In December 1897, I performed the following feats:-
up a bar of 216 lb. twelve times with both hands.
Jerked up a bar of
187 lb. seven times with one hand.
Pressed up a bar of 216 lb. with one
About this time I thrown in contact with a remarkable
man, who exercised a notable influence on my future life.
slight injury sustained in the exercise of my calling as an engineer - for
I was still an amateur - made it necessary for me to seek the help of a
doctor. This doctor, an amiable old gentleman, happened to have
staying with him a distinguished colleague, Dr. von Krajewski, a physician
in ordinary to His Majesty the Czar. This Dr. von Krajewski was the
founder of the St. Petersburg Athletic and Cycling Club, of which H.R.H.
the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch was President, and which
included many aristocratic and wealthy people among its members. Dr.
Krajewski, in spite of his fifty-six years, was still a very active
and energetic man, and particularly keen on feats of strength and
weight-lifting. He had first taken up this pastime at the mature age
of forty-one, and by systematic training had attained a fairly high degree
of physical strength. The doctor had, of course, visited our club
and recognized me at once. When I had completely undressed in order
to facilitate a careful examination of my injury, he, in conjunction with
my own doctor, examined my body, and found that with the exception of a
slight injury ( a contusion of the arm ) I was perfectly sound. He
invited me to come and stay with him in St. Petersburg as he wished to
have me trained as a professional athlete and wrestler.
learned that Dr. von Krajewski had also had Lurich in training with him
for some time, and he was good enough to say that I possessed
possibilities of becoming the strongest man in the
Yielding to the persuasion of all my club friends, who
congratulated me warmly on Dr. von Krajewski's offer, but against the
wishes of my parents, I set out for St. Petersburg early in
Dr. von Krawjewski was a bachelor and lived in a large
house in the Michael Platz, St. Petersburg. He had an excellent
practice in the highest circle of society and passed for a
millionaire. I was most hospitably received in the house of this
patron of athletics. The doctor treated me like a son and gave me
the best training his experience could suggest. One room in his
house was hung with portraits of all the best-known strong men and
wrestlers, and he delighted in inviting them to his house, in which all
foreign artistes found hospitable welcome every month. Dr. von
Krajewski was the organizer of a private club of men of fashion who came
to him weekly and worked hard with weights and dumb-bells, and practised
wrestling. In his gymnasium the doctor had a great number and
variety of weights, dumb-bells, and other apparatus and appliances for the
purpose of training. It was, in short, a fully equipped school of
All the professional strong men and
wrestlers who appeared at the St. Petersburg theatres visited Dr. von
Krajewski and gave exhibitions of their art. While so doing, they
were all carefully examined, measured and weighed. Dr. von Krajewski
had thus been able to acquire great experience and knowledge of feats of
strength and methods of training.
The example set by these
artistes had a most stimulating influence on us all. Every one seem
put upon his mettle to do his very best. Having now nothing to
occupy me but alternate exercise and rest, I made rapid progress in
strength. The doctor told me not to touch alcoholic drinks and
tobacco, for neither of which I had every felt any great inclination, and
in neither of which I had ever indulged.
I drank little else
but milk, (3 litres, or more than 11 pints daily) and ate practically what
I pleased, my appetite being then, as always, an excellent one. I
bathed daily with the Doctor in his bath-room, a very spacious apartment
built in close proximity to the gymnasium. After the bath we
practised weight-lifting till we got dry, neither of us using the towel to
dry ourselves. In January, 1898, I pushed up a bar weighing 275 lb.
to the full height of the arms and with the right hand pushed up 243 lb.,
and lying on the ground, I lifted and pushed up with two hands a weight of
304 lb., following this soon after with one 335 lb. With the knees
bent I raised a weight of 180 1/2 lb., which remained a world's record for
many years till beaten by me with 187 lb. in 1902.
February, I accompanied Dr. von Krajewski to Moscow, where Baron Kister,
another great patron of athletics, had organized a weight-lifting
competition for amateurs. I was fairly successful here, and managed
to raise a weight of 255 1/2 lb. with one hand. For this feat I was
soon after my return awarded a gold medal by my club, the St. Petersburg
Athletic and Cycling Club, of which I had become a member. The
training at Dr. von Krajewski's was very many-sided and I rapidly gained
strength in all parts of the xbody. I also trained steadily in
wrestling, the frequent visits of professional wrestlers to the doctor's
house affording me many excellent opportunities. About this time
Count Ribeaupierre, Master of the Horse to H.M. the Czar, became President
of the St. Petersburg Athletic and Cycling Club.
gentleman took a keen interest in me and has continued to manifest his
good will towards me ever since. He afterwards frequently supported
and helped me, and I feel that I owe him a debt of
In April, l898, my club organized a weight-lifting
competition for the championship of Russia, in which I won first prize and
accomplished the following among other feats.
