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Eugen Sandow Biography


Eugen Sandow The Father of Bodybuilding

Eugen Sandow often referred to as the father of bodybuilding was born in Königsberg, Prussia on April 2, 1867 and he died October 14, 1925. His birth-name was Friedrich Wilhelm Müller. Eugen left Prussia in 1885 in order to avoid the draft to military service.

He travelled all over Europe working in a circus where he adopted the stage name Eugen Sandow. But his amazing strongman demonstrations seemed to be only of second interest to the audience who always seemed more interested in his bulging muscles.

The realization that despite his circus acts, where he would get a chain wrapped around his chest and then break the chain or bending nails, the people would rather see his muscles and that lead to the start of bodybuilding. Eugen Sandow then decided to hold the first bodybuilding competition.

He decided to call it the "Great Competition" which he organized in 1901 at the Royal Albert Hall, London, UK. The athletes that entered were judged by himself, Sir Charles Lawes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The contest was sold out and was said to be a huge success.

Although Eugen had recurring health problems he still managed to make a huge impact on health and muscle development. He opened the first gym the world had ever seen and called it the Institute of Physical Culture. His objective was to teach different methods of exercising as well as correct dietary habits.

He went a step farther than that and in 1898 started a magazine called Physical Culture which later became known just as the Sandow's Magazine of Physical Culture. This started his writing and he wrote a series of books.

It was in his last book published in 1904 that he first referred to the word bodybuilding which is why he is considered the father of this great sport. Constantly looking at better ways of improving results in gaining muscle he invented things like training bands and the spring-grip dumbbells.

Eugen wrote about specifically training to achieve what he said was the Grecian Ideal that showed size and proportion in what he said should be pre-determined dimensions. He published two books on the subject called "How to Obtain It" and then later "Sandow's System of Physical Training".

In these books he was very specific on the weights that should be used as well as the different exercises to be done and the amount of repetitions required in order to achieve muscular development. His impact on bodybuilding is recognized by all bodybuilders.

At every Mr. Olympia competition since 1977 the winner is presented with a bronze statue of Eugen Sandow now simply called The Sandow which shows the permanent impact that this man had on the sport.


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