Sandow and Turn of the Century Bodybuilding

Doss

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I'm in college and I'm trying to gather information in order to write 5 pages about Eugene Sandow and the status of bodybuilding in turn of the century America. Are there any history buffs here who know of some good sources on Physique Culturalists and the early history of bodybuilding?

The only restriction is the time - everything needs to be before 1920.

Really I'm just looking for a fascinating topic regarding fitness in the US prior to 1920, so if someone has a quirky tale or something interesting don't hesitate to share!

Thanks.
 
ManBeast

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I cut the parts that started after 1920:

History of the Development of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids

Few people know of the current state of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS); it may be rarer still to find someone with knowledge of the history of anabolic steroids. Sadly, the best texts on the subject directly from the pioneers are difficult to locate as they have been out of print for decades, such as Charles Kochakian’s Anabolic Actions of Steroids and Remembrances.1 One exception is the recent text Testosterone Dreams: Rejuvenation, Aphrodisia, Doping by John Hoberman, which is excellent.2 However, policymakers and their clinical gatekeepers (physicians) do not generally take time to read much outside of their specialties, do not refer to popular media, and rely heavily on reviews and research in academic texts.

Considering the conflict that arises between recreational anabolic steroid users and the regulatory agents of medical professionals and legislative policymakers, it should be of interest to learn the history of the development of AAS as it is presented to health care providers and elected officials. A recent review was published in Pediatric Clinics of North America.3 Each issue of Pediatric Clinics of North America is devoted to a single topic, magnifying the impact of each article. This review is interesting in that it focuses on the relatively primitive techniques used to identify a ‘male factor’ and then isolate the responsible molecule.

The review also touches on the pioneering efforts (some misguided, others seemingly barbaric) in applying the male factor and later testosterone to provide restorative therapy to men. It should be of no surprise to anyone that the desired endpoint for many patients was to restore or enhance male sexual prowess. Despite any measurable advance in civilized endeavors over the last 6,000 years, enhancing male sexual prowess remains a driving influence, as demonstrated by the sales of Viagra and related drugs, as well as the comments made on the effect of certain other drugs, such as Melanotan II.4,5

Recreational and competitive sports did not hold the position in society that they do now, and the display of one’s body was considered vulgar and vain until the relatively puritanical era of the early- to mid-20th century passed. Thus, there was relatively little mention of sports performance enhancement until the 1950s. Of course, physique development and performance enhancement are now considered to be the dominant purposes for the use of testosterone and related anabolic steroids (AAS). However, when questioned in a large survey, most users admitted that attracting potential sexual partners remains the primary reason for steroid use (by improving one’s physique or social status through athletic performance).6 The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Myriad Effects of Androgens

The review, authored by Drs. Dotson and Brown, of Columbus Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University respectively, begins by discussing [some of] the myriad effects of endogenous (natural) androgens— anabolic (tissue-building) and androgenic (masculinizing).3 It is interesting that they label vocal cord-thickening and laryngeal (voice box) enlargement as anabolic, when many consider those to be masculinizing effects.

The history of the pursuit of AAS is acknowledged to have begun over 6,000 years ago as farmers and herders castrated animals to make them easier to domesticate.3 Many married men might jokingly identify with this in a figurative sense, as demonstrated in the comedy routine of the late Sam Kinison: “You’re married now, I guess you won’t be needing this.”

The earliest surviving recorded curatives for impotence or libido problems date back to the Yellow Emperor’s (Huang Ti) Dynasty of China from approximately 2600 B.C. Later, but still ancient cures from the eighth century B.C. are described in writings from India and the Middle East, the ‘cradle of civilization.’ Moving along the timeline, it is revealed that the Egyptians (1600 B.C.), India (eighth century B.C.) and Romans would prepare elixirs and potions, consuming testicles and animal penises to obtain mystical ‘powers.’7 Those with a liberal arts education might immediately wonder what psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud would think of such behavior. Interestingly, Freud appears later in the history of AAS.

It was the Greeks who introduced the idea of using the sexual organs of animals or phallus-shaped plants for performance enhancement in sports, at least in Western cultures. Of course, prior to the era of Greek culture, sports took place in gladiatorial arenas where enhancement usually involved heavier armor or more lethal weapons. It is amazing how the Greeks and Romans are revered for their architectural and philosophical advances, but no mention is ever made of their forage into performance enhancement.

The review leaps forward to the late 1700s, a revolutionary time in more ways than one. Scottish surgeon John Hunter was the Royal Surgeon to King George III and a distinguished scholar. He was a strong advocate of observation and experimentation. Some of his rumored behavior is indisputably odd by today’s standards— self-inoculating himself with venereal disease to study the progress of the disease, and displaying the skeleton of a man who suffered from gigantism against his deathbed wishes, after acquiring the remains through bribery.8

Hunter is believed by many to be the Scottish equivalent to da Vinci, and one of the United Kingdom’s esteemed professional societies bears his name. Hunter performed the first documented testicular transplant (from a rooster to a hen), resulting in androgenic features in the hen.9 Several decades later, German physiologist Arnold Berthold proved that a substance in the bloodstream produced the male features in roosters, but his findings went largely unnoticed.3,9,10

Pissing Contests and Testicular Transplants

One of the preeminent names in endocrinology is Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, who lived from 1817 to 1894. Many tales of his work during his tenure as a Harvard professor abound, including stories of experimenting upon himself with self-injections of testicular extracts from guinea pigs and dogs. Brown-Séquard published a famous report of his [subjective] increased strength, mental abilities, and appetite, relief from constipation and an increased arc in his urine stream.11 On the face of things, it appears that Brown-Séquard was interested in combating aging-related symptoms of androgen deficiency. A close friend whose career is in academics suggests that he might have been involved in performance enhancement, since half of a professor’s time is spent in departmental pissing contests. This comment was made in jest, but it reflects the underlying tension and competition that pervades all levels of modern society— even the hallowed halls of academia.

