Sandow the Lion Tamer – Inside Bodybuilding


sandow lionAlthough extra synonymous with bodybuilding than wrestling, the late Nineties noticed Eugen Sandow, the person many credited with possessing the right physique, wrestle a caged lion in entrance of a US viewers.

The bout was undertaken throughout Sandow’s in depth tour of the USA below the tutelage of promoter Florenz Ziegfeld. Maybe unsurprisingly, many considered the occasion as an train in futility throughout which a half dazed lion lazily swiped on the Prussian showman.

Immediately’s put up focuses on the circumstances resulting in this weird encounter, the battle itself and it’s aftermath, to discover simply how far Sandow was keen to go to advertise his physique and his enterprise.

Why a Lion?

The choice to pit Sandow in opposition to a 650 pound lion in a ‘Catch as you’ll be able to’ wrestling match was not the results of meticulous planning. Certainly, the battle solely occurred following the cancellation of a circus wrestling match between a grizzly bear and a lion.

The proposed bear-lion face off had been the brainchild of Colonel Daniel Boone, a California based mostly circus supervisor in search of to attract higher crowds to his occasions.

When phrase hit the general public {that a} grizzly bear can be combating a lion, the response was remarkably combined. Some rushed to purchase tickets starting from $10-20 whereas others such because the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, sought to ban the battle.

Ultimately it was the latter who gained out because the proposed battle was shortly banned by legislation authorities, leaving Boone with an issue. He had bought tickets for a lion battle and was understandably hesitant to refund the cash.

Sensing the chance for a fast buck, Florenz Ziegfeld, the person liable for dealing with Eugen Sandow’s 1894 tour of the USA, stepped in.

Ziegfeld’s reasoning was easy. Whereas the legislation banned bouts between two animals, it stated nothing about an animal and a person. What’s extra, the person in query, Eugen Sandow, was believed to be one of many strongest males in existence. If something, it might be a fair battle! (Or so the promotional materials would have you ever imagine).

Within the week main as much as the battle, Sandow appeared in quite a few Californian newspapers in a bid to drum up assist for his newest publicity stunt. When questioned about his motives, Sandow instructed reporters that as a result of he was all for testing the bounds of human energy, he had resolved to do what nobody else had ever completed, battle a lion.

Ziegfeld’s promoting was much more grandiose as the ultimate days earlier than the battle noticed the eccentric promoter inform people who Sandow was risking life and limb to battle a man-eating lion that was hungry for blood.

Would the World’s most completely developed man survive? Would Sandow tame the lion or the lion tame Sandow?

Excessive Hopes however Poor Performances

sandow lion tamerNat Pendleton recreating the battle for the 1936 movie, ‘The Nice Ziegfeld’

When the night time of the battle got here on Could twenty second 1894, it was clear that the battle’s promotion had been profitable. When the lights got here down on the stage, over 3,000 spectators had arrived to observe Sandow face his biggest foe.

Query marks had been shortly raised nevertheless when the lion entered the caged wrestling enviornment.

Although undoubtedly fearsome in its personal manner, the lion (nicknamed ‘Commodore’) appeared lower than combating match. Aged and disheartened, it was clear that this animal had seen higher days.

The lion’s claws had been visibly clipped and a few suspected that the animal had been drugged earlier than the battle in order to guard Sandow.

As Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson recounted of their biography of Ziegfeld, what adopted subsequent was nothing wanting farcical,

Sandow put up his fists as if getting ready to field one other man. The lion yawned at him. Sandow pulled on the large cat’s whiskers to evoke him. The lion half rose however then lay down once more.

Sandow then grabbed the lion’s mane, however the cat did nothing greater than flick sawdust within the strongman’s face together with his tail. …

In an try and salvage the night, Sandow lifted the lion as if it had been a home cat and carried it across the ring. The lion appeared to get pleasure from being carried, which solely angered the group extra.

The battle was shortly ended with Sandow declared the winner. When the refrain of boos quietened and a disgruntled crowd went residence, the native newspapers started their assessments.

There’s no such factor as dangerous publicity proper?

The response of the American newspapers had been undeniably vital. In response to the San Francisco Corridor, the battle had been a very one-sided affair which had pitted a feeble lion in opposition to a ‘a gladiator of the trendy day’.

