by David Gentle
All the great physique stars over the years have learnt .. to control their muscles. The very art of displaying certain sets of muscles entails the ability to control one group' whilst relaxing another. Sucking in the stomach or a retraction a la Frank Zane.- Spreading the .. Iats ... bunching the "traps". etc'-- are all recognized controls in a posing routine that need to be learnt and practised. The ability to demonstrate muscle control was one of the reasons for Grimek's victory over Steve Reeves in the 1948 Universe show. Although Reeves had a superb posing routine, Grimek's supremacy was in his masterly demonstration of control of all muscles from head to toe. in a routine that had the fans going wild. The best account of that classic battle was described by George Greenwood in the magazine Man's World (in 1967). George Greenwood was a judge at that contest. Another judge was Tromp Van" Diggelen.
Diggelen a South African (Dutch) strongman and big game hunter (his autobiography was called Worthwhile Journey) brought to England the originator and greatest exponent of muscle control Maxick. Maxick whose real name unfortunately for a strongman was Max Sick, hence the change, was a Bavarian, born in 1882. He was a frail and sickly child who by his own efforts built up his health and strength through gymnastics, hand-balancing, weightlifting and also his own unique system of isometric training and isolating of muscle groups he called muscle control. He developed a wonderful physique although only a small man of under 5' 4" and was brought to the attention of Tromp Van Diggelen. Tromp arranged for Maxick to come to England in 1909 and attempted to fix up a weightlifting match with Thomas Inch. Inch, however, knowing what an outstanding lifter Maxick was, avoided the contest and so Maxick eventually had a contest with Inch's successor Edward Aston.
Aston was then known as Britain's Strongest Man (1910). Unfortunately the match was never really resolved. The first time they met Maxick strained his shoulder in attempting to one arm clean and jerk 212 Ibs. and the second occasion the match was abandoned through running out of time, taking place in a theatre which was needed for an evening show. Most historians would give Aston the credit for better poundages but Maxick being of lighter bodyweight lifted some very creditable weights. Seen right: Edward Aston
Amongst his best lifts was a right hand jerk from the shoulders of 240 Ibs. and a very correct right hand military press with 112 Ibs. at a weight of under 11 stone. Maxick once pressed Diggelen who weighed about 185 Ibs. overhead 16 times with one arm without a pause whilst holding a mug of beer in the left hand; I don't know who drank the beer afterwards. He also practised hand-balancing and could go up and down several flights of stairs on his hands. David Willoughby in his book Super Athletes estimates that Maxick was capable of 34 handstand dips, a remarkable performance. He was also a champion wrist-wrestler, unbeaten at his bodyweight.
Maxick's physique was phenomenal for the times, and his commercial possibilities were recognized by Monte Saldo another professional strongman and wonderful trainer of athletes.
Together they produced Maxalding a muscle control course which is still being run by Monte's son Court Saldo. Maxick also produced a couple of books, Great Strength by Muscle Control and the classic text book on the art called simply Muscle Control by Maxick, regrettably now both out of print. Seen right: Maxick
During the 1914-18 war Maxick, a German. was voluntarily interned. After the war he travelled a lot and when the second World War came he went to South American spending a lot of time exploring the Amazon jungles.
He remained very active right into old age retaining a good physique even in his seventies with hand-balancing and muscle control. He died in 1961 nearing 80 years of age. A phenomenal man.
Golden Oldies MAXICK © Copyright by David Gentle All Rights Reserved