INCH 101: The British Heavyweight Championship!

More in the life of Mr. Thomas Inch, The British Heavyweight Championship: Continue here and learn more about this man and his feats of strength and challenge with the famous challenge bell.

INCH 101: Part 12

On Jun 11, 1910 Inch, though he had suffered an injury three weeks before, met and defeated five challengers at the German Gym in London for the title: British Heavyweight Championship Man. The five were Fred Hall, Wilfred Harwood, Teviotdale, James Evans, and Tom Cressey.

When Health & Strength reported on the event in the following week's issue, in an article entitled "Monster Weight-Lifting Tournament' there was hope in the tone of the message:

    "The science of weight-lifting in this country has for many years been in a state of chaos. Notwithstanding the fact that a vast deal of interest is taken in this particular means for the development of physical strength, there has been a singular lack of organization. The Amateur Gymnastic Association has not for ten years held any competitions, and therefore all the amateur championships have become almost as much matters of ancient history as W.G. George's mile record or Captain Webb's Channel swim.

    "As for the professional championships, these were all (with the exception of the middle- weight-lifting championship of the world, won by Thos. Inch in 1907, and which he has now surrendered) apparently non-existent. The foreigners have all this time been allowed to have things their own way, while Britain's weightlifters dragged on their desultory way."

But the contest on Jun 11, 1910 flickered hope for a new direction "An association to govern this most important branch of physical culture is imperative, and it is the intention of the Editor of 'HEALTH and STRENGTH' to take the initial steps toward its formation."

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Thomas Inch.

Inch had hurled an open challenge claiming that he was the champion weightlifter of Great Britain. Replies poured in from men, who because the Gymnastic association cared little for this off-shoot sport they supposedly 'governed', had negligible opportunities previously to strut their strength. Now they heard Inch's call to overhead-arms! Arthur Saxon sent money to support the event as did his two brothers.

The men participating were noteworthy: Harwood was champion of Yorkshire and the north of England; Teviotdale was champ of Scotland.

Four lifts were agreed upon:

  1. One hand clean all the way
  2. Two hands clean all the way
  3. One hand snatch
  4. One hand anyhow

As a result of a drawing, some men participated in the afternoon session, some in the evening. The former were Evan, Hall, and Harwood; the latter: Teviotdale, Inch, and Cressey. But Hall was unable because him employer could not spare him, to compete in the afternoon, so it was agreed that he alone would compete/lift at 7pm, an hour before the other three competitors began at 8pm.

This was a noted event attended by Prof. Szalay, Ferdinand Gruhn, Ernest Gruhn (author of The Textbook on Wrestling) and other notables.

The totals for the lifts were:

Athlete Weight
Inch 286 lbs 8 oz
Hall 780 lbs 12 oz
Harwood 779 lbs 8 oz
Teviot 739 lbs 14 oz
Evans 599 lbs 14 oz
Cressey (only completed two lifts) 358 lbs 6 oz

Inch won the one hand clean with 213/14; and the one hand anyhow at 230/8. Hall won the two hands clean with 252/2. Teviotdale won the one hand snatch at 139/12.

Inch later wrote: "At last the proud title I have coveted since the age of 12 is mine!" He then explained that he had won because of superior science and superior strength. And although he had injured himself performing a practice snatch in training, he was able to win the title.

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Inch In A Gladiator Costume.

Then using a technique that Bill Gates could use these days, Inch opened the door for others to have a chance to take his title from him, but he set the stakes so high, that only a very rich person could gather so much money and chance losing it:

    "Well, no more excuses. I won the cup, and will defend my title, same rules and lifts, for not less than L100 a-side against any man of British birth". One Hundred Pounds British was a huge sum in those days! In conclusion, I can only hope that every competitor, and every reader of 'H. & S.' believes the best man won. "I know I do!"

Iron History
Jan 12, 1939 Bob Hoffman bent pressed the lighter of the two Rolandow dumbells, the 209. The other weighed 235, 237, or 238 depending on the source. Both bells have now disappeared, though the Rolandow barbell rests in the York Barbell Hall of Fame in York, PA.
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A Letter To Webster

From the collection of Larry Aumann, here is a letter from Willoughby to Webster regarding the measurements of the Inch dumbbell:

    "Feb 9, 1957

    Dear Mr. Webster,

    I hope the enclosed photos of Sandow reach you in time to do some good! I have lately been putting in close to 60 hours a week at my daily job, which has left me little for anything else.

    My article on Donald Dinnie appears in the current (March, 1957) issue of IRON MAN. I hope it meets with your approval.

    Please let me have the information (weight, dimensions, etc) of the Inch 'Challenge Dumbbell, as soon as you have obtained it. It has just occurred to me that if the handle of this dumbbell is only 4" in length, the reason that Arthur Saxon could not lift the bell was because he couldn't get his hand (which was about 4-3/4" wide) down between the spheres far enough to get a hold (sic) of the bar! In any event, I refuse to believe that his grip was inferior to Inch's.

    If you have any photos of British old-timers (Elliott, Pevier, Aston, et al), I would be pleased to have copies in exchange for the enclosed prints of Sandow - provided, of course, that you have duplicate copies to spare.

    With kind regards,



Inch DB
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The Original Thomas Inch Dumbbell.