MONTE SALDO

1879 - 1949

Photo from 'The Key to Might & Muscle' by George F. Jowett published in Philadelphia in 1926

(Courtesy of Harry Rothman)




Cigarette Card issued in1902


This picture of Monte Saldo was published in 1903. He was just 24


 

New Biography of Monte Saldo with many new photographs written exclusively for the Maxalding Website by Ron Tyrrell

Read this First

Those Incredible Old Timers
The Story of Monte Saldo
by Bill Crewdson

'Man's World' Feb 1969

Contributed by Gil Waldron

A Selection of
Magazine Articles written by
Monte Saldo



Monte Saldo was apprenticed to Sandow in 1897 at the age of 18, according to several reference books. At the turn of the century he was touring Europe giving demonstrations of Strength & Gymnastics. He was also an artists' model.

In 1906 he was appearing with his brother Frank as the Montague Brothers in a stage act called 'A Sculptor's Dream'. Details of this act appear below. According to Bodybuilding historian David Webster ... ' This act had historical significance. It was the first time that poseurs appeared in very tight brief slips instead of the usual tights and they were also the first to use body make-up, which in this case gave a white marble effect and, of course, it was the very first time the mirror effect had been used as the basis for an act'

In 1914 Monte published a book called 'How to Pose', a book which produced major effects on athletic, aesthetic and muscular posing. (D. Webster)

After 1918 brother Frank became a lecturer of Physical Education at the University of London.

The money used to finance the Maxalding course came from touring the continent as a strong man.

Again from David Webster's Bodybuilding, an Illustrated History' ... 'In the spectacular finale he supported a heavy motor car while on top of a revolving platform 8 -10 foot in height!'


The following two items are extracts from "The Amazing Samson, As Told by Himself", published in London in 1925 and are taken from the foreword written by W.A. Pullum, himself a great champion weightlifter in the early years of the last century. The foreword takes the form of a 70 page memoir entitled "Strongmen over the Years", these include Sandow, Vansart (Vansittart), the Saxon Brothers, Inch, and significantly - Monte Saldo and Maxick. (There is more about The Saxons & Inch on the Sandow Plus Website.)



Monte Saldo as a stage performer and trainer:

"... a real strongman, and a clever weightlifter to boot was Monte Saldo, whose stage showmanship was best displayed, perhaps, in a turn which he presented with his brother Frank, entitled "the Sculptor's Dream," certainly of the most artistic and impressive of any ever given.

The curtain rose disclosing a sculptor's studio, with the sculptor at work on a reproduction of a well known classical statue. The figure was Monte himself, painted and garbed in an excellent imitation of marble, and behind him was a mirror, in which the statue could be seen reproduced.

After working a while, the sculpture wearied, and concealing his masterpiece behind curtains, stretched himself at length upon a couch, soon to be ostensibly asleep. The curtains thereupon parted on their own account, revealing the statue in another classical pose, again reflected in the mirror. Then once more they closed, only to re-open and repeat their re-opening to revelation of ever fresh poses and reflections, until finally the statue and the mirror reflection confront each other in a famous wrestler's attitude.

A pause, and then the mirror crashing as the 'reflection' - brother Frank, to be more explicit - leapt out to grapple with Monte, and execute on stage a variety of wrestling postures. This unique opening was followed by a series of equally novel strength feats in which both iron and human weights figured, closured by Monte pressing Frank aloft with one hand, and a twirl round of the supported performer.

This twirl, by the way, was very smartly done. As Frank leant back to be supported on Monte's palm, the lifter would interpose a revolving disc on which his brother's back rested. Thus when Frank had been pressed aloft, it enabled Monte to spin him.

At this juncture, the sculptor would commence to stir, whereupon both statue and 'reflection' would leap back and, resuming their original poses, thus satisfying the now awakened chiseller of marble that all which had transpired was actually nothing but a dream.

Monte Saldo was one of the few men who have enhanced a reputation made on the stage as a strongman by feats performed away from its atmosphere of glamour and make-believe. The first man in the world to 'swing' over his own bodyweight with one hand, and one of the most successful trainers of strong men ever known..." pp 66-68.


The Inch challenge, Edward Aston & Maxick and the role of Monte Saldo:

Pullum's version is worth reproducing since it offers some new insights into the London weightlifting scene in the early 20th century. Pullum describes how Thomas Inch of Scarborough, details of whom appear elsewhere on this site, came to beat W.P. Caswell for the World Middle-weight Championship, becoming in the process the first Briton to achieve World status. Pullum notes that at that time:

"...Weightlifting was a sport which the Continental athletes has made their very own, and consequently it would be as idle for Britishers to dispute their pre-eminence as it would be for the Continentals to challenge English and Australian supremacy at cricket."

