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Special – Paul Anderson – Strongman / Weightlifter – L E’s Stories Special – “A Stunning Exhibition Of Strength Creates Lasting Memories” – The Story Of Paul Anderson’s Effect On The Original Sportsphile

As you probably know full well by now….that is if you have read at least more than a handful of my stories…..I enjoy writing about the impressive athletes, artists, musicians, comedians et al that have crossed Bone Daddy’s path the the course of his now 74 years on this Earth….and let me tell you, he has met some truly outstanding folks….who left lasting impressions on the original Sportsphile….and none were quite as impressive as strongman Paul Anderson.


Weightlifting – 1965 – Special – Legendary Strongman Paul Anderson At His Home Gym

It was 1957 in Midland, Tx…..when Bone Daddy saw an exhibition at the 1st Baptist Church gymnasium….. where Los Tres Hermanos (Lil Wally + Bone Daddy + Runt) practiced and played many basketball games in the City Church League….where good basketball was played…..anyway, the exhibition at the gym was by the man who was billed as “The Strongest  Man in the World”….and to this day in August 2020, BD still feels that he saw the strongest man in the world in a exhibition where he nailed a 4″ x 4″ post to a wall by driving “ten penny nails” through the 4″ post with his hand being wrapped with a thick cloth….as Paul Anderson seeded the head of the nail to the 4 x 4.  It was so impressive to BD….and when he tells stories of seeing incredible feats, he always tells this one…..plus, BD remembers vividly when Paul Anderson lifted an elevated wooded stage…..on which every person in his class sat on the stage….as 24 students, one teacher and one teaching assistant along with one wooden stage was lifted on the back of Paul Anderson. 


Weightlifting – 1955 T0 1994 – Documentary Film – The Life And Career Of Paul Anderson – The Strongest Man In Recorded History

Paul Anderson (October 17, 1932 – August 15, 1994) was an American weightlifter, strongman and  powerlifter…..who was an Olympic gold medalist….a world champion….and a two-time national champion in Olympic weightlifting…..as a man whose career contributed significantly to the development of competitive powerlifting.                                                                                                                                          

Weightlifting – 1955 – USA Vs USSR Weightlifting Exhibition In Moscow – Featuring 19 Year Old USA’s Paul Anderson


Anderson was born in Toccoa, Georgia, the only son of Ethel Bennett and Robert Anderson…..who as a teenager began his early weight training on his own in his family’s backyard to increase his size and strength….so that he would be able to play on the Toccoa High School football team….where he earned a position as first-team blocking back.  He used special homemade weights that his father created out of concrete poured into a wooden form…..then later he attended Furman University for one year on a football scholarship before moving to Elizabethton, Tennessee with his parents…..where he met weightlifter Bob Peoples….who would have a great deal of influence on him in squat training….while introducing his prodigy Anderson into weightlifting circles.                                                                                                               

Weightlifting – 1955 To 1994 – Special Photo Tribute To Paul Anderson, The World’s Strongest Man


In 1955, at the height of the Cold War, Anderson, as winner of the USA National Amateur Athletic Union Weightlifting Championship, traveled to the Soviet Union, where weightlifting was a popular sport, for an international weightlifting competition.  In a newsreel of the event shown in the United States the narrator, Bud Palmer, commented as follows: “Then, up to the bar stepped a great ball of a man, Paul Anderson.” Palmer said, “The Russians snickered as Anderson gripped the bar which was set at 402.5 pounds, an unheard-of lift. But their snickers quickly changed to awe and all-out cheers as up went the bar and Anderson lifted the heaviest weight overhead of any human in history.” “We rarely have such weights lifted,” said the solemn Russian announcer as Anderson hoisted 402.41 lb (182.53 kg) in the two-hand press.  Prior to Anderson’s lift, the Soviet champion, Alexey Medvedev, had matched the Olympic record of the time with a 330.3 lb (149.8 kg) press. Anderson then did a 402.5 lb (182.6 kg) press. At a time when Americans were engaged in a symbolic Cold War battle with the Soviet Union, Anderson’s strength, along with his singular, tank-like appearance, became a rallying cry to all.                                                                

Weightlifting – 1956 – Training Video – Featuring USA Olympic Weightlifter Paul Anderson Training At Home For The Games


During the 1955 World Championships in Munich, Germany that October, Anderson went on to establish two other world records….for the press at 407.7 lb (184.9 kg)… and for total weight cleared of 1,129.5 lb (512.3 kg)) as he easily won the competition in his weight class to become world champion. Upon his return to the United States, Anderson was received by then Vice-President Richard Nixon, who thanked him for being such a wonderful goodwill ambassador.


