French Strongman Who Broke Out Of Prison With His Bare Hands

Samuel Reason | April 18th, 2018

There is one French strongman that goes down in the books as having undeniable strength and determination: his name is Charles Rigoulet. Not only was he breaking numerous weightlifting records all over the world, he won a gold medal in the 1942 Summer Olympics. And if that was not enough? He was also an actor, race car driver, and professional wrestler. You could say that for this powerlifter, strength was not enough. His real claim to fame though is when he broke out of a Nazi prison with only his muscle.

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Born in 1903 he lifted weights from a very early age, and during the period of 1923 to 1926, he broke over ten world records for weightlifting. Including one that was lifting a one-handed snatch of 253 pounds, when his own weight was only 215 lb.

During World War II, he was placed in prison after a dispute with a Nazi officer. What did Charles do? He bends the bars of his cells with his strength, just pure power no tools used at all. Then proceeded to wrestle the Nazi officer guarding him to the ground and let several prisoners escape, before making a swift exit himself. He really was a jack of all trades, and his prowess showed in several sporting events.

For example, he took part in the 1937 Le Mans race and even wrestled the likes of Strangler Lewis or Henri DeGlane. In 1932 he even joined a circus and a theater, where he would lift and sing at the same time. It was this determination that drove him to compete in everything he could that really made him stand out and become one of the greatest quick lifters of his time.

One method he used to stay ahead of his competition was trained on a specially constructed Challenge Barbell. This barbell was quite long and therefore had a considerable amount of bounce to it. This allowed Charles to train quick lifts and improve regularly in the spring – but when other competitors attempted to lift if they were not used to the bounce and quickly failed. Charles really was a weightlifter who innovated the game and showed that strongmen could diversify into multiple trades.

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