The following article comes from famous strongman George F. Jowett.
Herr Stauffer, we will call him, was a circus proprietor of portly proportions fed by the genius that knew how to serve attractive performances to a people whose prosaic lives and deductive minds found gladness in the masterly performance of superb feats of strength. On this occasion he was visiting old cronies in the friendly town of Luxemburg where lager ran cold in brimful bootjacks. And with all the inherent love of one who finds brawny backs and arms like twisted steel good to look upon, he comfortably ambled his way toward the nearest smithy.
The clang of the anvil to his ears and the smell of hot iron on horse hoof signaled to him that he was near to his destination. Just a few more steps and he stood looking in the smithy toward the hearth where the huge wheezy bellows were blowing sparks from the fire – and what a man that grasped the gleaming hot shoes in the tongs – and what a sized hammer he swung to beat the fire-softened metal into shape. But Herr Stauffer was too shrewd to evince surprise and and sat in silence on an empty box as his piercing ears roved and dug around the smithy in search of something that might indicate here was a man who delighted in feats of brawn.
Soon his eyes rested upon a number of broken shoes and twisted iron which experience told him had yielded to the persuasive power of human force. Some were of unusual thickness which surprised even him, but yet – well, he would ask.
“Are those a sample of the destructive power of your brawny arms, friend smith?” he asked. “No,” the smith smile back, “my boy has been practicing.” “Your boy,”, Herr Stauffer replied in suspicious surprise, for surely this man before him was not forty years old. In such a case his son must be very young, though perhaps this was a joke.
Seeing the surprise on the old circus proprietor’s face, the smith soberly exclaimed, “If you doubt it you’ll find my boy up the road loading field stones in a wagon where they are repairing the road.”
“Well, I would like to see the boy or man who can break shoes of that size, so I think I’ll take your invitation and see this boy of yours.” With no further preamble the portly form sauntered up the road indicated by the burly smith.
Ten minutes’ walk and he came within sight of a number of men busy loading stones into a wagon, and long before he came within speaking distance he had picked out the worthy son. As he approached nearer his eyes widened with amazement, for never had he gazed upon such magnificent manhood.
Instinctively his honest old heart went out to the boy, for that is all he was despite his herculean form. Just then he was in the act of tossing into the cart a huge stone which had not responded to the efforts of two other workers, when their eyes met. Old Stauffer saw a pair of gleaming grey eyes that twinkled with honest delight, set in a face which was one big sunny smile.
Glorified youth emanated from him like a brisk spring breeze and his body seemed ready to burst with concealed power that strained on the skin like a hound on the leash.
The son of Neptune was cast in no nobler nor could Theseus boast of superior physical grace. The boy was only sixteen years of age, but stood about 5ft. 10 in. in stocking feet, of the finest creation of 200-lb. manhood ever seen. Straight as an arrow, he carried his immense stature like a Trojan. Every gesture was filled with natural grace and the spring in his stride was filled with elation.
His biceps were fully seventeen inches and the girth of wrist and forearm were marvelous. He was a miracle of muscle, bound with a chest that rolled from the throat with a mighty surge. Every move depicted a sinuous bulge which his rough home-made clothes could no conceal. The hands were massive, with an enormous spread made to grasp objects beyond the earthly dream of the normal man.
Such was the boy whom Herr Stauffer looked upon and who, within a few months, was to build a name of fame forever beloved by men of might. John Marx Gruhn came to fame at the age of sixteen and the next year saw him the idol of Europe. True, there was the massive Apollon, the pride of France, but his titan lines did not bear the clean cut, beautiful contours as did the giant of Luxemburg. A day was to come when these two Trojans were to meet, which found John debonair as ever with the un-erasable smile upon his genial, lovable face, while Apollon stood by, a foreboding picture with face set in the ugly scowl which at worst was only a mask to an honest heart.
Old Herr Stauffer kept the broken shoe that first attracted his attention and not for any price could he be induced to part with it during his lifetime. No man ever broke or bent a shoe of equal size. In later years the blacksmith’s son broke with ease shoes of a larger size. His strength was the rage wherever he went and his wonderful body with its Goliath-like dimensions was greatly sought after by artist and sculptor. No man has since been able to display in such a huge frame, such clean cut, sharply defined muscles.