Phonograph’s Papa Meets the Daddy of them All

Al TreloarEugen Sandow is commonly known as The Father of Modern Bodybuilding, but this colourful strongman did not actually win any national or international titles himself.

Sandow’s statue, known fondly as the Sandow, may grace the shelf of many a Mr. O’s, but it was

up to Al Treloar – 178 cm, 89 kg – to be declared the most Perfectly Developed Man in the World. The young bodybuilder won the title in the first of two large-scale bodybuilding contests held at Madison Square Gardens in New York in 1903.

Treloar, who performed under the name, Albert the Perfect Man, was not just a pretty face. He wrote a bodybuilding bible, called Treloar’s Science of Muscular Development, gained his degree in PhysEd at Harvard, where, as championship varsity oarsman he epitomised Ian King’s Row to Grow maxim.

Treloar became the director of PhysEd at Los Angeles Athletic Club in 1907. It was there that he trained countless bodybuilders over the next 40 years. According to legend, even into middle age, Al could tear four decks of cards at once.

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Here he poses for incandescent inventor and health nut Thomas Edison, whose incredible film shows Treloar in all his Herculean Glory. Be patient: Beatrice Wallace, the most Perfectly Developed Woman features in the first half of the clip. A smaller but better quality version of the film can be found at the Library of Congress

Edison also filmed Treloar’s boss, the legendary Eugen Sandow, which makes Edison the director of the first bodybuilding films in the world, and us the followers in a noble tradition stretching back over a hundred years.

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