With both hands
I lifted 114 kilogrammes or 251 lb. to full height of arms with a jerk (
being only 1 kilogramme less than the world's record of the Frenchman,
Bonnes - 115 kilogrammes).
I snatched up 257 lb. with both
With the right hand jerked 231 lb.
With the left hand jerked
With the right hand pressed 269 lb.
Towards the end of April
the famous French wrestler, Paul Pons, came to St. Petersburg, and
defeated this practised wrestler at the end of forty-five minutes. I
also threw Jankowsky in eleven minutes. It is possible that Pons may
not have been in his best form on this occasion as he himself maintained,
for some time afterwards I had a much tougher struggle with
I was in tip-top condition and was continuing to train
steadily when Dr. von Krajewski put down my name to contest the
championship of the world and the championship of Europe at the end of
July and beginning of August which were to be wrestled for in connection
with the Sports Exhibition in Vienna.
In order to accustom
myself to appearing before large audiences, I performed for some weeks
previously in a circus in Riga, as an athlete and wrestler, under an
assumed name. Dr. von Krajewski, who had an eye for everything, did
not omit to take into account the embarrassment which a young performer is
certain to feel when he first faces a large audience. I earned a
good deal of applause and threw all opponents in wrestling. But to
be quite candid, even at that time I still possessed by little of the
technique of wrestling. I was, however, very strong and took all my
opponents unawares in a very few minutes. Even my former conqueror,
Kalde, the teacher already mentioned, was obliged to admit this, as I thre
the good man repeatedly after very short struggles, at which he was not a
little surprised. Before we set out for Vienna, Dr. von Krajewski,
took careful measurements of me, with the following
Height…………5 ft. 9 1/2 in.
Waist……………32 3/8 in.
Neck………………18 1/3 in.
Shoulders…………47 3/4 normal and 51 in. expanded
Joint………21 7/8 in.
Left Shoulder Joint…………21 1/2 in.
Biceps of right
arm…………15 1/4 in. 16 3/4 in.
Biceps of left arm……………14 7/8
in. l6 1/2 in.
(measured when flexed and
Forearm, right………………………13 5/8 in.
left…………………………13 1/4 in.
Right and left wrist………7 3/4 in.
left thigh…….24 1/4 in.
Ankle…………………………………………….9 1/8 in.
My best performances,
at the end of the six months which I spent with the hospitable doctor, in
addition to those already mentioned were as follows:-
jerked a bar weighing 306 lb. with both hands.
I pulled in clean to the
shoulders a bar weighing 361 lb.
I snatched a bar weighing 197 1/2 lb.
with the right hand
(a world's record).
These feats were
performed either in the Doctor's gymnasium or in Count Ribeaupierre's
riding school and the weights were in every instance carefully
checked. This reminds me of a humorous incident over which I have
often laughed heartily. The doctor was at this time wearing a new
pair of trousers, which fitted him exceedingly well, inasmuch that I more
than once expressed a wish to possess similar garments. Dr. von
Krajewski jestingly replied, "My dear George, when you can beat Sandow's
world's record of putting up 116 kilogrammes or 255 1/2 lb. with one hand
you shall have just such another pair!" It may have been this jest
which spurred me on to make a special effort by pulling up a weight of
122.25 kilogrammes (269 1/4 lb. English). This was done in Count
Ribeaupierre's private riding school, which was arranged for this occasion
like a circus. The place was filled with a large audience of some of
the most distinguished people in St. Petersburg. When I lifted this
weight Dr. Krajewski in front of all the people rose from his seat, and
lifted his hat to full arm's length above his xhead. I shall never
forget the doctor on this occasion. His admiration for feats of
strength was almost beyond understanding. Everybody was surprised by
this evidence of his genuine emotion, and it seemed as though his
enthusiasm spread itself over the whole of the audience, everybody
congratulating me warmly. The doctor disappeared for a few minutes
and returned with the promised pair of trousers. I don’t mind
admitting that, at the moment, I was almost more pleased with this gift
than with the large gold Record Medal solemnly presented to me a few days
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