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The Most Impressive Feat of Strength

the letter a copyfter my workout tonight, I decided I’d sit on the bike in my gym and just pedal away and relax for a bit.

I had the music playing but I also wanted to read something, so I began to look around my basement for some sort of a book, catalog, flyer – SOMETHING!

Something caught my eye on top of a stack of papers. It was a very old magazine that was given to me by a friend at work whose father had hundreds of these magazines. It was an issue of Muscle Power from 1952.

I thought, “What the hell – maybe I’ll find something cool.”

So I sat down on the bike, set the tension to 4 and started pedaling away as I leafed through the book.

Throughout most of the front of the magazine, the articles and features were of bodybuilding nature, but when I got about half way through the magazine, it shifted emphasis to more of a strength-based focus. (This is probably why the magazine says it’s “Two Magazines in One,” DUHH!)

Surprised, I continued paging through until I saw a familiar picture of Hermann Goerner. The image, shown above, has been featured on just about every website I have seen that salutes the strongmen of the past, so it is pretty much burned into my memory at this point.

Since I knew that Hermann Goerner had a tremendous grip, I knew I had to read the article. It was called, “The Greatest Feat of Strength I Ever Saw.” The article featured snippets of info that bodybuilding figureheads from the day of the magazine had witnessed in their lifetimes.

In relationship to Goerner, the witness was Joe Assirati, who the article calls England’s Leading Bodybuilding Authority. The article quotes Assirati in saying:

    “I will never forget the time I saw Herman Goerner show his amazing strength at Bill Pullum’s gym in London. Goerner was training under Bill, and Paul Getty, son of an American Millionaire, promised Goerner $100.00 if he could one hand dead lift 600 pounds. At that time the British record was around 440. Next day, Goerner did a right hand dead lift on a STRAIGHT bar, with 602 ½ lbs. The weight took the skin off the palm of his hand but Goerner made it! That in my opinion, is the greatest feat of strength I ever had the pleasure of witnessing.”

Who wouldn’t believe he was that strong with a mustache like that?

The article continues to cover several other feats of strength that various bodybuilding representatives of the time recollected, but my favorite was this one, by George F. Jowett:

    “I will never forget the time Sam Crawford, a British seaman, saved my life and the lives of his shipmates. Sam was a townsman of mine, a gigantic, fine looking man of ponderous strength. I was with him aboard a trawler in the North Sea. Caught in a storm, we drifted towards a sand bank when the donkey engine failed. Sam saved the ship and the crew by picking up an anchor weighing 650 pounds and tossing it overboard from a heaving deck. That was the most impressive feat of power and will forever remain green in my memory.”

Can you imagine seeing someone save an entire crew’s life by throwing an anchor overboard?!?!? Let alone the fact that it weighed 650 lbs!

I have heard lots of stories over the years of fantastic feats of strength that people have done in order to save lives.

In fifth grade, my buddy Scott Williams told me that one time he was playing on a tombstone while his dad was mowing the cemetery and the giant tombstone tipped over on him. Barely able to breathe, he let out a squeak of sheer terror and his dad ran over and picked the thing up off of him and saved his life. The tombstone sliced his face over his nose and cheek, leaving him with a souvenir for life, and that story has been burned in my memory ever since he told it to me.

Oh, and Scott also told me that a few days after the accident, his dad went back to the cemetery to put the stone back where it had been before, and he couldn’t even budge it!

Of all the articles in this magazine, this is the one I enjoyed the most and it got me thinking to myself – “What is the most impressive feat of strength I have ever witnessed?”

I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the most impressive strongman performers, strongman competitors, powerlifters, and grip strength practitioners that are alive today, and out of all the tons of stuff I have witnessed, I have been trying to choose the best feat of strength I’ve ever seen.

While I have seen a lot of awesome things at all of the grip contests, strongman competitions, and strength get-togethers I have attended, I must say that the most impressive thing I have seen in a while took place last month directly after the 2009 United States Hand Strength Championship, and it was done by Andrew Durniat.

Andrew, as many of you know, is a kettlebell expert and is able to do many kettlebell feats, especially kettlebell juggling.

Many of you readers in the Diesel Universe saw that back in winter of 2005, Smitty and I worked diligently to perform a double forward flip and catch with out 95-lb kettlebell (not allowing it to touch the ground). I mean, we trained for months to do this.

