01 February 2013

Baddest Motherfuckers Ever #29: Bert "I Can Do A One Handed Handstand, Motherfucker" Asserati

Once upon a time, there lived an impressively muscular but homely woman who was known throughout the lands for her physical prowess.  After spending years toiling on her parents' farm, lifting hay bales over her head and throwing them at hecklers who mocked her for her frightful visage (from a distance, of course), she happened upon Beorn, the shape-shifting bear man from JR Tolkien's horribly written fairy tale about hirsute fat kids with giant feet.  Surprised that he actually existed, she struck up a conversation with him while gently masturbating one of his many pet horses, as she was a horny broad and no one was brave or blind enough to bang her out.  Finding him to be the only creature in the land who would slip her the dick, she ravaged him sexually for months until she was finally full with child, if you can really call a baby that's a quarter ursine and 100% ugly a child.  That child's name was Bert Assirati, and he owns your fucking face.

Billed at 5'7", but actually 5'6"- the NFL didn't invent the idea of inflated stats... wrestling did.

Though I frankly prefer my story and explains far more about Bartolomeo "Bert" Assirati than any other backstory about him you might find, Assirati was actually born to a fitness-obsessed couple in the land of inedible food, bad teeth, and worse weather (I, of course, am referring to England) in 1908.  Growing up in a household filled with lifters prepared Bert for a life of unremitting badassery, and he learned weightlifting at an early age by practicing lifts with his mom's flat iron and listening to his brother Joe, one of Britain's foremost bodybuilding experts at the time, pontificate about the merit of various movements.  Assirati started lifting in earnest at age 12, and at age 14 was seen lifting the back end of his father's taxi on more than one occasion (Smith).  

Assirati was one jacked 16 year old.

Discontented with just making the men of his neighborhood feel like eunuchs in the presence of a remarkably old-looking teenager, Assirati ventured forth into the world to embarrass the fuck out of proud men in front of large crowds.  To that end, Bert and his father traveled to London on his 16th birthday to see Maxalding enthusiast Alan Mead perform a posing routine that would make Kai Green look like a uncoordinated hillbilly spastically dancing to Bluegrass onstage.  The other performer at the event was a world champion strand puller who broke the world's record for opening a chest expander in front of a wholly unimpressed Bert Assirati.  The champion, not realizing he had a quarter bear man in the crowd with a lingeage stretching all the way back to The Hobbit, threw the expander down at the end of his record breaking performance and challenged the crowd to take a crack at it.  Unfazed, Assirati popped off his shirt, jumped onstage, and proceeded to bust out 15 reps with what had just been a world record single.  I presume he then handed the former world record holder a .44 Magnum to blow his fucking brains out and went home, where in five days he received a 225 lb weight set from a thoroughly impressed Alan Mead, who assured Assirati he'd be one of the strongest men in the world if he stuck with it.

Alan Mead was a man who knew what the fuck he was talking about when it came to lifting.

Over the next 6 years, Assirati gained about 40 lbs of muscle and went to work in the circus as a handbalancer and gymnast.  It was here that he learned how to do the things with which he later blew peoples' minds- back flips, which people hilariously used to refer to as "flip-flaps", one hand handstands, and a variety of tumbling moves.  He kept lifting, however, and moved into wrestling at age 20 at the urging of the wacky circus folk with whom he hung out.  It was then that Assirati really began to pack on mass, so much so that legendary lifter and wrestler George Hackenschmidt pulled him aside and told him to quit wrestling and focus on lifting so he could claim the title of World's Strongest Man.  Assirati, however, gave exactly zero fucks about that and proceeded to become one of the most hated, most violent, and strongest wrestlers ever to hit the mat, content with blowing random lifters' minds in the gym rather than proving himself in competitions.

