Louis Cyr’s Backlift


Who? Quebec strongman Louis Cyr; he’s only one of the most prominent sporting figure of Quebec equal to Maurice ‘the Rocket’ Richard. (Full Bio of Cyr posted in the near future.)

Louis Cyr is known for feats of strength including his 500 pound one finger lift, his over 270 pound bent press, and that time he held back 4 horses. Although some historians argue that the horse hold was Cyr’s greatest feat, sources indicate that Cyr performed this exact act on numerous occasions. All of these are quite amazing, but we feel that nothing beats Louis Cyr’s backlift.

As illustrated by the image, Cyr would hunch under a wooden platform, put his hands on a stool, and straighten his legs, thus lifting that platform off of its supporting legs. In french, this feat is called ‘lever des reins’ which literally means lifting with your kidneys, seeing that the platform pushed down on Cyr’s lower back.

When Cyr began doing this act, he would stack all sorts of iron objects onto the platform before proceeding with his lift. However, who says strongman, says theater, and Cyr was a master.

Standing in front of the crowd in his famous Cyr pose (puffed up chest and crossed arms), Cyr would look for the biggest men in the crowd, ask them to step on a scale that was placed on stage, and then told them to stand (or sit) on the platform. Once Cyr was pleased with the weight, he would proceed to perform a backlift.

He heaviest recorded backlift was 4337 pounds (although some argue it was 4500). We have several sources (Quebec and British newspapers) validating this number. Whenever Cyr had an encounter to defend his title, the backlift would often ensure his victory.

Please note, we are aware that the image is drawn and not an actual photo; you will also find images of Cyr holding up a dumbbell with numbers written on the picture. Cyr addresses this in his memoirs – he explains that the process of taking a picture was so long that he couldn’t hold such weight up long enough to get a proper shot.

Much more on Cyr and the strongmen to come.

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