Smitty was the first to do it, high pulling the 95-lb kettlebell to about neck height with two hands, violently pushing it forward in a tight spin, and then catching it by the handle before it hit the ground.

It was unbelievable, my friends!

I was the first to perform the feat with a one-hand high pull. This was one of the feats I was most proud of that I included in our DVD, The Sh*t You’ve Never Seen.

In 2006, I accomplished a similar feat, only this time, I caught it and immediately snatched the bell over head.

Since Smitty and I performed these variations of this feat, I have never seen another soul do it, so I regard it as one of the most impressive feats we have ever done.

On September 19th, 2009, Andrew Durniat blew us both away!

As you will see in this video clip, posted by Joe Hashey earlier in the week, Andrew performs not one, not two, but THREE consecutive double forward flips and catches with a one handed push. Check it out below.

It may not look like much, my friends, but that is because Andrew can do it so effortlessly. It is without a doubt the most impressive thing I have seen in years. And he did it after a grueling 6-hr grip competition.

So I want to know what the most impressive feat of strength you ever saw was.

    Did it take place at a contest you were competing at or watching?

    Was it during a training session?

    Was it while fighting for your country?

    Was it a case like my buddy Scott’s or like the case of Sam Crawford where one or more people’s lives were saved?

I want to hear about what you have seen, so please leave a comment below.

I will take a random drawing out of all those who participate and they will get a free copy of the new DVD Joe Hashey and I have been working on and recently released, Home Made Strength.

Remember, just leave a comment below!

Thanks and all the best in your training.


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30 Responses to “The Most Impressive Feat of Strength”

  1. Shane Says:

    I don’t know if I’d call this a feat of strength; maybe a mental feat of strength but here goes.

    I witnessed a car crash. A woman was trapped inside her car after the accident. The car caught on fire. She was unconscious so we had to try and get her out. Someone threw me a fire extinguisher. I ran up to the burning car and sprayed it down. The fire persisted. Another man next to me tried to pry the door opened. That failed too. We had to do what seemed impossible at the time; watch a woman burn to death in front of our eyes.

    Later, as the police were taking our statements, I realized that the fire had burned all of my chest hairs off. I didn’t feel anything because of the terror of the moment. The guy that tried to pry the door open also didn’t realize that his hands, arms and face was burned.

    It’s only in situations like this that you find out whether or not you are mentally Diesel or not, and it’s amazing what a strong mind can block out. I got a letter from the lady’s son a month later thanking my brother and I for trying to save his mother. That took more strength not to cry than the event itself.

    I don’t want the prize for saying this though, so don’t include me. I just wanted to vent about this F’d up incident.
    Diesel on,

  2. Niko Says:

    I have been the rear spotter for the IPF Worlds in 2005 and saw many unreal feats then. I think spotting Brian Siders 1003 lbs squat that was done in single ply gear, walked out, and drug-free, is one. Also handing off 772 pound bench to Diasuki Midote of Japan for a new World record. Odd Haugen literlly handing me a rolling thunder full of 4 45’s was just amazing. Watching most of the Diesel Crews videos are just awe inspiring!!!! But I have to say, when you witness the one you love, give birth to your child; and understand what a woman goes through to do that…No feat of strength by a man, can duplicate it!!!!! PERIOD!!!

  3. Adrianne Says:

    This one is a little different! I am a youth sports performance coach and train a variety of kids. One little girl I train has a condition where her eyes do no blink because the muscles that control the blinking do not work. She wears special glasses and has very poor sight and depth perception. She is an inspiration every day. One day during box and depth jumps I stacked a 6″ plyo soft box on top of a 12″ soft box for some spotting and fun and the end of class. This little girl is no taller then 35″ she is only 6.

    With no previous jump training or cueing she squatted down and perfecty cleared the box and landed it in a safe squat (knees, ankles, and hips all in alignment). The coolest thing is all the other kids in the class were even scared to jump it because it was 18″.

    I told her mom after class and her mom said she jumps off her steps! She loves the sensation of jumping and landing. This is my strength story.

  4. Peter Says:

    I think the most impressive feat I strength I ever saw was Andy Bolton’s 1008 pound deadlift. Just the mind-boggling number, the way he walks up and grabs it and then just pulls it up so fast. That his hands could hold it is as impressive as the fact that his body could lift it.

