John Lemm, Strongman Wrestler – Switzerland

“Many of the old time wrestlers took to weight lifting to build up their strength while some of the lifters took to wrestling to demonstrate their strength against another man.  John Lemm of Switzerland was one of the latter but he took his wrestling seriously enough to become European Greco-Roman heavyweight champion. He was one of the first men to deep-knee bend with over 500 pounds.  His record of 517 stood for nearly 20 years until Strassberger of Germany eclipsed it with a mark of 550.

Lemm was posted as the “Swiss Mountaineer” or the “Swiss Mountain Climber” as a publicity stunt to draw larger crowds to his wrestling marches.  Switzerland, though a small country, has produced some remarkable men of might notably Lemm, Hunnenberger (World’s record one hand clean and jerk), Aeschamm, Graf (former Olympic featherweight champion 1920), Rosinek and the Deriaz brothers.

No one country has ever held a monopoly on weightlifting records for long except perhaps Germany, where the sport originated.  The Italians began to take records and titles away from the Germans which they in turn lost to the Swiss.  Some time later practically all records were held by the French then back to Germany again until at the ’36 Olympics when suddenly Egyptian names filled the iron roster.  Today, while the Sons of the Prophet still hold most of the records, America is slipping in and in a few years,  we should hold them all.

©Mighty Men of Old

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