the finger power of Cyclops

Throughout history weightlifters have performed some amazing feats.

The early Roman Emperor, Cains Maximus, who was reputedly 8 foot tall, was said to be able to squeeze stones into powder with his fingers. In the middle ages, a Richard Joy from Kent, England could tear apart a rope which had a breaking strain of over 35 hundredweights with his bare hands.

Beckham on a rope

One of the most famous early English strongmen was Thomas Topham (1710- 1749), a publican living in London. He was not a huge man, being about 5 ft. 10 inches and around 14 stone. Topham could snap pipe stems in his outstretched fingers, could crush pipe bowls by squashing them with his first and second fingers with just lateral pressure, bend thick pokers by stroking them in a blow across his forearm and would bend thick iron bars around his neck. He is also credited with being able to lift 224 lbs. (101.6 kgs) overhead “easily” with just his little finger.

pipe found here

Less than a handful of men have been capable of bending or breaking coins by the pure power of their fingers alone. Peter The Great, first Czar of Russia was said to be able to break silver coins with the strength of his tough hands and fingers. John Marx (Grunn) the Luxembourg strongman (1868-1912) better known for his ability to break horseshoes was also reputed to have broken American coins in front of witnesses of repute. Polish strongman Franz Bienkowski whose stage name was “Cyclops” was known as “The Coin Breaker” busting coins apart, again in front of expert witnesses.

Learn how to bend coins here

It’s difficult to find photos of Franz Bienkowski, but Oldtime Strongman has some here. While trawling for photos I got waylaid reading about actor   Albert Dekker whose most famous role was playing a mad scientist in the movie Dr Cyclops


Albert Dekker, still dapper at sixty-three, and his longtime fiancée, Geraldine Saunders, made a distinguished couple. On Thursday evening, May 2, 1968, they attended the opening of Zero Mostel’s new play, The Latent Heterosexual. “He was in fine spirits,” Ms. Saunders said later. “We were going to go out again on Friday, but my numerous phone calls to him that evening went unanswered.”

First thing Sunday morning, she went to his Hollywood apartment only to find his door covered with notes from friends who were also trying in vain to contact him. She slipped a note of her own under the door. When she returned that evening and found it still in place, she went to the manager. He opened the front door (which had been locked but not bolted) and found the bathroom door was chained from the inside. He then forced it open — and Saunders passed out. “It was so horrible,” she said.

The 6 feet 3 inch, 240-pound Dekker was kneeling nude in the bathtub, a dirty hypodermic needle sticking out of each arm. A hangman’s noose was around his neck but not tight enough to have strangled him. A scarf was tied over his eyes and something like a horse’s bit was in his mouth. Fashioned from a rubber ball and metal wire, the bit had chain “reins” that were tightly tied behind his head. Two leather thongs were stretched between the leather belts that girded his neck and chest. A third belt, around his waist, was tied with a rope that stretched to his ankles, where it had been tied in some kind of lumber hitch. The end of the rope, which continued up his side, wrapped around his wrist several times and was held in Dekker’s hand. Both wrists were clasped by a set of handcuffs. Written in lipstick, above two hypodermic punctures on his right buttock, was the word “whip” and drawings of the sun. Sun rays had also been drawn around his nipples. “Slave” and “cocksucker” were written on his chest. On his lower abdomen was drawn a vagina. He had apparently been dead since Friday.


During the brief investigation, detectives noted that there were no signs of forced entry or a struggle. They labeled the death “indicated suicide – quite an unusual case.” Finding no convincing evidence for suicide, the coroner rejected that theory. His final report said “accidental death, not a suicide.”

The police toyed with a theory that Dekker was a closet homosexual who practiced his eccentricities very discreetly with anonymous male prostitutes, and that this time, something had gone wrong and the frightened partner had quietly let himself out. They made inquiries, but Dekker had no reputation among male hustlers. Nor did any of his friends consider him the least bit kinky. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi’s theory was autoerotic asphyxia.