Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Panathenaic Stadium, Athina
Date Started: April 25, 1906
Date Finished: April 26, 1906
|Bronze:|| Alexandre Maspoli
The two-hand barbell lift was won by the Greek, Dimitrios Tofalos. He defeated the favorite, Josef Steinbach, of Austria. The barbell that was used for the winning lift of 142.4 kilograms was actually owned by Tofalos. This and the judging greatly upset Steinbach. He wished to use the continental style, in which the lifter moved the weight to his waist and then stopped before moving it to his shoulders. However, the style required at the Olympics insisted that the weight be moved continuously to the shoulders without touching the body before then. The rule read as follows:
(c) It is forbidden to let the weight rest on the knees or on the stomach in lifting it to the shoulder. But, if in carrying it from the shoulder above the head, the bar touches the chest of the competitor, the lifting is taken into consideration.
After he had lost the competition and Tofalos won, Steinbach returned to the lifting platform and picked up the winning weight in his own style, moving it to his shoulders in two movements, and then jerked it overhead six times in succession. The Greek crowd, unaware of the rules, initially thought that Steinbach had been cheated of victory. British writers on the topic, however, thought that Steinbach had been quite unsportsmanlike.
Tofalos' victory was amazing in another sense. As a young boy who was the son of a count, he had been run over by a wagon and his right arm had been crushed. The doctors recommended amputation but his father refused. Tofalos' right arm was subsequently 6 cm. (2 1/2 inches) shorter than his left arm. After his Olympic victory he turned professional and traveled to America where he engaged in strong man feats on the vaudeville stage. He also became a professional wrestler and lost one highly publicized match to the world champion, Frank Gotch. In that match, Gotch defeated him fairly easily, but Tofalos refused to submit, and his hip was dislocated. Tofalos became a United States citizen in 1921 and was an important and popular promoter of physical culture in the United States for the remainder of his life.