LOUIS CYR Was the Strongest Man in the World!

(author unk.)

He stood only five feet, ten and one half inches, but his huge chest (which bulged 60 inches in circumference), seemed like a barrel that had popped-out of his 300 pound frame! His legs and biceps were tremendous. The strength of the farm boy from St. Cyprien, Quebec, is the stuff that legends are made of!

But Louis CYR was no legend. He really could lift a full barrel of cement with one arm and he once pushed a freight car on the railroad tracks, up an incline. On another occasion, 18 men who in the aggregate weighed 4,300 pounds, stood on a platform which Louis lifted! And to further get tongues wagging, CYR lifted 588 pounds off the floor...with one finger!

But undoubtedly, CYR's most dramatic feat occured on the day he was pitted against four work-horses. On December 10, 1891, standing before a crowd of 10,000 in Sohmer Park, Montreal, Louis CYR was fitted with a special harness. Four draft horses were lined-up opposite CYR...a pair of them on his left, and a second pair to his right. Heavy leather straps encased his upper arms; sturdy hooks at the end of these straps were attached to whiffle-trees, which led to harnesses strapped to the four horses.

CYR stood with his feet planted wide and placed his arms on his chest. As Louis gave the word, the grooms urged their horses to pull. The regulations of the contest ruled-out any sudden jerk. The four horses pulled with all their might and main on the strong-man, trying to dislodge Louis' arms from his chest. If CYR lost his footing, or either arms left his chest, he would lose the contest.

The grooms whipped the horses, and urged them in every way to pull harder and harder. But the horses slipped and slid, while CYR didn't budge an inch. After a few minutes of tugging, it was obvious that CYR was stronger than all four horses put together!"

"The Strongman"

by David Wylie

Strongmen have always held a certain fascination for people...from Samson down to Schwartzneggar...and one strongman holds a certain place in the hearts and minds of the CYR clan.

Louis CYR, born in St. Cyprien de Napierville, Quebec, still holds many records for feats of strength since his death in 1912. Louis, perhaps the most famous of all the CYR's both living and dead, is considered even today to have been the strongest man that ever lived!

In a book written by Ben Weider (a Canadian writer), CYR is portrayed as a man whose physical prowess proved to be his livelyhood and his undoing. Encouraged by his grandfather, himself a man of no mean physical strength, to build-up his strength by eating almost uncontrollably, CYR worked himself up to an enormous size and power and, at the same time, literally ate himself to death at the age of 49.

Alive, however, CYR amazed audiences in Canada, the United States and the countries in Europe with unmatched physical feats, including an unbroken record for having lifted a total of 4,337 pounds of dead weight on a platform and 3,539 pounds with a special harness in a stunt called the "Pig Iron Shoulder" lift.

CYR was born in Quebec and spent much of his youth there working at jobs in the woods. His idol was a local blacksmith who, as 'smiths' were wont do in those days, performed various acts of strength by way of entertainment. CYR learned a number of stunts from the 'smith' in his youth and even performed variations of what he learned from this era of his youth.

This Canadian Hercules was considered at the onset to be precocious when it came to use of his muscular strength. It is said that, one time in school, CYR became enraged at a number of schoolmates who taunted him and succeeded in knocking down 14 of his tormentors before being finally calmed. CYR's temper was later to become one of his less desirable traits and cause him to become an almost unstopable figure, verging on madness when prompted to lose his self-control.

This, however, was a fault that many shared, but in CYR was a dangerous combination when one considers his incomparable strength.

At one point in his life, the young CYR came upon an injured lumberman in the Quebec woods near his home. The man had broken his leg and beckoned the youth to travel the seven or so miles to his village to fetch assistance. Undaunted, CYR hoisted the injured man on his shoulders and carried him the distance to safety.

This proved to be a fortunate stroke for the youth as the lumberman became his lifelong friend, a financial backer, and his benefactor in his later years.

When his family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, CYR capitalized on his strength to gain him his lifelong reputation as a "Canadian Samson".

CYR eventually married, had children and worked for the Montreal Police Department before becoming a public attraction. CYR left the department and purchased a tavern where he put on the occasional show of strength.

Finally, CYR went on a tour of the United States giving demonstrations at the behest of Richard Fox, a sports organizer for "The Police Gazette", a New York publication. From there, his reputation spread and CYR went on to greater feats before larger crowds.

His accomplishments read almost monotonously with one feat being overcome by the next. He did practically everything from pushing entire railroad cars loaded to overflow to restraining teamed-horses and halting their progress.

After travels to England and other stops in Europe, CYR literally stopped in mid-caeer to retire to a farm he bought and tended his tavern before dying at the age of 49 in a Quebec hospital.

Weider's book on CYR tells in greater details the strongman's exploits and eloquently describes his amazing and sometimes tragic life. It comes as highly recommended reading to all CYR's and all others, as their depiction of this remarkable man.