by Al Myers
I mentioned George Jowett yesterday in my training article about anvils. George Jowett was more that just an anvil lifter – it’s just that his most famous lifting feat involved using his legendary 168 pound anvil. It is reported that in the late 1920’s at a strength show in Philadelphia, he grabbed his 168 pound anvil by the horn, and in one motion did a swing with it and caught it at his shoulder and proceeded to press it over head with one arm!!! It is one thing to be able to pick up a heavy anvil one handed – but to clean it one handed is almost beyond belief!! George Jowett possessed huge forearms – measured at times over 16 inches.
George Jowett was born in England, and as a child was critically injured when he fell against a fireplace. This accident left him crippled. When he was 8 years old his parents were told by the doctors that it was unlikely that he would live to be 15, and if he did, would probably never walk again. He proved them wrong – not only did he walk again but went on to become one of the premier strength athletes of the early 1900’s.
Jowett started out in gymnastics and achieved many awards in his teens. He then became a boxer and won world titles as a lightweight boxer. At the age of 19, he moved to Canada and started weightlifting. Weighing just 176 pounds, George did a clean and jerk with 340 pounds!! He was also very good at the one arm swing – his best being 210 pounds. He then became a competitive bodybuilder and is considered by many to be the Father of American Bodybuilding.
By the early 1920’s, George moved to Philadelphia and founded the Jowett Institute for Physical Culture. He started a mail order business selling muscle courses that lifters would subscribe to. Each course was laid out for the entire month and each month George would send out the next month’s course! This was very profitable for him and it grew into a big business. He was very successful as a writer and has written many weightlifting courses and books. His book in 1925, “The World’s Weight Lifting Rules and Records”, was the foundation for the rules used for the all-round lifts in the USAWA today.