Thomas Inch - Dumbbell Swing

The dumbbell seems to have played a part in Inch’s career from a very early age, and not necessarily the challenge dumbbell. At the age of 15 he accepted an invitation to visit Professor Josef Szalay in London.

Szalay was an Austrian, a barber, who had surrounded himself with some of the leading weight lifters in Britain as well as others he has convinced to make trip from the Continent. No man ever did more to promote and popularise weight lifting and this he did with enthusiasm and knowledge and the confidence weight lifters had in the little barber. His rooms at Cullum Street in London were where the elite of strong men gathered. 

Szalay greeted the youthful Inch with enthusiasm and predicted, for budding the strong man, a great future. Szalay placed much emphasis on adding the one hand dumbbell swing to Inch’s repertoire of lifts. He demonstrated the preliminary pick-up with back-swing, and holding the dumbbell close to the front discs to create a back-hang. Remember, this was in 1896, and even in our times many weightlifters would not know how to do a one arm swing to succeed with maximum poundage. Later it was discovered that loading the dumbbell heavier at the back end helped to swing greatest poundage possible.

Upon returning to Scarborough, inch practiced this dumbbell lift and used it in his match with Billy Caswell for the Middleweight title, which was won by Inch. At that time, at bodyweight of little over 160 pounds, inch did a left hand swing with a 160 pound dumbbell. Inch always place much emphasis on having learned how to perform this particular lift, from Szalay, as an important factor in winning the middleweight title. Later, as a heavyweight, Inch could do more than 170 pounds right arm swing with dumbbell.

  • Text: Leo Gaudreau, Anvils, Horseshoes and Cannons. The History of Strongmen, Volume II,  1975, p. 107.
  • Photo: Thomas Inch, On Strength, London 19??.

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