At his peak weight of 266 lbs, Assirati was not to be fucked with in the gym.  Though his lifts are all unofficial, they were all witnessed by multiple people on multiple occasions.  Most of the accounts come from noted strength writer Charles Smith, however, with whom Assirati staying in pretty constant contact.  The 30 year old Assirati posted the following ridiculous numbers in the gym, causing many a sallow complected, parents' basement living, message board warrior non-lifter to call bullshit on his lifts.  Nevertheless, the lifts were good enough for David Willoughby, and should thus be good enough for you.  Bear in mind these were done by a 5'6", 266 lb 30 year old beast of a man- Assirati could do:
(Per Charles Smith)
  • A one arm handstand, at any time.
  • Three consecutive one arm chins
  • Execute and hold an iron cross
  • Right hand military press – 160 lbs.
  • Left hand military press – 145.
  • Lateral raise lying – 160 (two 80-lb. dumbells).
  • Two arm pullover with straight arms – 200 lbs. (This was a world record for some time)
  • Two arm pullover with straight arms – 140 lbs. x 17 reps.
  • Two arm curl – 180 lbs.
  • Two arm curl, arms tied to sides – 160 lbs.
  • Two hands continental jerk – 380 lbs.
  • Two hands clean and jerk – 360 lbs., though in Tribute, Smith stated Assirati allegedly (and unofficially) broke the world record of El Said Noseir, the Egyptian heavyweight, who had hit 363 lbs. in competition.
  • Strict military press – 285 lbs.
  • Squat – 550 lbs. x 10 reps.
  • Press on back, no bridge, – 400 lbs.
  • Deadlift – 800 lbs., and he claimed that he could pull 700 lbs. at any time or day.

If that doesn't blow your fucking mind, nothing will.

(Per the Bert Assirati website)
  • Squat – 800 lbs. x 1
  • One Legged Barbell Squat – 200 lbs. x 1
  • Squat – 235 lbs. for a half hour straight using a barbell previously owned and used by Eugen Sandow
  • Back flip while holding a 56lb block weight in each hand
  • Carry a piano a long distance on his back
  • Carry a telegraph pole a long distance on his back.
Assirati was not just a hard motherfucker in the gym, either- he was so feared in the wrestling ring that it was difficult to find him opponents in the US, and most of his matches ended in win or loss by injury- either he'd break his opponents' bones or they'd dislocate something on him.  Known as a "ripper" and a "pain freak" (which apparently means he was both a sadist and a masochist in the ring), Assirati was pretty much despised by his opponents  who often ended up in the hospital (Online World).  Amusingly, Assirati isn't remembered so much for his feats of strength as his is for his "penchant for hurting opponents and inflicting unnecessary pain".  According to one wrestling site, 
"Ray Hulm was big fan of Assirati, 'Just the sheer presence of the man.' Ray trained with those who knew and worked with Bert and they told him of a man capable of inflicting pain at will.  David Schmida told us that in Rene Lasartesse's biography Assirati was described as really stiff and brutal; when his opponent didn't hit him hard enough he would get angry and provoke him to not fall asleep and start fighting. If his opponents hesitated he would start punishing them" (No Angel).

If that's not the very definition of a bad motherfucker, I don't know what is.  Assirati can't be entirely blamed for his wrestling style, however, as he was a product of one of the hardest styles of wrestling ever developed- the Lancaster style of wrestling, which became catch wrestling in the gym where Assirati trained- the Snake Pit in Wigan, UK.  The style originated with coal miners, who apparently really enjoyed blinding and maiming one another in their free time.  The gym in which Assirati trained produced basically every awesome submission fighters the world has ever seen, including Antonio Inoki, the lantern-jawed Japanese dude who fought Mohammed Ali in one of the first major Western mixed martial arts fights.  Catch wrestling contributed heavily to modern mma, and explains why Assirati was busy with breaking bones and relocating his opponents' duodenums every minute.  In spite of the fact that Americans were pretty much piss scared of Assirati and he never really had of a career here, he traveled all over the world wrestling the best of the best to test his skills.  Throughout his life, Assirati snapped fibulas and crushed tracheas in Britain, Scotland ,the United States, Germany, France, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, Ceylon, India, Pakistan and South Africa, all due to his ridiculous strength and general insanity, which drew crowds of 100,000 people in his matches in India and Pakistan (Feats).

Though I thought the press slam was basically invented by the Road Warriors, as they were the only motherfuckers strong enough to perform it, Assirati predated their steroid-and-coke fueled insanity by 50 years, as that was one of his signature strength moves.  He was also a huge fan of the inimitable Boston Crab, which we've all enjoyed utilizing to torture younger siblings and neighborhood kids in the past.   
"Bert put the Boston Crab on [Chick Knight], and it was thought he had broken Chick's back; he did spend some time in hospital.  Alan Garfield towered above Bert, but it did not stop Bert from lifting him up over his head and dropping him with all of his weight on Garfield's head. Afterwards Mr Garfield left with his head on one side twice the size of the other side, and with a big bandage around him"(No Angel).
Asserati fighting boxer Arnold Corlen in a proto-MMA fight.

