Iron Samson - Alexander Zass

Several decades with the circus posters in many countries never left the name of Russian athlete Alexander Sasse, speaking under the pseudonym Samson. Surprising was the repertoire of his power numbers: he wore on stage a horse or a piano with pianist and dancer, is located on the lid, he caught her hands 90-pound nucleus, which shoot out of a circus cannon from a distance of 8 meters, up from the floor and held in the teeth of a metal beam with sitting at the ends assistants; demonstrated shin of one leg in the noose of the rope, recorded under the very dome, held in the teeth of a platform with a piano and pianist, laying bare back on a board studded with nails, kept on his chest stone weighing 500 kilograms, in which volunteers from the audience was beaten with sledgehammers, a famous attraction Man shot he caught her hands assistant, taking off from the crater of a circus cannon and describing the scene over a 12-meter path.

Speeches of Alexander Zass enjoyed great popularity. This is due not only to the original athletic rooms, but the fact that it was not like many athletes of that time who had the massive figures and more weight.
His height - 167.5 cm, weight does not exceed 80 kilograms, the circumference of the chest when inhaling - 119 inches, biceps - 41 cm. He liked to say that the big biceps is not always an indicator of strength, as well as a big belly does not mean good digestion. The main thing - it will power, strong tendons and the ability to control their muscles.

Very often, Samson had to answer the question of how he achieved such power. Usually, he replied that it was the result of purposeful work. If you trace the entire course of life Sasse, you can see, we can see that it consisted of a continuous, purposeful work and a strict regime that allowed him to constantly maintain a high efficiency in a colossal physical stress.


Zass was born in 1888 in Vilna in great working family. Childhood and adolescent years were spent in Saransk. One day, Alexander went with his father in a circus. He was admired by riders, acrobats, trained dogs. But he particularly liked the powerful athlete, tearing the chains, bending horseshoes. At the end of his performances, as at that time was taken, he turned to the audience, inviting willing to repeat some of his tricks. A few brave souls took to the arena, but none of them could not bend a horseshoe, or the ball off the ground rod with a very thick neck. Under the laughter of spectators brave souls returned to their seats. Wanting no more. And suddenly, the father of Alexander, Ivan P. Sasse, rose from his seat, stepped over a barrier, left the arena. Alexander knew that his father was very strong. Sometimes he showed his strength in front of guests. Normally, holding his hands behind the wheel carts drawn by three horses, he kept her on the spot, while the merry guests drove horses. But other examples of strength he had not seen. And now, a mighty man handed her father a horseshoe. And to the surprise of his audience and himself an athlete, a horseshoe in the hands of her father Alexander was unbend. Then Ivan Petrovich pulled from the platform a huge bar, and straightening the body, lifted it above his knees. The audience applauded and shouted "Bravo!" Husky was embarrassed and nervous. Then he beckoned to Uniformitarians. He ran backstage and brought the silver ruble. Strong man raised his hand with the ruble, and said: And this is for you to exploit! And booze. His father took the ruble, then fumbled in his pocket, pulled out a three-ruble note and attaching thereto the ruble, handed to the athlete, saying: I do not drink! But you take it, but only drink tea!

Since then, Alexander became ill circus. In the backyard of the house with the help of adults has installed two horizontal bar, hung a trapeze, got hold of the economic weights, make homemade primitive stem. And now, little Alexander with incredible perseverance began to train. Tried to repeat what I've seen in a circus. Mastered the sun on a horizontal bar, a large turnover, began to carry out flights with a horizontal bar on the other hand, did not just flip back on the floor, but also on the horse, pulled a few times on one hand. But all these studies were unsystematic. Alexander wanted to become a real circus performer, and above all, strong man.
He arranges home presentation before their loved ones, and the idea of ​​becoming a circus performer further strengthen it. Alexander persuaded his father to write from Moscow books on physical development. And soon came the famous book at the time an athlete Eugene Sandovo power and how to become strong. The author, in her talk about his athletic career, their victories over the famous athlete Samson and Cyclops. On their records and even against a huge lion, which before the bout wore a muzzle and a special huge gloves on his paws.

