MAGNUS THE MUSCLE MAN
Zudo’s got a weight on his mind—He can’t get the bar-bell off his chest !
Magnus the Muscle
Man, the astonishing person whose full story I am telling for the first time,
was the centre of an amazing scene in the great hall in
I could see that
the officials were worried, not knowing quite how to deal with the unexpected
situation that had developed. On the
other hand, the spectators were roaring with excitement. Let me just tell you
quickly what was happening. Magnus, the new holder of two world
weight-lifting records, was the only Britisher to receive an invitation to
compete in the Congress. During the interval the famous Zudo had appeared in
order to demonstrate some of the unusual lifts he employed in training. Zudo
was an Olympic champion, the Russian champion and holder of the world record
for the Two Hands Snatch. In a demonstration of the lift called the Press On
Bench, Zudo had lifted 400 Ib.—and, by way of comparison, the British record
was 361 Ib. at the time of which I write. Magnus, leaving his seat, had
tossed off his coat and waistcoat and exclaimed, “Let me have a shot at it!”
He had succeeded in making the lift. Zudo, looking furiously angry at having
his thunder stolen in this manner, pointed at the bar-bell. “Add five kilos.”
He snarled. This meant an additional weight of 11 Ib. The officials decided
that they would have to give way to the demand of the spectators, and steps
were taken to increase the weight. The keen enjoyment of the unexpected
contest showed in the gleam in Magnus’s piercing blue eyes. He was a young
man of splendid build, with a mane of tawny hair and a deep cleft in his
chin. Even in his braces he did not lose dignity. I believed him to be the
Marquis of Melchester and a very wealthy man. Feats of strength, calling for
the development of the body to its highest degree, interested Magnus greatly.
I am Jack Trafford, a
An episode of:
Magnus - the Muscle Man
taken from The Wizard #1794
He turned to Magnus and raised a
hand in a challenging gesture. Magnus was in his shirt sleeves, as I have told
you, and was wearing the tie of a famous regiment. He removed his cuff-links.
WILL THE WEIGHT WIN?
Magnus rubbed his hands hard. He approached the bench and lay back on it. He raised his arms and the assistants heaved up the bar-bell. He grasped it and they let go. He lowered it on to his chest. Could he press 411 Ib. ? Corbett was holding his breath.
SHUNTING YARD SHOCKS
Soon after daybreak in the morning, Magnus, who had been given accommodation in the British Embassy, went out for a training run. It was later on that I was able to piece together what happened. He went by himself. Magnus was wearing a sweater, moleskin trousers and sandshoes.
He ran at a vigorous pace. The
police on duty near the Embassy knew him, and though they stared curiously,
took no action to stop him.
THE SWEDE’S WARNING
That night lights blazed in the vast hall in which the Weight-Lifting Congress was being held. The name of Magnus was on everybody’s lips. The championship would go to the weight-lifter with the highest poundage for the three Olympic lifts, the Two Hands Clean and Press, the Two Hands Snatch, and the Two Hands Clean and Jerk.
