Strongmen in BG for old-time picnic

If the names Charles Atlas, Steve "Hercules" Reeves and Joe Gold ring any (bar)bells of
recognition, there’s an event in Bowling Green this weekend to bring them back to life, along with
frying pans rolled up and steel bars bent, all by bare hands.
On Saturday, Atomic Athletic Inc. will host its third Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time
Strongman Picnic from 1 to 6 p.m.
The event is based on the strength and health picnics of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s which featured the
best-known strongmen of the era performing weight-lifting feats, doing posing routines or competing with
each other. It was a pre-steroid era when men honed their strength by lifting globe barbells, stone
balls and kettlebells (like cannon balls with handles), and people watched in a relaxed atmosphere,
munching sandwiches and comparing training techniques.
The picnic is free and open to the public, but persons purchasing a $10 ticket will receive an event
T-shirt and enjoy a hog roast barbecue meal.
Atomic Athletic Inc. is an athletic equipment retail shop and warehouse, located at 500 Lehman Ave., also
known as Progress Industrial Park. A large tent will be set up in the parking lot which faces Manville
Avenue.
Headlining the picnic is strongman Andrew Durniat of Mansfield who will "juggle" a globe
barbell similar to the way military personnel do routines with their rifles. Atomic Athletic owner Roger
LaPointe, himself a strongman, said Durniat is expected to do a "teaser" around 2 p.m. with a
full-length show around 5 p.m.
Also demonstrating their skills are Sensei Mike Sherman, a leader in the U.S. on the ancient Okinawan art
of karate strength training; Chuck Gauss and John Yockey with Arnis Escrima showing the art of tapi tapi
Filipino stick fighting; strongman Stu Rosendaul who will do a routine with contortionist Logan Jacot;
and Master Bob "Kettlebell" Gee, a former Navy Seal, with his Indian weight clubs.
Additional guests include bodybuilder Joe Marino, who was in the 1959 Mr. America contest and is now a
member of the Olde Time Barbell and Strongmen Association; Mike Gittleson, retired director of strength
and conditioning at the University of Michigan; Aaron Hillman and his staff from Bowling Green State
University; coach Fred Lowe showing Olympian lift demos; professional and college athletes; pro
wrestlers; power lifters; bodybuilders; Olympians; and an unnamed NBA player from the ’70s and ’80s
coming from New York.
Competitions will include kettlebell record breakers, open curl contest, padlock bottoms up press and
stone lifting.
The picnic will feature about a dozen vendors, plus equipment demonstrations and strength clinics.
LaPointe said the picnic focuses on the olde-time strongmen which people used to see in circus sideshows
and on vaudeville.
"Iron Game History" magazine did an article last year and said the closest thing to the old
Hoffman picnics is the revival of the picnic concept by Atomic Athletic.
LaPointe said the coolest thing in the first two picnics were the children who wanted the strongmen to
sign their posters and programs. "These guys are more than willing to sign autographs and be role
models. Little kids absolutely love it."