Lion several times threw on Sandovo, but every time he kicked it with you. Then came the eighteen exercises with dumbbells. This was just what Alexander wanted. But the most surprising thing was that the athlete was not endowed by nature a powerful physique. And only through a systematic and thoughtful exercises, mainly with weights, he managed to achieve perfect physical development and a greater sense of physical strength. Here are some numbers of the athlete: do back flip, holding a half pounds of, and just got up his feet on the handkerchief with which made the jump. Squeezed with one hand 101.5 kg. On the platform, which lay on his chest, holding three horses. In ups in four minutes pressed two hundred times. Sando became an idol of Alexander.


Alexander soon realized that some exercises with weights can not develop strength, which need a professional athlete. He is constantly searching for new ways to improve physical capacity. Appealed for help to a famous athlete Peter Krylov and Dmitriev Morro. Received guidelines on Krylov exercises with weights, but from Dmitrieva Morro - on exercises with a barbell. A new stage in the training of Alexander. Alternately squeezed-pound dumbbells mill, shaking them upside down, juggling them. Barbell performed the following exercises: barbell pressed because of the head, twisting rod - one arm bench press with a deviation of the trunk, as if podlezaya under it. In this exercise, Alexander got the result of 80 kg with its own weight while the 66 kg. With the same weight served as a so-called full term.

This exercise requires a great deal of strength and good coordination of movements: the one hand, the athlete lifts up a weight or a barbell, then, without lowering it, crouches, takes a different dumbbell from the floor and the other arm straight up, lifts it up. Clearly stated the full weight down on the floor. Estonian famous athlete and a wrestler Georg Lurih raised his right hand bar at 105 kg, kept it up, took the floor with a weight of 34 kg and also raised up.
Yet Alexander is most attracted to power stunts, which he saw at the circus. Therefore, his first sports requisites was augmented with horseshoes, chains, metal rods, nails. And then he found that repeated attempts to do the trick - to break the chain, or bend a thick metal rod - bring tangible results in the development of physical strength. But it was widely known today isometric exercise. Thus, empirically, based on experience, Alexander came to believe that most athletic power can be developed, combining a dynamic training exercises with isometric. Later he would publish a system of isometric exercises with chains.


Once in a circus, Alexander gained skills in many genres: aerial gymnastics, jumping, wrestling. At one time worked as an assistant to a famous trainer of Anatoly Durova, then was an assistant to Michael Kuchkina athlete, who won the first practice, and he often told young athletes: Someday baby, you will be very famous strong man, I've never seen anyone who would be as strong as you are having such a small height and weight. These words have come true. About sixty years Zass worked in a circus and almost forty years, spoke with athletic rooms. In 1924 the English journal "Health and Strength" was printed next to portraits of Alexander and his idol Zass Eugene Sandovo a special color reversal. ...

So, Alexander gives the first independent athletic room: he raises a hand of three people, demonstrated the shin of one leg in the noose of the rope as set out under the big top, holding in his teeth a platform on which there are two heavy fighter; breaks horseshoe breaks the chain fingers, hammers vulnerable hand nails into a board, then they pull out, gripping the nail-head index finger, making a banner with the horses, with his heels leaning on a chair, and neck on the other hand, keeps on his chest three people. All of these rooms enjoy exceptional success with the public.

Behind Bars Blue Sky

But in 1914 came the World War II. Alexander was drafted in 180 Vindavsky Cavalry Regiment. One day something happened that affected even those who are well aware of the extraordinary power of Alexander. Back once he's from another intelligence, and suddenly, already close to the Russian position, he was noticed by the enemy and opened fire. A bullet in the leg horse. Austrian soldiers, seeing a horse with a rider fell, did not pursue the cavalry and turned back. And Alexander, convinced that the danger had passed, did not want to leave the injured horse in no man's land. Prior to the regiment remained, however, still half a kilometer, but it did not bother him. Shoulder horse, Alexander and brought it to their camp. Further, Alexander would include in its repertoire on the shoulders of a horse wearing.

