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Gallery of Ironmen: Strongman Thunder From Down Under

Australian Clarence Weber stormed the disciplines of muscle, strength and wrestling

Australia has always produced a lot of championship athletes, and one of the first and finest bodybuilders to come from Down Under was Clarence Weber. When Eugen Sandow visited Australia in 1902, he inspired many people to take up muscle building. One of those new converts was Clarence Weber.

Weber was born on March 27, 1882, in Melbourne. He had always been athletic, but his interest took a more tangible form after he saw Sandow. He opened the Victorian Health and Strength College in his hometown, where he taught the arts of bodybuilding, correct breathing and artistic posing to his eager pupils.

Weber soon appeared on the stage in a strongman act, but, taking a cue from Sandow, he chose to emphasize his physique as well as his athletic abilities. He posed bare-chested in a gladiator costume and was a success as much for his lifting abilities as his extraordinary appearance.

Standing 6′ tall, Weber was as handsome as he was muscular, and he attracted a great deal of attention from admiring female fans. The newspapers of the day called him the Australian Adonis, and whenever he appeared on the music hall stage, ‘a hum of admiration’ arose from the audience.

It was after George Hackenschmidt came to Australia in 1904 that Weber decided to try his hand at wrestling. After he lost his first major bout, his opponent, Buttan Sing, was chased down Melbourne’s main street by a crowd that was enraged at what were interpreted as the Indian’s dirty tricks. Weber defeated Buttan and became the Australian Heavyweight champion in November 1906.

Eventually, Weber retired from the ring and devoted himself to his college and to charitable work. The great Australian bodybuilder collapsed as he was washing his hands before dinner; he was declared dead on November 20, 1930, from a coronary occlusion. Australia’s earliest physique champion was buried in his native Melbourne.

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