Olympics – 1956 – Melbourne Summer Games Highlights of Men’s Weightlifting Gold Medalists – Featuring Super Heavyweight USA Paul Anderson

In 1956, USA’s Paul Anderson won a gold medal in a long, tough duel an the Melbourne Olympic Games as a weightlifter in the super-heavyweight class….while suffering from a 104 °F (40 °C) fever with Argentine Humberto Selvetti. The two competitors were tied in the amount of weight lifted….but because Anderson, who weighed in at 137.9 kg (304 lb), was lighter than Selvetti….who weighed 143.5 kg (316 lb), Anderson was awarded the gold medal.                                                                                                           

Weightlifting – 1959 – Special Film – Paul Anderson – The Weightlifting State Of Mind


Anderson could not compete in the year 1960 Olympics because he had been ruled a professional for accepting money for some of his weightlifting and strength exhibitions. Thus at the 1960 Olympics the Soviet heavyweight Yury Vlasov bested records set at the 1956 Olympics, with Anderson not competing in the contest. A short time later however, not to be outdone by the Russian and to verify his position as the World’s Strongest Man, Anderson lifted the same weight as the Russian three times in quick succession demonstrating unbelievable strength. This feat solidified his position as the most dominant lifter in the world and cemented his legacy as the strongest of the strong.                                                              

News – 1966 – Universal International News Special – “The Apostle Paul” – The Story Of Strongman Paul Anderson


In 1961, Anderson and his wife Glenda founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home….which was a home for troubled youth in Vidalia, Georgia…..as they both helped to build and support the Home with an average of 500 speaking engagements and strength exhibitions per year…..while notwithstanding the chronic congenital kidney disease that eventually killed him at age 61. He would perform stunts such as hammering a nail with his bare fist and raising a table loaded with eight men onto his back….just like the one Bone Daddy saw at the 1st Baptist Church in Midland, Tx.                                                                                

Weightlifting – 2019 – History Channel Special – Brian Shaw + Nick Best + Eddie Hall + Robert Oberst Pay Tribute To Paul Anderson’s Historic 402 lb Overhead Press Record


The 1985 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records lists his feat of lifting 6,270 lb (2,840 kg) in a back lift as “the greatest weight ever raised by a human being” Anderson turned professional after the 1956 Summer Olympics….when so many of his feats of strength, while considered generally credible, were not done under rigorous enough conditions to be official. 


Weightlifting – 1962 – Special Film – “The Media Star” Featuring Strongman Paul Anderson On The Groucho Marx Show                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In 1960, Anderson married Glenda Garland….as the couple were devout Christians…..who had a daughter, Paula, that was born 1966.  While competing, Anderson weighed between 275–370 lb (125–168 kg)….while being 5′ 10″ (1.79 m) tall.  As a child, Anderson suffered from Bright’s disease (now known as chronic nephritis), a kidney disorder….and he eventually died from kidney disease.  Anderson’s true life testimony can be heard as a dramatization through the Unshackled! radio ministries on program number 2521. Unshackled! has also produced a comic booklet telling the story of Anderson.  Paul Anderson Memorial Park, which features a large statue of him performing an overhead barbell lift, is located at the corner of Tugalo Street and Big A Road in Toccoa, is named for him.  In July 2019, an episode of the History Channel show “The Strongest Man in History” featured Paul Anderson and several of his historic feats of strength.                                                                                                                                                

Weightlifting – 2019 – History Channel Special – Paul Anderson: Strongest Man In History – With Brian Shaw + Eddie Hall

                                                                                                                                                                                      In researching Paul Anderson’s life….I found some incredible quote by one of the greatest strongmen ever…..3 x World Strongest Man Bill Kazmaier said of Paul Anderson….“He’s the king of strength. His backlift was unbelievable. But more amazing was his total commitment as a Christian.”….cuz the simple fact is that Paul Anderson was spreading The Word by using his incredible physical strength to tell about Jesus Christ.  So, this story is our way of saying thanks for the lasting impressions of “Strength of Faith” that you had on Bone Daddy to this day some 63 years later. He was a blessed man….who used the gift God gave him to establish a ministry that God wanted him to do….for that is a life well lived….and we should all have that sense of purpose….and live it like he did. God bless him.                                                       

Weightlifting – 1955 To 1993 – Special – Why Paul Anderson Was The Strongest Man In Recorded History




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