Jan 12, 2018

The Strongest Boy in England

Kids of all ages can benefit from strength training, and can compete in amateur bodybuilding events.  Teenage division of bodybuilding competitions are open to anyone aged 13 to 19.   

My second cousin Mike Prater (left), age 16, won first place at the INBA Bodybuilding Contest in 2009, and Baron Beaver (right), age 17, took second place.

So I was wondering about the authenticity of a series of photographs floating around the internet that purport to show "The Boy Sampson" and "The Strongest Boy in Britain," aka 14-year old Charles Highfield of  Coventry, England.

In a series of photographs dated February 13, 1932, Charles lifts a  100-pound globe barbell over his head.  

Lots of high-school age boys can do a 100-pound deadlift, but probably none with such skinny arms.  Still, it's possible.

Next, Charles' father stands on his neck.  This was a common strength stunt of the side-show strong man, hopefully accomplished without crushing the larynx.  

Three months later, in a photo dated May 28, 1932, Charles supports a 200-pound motorcycle and driver with his hands and knees.

Oddly enough, he's wearing the same clothes, even the same socks.  So is his Dad.

On the same day, in the same position, but in a different location, Charles supports four men weighing a total of 476 pounds.  You can support more weight than you can lift,, so it's possible.

Charles is not a bodybuilder.  He looks distracted, even frightened in these photos. One wonders if he actually wanted to be the "Boy Samson" and "The Strongest Boy in England."

I haven't been able to discover anything about Charles' later life, but on a family tree website, I read about his father: William Highfield,, Gold and Silver Medalist Champion Strong Man, instructor in the Wolstanton Weight Lifting and Physical Culture School.

So Dad was trying to mold Charles in his own image, regardless of whether the boy was interested.

We've all been there.

See also: Richard Sandrak, the Strongest Boy in the World

1 comment:

  1. Did anybody notice that Charles and his father are both wearing the same clothes in photographs purportedly from February and May?


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