I bent a horseshoe the other day. Not a big one, more of a medium-light type shoe. Not a big fight either, just the solid feeling of testing myself against steel. More of a reminder of days past. Battles against flesh and iron, both won and lost. Bruce Springsteen calls them “Glory Days.”
Just bending the rusted old horseshoe reminded me of how much I’ve always loved all things strength related. Even as a young goofy kid in my backyard in Orchard Park, New York I used to lift a barbell over my head and pretend to be the great Russian lifter Vasili Alexiev. Or maybe the “8th Wonder of the World,” Paul Anderson. I’d drop the barbell (weighing some 60 or 70 pounds) on the grass the way I’d seen my heroes drop a massive barbell from overhead on a lifting platform. Then later on that night i would get chewed out by my dad for putting divots in the lawn.
Bending horseshoes used to be the trademark of the strongman. I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to have trained with some very strong dudes in very different disciplines and have seen some remarkable performances.
However the strongest man I’ve ever been around and a man who was a huge influence on me was the former 4-time World Super Heavyweight Powerlifting Champion and the 1979 World’s Strongest Man Contest champion, Don Reinhoudt from Brocton, New York. A true strength legend, Don was as kind and humble a man as he was strong.
We used to lift together in Don’s garage which was equipped as a true strongman’s gym should be. No fancy gear, just barbells, dumbells, and lots of weights.
I have personally witnessed some astounding feats of strength performed by Don that still be-goggle me to this day. And he was awesome at the oldtime strongman feats of strength like driving nails through a thick chunk of wood with his hand, bending steel bars, and blowing up hot water bottles like he was blowing up a child’s balloon.
The one lift that left me speechless was the time Don cleaned and pressed a pair of old York 150lb dumbell’s for 10 reps. Wearing just a powerlifting singlet, wrist wraps and an old leather belt. Ten solid as-you-please cleans (pulling the massive dumbells to his shoulders), and then back ram-rod straight on the press, reps. With 150 pounds in each hand. And he did it without a whole lot of effort. In other words, there was room for more. To this day i can see myself sitting in Don’s garage, shaking my head and wondering what it would feel like walking around as strong as Don.
If anybody ever wondered what real strength looked like, find a picture of Don Reinhoudt.
Funny, conjuring up memories of that lift makes the horseshoe I bent look even smaller.
And here you go; straight from the google machine.
Photo Source: Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame
Don Reinhoudt Squat