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World’s Strongest Man Paul Anderson

By Herry Sneider

His achievements have never been duplicated in the last 56 years.

Paul Anderson
Olympic Champion Paul Anderson push pressing 585 lbs in 1956. -Courtesy Photo

The London Olympics are now history. There are many valuable lessons one can learn from these wonderful Olympics. The big thing that I saw as a coach and a trainer is that records are continuously broken in all of the sports. Why? Better training. Better facilities. Better psychological techniques. Better nutrition. Better coaching. This is a time of great changes in sport. We will continue to see many of these records broken because people feel that they can do it. You are what you think.

One record that still stands 56 years later is the unbelievable push press of 585 lbs in 1956 before the Melbourne Olympics. Paul Anderson won the gold medal and became the strongest man in the world. This is before the drugs took hold of the athletes and made many of the records tainted by chemicals. We saw a tremendous increase in drug use with the East German athletes as well as the Soviets. United States athletes began to follow some of the drug tainted competitions that included many world records in weightlifting. Being a weightlifter all of my life I saw individuals compromising themselves and their countries to achieve world records and international fame. Some died at a young age because of drugs.

Paul Anderson grew up in Tocoa, Georgia and was given unusual strength as a teenager. He would squat such extremely heavy weights that they had to be made into cement blocks on the end of a three inch thick barbell. His mother encouraged him to break records in the backyard with these ponderous barbells eventually leading up to 1000 lbs in the squat. In the region where Paul grew up an Olympic coach came by and said, “Paul, you could be an Olympic champion. Try to clean this barbell that weighs near 400 lbs and try to press it.” This was the beginning of the legend of the world’s strongest man. Paul Anderson later on was able to win a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

Paul became a Christian minister. He developed two homes for boys that were neglected and abused. His ministry supported these boys and gave them a positive lifestyle. I had a chance to spend some time with Paul and realized he used his God given strength to give people hope in his ministry by yielding to a higher power in their lives. Unfortunately, the world’s strongest man died a few years ago. His ministry continues today.

What are the wonderful principles that we can learn from the strongest man in the last 100 years? 1. Put God first. 2. Reach out and help those in need. 3. Develop the skills that you were given in your life. 4. Stay positive in spite of a negative world. 5. Work out and eat healthy. 6. Set positive goals. 7. You are made to win. GO FOR IT! THE BEST IS YET TO BE! Harry Sneider can be reached at 626-355-8964 or harrysneider@earthlink.net.

August 23, 2012

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