That the lion had ‘not performed in any respect’ served for example the affairs asymmetry. Different criticisms equally reigned in, with one newspaper selecting to satirise the bout by the cartoon proven beneath whereas others started to query each Boone and Ziegfeld concerning the lion’s well being.

sandow lionSandow v. a shackled Commodore

Although not affecting Sandow’s popularity or status in any possible way, the battle had important repercussions for Ziegfeld, who went a number of years earlier than returning to California with a promotional occasion. The lion bout had taught him that his advertising and marketing skills weren’t infallible.

Sandow later managed to show the bout into an enthralling battle in his 1897 handbook Energy and Receive It. Displaying a remarkably poor brief time period reminiscence Sandow instructed readers of his heroic endeavors.

Let it by no means be stated then that Sandow was a poor marketer. For enjoyable, you’ll be able to learn his complete description of a battle beneath with the caveat that the historic recounting of the battle by others paints a completely completely different image!

Maybe the best, actually probably the most thrilling, of all my experiences is that which I’m about to narrate. It’s the story of my lion battle in San Francisco.

I used to be performing in that western metropolis on the time of the mid- winter truthful, which adopted the Chicago Exhibition. In reference to this truthful Colonel Bone was exhibiting a fantastic menagerie. In the future he marketed a battle to the loss of life between a lion and a bear. An incredible tent, with lodging for twenty thousand folks, was erected for the event. Hundreds and 1000’s of individuals had purchased tickets, when the police issued an order forbidding the efficiency, and the proposed spectacle needed to be deserted.

The thought occurred to me that I ought to take the bear’s place and measure my energy in opposition to the king of the forest’s. In fact there’s at all times between the unarmed man and the beast this drawback, that the beast has pure weapons in his tooth and claws, while a person has nothing to assist him within the battle. This lion, furthermore, was a very livid animal. Solely every week earlier than he made a meal of his keeper. I’ve met many lions in numerous locations, and this beast was actually the most important and most interesting of all of them.

I used to be totally ready to satisfy him as he was, supplied I might have an equal for his claws in a brief dagger or some related weapon; however the legislation in America, as in England, is rightly very stem in opposition to cruelty to animals, and the dagger, in fact, couldn’t be allowed. If I desired to satisfy the beast the one manner was to battle him as I’d field a person, fully unarmed.

As there isn’t any legislation to forestall cruelty to males, there was no objection to this methodology, although Colonel Bone, in addition to my very own buddies, insisted that if there was to be a battle it should be a wrestle between brute energy and human energy. Briefly, mittens must be positioned on the lion’s ft to forestall him from tearing me to items together with his claws, and a muzzle must be positioned over his head. Even with these precautions I used to be suggested to not proceed with the competition.

“Together with his energy,” stated Colonel Bone, “he’ll knock your head off.” However, personally, I had no worry, I used to be solely anxious for the competition to start. The engagement was accordingly made, and “A lion battle with Sandow” was boldly marketed. The announcement despatched a thrill by the cities for a whole lot of miles round, and so as totally to be geared up for a efficiency which might be certain to draw 1000’s and 1000’s of individuals, I made a decision to rehearse my battle with the lion beforehand.

Accordingly, preparations had been made, and with a lot problem the lion was mittened and muzzled. It took a number of males with lassos and chains some hours to carry out this operation, for not solely had they to protect in opposition to the animal’s overpowering energy, however they needed to proceed cautiously so as to not injure him.

An amazing cage, measuring seventy ft throughout, was introduced spherical, and into it Colonel Bone, one of the vital skilled of lion tamers, let the animal enter. Few folks had been current, however amongst them was my supervisor, that tall, slim, nice little Ziegfeld, with a face white as snow.

There is no such thing as a doubt that Mr. Ziegfeld and the small firm felt the place acutely, for, although personally I had confidence in myself — and confidence of victory is at all times half a battle gained — but these round had been certainly not certain of the difficulty, and there was some worry that my first tight with a lion is perhaps my final.

Nonetheless, my goal being mounted, I entered the cage, unarmed and stripped to the waist. The lion, with fury in his eyes, crouched down able to spring. Having learn a great deal of the strategies of the lion I used to be not unprepared for this type of assault.

