- How He Became The World's Strongest
Alexander Zass, also known as "The Amazing Samson", was a famous
strongman during the first half of the 20th century. He was known for
feats of strength such as bending iron bars, snapping chains with his
chest, and lifting 500 pound girders with his teeth. He could also
carry small horses and would allow professional boxers to punch him in
his stomach as hard as possible. All of these feats are amazing and
have never been replicated. How did he get so strong?
In The Beginning
Alexander Zass was born in Vilna, Poland in 1888, but spent his youth
in Russia. As a boy, he was enthralled by the feats of strength
performed by Circus Strongman and dedicated his efforts to becoming
like them. He began training by climbing trees, as well as running with
dumbbells and barbells. He very quickly became strong enough where he
was able to join a Circus Troupe as a strongman and wrestler. While
there he learned techniques from the other strongman, as well as
developing his own methods. One of these was bending green branches to
develop his grip strength.
A Prisoner Of War
During the First World War he was captured as a Russian
prisoner of war and held in an Austrian Prison camp. Shackled and kept
in solitary confinement, he was worried that he was about to lose his
magnificent physique as he could not exercise properly. As he feared,
his body began to deteriorate. Desperate, he began to pull and push on
his iron chains and bars in an effort to regain his strength. To his
amazement, he not only regained his previous strength and physique, but
he far surpassed it. Without realizing it, he had created the first
system of isometric exercises in his prison cell!
A Incredible Escape
Zass continued to train, using his strength against the shackles that
bound him, until one day he realized he was now so strong he could
break them with ease. He bided his time until he saw an opportunity. He
first snapped all of the chains that bound him. Next, he bent the bars
of his prison window and ripped one clean out. He bent this bar into a
J Hook and was able to make his escape.
A Legend Is Born
After the War, Alexander Zass adopted the stage name "The Amazing
Samson". He toured Europe, performing the feats of strength I mentioned
above. He also put together the first course of isometric exercises
that I know off. The course utilized chains, just as he had used in
prison. It was immensely successful and his fame spread far and wide.
The Father Of Isometric Training
Today, Alexander Zass is known as the father of isometric exercises,
but this was not his only claim to fame. He was also an accomplished
animal trainer and worked for Russian Military Intelligence. He also
acted as cover for his manager, Captain Howard, who was a British
Secret Agent. Alexander Zass passed away in his home in Hockley, Essex
Below is some video of Zass performing some of his feats of strength.