Ass-Kicking Athletes of Antiquity: Strongman Hermann Goerner

by Karl Smallwood

Hermann Goerner, or Görner, depending on which source you consult, is probably one of the strongest human beings to ever set foot on our planet if only because he was able to carry around the lead set of balls it must have took for him to rock a Hitler moustache and a German sounding name while proclaiming himself to be a masterful example of the human race. We use the term lead balls literally here as you’re about to discover.

Goerner, under the mantle of The Mighty Goerner–because Gorgeous George made him sound too full himself,–was a mainstay staple of strongman shows throughout Europe between the years of 1920 and 1938. If you’re wondering why he stopped performing in 1938, it’s because he was interned in a concentration camp. Why he didn’t punch the ground until earthquakes swallowed his captors is a question we presume will never be answered now that Goerner is too busy punching angels.

Prior to World War II, Goerner was soldier in World War I (because you literally couldn’t keep this man away from anything ass-kicking manly), in which he lost a freaking eye. This injury had about as much effect on his ability to fistfight German horses as a bee sting. During the war Goerner was also gravely injured by shrapnel. It’s believed that over 200 pieces of metal were lodged inside Hermann’s massive frame, most of which stayed within his body until the day he died, as doctors were unable to move their scalpels at 300 MPH: the required speed metal had to be moving to penetrate Hermann’s flesh. See we weren’t kidding, this guy was literally carrying around lead balls, hundreds of them and he was still able to perform astounding physical feats.

Which is why we’re here, Goerner could take all the shrapnel to the face he wanted, his place on this site wasn’t earned by that, it was earned by the outright magnitude of his manliness, his manlitude if you will. Now being a strongman back in the early years of the 20th century was already pretty tough, since you were constantly in competition with other performers of the day, constantly having to top each other in both sheer strength and showmanship. And Goerner did it all while carrying round several pounds of metal, within his own freaking body, a major disadvantage in a world where beating someone by a single pound is like beating them by a clear mile.

Goerner, even today, 90 years after the feat was accomplished, holds the record for one of the single heaviest deadlifts of all time, lifting a frankly un-frigging-believable 727.5 pounds. If you’re a weight lifting enthusiast and are now eagerly waiting to say that the current deadlift record is set at just over 1000 pounds, and that Goerner is a huge wuss, we’d just like to point out that Goerner lifted the weight with one hand. For comparisons sake, that’s like lifting up 2 Shaquille O’Neals and a small child, with one hand! We’re currently stunned that Goerner’s hand wasn’t ripped from his body and even more stunned that the hand didn’t strangle Goerner in his sleep and run for President of Earth under the slogan, “Ungodly mouth slaps for all those who don’t vote for me.” Because right now, we’re pretty sure it could have done that.

Along with his amazing feats of strength under professional scrutiny, Goerner also spent a good number of years touring with a circus, where he reportedly supported a bridge (which a fully laden car would then drive over), lifted a grand piano and walked with it with complete ease and even wrestled an elephant. We’re now convinced that if Goerner ever had the urge to grow out his moustache and picked up a lead pipe that he’d have automatically freed and released Mike Haggar from his video game prison and become his worldly avatar.

But the true test of an athletes ass-kicking, erm, ness, is their ability to best the greatest opponent of all, time. Something Goerner has done and then some, as a lot of his records and feats go unmatched even today, despite his passing away into the ether over 5 decades ago. Which we hope serves as a valuable example to future athletes, if you want people to remember you, grow a Hitler moustache and wrestle a wild animal.

Dude, you've got a gorgeous girl on your arm -- show no fear.

Dude, you’ve got a gorgeous girl on your arm — show no fear.

Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer that you can hire! His work has been featured on, and you should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.

Photo: Wikipedia

Even his muscles’ muscles have muscles with muscles on them.

Karl also documented The Most Hilarious Overreactions to Scary Movies. For a more an even more ass-kicking athlete, gaze in fear upon the might of Georg Hackenschmidt!

More from Karl Smallwood

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