Authored by: Gherardo Bonini

Routledge Handbook of Global Sport

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  January  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138887237
eBook ISBN: 9781315714264
Adobe ISBN:


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An individual blessed with incredible strength has since ancient times been esteemed and lauded. During the 19th century which was dominated by industrial development, the masters of the reinvented art of strength athleticism met to codify the sport so that the strongest athlete would be honoured. The French and German gymnastic traditions had both individualized, albeit in different ways, the correct and regulated execution of the clean and jerk, press and snatch, and the use of barbells. Other tests which included towing, transfer of weights and irregular objects were confined to the circus, devoid of official sporting status. In 1920, the French style became internationally recognized. The degeneration of the press led to it being ruled out of the official programme in 1972. After the Second World War, powerlifting composed of the bench press, two-handed dead-lift and squat became a recognized sport. In the last two decades of the 20th century women were allowed to participate in Olympic weightlifting and international powerlifting events while at the same time, thanks to the media and athletic associations, “strongmanism” which had previously been discriminated against, became codified. However, weightlifting and powerlifting maintain their position as sports of greater sporting value.

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