by Al Myers
Congratulations to this weeks winner – Thom Van Vleck of Kirksville, Missouri.
He correctly identified this strongman from the early 1900’s as Warren Lincoln Travis. Travis was born in Brooklyn and turned professional at the age of 21. He was of modest size for a strongman of that era, weighing only around 200 pounds at his prime. In 1906, he was awarded the “World’s Greatest Weightlifter” by a popular strength publication at the time, and received a jewel-studded belt which he is wearing in this picture. Travis was also an all-round weightlifter and has had much influence on the lifts done today in the USAWA. He favorite lifts were the Heavy Lifts, such as the Harness Lift and the Back Lift, and the Finger Lifts. In front of witness’s, he has lifted 3985 pounds in the Harness Lift and 4140 pounds in the Back Lift. In 1907, he lifted with one finger 667 pounds!!!! Travis was a fantastic performer and would present himself as “The Strongest Man in the World” at his performances. Travis was very successful as a businessman, and as a result was very wealthy. When other strongmen would challenge him, he would often put up very large amounts of money as a side bet, which resulted in very few takers. Warren Lincoln Travis continued to lift heavy weights until his death. At the age of 65, Travis died during one of his performances of a heart attack at Luna Park on Coney Island. Several skeptics at the time blamed his death on his heavy lifting in his older age. I do not believe this, as I know several lifters today maintain great heath and continue to lift and compete past the age of 80!!! His lifetime of lifting and training probably added many years to his life. Warren Lincoln Travis left a Challenge to the World in his will, which was an open challenge to anyone who could duplicate or exceed his lifting accomplishments. The first person to do this would receive his prized jewel-studded belt!! Listed below is the challenge Travis claimed he could do.
Warren Lincoln Travis – Challenge to the World
1. Take a 100 pound barbell from the floor with both hands, and press it overhead 10 times while seated (must be done in 30 seconds)
2. Take a pair of 90 pound dumbbells from the side of the body to the shoulders, and press it to arms length overhead.
3. Teeth lift from the floor, hands behind neck, 350 pounds.
4. Finger Lift from the floor 350 pounds with one finger, eight times in five seconds.
5. Finger lift from the floor 560 pounds with one finger once.
6. Two hand grip lift, straddling the weight, 700 pounds twenty times in ten seconds.
7. Hand and Thigh Lift 1600 pounds once.
8. Back Lift 3660 pounds once.
9. Harness Lift 3580 pounds once.
10. Back Lift 2000 pounds, 250 times in seven minutes.
Also, his rules stated that these lifts must all be done in 30 MINUTES!! And must be done for TEN STRAIGHT YEARS!!!! Needless to say, his jewel-studded belt still resides in the York Barbell Hall of Fame.