In one battle, Alexander was seriously wounded by shrapnel in both legs. He woke up in an Austrian hospital. Doctors were going to amputate the leg. Miraculously managed to avoid amputation. Maybe the doctors felt sorry for the young, well built soldier, and they decided not to hurry. Alexander hoped that the stand on his feet: he believed in the miraculous power of therapeutic exercises, developed for themselves. And he recovered. Soon, along with other prisoners was sent to the heavy road work. One after another, he makes several failed escape, after which he was severely punished. Remarkable was the third flight. Having escaped from the camp, Alexander found himself in the city of Kaposvar in southern Hungary, where at this time touring circus Schmidt, known throughout Europe.
Brought before the circus owner, Alexander frankly told him about the escape, and then spoke about the work of Russian circuses. Story stranger interested director, and he asked the Russian to demonstrate their ability to break the chain and bent metal rod. Alexander was not in good shape, but coped with the task easy. Taking the finger links of the chain, it became them, as I always did it, twist.

At the open circuit took about a minute. Alexander then bent the rod and handed it to Schmidt. To rest and rehearse Schmidt took two weeks, followed by a first performance of Alexander. Were ordered posters and plastered around town. On them, Alexander was named Samson. Did you miss the arena, Alexander with great enthusiasm demonstrated his favorite tricks. The news spread about the amazing athlete in the city. And one day come to the military commander. Looking statement, he became interested in why such a fine young athlete does not serve in the Austrian army. Naturally, it appeared that Samson - Russian POW. Zass subjected to the cruelest punishment. But the iron will of strongman was not broken. Its replacing them in the basement of the fortress, damp, dark room.
However, Alexander makes a new escape. Warriors power and helped out at this time. Alexander broke the chain between the handcuffs broke the bars and escaped to freedom. Soon he was in Budapest, where a job as a stevedore at the port. But the idea that the circus never left him. And here he is again on the scene. Helped him famous wrestler, world champion Tea Janos, whom Alexander met back in Russia. This good-natured, the mighty Hungarian heat treated to Alexander. Took him to the village to visit their relatives, where the forces of Alexander gradually recovered. One day Tea Janos brought with him a stranger. This was the famous Italian impresario, Signor Pasolini.


It turns out that he was well aware of the athletic opportunities of Alexander and immediately offered him a contract for a fairly long period with payment of 20% of the collection. At Alexander was a hopeless situation, and he agreed.

Begin tours in the cities of Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland. On the posters he called Samson. Now touring in England. The first performance of Alexander caused a sensation.
His performances have become well-known athletes to come and try their hand at the repetition of tricks that served as Alexander. But all power stunts were manageable only Samson. And so, began to appear about the wonderful reviews Samson.

Mr. Pullum, director of the famous heavy athletics club Kambervel and editor of sports magazine Health and Strength "wrote about it: Right in the heart of England came to a man capable of performing the number in which the common sense refuses to believe. If he was a huge fellow, his numbers, perhaps, would be perceived as more believable. True, expanding his chest muscles and expansion are huge (chest and is 23 centimeters, but it is not evident). After the semi-official statements in the Sampson heavy athletics club Kambervel he won enormous popularity. I contend that it is not only a person with extraordinary strength, not only a great artist, but also an excellent athlete, using his mind is not worse than their muscles.
But the poster of the famous Alhambra Hall, where in 1903 the Russian Lion George Gakkenshmidt defeated the famous strong man Karkisom. Billboard is devoted to another Russian athlete - Alexander Sasse: In Manchester, during the construction work - reports Playbill - Samson, suspended one foot to tap, raised in the teeth of the iron beam from the ground and was moved to the top of the building crane, while the crowd open-mouthed, stood at the bottom. If Samson opened his mouth, the crowd could never tell what she saw.

Keep pace with the billboards and newspapers. Daily Telegraph: Sir, describes himself as Samson, the strongest man on earth. In it you can believe it, seeing as it binds iron bars into knots. Manchester Guardian: According to the ads, he is the strongest man on earth, and once we do see it ... this statement can be regarded as conclusive. Health and strength magazine: In the face of Samson, we have this strong man whose achievements are open to inspection. See - is believing. Truly it seems that his muscles are made of steel. And so on. Alexander goes on tour to different countries.
Constantly updates its repertoire, carefully studying the manner of other athletes who are always trying to complicate any of the stunts seen.

In 1925, under the editorship of ninefold champion Pullum book was published Amazing Samson. Book published in London. It tells of the amazing fate and athletic career Russian athlete Alexander Zass. Alexander Zass published several systems of physical development, invented a wrist dynamometer, designed and manufactured a gun for rides man-bomb, he knew several European languages. Samson died in 1962. He was buried outside London in the small town of Hockley.