Sigmund Klein

Born April 10, 1902, Königsberg, Germany
Died May 24, 1987

Sig Klein’s foray into muscledom began at age 12, 11 years after he and his family moved from Königsberg, Germany, to Cleveland, Ohio. As he recalled, seeing his father wash his muscular arms piqued his interest in building up his own body. Young Sig’s weight training started with an improvised setup – making use of window-raising counterweights – and by age 17, he was training in the attic with a 100-pound standard set of barbells.

During his career in physical culture, Sig operated his famous New York City studio – Sigmund Klein Gymnasium – for those who loved heaving iron. Located at 717 Seventh Avenue, it was stocked with handcrafted old globe barbells and dumbbells, and the lessons learned from the previous owner, Professor Louis Attila, continued, Attila had passed away before Klein’s arrival in New York in 1924 – Klein met with his widow to discuss taking over the gym – but Klein did meet (and later marry) the professor’s daughter, Grace.

The gym became the most famous in the country and in the late ‘40’s and ‘50’s, many of the photo shoots for the Weider magazines took place there.

The 19 issues of Klein’s Bell magazine, published from June 1931 through December 1932 (the month Strength and Health magazine began), constituted a total of only 144 pages. Nevertheless, they were filled with the men and makings of what would later prove to be the transitional personalities leading to the next phase of the body game in America , including George Jowett, Clevio Massimo and Bobby Pandour.

Three months after his mag folded, Klein began writing for Strength and Health, proving himself to be a rare resource of knowledge regarding how the old lifts should properly be performed, as well as a teller of stories about the old-time strongmen who were, more often than not, also his personal friends.

On occasion, Klein organized “Bent Press Championships” in which this old-style one-handed lift, which involved bending away from the weight as the arm was straightened, was contested.

Klein was the godfather of strength and the final remaining link between the old and new eras of physical culture. His lifelong reputation for consistently working out matched his always steady bodyweight, which hovered around 148 pounds. He died in 1987 at age 85.


Hall of Fame Inductees for 2006