Assirati had a fairly checkered wrestling past as a result of the violence with which he performed his moves, his steadfast refusal to adhere to the programs given to him by wrestling promoters (all of his matches were "shoots" rather than "works", as he was a man who would pretend he lost to someone who didn't actually beat his ass around the same time he'd pretend to be a pretty lady in a Thai brothel), the fact that he was less a showman than he was the harbinger of violent, bloody doom for joints, and the fact that he was suspended indefinitely by the Maryland Boxing Commission for beating the brakes off a referee during one of his matches (Wiki, Online World, No Angel, Yohe).  As such, he found various ways to supplement his income, including proto-mma fights, being a leg breaker for local bookies, and being a bouncer in rough clubs- basically, Assirati lent his skills anywhere someone wanted someone to end up a bloody mess his mother wouldn't recognize in the morgue.

When he wasn't reducing people to blood-sodden, mushy, broken messes, Assirati was "up in the gym, workin' on his fitness" [Ed: Didn't see a Fergie quote coming, did you?]  Though his primary focus was on strength training, he was still such a proponent of gymnastics and cardio that he might as well have worn a cheerleader's costume and brought pom poms into the gym.  Like the Indian wrestlers he eventually fought, Assirati thought strength without endurance was pointless, and once commented to Charles Smith, “Of what use is it to be able to press 250 or 280 or any other great poundage if you can’t run a good mile or wrestle for an hour?” Echoing the same sentiments, he expressed an obsession with developing "supple" muscles, a concept I'm still not sure I understand, outside of the fact that early 20th Century lifters were absolutely overwhelmed with preoccupation with developing them.  To enhance his suppleness, agility, and quickness, Assirati ensured that he always included gymnastics, spring board diving, cycling, and tumbling in his workouts (Drucker, Part 1).

Once Assirati actually got down to the business of lifting, he brought the ruckus.  Like most exceptional lifters of his era, Assirati didn't follow a strict program, preferring to change his program periodically by adding, subtracting, or substituting exercises, which he felt kept him progressing and prevented him from developing any muscular imbalances.  The only exercise he didn't substitute or drop from his workout, however, was the squat, which he did with zealotry generally reserved for Islamic suicide bombers or Christian fundamentalists at gay pride parades.  His squat workouts were legendary, and he combined low and high reps to build some gigantic legs.  Assirati had an 800 lb squat in an era wherein hardly anyone squatted, and no one could challenge him in that exercise.  Every squat workout concluded with a death set of ten, on which he eventually hit 550 lbs.  He was so intent on performing that set with that weight later in his career that when traveling started interfering with his training, he just dropped the squat altogether for cycling, as he figured that there was no fucking point to squatting if he couldn't go as heavy as possible.  

Assirati enjoyed squatting so much, in fact, that he took to squatting Eugen Sandow's 235 lb. fixed barbell for time- at one point, he was squatting that thing for 30 minutes straight, without even stopping to take a deep breath (Drucker, Part 2).  This sort of insanity seemed to fall right in line with the insanity Assirati utilized in the ring, leading me to believe that he might have been at least slightly unbalanced.  As crazy makes for interesting people, however, Assirati is pretty fucking awesome.  He kept the crazy at the forefront when he hit the gym, ripping it up with 800 lb deadlifts, and matching world records in various odd lifts as a matter of course.  He loved doing one arm dumbbell presses, and hit huge numbers on those, in addition to floor presses, standing military presses, weighted back bridges, and was one of the first people in the United States to bench press utilizing the actual apparatus for which the exercise is named (Smith, Bench).  Basically, if it was an exercise that could be considered a "man maker", Assirati went at it like a badger on a honeycomb and tore that shit up.

Due to his love for violence, his general insanity, and the fact that haters gonna hate, Bert Assirati is not remembered fondly in many circles.  I'd chalk that up to jealousy and the fact that most people are so boring that beige is an acceptable color choice and black pepper's a bit too spicy for them.  Whatever the reason, however, it's all bullshit- Bert Assirati is the very definition of a bad motherfucker, and certainly a man who lived and died to be fucking amazing at everything, even if that everything was simply doing one handed handstands and riding a bicycle ridiculously long distances while obese.  If you take nothing else away from this entry, that should pretty much be the message- more craziness, more intensity, and more fearlessness will always lead to being more epic, and more epic is better than less.

