1893 - 1972
Charles Atlas was born Angelo Siciliano in 1892 in Acri, Calabria, Southern Italy.
His story tells the tale of "The American Dream." He was an immigrant to the United States coming from Italy in 1903. In addition to being in a strange land, he was not physically gifted and was often beaten up by bullies. After an inspirational day of watching the lions at the zoo, he had begun to develop his body. By age seventeen he had pioneered a technique used by many today for total physical fitness.
His revolutionary method was called "Dynamic Tension." Using this new method, he transformed from a 97-pound weakling into the most physically advanced specimen that mankind had ever seen. Charles was victorious at the "Most Perfectly Developed Man" contest at Madison Square Garden in 1922.
Charles did not limit himself to competition; he modeled for artists as well. He is part or whole of more than 75 statues across the globe. Some of the more noted sculptures that his physique was the model for is the Alexander Hamilton statue of front of the U.S. Treasury Building, George Washington on Washington Square, and The Archer in the Brooklyn Museum.
He became so swamped with questions of his program that he decided to market his total fitness and health workout. In 1928, he joined up with a then unknown Charles Roman, and they developed the hugely successful campaign of "Mac" and the "kicking sand in our faces" plan. Within months they were both millionaires and Charles Atlas Ltd. had offices all over the world. They were so successful that even when the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, they were unaffected by it.
Up until the 1960s, he was a superstar, doing countless talks shows and appearing on the cover of virtually every magazine and newspaper. Forbes magazine named Charles "Super Salesman;" He is considered among the top twenty of all time; He has been honored by the Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, and Veterans Associations, along with countless other organizations.
Mr. Atlas' impact on the twentieth century seems to continue to grow in all directions. His life and spirit are embedded in American history as Charles Atlas, Man of the 20th Century. Some of Atlas' attributes in business is that he broke into established industries, and against great odds, won out over entrenched and powerful competitors. "The bigger they are the harder they fall:" that's the implicit motto of Charles Atlas, who succeeds against the odds.
Charles was even declared a hero when he used his amazing size and strength to save people’s lives. During a storm, he saved the occupants of a rowboat that was floundering off of the New York shore. The ocean had crushed the oars, so Charles swam out to the people, tied a rope to his waist, connected it to the boat, and swam the people to safety.
Not only was Charles’ program hugely successful, but it also gained a great deal of respect. In the 1950’s, the American Medical Association approved of and enthusiastically endorsed his course in "Dynamic Tension." Some of his most noted pupils were Rocky Marciano, Robert Ripley, and Joe Dimaggio. He was in the purest sense of the term a self-made man. He embodied the dream of achievement.
Websites aboout Charles Atlas
Official website of Charles Atlas
Sandow, Historic photographs of early bodybuilders
Comics about Charles Atlas