clean to get the barbell to the shoulders, and then put it overhead with a push jerk.
Source: Goerner the Mighty by Edgar Mueller
by Al Myers
The Rolandow Challenge Barbell now resides in the York Barbell Museum.
G.W. Rolandow was a Swiss born strongman who came to the United States and became an American citizen in 1896. He lived his entire life in New York City. His Challenge Barbell had a thick handle, and weighed 175 pounds empty, but 299 pounds fully loaded. He was able to Bent Press his Challenge Barbell fully loaded – and lifted it in his nightly strongman performances. The Rolandow Barbell was purchased by Professor Attila, and later owned by Sig Klein. Sig Klein often used it when he was demonstrating the Bent Press.
Sig Klein demonstrating a Bent Press with the Rolandow Barbell.
This was written by Sig Klein shortly after lifting the Rolandow Barbell in 1937.
“It was Saturday, April 10th, on my thirty-fifth birthday that I lifted the Rolandow Bell again. It went up on my first attempt. So pleased was I with this accomplishment that I have not up to this present writing lifted this weight since. I have never tried to lift more in the Bent-Press than 209 pounds. It seems that no matter how much weight I would ever lift again in the Bent-Press, I would never again have the pleasure or satisfaction that I derived when I first succeeded with this ponderous weight. This was in 1937. It was about this time that I published “How to Bent-Press”, feeling that such a booklet was needed for the thousands of weight-lifters whose interest I had now aroused in this lift.”
by Al Myers
W.A. Pullum and his famous Challenge Barbell
To win the 100 pound offered in connection with this challenge, the man taking it up had first to lift overhead in the “One Hand Anyhow” style this barbell loaded to a poundage equivalent to 1 1/2 times his own weight, after which a kettlebell representing a third of the barbell poundage had to be lifted overhead with the other hand.
This “double-bodyweight” feat of W.A. Pullum was performed twelve times a week at music halls. The Challenge, however, was never accepted.
Source: How to Use a Barbell by W.A. Pullum