Pullum goes on to recount how:

"... in the early part of 1909... Edward Aston (also a Yorkshireman)... came forward with a challenge levelled at Inch's middleweight title. Inch, whose business had, by this time, grown to mammoth proportions, expressed his readiness to defend his title, but made conditions - and supplied an explanation. He had been, and was still, very busy; had more or less got out of lifting condition; and as a result grown heavier.

Still he agreed to meet Aston, provided that Aston could prove himself capable of beating each and every lift put up by Inch in his match with Caswell.

Aston whose ambitions were only equalled by his confidence in his ability, accepted these terms, made the attempt at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, then venue of a new series of world's weight-lifting championships. But he failed; and then, for a short time, retired from notice. Some most interesting developments followed!

A remarkable German lifter, who claimed the Continental middleweight championship, arrived in England. He was a Bavarian, named Max Sick (later to be called Maxick), and, in addition to his weightlifting abilities - which were soon to be shown to be considerable - boasted a singular gift of muscle control. That is to say, he could control the action of any muscle, or group of muscles, at will.

He was unquestionably a phenomenon, and had come to London, so it was announced, to challenge Inch for his middleweight title. This challenge hit Inch at an even more inopportune moment than Aston's had done. A most successful man, he was busier than ever, whilst his weight had gone up by leaps and bounds consequent upon the enforced following of a sedentary occupation. Moreover, he was now the holder of a proud title, 'Britain's Strongest Man', an asset calculated to be of greater value to his business than even the world's middleweight title had proved.

His profession of physical culture teacher was making such claims on his attention that to find time in which to train would have proved a matter of extreme difficulty. And, again, there was the question of making the weight. Inch, obviously, was on the horns of a dilemma. But the conqueror of Caswell was ingenious. He suspected, and probably not without good reason, that there was a little more behind the arrival of Sick than would seem evident to the eye of casual observation. So again he played a good card. He would, he said, be prepared to train down to weight and meet Max Sick, provided the phenomenal Bavarian would first meet and defeat Edward Aston.

The opposition had apparently forgotten Aston; or if they remembered him, presumably reckoned him to be of but little account. Be that as it may, they agreed to the qualifying test. And Sick met Aston in match for the world's middleweight championship at the Granville Palace of Varieties, Walham Green, on August 4th 1910.

In the early stages of the match Sick, who was putting up some remarkable poundages for a man of 10st. 7lbs. (for that is all he weighed), injured his shoulder, and acting on the advice of Monte Saldo, his principal, retired, leaving Aston the winner. Whereupon Inch, looking facts squarely in the face, resigned his middleweight title in Aston's favour, and conjectured that the Sick campaign had met with defeat.

Actually it had, although the other side had by no means exhausted its ammunition. Another match followed, in which these two wonderful lifters were again the contesting parties. But it really took the question of individual superiority no further, for, held on December 14th, 1910, at a matinee performance at the Holborn Empire, the contest could not be finished in the time allotted.

Sick was leading at the termination of the match, but this proved nothing, as neither man had completed a total on the full set of lifts chosen, these being eight in number.

Practically six months passed by before further weigh-lifting history was made, Inch and Aston meeting this time to decide the vexed question as to who better possessed the right to hold the title of 'Britain's Strongest Man.' This, easily the most sensational weight- lifting match ever held in this country, witnessed the defeat of Inch by Aston, the latter being obviously the best trained man as well as the most scientific lifter of the two.

(An article about this challenge, 'Ambitions of the Scarborough Hercules' appears here)

To Monte Saldo the winner gave the credit for his superb physical condition, and there is little doubt but what this credit was correctly apportioned.

I have mentioned earlier that Saldo was a trainer of more than ordinary talent, and only a few weeks were to elapse before he followed his triumph with another practically as meritorious, piloting Soguel to victory in his world's championship match with the celebrated Carquest.

In the British professional weight-lifting world, Inch and Aston have been, of course, the most outstanding figures. Their rivalry did much to stimulate a healthy interest in the game, the contributions of Monte Saldo appreciably assisting.

In fact without Inch, Aston and Saldo, the weight-lifting movement in this country would have been devoid of much of the glamour that it threw out from the year 1906 right up to the outbreak of war. And although all three are now veterans, the example they set is still strong, while the influence they wield yet is considerable." pp 75-77.


The above extracts were contributed by HARRY ROTHMAN who also wrote the comments that appear in italics.

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