According to the review, the first people to propose injecting athletes with hormonal substances were Austrian physiologist Oskar Zoth and his physician partner, Fritz Pregl in 1896.3 They self-injected testosterone extracts from bulls and plotted the strength of their middle fingers on ‘fatigue curves.’ Pregl went on to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1923 for unrelated work. Why they chose to use the middle finger is a matter of speculation, though again, Sigmund Freud might offer some insight.

The late 1800s and early 1900s were years of frenetic study in the signaling of the body. Two prominent English physiologists, Bayliss and Starling, coined the term ‘hormone’ from the Greek for ‘to impulse or arouse.’12

In 1911, the first suggestion of a dose-response curve was published when André Pézard observed that a rooster developed a more prominent comb with greater doses of extract.3,10 At this point, physicians began to use rudimentary operations that by today’s standards are bizarre and replete with risks of infection and tissue rejection. The ‘Steinach operation’— basically a vasectomy— was provided to ‘middle-aged and listless’ men. The claimed benefits of the Steinbach operation included hair regrowth, better erections, reduced complaints of premature ejaculation, and improved libido. Critics believed Steinbach’s claims were due to placebo effect, but his list of patients included prominent intellectuals, including Sigmund Freud and William Butler Yeats.3 Again, my esoteric and overeducated friend commented that Steinbach probably whispered, “Your mother loves you” into Freud’s ear during the procedure to ensure his sexual arousal.

The more alarming trend that was being practiced during this time was testicular transplantation from ‘donors’ into patients. Many of the donors were recently-executed prisoners and the early patients were often fellow prisoners.3 Of course, that sort of treatment is no longer tolerated in the U.S. penal system. One affluent surgeon developed a technique wherein he would slice the donor testicle(s) lengthwise prior to implanting the tissue slices between muscle layers in the abdomen or pelvis. His patients apparently included the well-connected and wealthy, as the case of one patient was reported in The New York Times— Harry F. McCormick, husband of Edith Rockefeller.3 Within years, the supply of testes donors could not meet demand, and certain entrepreneurial surgeons substituted the testicles of rams, boars, chimpanzees, and other mammals. Animal rights activists campaigned against this practice and editorial cartoonists (the early predecessors to Jay Leno) were quick to publish their parodies.
 
ManBeast

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1. Kochakian C. Anabolic Actions of Steroids and Remembrances. University of Alabama Press, Birmingham, AL;1984. ISBN-13: 9789994291205.

2. Hoberman J. Testosterone Dreams: Rejuvenation, Aphrodisia, Doping. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA;2005. ISBN-13: 9780520221512.

3. Dotson JL, Brown RT. The history of the development of anabolic-androgenic steroids. Pediatr Clin North Am, 2007 Aug;54(4):761-9.

4. Lexchin J. Bigger and better: how Pfizer redefined erectile dysfunction. PLoS Med, 2006 Apr;3(4):e132.

5. Evans-Brown M, Dawson RT, et al. Use of melanotan I and II in the general population. BMJ, 2009 Feb 17;338:b566.

6. Cohen J, Collins R, et al. A league of their own: demographics, motivations and patterns of use of 1,955 male adult non-medical anabolic steroid users in the United States. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2007 Oct 11;4:12.

7. Shah J. Erectile dysfunction through the ages. BJU Int, 2002 Sep;90(4):433-41.

8. Kobler J. The Reluctant Surgeon. The Akadine Press, Pleasantville, NY;1999. ISBN-13: 978-1888173963.

9. Freeman ER, Bloom DA, et al. A brief history of testosterone. J Urol, 2001;165:371-3.

10. Medvei VC. The History of Clinical Endocrinology. Parthenon Publishing Group, Pearl River NY;1993. ISBN-10: 1850704279.

11. Brown-Séquard CE: Note on the effects produced on man by subcutaneous injections of a liquid obtained from the testicles of animals. Lancet, 2:105-107:1889.

12. Henderson J. Ernest Starling and 'Hormones': an historical commentary. J Endocrinol, 2005 Jan;184(1):5-10.

13. Karlson P. Adolf Butenandt (1903-1995). Nature, 1995 Feb 23;373(6516):660.

14. Hoberman JM, Yesalis CE. The history of synthetic testosterone. Sci Am, 1995 Feb;272(2):76-81.

15. de Kruif P. The Male Hormone. Permabooks, New York;1948. ASIN: B000KD7ECO.

16. Lambert G. Conquest of Age. The extraordinary story of Dr. Paul Niehans. Rinehart & Company Inc., New York; Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited,Toronto;1959. ASIN: B001UC6GDM.

17. Gao W, Dalton JT. Expanding the therapeutic use of androgens via selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). Drug Discov Today, 2007 Mar;12(5-6):241-8.

18. Ryan J. DEA Announces Charges in Largest Ever Steroid Probe. ABC News 2005 December 15. Available at: DEA Announces Charges in Largest Ever Steroid Probe - ABC News, accessed April 9, 2009.

19. Schmidt MS. U.S. Arrests 124 in Raids on Global Steroid Ring. The New York Times, 2007 September 24. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/24/sp...tml?ref=sports, accessed April 9, 2009.
 
Doss

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Great post! Thanks a bunch.
 
ManBeast

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No problems, let us know what the teacher/professor thinks of the testicular implant stuff (make it as graphic as possible IMHO LoL).

ManBeast
 
JudoJosh

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There is a whole website on this era of bodybuilding

I have it in my favorites at home. Will post link later
 
JudoJosh

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Here you go

http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/
 

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