The following is an article written by Edward Aston, regarding the muscle control expert Maxick.
In 1909 Maxick descended on London like a meteor in a flash of physical glory, and dazzled us with his most remarkable muscular achievements.
He was so very different from what we had been used to, and so very much more advanced in physical culture technique. The claims he put forth were taken with the proverbial grain of salt – until he proved them! Pretenders had been many and we thought.
“Here is another of the bogus strong men; leave him alone and he will soon fade out.”
Well, we were not only mistaken but flabbergasted when he showed us a few new and startling stunts. That a man of under medium height and weighing only 10st. 10lb. should have the audacity to challenge all and sundry at weightlifting, irrespective of weight, seemed too amazing. But quite unknown to us, Maxick had acquired the title of world’s middle-weight Weight Lifting Champion and on one occasion had even won a heavyweight competition.
Sponsored in the first place by Tromp Van Diggelen, and secondly by Monte Saldo, Maxick first appeared in a semiprivate exhibition at the Apollo-Saldo School near Leicester Square. The Press were there in force with many of the elite of the weight lifters. The date was January 19th 1910, and the occasion was a milestone in the history of British lifting and Physical Culture. Maxick appeared and was introduced. It was all too evident, when we saw him, that here was something entirely new, unexpected, startling. But we waited, marvelous as his appearance of muscularity was, we wanted to see how much he could lift.
He soon showed us! And without going into figures, which can have little comparative interest, in view of the specialized records of to-day, he toyed with poundages which our heavy-weight lifters found difficult and in some instances beyond them. Maxick astounded his critics, he proved his claims. And we had never seen anything like his muscular posing that followed his lifting. It was something new, sensational! He showed the people of this country how to control every muscle group in the body. How to isolate one group from another; to depress the muscles and expand them, how to perform the abdominal isolation, first one side, then the other- things we had never seen before.
Maxick was most ardent for a barbell match with Thomas Inch. He wanted, I think, to try to conquer a big man, a heavy man, with a reputation. The match never took place. I instead met Maxick for the Middle-Weight World’s title at The Granville Music Hall, Walham Green, London, on August 4th, 1910. Being heavier by a few pounds, and because Maxick that day had to conform to the lifting of weights in a style to which he was not familiar, he lost. Moreover he sustained an injury doing one of the lifts, and, of course, I became the new champion. A few months later we had a second match but without any change in the title. Like the former, this match was never completed, but it made me the legitimate contender for the heavy-weight title, which in due course I won.
But Maxick was unlucky with the weights here against me – I don’t believe he even trained seriously for me. He wanted to beat a heavy-weight. However, his reputation did not suffer. For a smallish man he was a superman, and he proved it. No man had a better following than this new Continental phenomenon. His cult of muscle control was a vogue for years, and it still has many adherents. Much has been written about his relying purely on control exercise for his weight lifting matches, but there is not truth in this theory. Maxick himself says,
“I trained for weightlifting with weights – how else could I develop tendon strength so essential to the game?”
Maxick was not a professional weight lifter; he was a gymnast, a Music Hall Artistic, and sculptors Model, He was also bearer in hand balancing acts with partners – all heavier men. I believer he could wrestle too, but cared little for it. 5’4 1/2” in height a neck like a bull terrier, shoulders that appeared (erroneously) sloping, through tremendous trapezius development. Average chest, but covered with layers of rippling muscle. Deltoids of finely trained definition; biceps seemingly average until bunched – then surprising; abdominal development the most wonderful I have ever seen, with the muscles of great thickness; thighs of full development with no indentation between them and the hips and of great power; calves average.
But I can never do him justice in this way – you had to see this physical superman to believe him.
Was he born favoured with the promise of a good physique? No! He was sickly as a child, and when he was old enough to be tired of being mediocre, he determined to do something about it. Not being able to afford appliances he invented his own – Muscle Control – and it served his purpose until he needed fresh interests and the apparatus to further them.
As a man he was and still is a fine example of Strength with modesty, and serious in matters of physical health, he was also very human.