Collection in Focus

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Warren Lincoln Travis' show barbell viewed at an angle, to show full length but also the star detailing on the end of the globe closest to the camera.

Barbells and the Brooklyn Strong Boy

Warren Lincoln Travis began his strongman career as the “Brooklyn Strong Boy,” but quickly graduated to circuses and vaudeville and also worked long stints at Coney Island. Travis was America’s most famous strongman in the early years of the twentieth century. Most other touring professionals of the era were Europeans or Canadians – Sandow, the...

April 20, 2020February 9, 2021
Bodybuilder Siegmund Klein in formal attire, including a hat and a cane, in a photograph dedicated to wrestler and strongman George F. Jowett, and dated October 14, 1926, from the scrapbooks in the George F. Jowett Collection.

Sig Klein in Formal Clothing

Sigmund Klein was one of the most fascinating, and indeed, successful physical culturists of the 1920s and 1930s. Operating a gym in New York, the same gym run by his father in law, Professor Atilla, Klein’s unique position in the fitness industry made him the envy of many. Not only was he incredibly strong and...

March 30, 2020April 27, 2020
Trophy including a photograph and a lock of hair, from strongman Mighty Atom (Joseph L. Greenstein), commemorating him as having the world's strongest hair, compliments of Slim the Hammerman.

Lock of Hair from The Mighty Atom

In June 1911, shortly after Joe Greenstein arrived in Houston, Texas, he resumed a wrestling career that had been interrupted in his native Poland when rising anti-Semitism drove him to join relatives in America. In 1914, however, a friend shot him between the eyes and set him on a different path. As the story goes,...

March 23, 2020April 3, 2020
Lorenzo Ghiglieri painting of a weightlifter in a tavern, with the face of publisher Joe Weider, from the Weider Art Collection, in the main lobby.

Weider Beer Hall Painting

In 1989, Joe Weider commissioned Lorenzo Ghiglieri to produce this oil painting based on a famous print depicting a training session at the Hercules Club in Vienna. The original print was made over one hundred years ago. Close observers will see Joe’s likeness painted into one of the beer hoisting onlookers and, on the wall,...

March 16, 2020April 3, 2020
The ring presented to former University of Texas football coach Darrell K. Royal on the occasion of Texas' 2005 National Championship, won against USC, 41-38, in the 2006 Rose Bowl Game, from the Darrell K. Royal Collection.

Darrell K Royal 2005 Championship Ring

When Mack Brown was named head football coach at the University of Texas in 1998, he was immediately tasked with returning Longhorn football to a place of national prominence and a culture of winning. Wisely, he sought out the insights and expertise of Darrell Royal, a man who coached the Longhorns for twenty years, won...

March 9, 2020April 29, 2020
List of the forty-nine lifts sanctioned by American Continental Weight-Lifters Association (ACWLA), created by George F. Jowett and Ottley Coulter; this list was enclosed with a June 22, 1922 letter from Jowett to Coulter, from the Ottley Coulter Collection.

George Jowett’s letter to Ottley Coulter 6/22/1922

One of the most fascinating aspects of working in the Stark Center is the ability to work with personal letters from one physical culturist to another. This letter from George F. Jowett to Ottley R. Coulter represented a conversation between two prominent American physical culturists. In the letter, the two men discuss the foundation of...

March 2, 2020July 13, 2020
The Four Laps to the Mile Narragansett dual bicycle racers in the closed stacks room.

Narragansett Machine Co. Standard Bicycle Trainer

Manufactured by Narragansett Machine Company of Providence, R.I. around the turn of the twentieth century, this pair of stationary exercise bikes are relics of the “bike boom” that swept the country in the 1890s. Each bike connects to a color-coordinated hand on the nearly 4-foot diameter dial measuring distance; the first rider to cover the...

February 24, 2020January 31, 2020
Gymnast Cathy Rigby, just before performing on the uneven bars in competition, from the Steve Wennerstrom Papers.

Photo of Cathy Rigby

Born in 1952 in Long Beach, California, Cathy Rigby was a popular American gymnast whose fame extended beyond the sport. The highest scoring American gymnast at the Mexico City Olympic Games of 1968, Rigby’s sporting prowess was beyond reproach.  She followed her ’68 Olympic performance with United States National Championships in 1970 and 1972. Fun...

February 17, 2020February 13, 2020
Valentine's Day greeting card with a boy pretending to be a strongman, and attempting to lift a barbell with heart-shaped plates with the caption: Can't "weight" much longer, Valentine, Be Mine.

1950s Strongman Valentine

To wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share this 1950s children’s Valentine depicting a strongman and his weightlifting pooch. The card, collected by Jan and Terry Todd, is one of several dozen twentieth-century greeting cards in their collection depicting children as weightlifters. Measuring only 2.5 x 4 inches, the card was...

February 14, 2020March 25, 2020