Henry “Milo” Steinborn was a German weightlifter and strongman born in 1894. He grew up near Dusseldorf and fell into British captivity during the World War I, where he started weightlifting. Luckily, some of the prisoners had already built some basic equipment using concrete blocks and hard wooden bars, which were good enough to start with.
During this time, Henry’s most popular feats included bent presses, curls, two arm presses, deadlifts and similar lifts. Some of his records before he emigrated to the United States are shown below:
- Two Arm Snatch – 265 pounds
- Two Arm Clean – 375 pounds
- One Arm Clean & Jerk – 240 pounds
- One Arm Snatch – 220 pounds
In 1919 he was released and returned to Germany. Two years later, Henry Steiborn emigrated to the United States where he held his first strongman show in Philadelphia.
One of his most spectacular performances was supporting a running car using his legs, as shown in the picture below. He would support one end of a bridge using his legs, while the car weighing more than 5000 pounds travels across. The Leg Bridge performance came to an unfortunate end in 1926 in LA, where Henry suffered serious leg injuries after something went wrong during the act.
He also used to perform an act with a circus elephant, where he would lift the elephant using his back. The elephant weighed 880 pounds!
As an amateur, Henry Steinborn took part in German Championship in Weightlifting in 1920. He scored 535kg at the pentathlon competition, finishing behind heavyweight world champion Karl Morke who scored 557.5 kg. Some of the best results in his amateur weightlifting career were 99 kg in One Arm Snatch, 120 kg in Bent Press and 158.76 in Overhead Press. Henry popularized squats, as he was able to perform five squats with 550 pounds in a row, unassisted ones without any type of wraps. His squat performance brought him a lot of respect in the United States. Before that, squats were only done with very little weights in the Hindu style, but Milo hadn’t really have much use from those and went for heavy ones instead.
It’s worth mentioning that Henry “Milo” Steinborn had a long and successful wrestling career with more than 300 matches, some of which against the world’s famous wrestlers such as Charles Rigulot.
When he was 64 years old, Henry opened a gym which worked successfully for the next eleven years. He also promoted wrestling for the same number of years before his retirement in 1978. Henry “Milo” Steinborn died in 1989, at the age of 95.
Below is an interview with Sig Klein, where he described how he met Henry Steinborn. Enjoy!
After talking about bar bells and weightlifters past and present, we both changed into gym clothes and took a workout together. For the first time I witnessed 300 lbs. being elevated overhead – and so easily I could scarcely believe it. But one trick he did I could not appreciate at the moment it was going on – for my heart was in my mouth.
There was a huge sphere barbell with a thick bar, once used by the redoubtable Louis Cyr, weighing exactly 188 lbs., which reposed directly in front of my biggest mirror. This bell Henry pounced upon with delight and heaving it up in front, as though to do a snatch, he apparently lost control of the bell and dropped down to his knees, right in front of the looking glass. I was petrified, wondering what Madam Attila would say when she found out one of her precious mirrors had been pulverized to shreds, and I rushed forward to try to help him down with the bell. Just as I was about to intervene, he shouted:
“Get away! Look out!”
Holding the huge bar steady on his chest, he flashed out one leg parallel to the floor and rose slowly and majestically to his full height in a perfect one-leg deep-knee-bend!
The whole feat was done so smoothly, so gracefully, so easily, that it seemed he was holding a mere walking stick in his hands.
If you are interested in feats of strength in the style of oldtime strongmen, check out How to Toughen your Hands for Strongman Feats, watch my 135lb Barbell Bent Press or or enjoy these Amazing Feats of Strength. Also don’t forget to learn more about these extraordinary men at StrongmanBooks.com .
In 1962 it was my privilege to win the 198 lb class weight lifting division of the AAU Fla State Championships in Orlando, Fla sponsored by Milo Steinborn. What a thrill that was. Before that, some of us lifters in Deland High School would travel to Orlando to work out in Mr, Steinborn’s gym.
Jack Robinson, Natural Athlete Strength Association Hall of Fame Powerlifter