Wrestling and Physical Culture
"This course of lessons is PRACTICAL. It is simply
written. the language is plain.
The whole object kept in view when preparing the lessons was to make it
possible for the student to get RESULTS.
We know that you desire
information on WRESTLING AND PHYSICAL CULTURE. In this course we
studiously avoid all attempt to teach physiology and anatomy. We omit
all scientific terms, words and phrases. We want RESULTS. We want the
lessons UNDERSTOOD. We want you to SUCCEED."
With these words Martin "Farmer" Burns
begins his 1914 Home Study Course in Wrestling and Physical Culture.
"He was born on February 15, 1861 in a log cabin in
Cedar County, Iowa. His father was a farmer who died when Martin was
11 leaving him, his mother, a brother and five sisters. The family was
poor which caused Martin to work many years at hard labor from a very
early age. He also worked in grading camps which was also very hard
physical labor. The hard work was really a key to Martin's physical
development as he and other athletes of that era developed their
physical strength through performing hard labor rather than working
out in gyms.
In his time Farmer Burns wrestled over 6,000 matches in every type of
situation from grading camps to circuses and lost only 7. He won the
World Wrestling Title in 1895 when he defeated Evan "Strangler" Lewis
and retained the title until 1897 when he was defeated by Tom Jenkins.
He later won and held the light heavy weight title until 1908. Burns
weighed only 175 pound but defeated many of the great wrestlers of the
day-some of which out weighed him by 50 or 100 pounds. He had a very
strong neck that measured 20 inches and allowed him to perform one of
his favorite stunts of doing a six foot hangmans drop which he performed many times.
One of his greatest accomplishments was taking another Iowa farm boy,
Frank Gotch and developing him into a world champion wrestler that
many believe to be the greatest wrestler of all time. He trained many
His correspondence course is very well done and combines calisthenics,
light dumbells and resistance exercises in a very effective way. It is
as useful today as when it was written.
He was not only a great athlete,but a creative and smart businessman
whose promotional brochure and correspondence course provided the
prototype for the many physical culture and bodybuilding courses that
followed in the US in the 1920s,30s, and 40s. He was still wrestling
well into his sixties and reportedly remained active and in good
health until his death at the age of 77."(Gordon Anderson)
reprint of Farmer Burns classic text is a must for any collector or
serious student of American Catch Wrestling.
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Lessons in Wrestling
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