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Don Athaldo

One of the most famous Australian strongmen was Walter Joseph Lyons, better known as Don Athaldo. He used to perform as a circus strongman, but his mail-order offering “The Athaldin System” was the one that bought him real fame. As a circus strongman, Don Athaldo was involved in a variety of unusual feats of strength, like these two in the pictures below.

Athaldo shattered all records for strength feats and here we can see him carrying a horse (officially weighed 935lbs.) up a 14ft. ladder and down again. The horse was carried right to the top rung of ladder.

Don Athaldo carrying a horse

Don Athaldo carrying a horse

In this one Don Athaldo is seen lifting an Essex Super-Six Sedan car and platform, officially weighed at 1 ton 15 cwt. This weight was lifted 8 inches from the ground and held for 20 seconds at Sydney on 6th May, 1930.


Don Athaldo car lift

Don Athaldo car lift


Don Athaldo

Don Athaldo

Don Athaldo presenting the results of his methods

Don Athaldo presenting the results of his methods


If you are interested in the ways of old strongmen, make sure to check out StrongManBooks.com as you may find just the right book for you.

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14 Responses to Don Athaldo

  1. Anthony March 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    Wow this is a name from the past. My dear old uncle used to talk about Don Athaldo when I was a child. I just remember the name only.

  2. Harry Coehn March 12, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    As a young man growing up in Rabaul, PNG I enjoyed the many stories my uncle Julius “Pop” Eluel told me about Don Althaldo. Pop trained under Athaldo in Rabaul (1917-1921) and he grew into a very strong man himself. He recounted that on one session Pop actually out shone Athaldo. Pop recounted that Athaldo wasn’t all that pleased and cuffed him over the ears.

    • admin March 13, 2013 at 1:59 am #

      That’s awesome and hilarious at the same time.

    • Nick Veenstra March 30, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      Hi Harry,
      That’s a good story, did your Uncle Julius ever tell you about the training methods they followed, what exercises and all that? I’ve been searching for Athaldo’s training methods but I’m dubious about the official athalding course.

  3. chris November 14, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    I was told by my father that he had his hand shakened by Don Athaldo . I think at Central railway Syd around 1930s Dad said that he said……. HELLO MY NAME IS DON ATHALDO,,,,, I think he must have been a very popular man at the time…..

  4. Jan GD Kramer June 24, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    I am the son of Jacqueline Joy Kramer Lyons his eldest daughter

  5. Pat Larkin November 25, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    I have just tried this means of response and cannot work out why I was unsuccessful.

    I have heard of Don Athaldo’s great achievements all my life and remember meeting older people who had purchased his mail order book of exercises and diet and was wondering if such was still available.

    Kindest Regards,


    • admin November 25, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

      Republished on Kindle at https://amzn.to/1NtXFc2

      I think it’ll also be posted online at a few other places if you search around.

  6. Pat Larkin November 26, 2015 at 2:38 am #

    Many thanks for the above info!

    I will keep trying.

    Kindest Regards,


  7. Dan J January 20, 2016 at 4:19 am #

    As a teenager I ordered his book in the early sixties- I remember it cost about three pounds which was a lot of money in those days. I remember the exercises were basic tension exercises and some of them for the upper body involved using a broom handle as a prop. For rapid weight gain I remember he recommended boiling Milo into a toffee fudgy state and then eating a lot of it regularly. I think I cut the coupon/ad out of the back of the Pix Magazine.

    • admin January 25, 2016 at 1:54 pm #


      thanks for sharing.

  8. Neil Rose January 2, 2017 at 11:27 pm #

    I knew Don Athado as a young boy (around 10 yrs). My father Leo Rose who was blind, trainded using the Athaldo method and Don used to visit our home fairly regularly.

    Don was a fairly old man then and was carrying a back injury from training troops and had to use a cane to walk.

    Putting all that aside, his method of building muscle tone without weights, using muscle against mustle/putting muscle under pressure using body strength works. I’m no strong man but have noticed there are sights available on the web that use the same principles.

    So don’t waste money at gyms, identify exercises that suit you to do when it suits you. You don’t need weights, just time.

    • Jan G.D. kramer September 12, 2017 at 7:10 am #

      Don Athaldo was my grandfather, I can remember staying at Sidney and an old lady at the back of his house give me a real boomerang from 1937.He would wake me up for an ice-cream.He was a wonderful man.Also can remember him coming up to Taree.Her we stayed with Nanny.My mother was his eldest daughter who married a Dutch merchant navy officer. So when Dad went on along voyage we went out to Australia. I have sibling so the last in the line. Alas I am being shunned by the family of his second daughter Ruth,living in Taree.My mother was Jaqueline Joy nee Lyons.
      Jan Gerard Donald Kramer

  9. Rob skelton January 18, 2018 at 12:28 am #

    I have some of Athaldo’s exercise equipment at home. They have brought many so called “strong men” undone. Athaldo was a partner to my dad’s uncle and used to frequent my grand fathers blacksmith shop in Waratah NSW

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