Bathurst, Jim.  The Big Guy’s Guide to Holding the Handstand.  Diesel Crew.  20 Apr 2010.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.dieselcrew.com/how-to-do-a-hand-stand

Bert Assirati.  Online World of Wrestling.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/bios/b/bert-assirati/

Drucker, Rob.  Bert Assirati- Part 1.  Oldtime Lifting.  5 Sep 2012.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.oldtimelifting.com/740/bert-assirati-part1/

Drucker, Rob.  Bert Assirati- Part 2.  Oldtime Lifting.  9 Sep 2012.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.oldtimelifting.com/743/bert-assirati-part-2/

Drucker, Rob.  Bert Assirati- Part 3.  Oldtime Lifting.  13 Sep 2012.  Web.  31 Jan 2013. http://www.oldtimelifting.com/745/bert-assirati-part-3/

Feats of Strength.  Bert Asserati.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.bertassirati.com/strengthfeats.htm

No Angel of Islington: The Story Of Bert Assirati.  Wrestling Heritage.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.wrestlingheritage.co.uk/noangelofislington.htm

Smith, Charles A.  The Bench Press.  Tight Tan Slacks Of Dezso Ban.  4 Nov 2009.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/11/bench-press-charles-smith.html

Smith, Charles A.  A Modern Hercules- Bert Asserati.  Tight Tan Slacks Of Dezso Ban.  9 Apr 2009.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/04/bert-assirati-charles-smith.html

Smith, Charles A.  New Approaches to Neck Specialization.  Tight Tan Slacks Of Dezso Ban.  26 Jul 2011.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2011/07/new-approaches-to-neck-specialization.html

Smith, Charles.  Tribute to a Strength Athlete–BERT ASSIRATI.  Iron Game History.  Vol 1, 4-5.

Yohe, Steve.  Bert Assirati in Baltimore 1932.  Wrestling Classics.  19 Mar 2002.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://wrestlingclassics.com/cgi-bin/.ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=print_topic;f=10;t=001035


  1. the first paragraph is hilarious, this is truly one of the baddest motherfuckers ever

  2. I agree one hundred per cent. Fuck your genetics.

  3. Have you thought about taking up combat sports again at any point Jamie?

  4. Yas! The world's strongest man was a violent abusive sociopath with no real interest in competitive lifting.

  5. He was fat as fuck but he sure as hell was strong.

    Oh yeah, came across this article, figured you'd be interested:


  6. Bert used to run pub security as an extra way to make money,in the notoriously hard and tough East end of London (not far from where i live) back in the day.He is mentioned in the well known psychopathic London gangster,'Mad' Frankie Frasers autobiography.Franky was declared criminally insane several times but even he was scared shitless of Bert!
    Berts favourite way of psyching out any trouble causers in his bars was to give them 2 punches start,as he knew he could take a punch and as soon as he got his hands on anyone it was 'game over!' lol

  7. A friend of mine's parents are from east London. Some of the stories his dad tells are hilarious.

  8. @Rant,i agree that the British TV show 'Eastenders' is unwatchable as its so piss poor,in fact Jamie Foreman who up until recently played a predominant role in this show,is actually Freddy Foreman's Son (Freddy being known as 'The Undertaker',the 'go-to' Man for dead body disposal).Freddy is/was also a pivotal figure in the British Underworld for many years,now retired from crime and living very comfortably with his multi million pound fortune.
    As for me being not too tough,i'm not really sure....my best lifts are a 280kg squat for 4 reps (no belt/wraps/no spotter etc),deadlift:300kg,O/H Press 140kg all at 5ft 7in and 230lb
    Ive also Boxed,Grappled and worked as a bouncer myself for 23 years and have had many beatings and given a few also.

  9. @Rant,i'm not sure what planet your on pal but Jamie's just a hair away from an all time world record at his bodyweight,in comparison i'm a fat,ugly little fuck.Plus i can't bench for shit.The best lifters at my weight would 10/12 rep 280kg at Squats.
    As impressive as Jamies lifts are its his incredible physique that
    sets him apart from most Powerlifters,try to respect this buddy.

  10. are there going to be any new Chaos and Bang podcasts in the near further?

    1. Nah, but I'll be doing my own podcasts at some point in the semi-near future.

    2. I'm gonna miss those podcasts. Did you and Paul have a falling out?