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Glimpse of History: Perth Amboy native was Olympian, champion bodybuilder – The Star-Ledger

grimek.jpgphoto courtesy of the United States All-Round Weightlifting Association

— In this photograph, taken sometime in the 1940s, John Grimek performs what is known as a Kelly Snatch or Reverse Swing lift.

Grimek was born in Perth Amboy on either June 17, 1910, according to the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, or June 18, 1911, according to the U.S. Social Security Death Index. Grimek was a member of the U.S. Weightlifting team at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, competing in the men’s heavyweight division. He lifted a total of 357.5 kilograms in the military press, snatch and clean and jerk and finished ninth in the individual standings.

Following the Olympics, Grimek entered the professional field of weightlifting and bodybuilding competitions and gained the nickname “The Man of 1,000 Lifts.” In 1948, at age 38, he defeated renowned strongman Steve Reeves in London to win the Mr. Universe title. The following year, he won the AAU “Mr. USA” title, and retired from bodybuilding undefeated.

Grimek, who was still able to perform squat repetitions of more than 400 pounds into his late 60s, died in York, Pa., in 1998. He was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 1999.

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