As he made his final pressure for an amazing leap I stepped sharply to the aspect and he missed his mark. Turning shortly earlier than he had time totally to get well, I caught him around the throat with my left arm, and spherical the center with my proper. By this implies, although his weight was 530lbs., I lifted him as excessive as my shoulder, gave him a superb hug to guarantee him that it was essential to respect me, and tossed him on to the ground.

Thus outdone at his first try, the lion roared with rage. Dashing fiercely in the direction of me he raised his big paw to strike a heavy blow at my head. For the second, feeling the swish of the lion’s paw because it handed my face, I actually thought that Colonel Bone’s comment that he would knock my head off would show true. Fortunately I dodged my head simply in time and acquired a superb grip around the lion’s physique, with my chest touching his and his ft over my shoulders.

Now got here the tussle; the extra I hugged him the extra he scratched and tore, and although his ft had been mittened he tore by my tights and elements of my pores and skin. However I had acquired him as in a vice, and his efforts to get away had been fruitless. Selecting an opportune second, I flung him off me. Colonel Bone and my supervisor shouting to me to return out of the cage, as I had completed sufficient and the lion’s rage was unbounded.

I used to be decided, nevertheless, earlier than I left to strive only one different feat. Shifting away from the lion I stood with my again in the direction of him, thus inviting him to leap on me. I had to not wait many moments.

He sprang proper on my again. Throwing up my arms I gripped his head, then caught him firmly by the neck, and in a single movement shot him clear over my very own head to the bottom earlier than me. Colonel Bone rushed into the cage, snapping two revolvers to maintain the lion off, and I got here out, my legs torn, my neck scratched, and with scratches throughout my physique, however I felt that I had mastered that lion, and that I ought to have little problem in mastering him once more on the efficiency that was to be given subsequent day in public.

When the hour for the battle got here the large tent which held twenty thousand folks was actually packed in each half. The cage with the lion was outdoors, and while he was being mittened and muzzled he grew to become so livid that he broke two iron chains that certain him, and acquired free.

The folks shrieked, the very males who a second earlier than had been boasting of their bravery, had been the primary to fly, and there was a common stampede. However the second the lion noticed my eyes mounted fearlessly and firmly on him he appeared paralysed. Colonel Bone got here np and pulled out his revolver, telling me to not take my eyes off him, as I had him in my energy. While we each remained immobile, the cage was introduced close to his head, and by a dexterous motion I had him over on his again, and as soon as extra he was a prisoner. The keepers tried once more to mitten him, and after a fantastic wrestle they succeeded.

Then got here the scene within the enviornment, the lion appeared firsts and as I entered the entire place shook with cheers and applause. By means of the entire of that huge meeting ran a thrill of nice pleasure, and photographers had been there able to take instantaneous footage of the assorted positions of the battle with the lion. However no sooner did I enter the cage than the animal cowered down.

He knew that I used to be his grasp and he refused to battle. Feeling that the viewers can be sadly disillusioned 1 tried to goad him on, however nothing would transfer him. Most beasts are cowards at coronary heart, and this lion having met his match on the rehearsal refused to budge.

Eventually I caught maintain of his tail and twisted it. This was the one factor that moved him. As he made a certain in the direction of me I dodged, swung spherical and picked him up, after which tossed him down.

The battle lasted scarcely two minutes. The lion, recognising that my energy was an excessive amount of for him, would battle no extra. Although I lifted him up and walked spherical the world with him on my shoulders he remained as agency as a rock and as quiet as a lamb. The fierce battle on the rehearsal had subdued his braveness.

He was clearly conquered. I used to be afraid that my viewers can be disillusioned with the comparative tameness of tlie proceedings, however, quite the opposite, everybody appeared totally happy, and “the lion battle with Sandow” was lengthy the discuss of the day in San Francisco.

Whereas there’s a lot to admire about Sandow, his means to relay the reality was oftentimes suspect. From the inflated crowd figures to perceptions of the battle, Sandow’s put up battle writings had been the stuff of make imagine and demonstrated that the Prussian born businessman at all times sought to advertise himself no matter actuality.

A well timed reminder to not imagine every thing that comes from the health trade!


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