Eugen Sandow: Bodybuilding's Great Pioneer
by David Chapman - Author of 'Sandow the Magnificent - Eugen Sandow and the Beginnings of Bodybuilding'
Eugen Sandow changed the way we see and think about our bodies. Although he was born a century and a half ago, his actions still live with us today. He made physical fitness palatable to the multitudes, inspiring countless others to become athletes themselves. Sandow burst upon the athletic scene with all the force and brilliance of a shooting star, blazing as if from nowhere into the Victorian sporting and theatrical world. He became the great teacher, popularizer, and performer who helped transform bodybuilding from the occupation of a few faithful devotees to the esteemed sport that it is today.
Before Sandow started his strongman act on the London stage, most people thought that a muscleman had to look like a cross between John Candy and King Kong. Sandow showed the world that he could be strong and at the same time muscled and well proportioned. This blond, blue-eyed athlete became a matinee idol decades before Steve Reeves or Schwarzenegger. Young ladies would flock around the vestibule counter wherever he performed, eager to buy photographs of his scantily clad image. Even the men seemed to have been caught up in the general enthusiasm over this comely young strongman. "He is positively handsome in form, feature, face, and limb," one journalist crowed. "He is the beau-ideal of athletic elegance." But we must also remember that Sandow was more than just another pretty face...much more.
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