At the interval the first two lifts had been completed and the total poundages were: — P. Ustilov 600 Ib. Magnus 589 Ib. Zudo 584 Ib. It was still anybody’s championship. The audience awaited the thrills of the Clean and Jerk, the lift that enabled a competitor to elevate the heaviest of weights overhead. Many a contest had been won by the final lift of a competition. I noticed that Magnus had appeared with a bandage round his left wrist in the Snatch. Some weight-lifters always had the support of wrist bandages, but not Magnus. I wanted to find out why he was wearing a bandage. I was walking down the corridor when I met another journalist. He was a Swede named Wittemann and spoke English well. He stopped me. “Magnus won’t win,” he said. “I think he can do it,” I retorted. Wittemann shrugged. “You don’t seem to get my meaning,” he replied. “He won’t be allowed to win.” I thought that Wittemann was feeling annoyed. A fellow countryman had just been pipped in the final of the light-heavy-weight class. At that moment a bell clanged as the signal that the interval was over and the corridor filled up. Peter Ustilov came out of one of the dressing-rooms followed by his coach. Peter was, of course, a big fellow, but there was nothing dull about him. His expression was lively as he turned to say something to his coach. He had that keen and intelligent air you find in top-class athletes in every sport. Magnus came along and I inquired about the bandage. “There’s just a slight strain,” he said, “and Corbett insisted that I should have the support of a bandage. “You can’t take any chances,” declared Corbett. I returned with them to the hall. The three judges had already taken their seats at a table at the side of the main platform. The usual method of signalling was being employed—red lights for no lift and white lights for a good lift. Let me remind you that the Clean and Jerk was really two lifts combined, the Clean bringing up the weight to the shoulders and the Jerk raising it overhead. Each competitor, under the international rules, was allowed three attempts—but not at each weight. Watched by the intent audience, the proceedings began. Zudo failed at 371 Ib.—a disappointing performance and one that caused his supporters to whistle with disapproval. Photographers were active round the platform and their flash bulbs kept going off. For his second attempt Ustilov had the weight at 391 Ib. While his coach crouched at the edge of the platform, he prowled up and down for a full minute, bringing himself up to the point when he felt he could make the lift. There was a deep indrawing of breath among the spectators as he turned. With a savage effort he heaved the great weight to his shoulders and then thrust it to arms’ length. Tremendous applause broke out when three white lights gleamed. Magnus, as he had the right to do, called for five kilogrammes— 11 Ib, —to be added. The hall buzzed with excitement. The scoreboard indicated that if Magnus were successful he would be level with Ustilov at 991 Ib. The weight was made up. Magnus stepped on to the platform. I saw him make a slight adjustment to the wrist bandage. Charlie Corbett caught my eye and shook his head. He tapped his wrist and I took him to mean that the strain on Magnus’s wrist was more severe than the Muscle Man had admitted to me. The sounds died away as Magnus crouched and gripped the bar-bell. As he was making the pull a photographer crouched just in front of the platform and let off a dazzling flash. Magnus must have got the blinding light full in the eyes. I remembered what Wittemann had said, and while I could not believe that any deliberate attempt would be made to handicap Magnus, no official notice was taken of the photographer. Again, of course, that proved nothing. It could have been sheer eagerness on the part of the photographer to get a good picture. A moment or so later, Magnus had the weight in the locked position overhead. Had he made any error because of the flash? The slightest check in the Clean or hesitation in achieving the Jerk would be sufficient to disqualify him. The judges switched on their lights. I shouted elatedly and a huge smile split Corbett’s face. There was no red gleam. Three white lights shone. It had been a good lift. Attention switched to Ustilov. As it was his last attempt he could chose to take an increase of only two and a half kilos. He brooded over this, glancing at Magnus. Then obviously he decided that this would not be enough to defeat the Britisher and he called for the additional five kilos. This put 413 Ibs. On the bar-bell, equivalent to the Olympic record at the time of which I am writing. You could almost have heard a wrist watch ticking while Ustilov was pacing to and fro. Once he approached the bar and turned away again while his coach mumbled in the background. Ustilov’s face became grim with determination and he took his stance. With a prodigious effort he pulled the weight to his shoulders and then jerked it to arms’ length. He staggered before he quite completed the lift, and down came the bar with a tremendous thud. Magnus could win. As he stood on the platform the same photographer who had dazzled Magnus before came edging forward again. “Corbett, I’m not going to be dazzled again,” snapped Magnus. “There’s a handkerchief in my dressing-gown pocket. Blindfold me!” There was a real hubbub when Corbett bandaged Magnus’s eyes. The reason was very quickly understood and the referee ordered the photographers to keep back. No, I don’t really think that there was any plot to prevent Magnus winning. Certainly there was none among the crowd or the officials. Magnus retained the blindfold. My heart was in my mouth as he crouched, felt for the bar, and secured his grip. With explosive force he hauled the great weight to his shoulders and then shot it up to arms’ length. There was no wobble. In spite of his strained wrist he completed the lift. The spectators yelled applause and stamped their feet with great enthusiasm as the three white lights glowed and the new heavy-weight champion pulled away the blindfold.
Magnus – the Muscle Man 26 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1785 - 1810
© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd
Vic Whittle 2005