    That’s all-time, though. The most impressive one I’ve seen in personal was someone 3-repping a weight above his previous 1RM. It was just inspiring to watch him lifting something he’d never lifted before and rep it out. It pushed me to new PRs that same day – no way was I going to miss that last rep when get got those three.

    I’ve seen impressive acts of physical courage and toughness, too, most in MMA matches, but for sheer physical strength, those two stick out most in my mind.

  5. Coach mike Says:

    I got to travel to the 88 summer olympics in Seoul south korea. I was 20ft from Rangel Gerovski the heavy weight greco roman wrestler from Bulgaria and Alexander Karelin from the soviet union. During the match it was clear Kirelin was far stronger. At one point he adjusted his grip and tossed him in a reverse gut wrench. Karelin threw so hard the man looked like a rag doll!

  6. Matt B Says:

    The most impressive feat that I’ve witness was watching my friend wrestle in college during the season. He boucned between the 220lb and heavyweight weight classes, helping out the team when he could. He naturally sat around 220, so when he would go heavyweight, he was definitely giving up some pounds. In one heavyweight match, he faced a guy who outweighed him by a good 50-60 lbs and in the middle of the match, spun to the opponent’s side, side high crotched him, and basically sumo deadlifted the guy over his head to the mat. I knew he was strong, but by no means did I imagine he’d toss an opponent of that size around so easily.

  7. Jim Smith Says:

    Awesome stories everyone, KEEP THEM COMING!

    I’ll have to think about the most impressive strength I’ve ever seen displayed.

    For me sometimes, it is those infrequent times when you’re watching something, a sport on tv, a young athlete, a game somewhere and you catch something. Ever so slight where you think that not everyone saw it but you. It kind of takes you aback and you feel that 5 seconds of amazement about how easy it was or how unbelievable it was.

    Pretty cool feeling.

  8. Bob K Says:

    I came acroos a Youtube video of a Teeth Lift. Stuntman Bobby Davis in 1948. Here he lifts a table with his teeth, then a table with some kids on it, and then THREE tables stacked on top of one another. AMAZING !! THis link is provided below and I tried to embed the video, not sure if it will work.

  9. Bob Says:

    In 1963 I was 18 and working my first construction job on a pipe laying crew near Detroit. My transportation was an old Renault Dauphin and it provided just one more thing the old timers could give me grief about. One day, for no particular reason, one of the guys on the crew walked over to the passenger side of my car, squated down, grabbed it under the door and just stood up. Both wheels on the passenger side were off the ground.
    There was nothing in this guy’s appearance that would have suggested he could do such a thing, but he damn sure did, and it looked pretty easy.
    Naturally, I tried it and so did two or three of the other men. None of us could approach success.

  10. tnthudson Says:

    I love the strongman stuff, and want to get good at nailbending and stone lifting, I love watching that – it’s unique to see after years of ‘traditional’ lifting.
    Watching Steve Mac break the world record is cool:

    But one of the most – maybe the most – incredible feats I’ve seen in person was watching my cousin learn Judo. In one of the very first nights he had put on the gi, he fought 3 or 4 of the best guys in our class and smoked them…these were pretty big guys, but my cousin was a truly strong individual at the time and beat them by pure strength, choking them out mostly. It was cool to watch those guys come sit down, panting, not even able to finish their sentence: “Strong…He’s just so strong” Pretty neat!

  11. Phil Says:

    An old farmer on a farm I used to work on. He was in his late 70’s and stronger than strong. one time some kids were riding their ATV around his farm, ruining his crops. He walked out to try to stop them and they had the nerve to pull up to him and tell him to F off. With one hand he picked the back kid off and tossed him aside. Before the other kid could take off he lifted the back of the ATV, wheels now spinning. With the other hand he lifted the driver in the air by his neck. For a few seconds he was just standing there with the ATV in one hand and the kid in the other. Then he set them down and very calmly asked the kids to come with him. He never breathed hard or even looked like he was lifting more than a fly. It was awesome.

  12. André Says:

    1:59- 2:05!!!!

  13. Gary Says:

    I was walking through a local park one time, when I observed a man performing pull-ups over on the monkey bars. I stopped to watch for a few minutes, and shortly thereafter, two children (presumably his) came running over to him. He knelt down, seemed to give them brief instructions and then proceeded to have each child hang onto one of his legs as he gripped the monkey bars with one arm and proceeded to knock off several one-armed chin-ups.

