More and more people are participating in strength sports all across America. People from all walks of life are finding their way to the gym. Whether they’re training to be a bodybuilder, a powerlifter, a strongman or just want to get some exercise, the popularity of strength sports have exploded. Especially since the rise of social media, weight training has gone from being a niche and sometimes weird hobby to a mainstream cultural movement. It seems just about everyone is getting ready for a meet or striking a pose in the mirror.
My hope is to find and research people from the past who have made an impact on strength sports in one way or another. People have interesting stories, and I think it’s important that they be shared. This is probably not something I’m going to be able to do every article as it may take time to do research. Finding history about strength sports can be difficult as for a long time, it wasn’t something that was as popular as it is now or it just wasn’t recorded and documented like events and people are today.
Clevio Massimo (1895-1975)
I won’t leave you empty handed, though. Let me introduce to you the Italian Hercules, Antonio Clevio Massimo Sabatino. The early 20th century strongman emigrated to New York when he was a young boy. With talent as a violinist, acrobatic performer and strongman, he made a living as a traveling performer. He was known for weightlifting feats, hand balancing acts and juggling routines. It is said that he could support a piano and its player in the Tomb of Hercules position. He was able to bend railroad spikes and tear phone books with his hands. He would even continue to perform during World War I. Instead of a rifle, he would use one of his comrades to perform
Unfortunately, not much is known about his later life. He would live the rest of his life quietly and live into his eighties. Like many performers during the early 20th century, he would fade away into the pages of history. There are many people like Clevio Massimo who made an impact in the world of physical culture, and it would be a shame to not see their stories shared with strength sports enthusiasts today.
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“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” -Carl Jung