The 19th century strongman was 7’9", and supposedly could lift an anchor weighing 2000-2800 pounds to chest height, as well as walk with it.
He had an 80" chest, I think most pro bodybuilders and relatively thin strongmen who are 6’6" or so have chests hovering around 60". But a good deal of MacAskill’s size would likely be a larger ribcage and internal organs rather than more skeletal muscle.
The worlds best strongmen seem like they can only lift about 1/4-1/5 as much weight as MacAskill was reputed to lift. Seeing how they have access to much better nutrition, exercises and drugs I don’t see how a guy who was only about 15" taller and about 150-200 pounds heavier than the best contemporary strongmen would somehow be 4x stronger.
I look up some stats on Magnús Ver Magnússon :6"3",287 lbs. and held the world record at one time for a dead lift of 981 lbs.
I can’t find anything that claims Macaskill walked with said anchor , so lifting it a foot (or several) straight up is remotely plausable.
All of his purported feats of strength involve estimated weights. He was probably very strong given his size and weight, but the key is he weighed around 500 lbs. Some large modern professional strong men are often close to 7 feet tall and weight well over 300lbs.
He can barely manage lifting this approx. 1100 lb tire barbell and this is a guy who trains. Claiming that a man of slightly greater weight who is a foot taller could lift a 2400 lb anchor to his chest and walk with it is (IMO) absurd.
On one hand, the amount of nutrition and training requisite to get to how big modern bodybuilders are is tremendous and calculated. On the other hand, training can be trumped easily by sheer genetic talent. Arnold schwarzenegger trained much harder than Andre the Giant and Wilt Chamberlain but readily admits that those two were just naturally much stronger.
I’d say the difference is better described as exaggerations rather than outright lies. However the wiki claim that he lifted a horse over a fence is probably an outright lie. Even a pony.
There are more people alive today than were alive then, including descendents of people who were alive then. It seems plausible that if the genes to cause this kind of strength are floating around in the gene pool, then people should be alive today who have these genes.
Furthermore, drugs do things that genes don’t do. Modern bodybuilders (all the competitive ones use drugs, the advantage is so large that anyone who says they don’t is lying) have free testosterone levels 5 to 10 times higher than natural, as well as other more exotic testosterone analogs in their bloodstream.
Reading about these outlandish feats reminds me of the modern day bushels of jokes about Wilford Brimley and Chuck What’s-His-Name. I wonder if all these tales came from that generation’s set of can-you-top-this jokes about Angus MacAskill.
Ah, the Nova Scotia Giant. Guiness once rated him as possibly the strongest man who ever lived. He spent most of his adult life on Cape Breton Island, northern Nova Scotia. In the town of Gut St Anne there is a Gaelic College with a history museum which has a display on him. The display has a life-size figure of him, with a handlebar mustache and a top hat. I have a photograph of me (6’ 1") standing next to the statue. Interestingly, the local car ferry (capacity 6) is named the M. V. Angus McAskill. His gravesite is only a few yards from the ferry terminal.
There’s also some old reports of runners from the 1700s-1800s who could run the mile in well under 4 minutes.
I think most of these stories come from descriptions of the local champion (or strongman) and then get exaggerated - this is how myths form. Eventually (say, a few more hundred years), McKaskill will probably become a god or such-like of legend.
A person could also have over active adrenal glands which could and would increase their strength (like mom’s reported to lift cars off their children). Also most people’s “strength” is limited by how much pain they can take rather than muscle development. Also as mentioned before the large rib cage would help develop more leverage than average (think of a gorilla with a 78" chest). It is feasible that someone with medical differences like this could easily lift more than twice the average strongman.
Some say people above seven feet in height are disadvantaged when it comes to exerting strength during lifts. They risk injury a lot more. Regarding the 2,500-pound anchor, the wiki says a lot of anchors back then weighed only in the three figures.
although I do respect all opinions and statements made in this conversation, I would like to add my own thoughts. I think many people commenting on this are forgetting one thing. NATURAL INHERIT STRENGTH. My advice to others would be to do more research on strongmen. go to Youtube and look up Dennis Rogers-strongman. You will see his physical statistics are that of a normal man. 5’6" tall and weighing in at 155-160 lbs. Yet you can also see him bend crescent wrenches, fold frying pans, hold back motorcycles, break handcuffs and other such feats of strength. Sometimes people forget that muscle doesn’t always mean strong, and being strong, doesn’t always require huge amounts of muscle. Some researches have declared Dennis Rogers to be “pound for pound, the strongest man alive.” Please keep in mind the declaration of “pound for pound” What about Bruce Lee. In an older article in MUSCLE AND FITNESS magazine, some of his verified feats of strength were documented. And world famous body builders stated that Bruce Lee was the strongest man they had ever seen, for a man of his small size and build. I used to work with a man who was 6’4" tall and probably weighed 180 lbs. Skinny as a rail. arms were skinny and had no “physical muscle” to be seen. I had an issue with a 2 1/4" padlock shank being out of line with the locking mechanism. when I asked him for some channel locks to try and bend it back in place, he simply took the lock from me, bent back in place with his hands, and gave it back to me. Looks can be deceiving. I know another man who I would describe as the best look a like for Santa Clause our town has ever seen. Long beard, big belly and all. This "Santa Clause has been video taped squeezing and popping a brand new tennis ball with one hand. And squeezing and popping the top of an un opened 12 oz soda can. It’s not the size of the muscle, but the density of the muscle cells within the muscle. Perhaps Angus was that kind of person. Incredibly dense muscle tissue and because of his size, had more dense muscle tissue, made him that much stronger. something to think about