    While I was too far away to get an accurate idea of how much the children weighed, I was impressed as can be on so many levels. Of all the things I’d expect to witness down at my local park, that was clearly not one of them! Perhaps the man was a former gymnast or regularly hung out with orangutans, but whatever it was, this was one display I will not forget.

  14. Jedd Says:


    That is a shocking story. I have a similar one.

    In High School, I went to the mall to watch the movie Event Horizon and on the way home, drove up on an accident and the woman driver was obviously in serious trouble. While all the other people around were dumbfounded, I maintained the presence of mind to call 9-1-1. That is the only time I ever have, and only time I hope to ever have to call 9-1-1.

    Thanks Shane,


  15. Jedd Says:


    Good call. I am looking forward to witnessing that feat in April.


  16. Jedd Says:


    That is very cool. I love watching kids have fun training and practicing sports.

  17. Jedd Says:


    I have seen Andy Bolton in person and the man looks like a monster! Quite awesome indeed.

  18. Jedd Says:

    Coach Mike,

    Smitty has some very impressive Karelin videos that he has shown me. That guy is a bad-ass!

  19. Jedd Says:

    Matt B,

    The few college matches I have seen have been power wars. A few years and a few pounds of muscle on their frames leads to a lot more power potential – that is for sure.
    Thanks for posting.

  20. Jedd Says:

    Bob K,

    I have also seen another video of Bobby where he does some crazy stuff with a chair in his teeth. He lifts it and then cyclones it around his body at very high rates of speed without letting it drop out of his teeth. Unbelievable stuff!


  21. Jedd Says:


    I saw a dude break cars off the ground like that when I was in college. It used to piss me off I couldn’t do the same thing. Cool man. Thanks for posting.


  22. Jedd Says:


    Steve Mac is a nice dude. I have spoken with him on a couple of occasions.

    Any idea what he is up to now? I have not heard of him competing in quite some time.



  23. Jedd Says:


    I still have a mark on the back of my neck from that day, and I never did get my four-wheeler back.



  24. Coach mike Says:

    Jedd he was carved out of stone ripped and huge! But the funny thing I noticed about him is off the mat he walked smooth and light on his feet! You would have thought he was much smaller and lighter! Karelin was way ahead of his time!

  25. Jim Smith Says:

    Thanks for posting, everyone!

    Phil is the random winner! Phil, please send me an email with your address for your free copy of the Home Made Strength DVD.

    Thanks again.


  26. Shane Miller Says:

    I was with the promoter of a local bodybuilding show about ten years ago and they were interviewing people for the “strength” show that was to go on in between the morning show and the evening show.

    This guy comes in with a suitcase on wheels. He looks about forty years old, he’s big-ish but not especially strong looking.

    The promoter asks him what he does. He says I do dumbbell presses with 100 lb dumbbells. Both the promoter and I kinda look at each other with not so excited eyes. The guy goes ahead and unzips his suitcase and there it sits.

    Two 100 pound dumbbells just as he says.

    There’s a flat bench beside him. He takes them out sits down on the bench, takes the handles in his hands, picks them up, gets them to his thighs, and lies down with them and does 5 reps with them.

    The promoter and I look at each other with disbelief.

    I’ve never seen anything like it before!

    Oh, I forgot to mention. All ten plates of the dumbbell were on just one side of the handle!

    Talk about one strong dude!

  27. Rhea Morales Says:

    There was a guy who was training for a ninja event and he trained by climbing high rise buildings and other stuff. Couldn’t find it. This following guy is similar. Probably a better display of agility but you have to be pretty strong in order to leap tall buildings in a single bound, gutsy too.

    This takes pure strength and guts as he is willing to work out a muscle not all men would think of working out.

  28. Sandow Plus: the other strongmen (part 4) – Evans to Hoffman Says:

    […] Crew brings Goerner up to date with some modern […]

  29. mike Says:

    I have seen many strong and mind boggling strength feats but one of one’s that stand out is there was a family where I’m from in NJ Father and 2 Son’s who couldn’t bench or squat to save their lives but they could bend with their bare hands snap on and SK wrenches like nothing. Had to be genetic. I have never seen anything like it. BTW They all worked construction doing waterproofing and they would work jackhammer’s all day everyday.

  30. Jedd Johnson Says:

    That sounds scary, bro. Breaking wrenches?? What exactly is an SK wrench, might I ask?

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