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Maxsick Supporting a Man with One Arm

The story behind this picture by Ron Tyrrell

The story behind the accompanying picture began in the year 1900 when the South African, Tromp Van Diggelen, a keen physical culturist and a pioneer in the art of muscle control, travelled to Vienna to demonstrate his skills for the famous Nerve Specialist, Krafft-Ebing.

This meeting convinced Van Diggelen to further perfect his skill in this branch of physical culture. A few years later, Van Diggelen heard stories about a music hall act in Munich where the artiste’s muscle control and prowess on the Roman Rings were so outstanding, that he felt he had to go and see it for himself.

What he found impressive about the act was that it was carried out on two silver chains, no rings; the performer simply gripped the chains and went through an impressive repertoire of gymnastics. The second part of the act consisted of an exhibition of muscle control that amazed Van Diggelen, who considered himself to be a world leader in the art, but had to concede that he has witnessed a far superior performance.

He went backstage and met the performer, who introduced himself as Max Sick, and so began the first of two great friendships which were to transform young Max from a music hall artiste to world fame as Maxick, and to recognition as one of the greatest exponents of muscle control the world has ever seen. Although he never lifted weights in his stage act, Van Diggelen witnessed Max lift some amazing poundages in the gymnasium.

He arranged for Max to travel to London, and introduced him to Monte Saldo; this was the second great friendship, which was to influence Max’s fame. Max and Monte collaborated on the Maxalding Physical Culture Postal Course; in addition, their book on muscle control was a best seller for many years, and a modern edition is still proving to be popular.

In the year 1913 Van Diggelen was living back in South Africa, and Max decided to visit his old friend and as Diggelen recalls in his memoirs, Max was in top form with the barbell. At a bodyweight of 147lbs (66.8kgs), he Military Pressed 230lbs (104.5kgs), Pressed 275lbs (125kgs) with a back bend, Jerked 340lbs (154kgs), and One Arm Jerked, two hands to the shoulder, 240lbs (109kgs).

Max was now so famous that was employed by a well known Johannesburg Brewery to take part in a series of photographs advertising their beer, Van also recalls that when they were in the photographers studio, Max warmed up by One Arm Side Pressing Van Diggelen (185lbs, 84kgs body weight) no less than 16 times while holding a glass go beer filled to the brim – and he did not spill a drop! The serious business of the day was to One Arm Side Press the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the British Empire. Max did this no less than 11 times, and that is the story behind the picture accompanying this article.

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