Heritage Of The Challenge
The original "Inch dumbell" is world renowned and has a fascinating history. It was owned by Thomas Inch (1881 - 1963) who was a famous British strongman in his day. It weighs 172lbs and has a handle 2.38 inches in diameter and 4" in length. It is the large diameter handle which makes it especially difficult to lift.
Thomas Inch toured with the dumbell and offered money for anyone who could successfully lift the dumbell with one hand. There is a lot of debate as to Thomas Inch's own abilities with the dumbell as he had several that looked identical but of a lesser weight. However, what is not disputed is that many famous men of strength tried, and failed, to lift the 172lb dumbell.
Many modern strength athletes aspire to lift a dumbell of these dimensions and replicas can be purchased online.
The first, or certainly one of the first, replicas ever cast was owned by Bruce White of Western Australia.
In addition, he developed a fearsome grip. Amongst his many feats of grip strength was his ability to lift his Inch Dumbell replica at a very light bodyweight.
Although Bruce died in 2005 his legacy and dumbell live on. As far as I know it remains on display at Australian IAWA, Located at All-Round Weightlifting WA Inc, Belmont Sports & Rec Club, Cnr Abernethy Rd/Keane St Cloverdale.
The mighty Bill Kazmeir lifting Bruce's White's Inch replica in Australia.
Origin Of The Wallace Dumbells
Myself and Jarrod Riordan imported three Inch replicas from Europe during early 2013. It is a fairly expensive and laborious process as there are many customs forms to be completed and an unknown importation tax may apply - depending on how crafty you are with your form filling.
We imported 2x67kg Inch replicas and also a 54kg replica. The handle on all of these were supposed to be identical to the original Inch dumbell.
Unfortunately, it was obvious that these dumbells had not been checked before shipping and the handles were faulty. Instead of being perfect cylinders, they were actually distinctly oval and wider then the already large diameter of the original Inch. They measured close to 9" in circumfrence.
A series of acrimonious emails were exchanged between myself and a man for whom English was a second language. Personally, I feel his ability to understand English got worse when I demanded replacements/exchanges and refunds. But that's a different story.
In the end it was obvious that we were stuck with the faulty dumbells and there was nothing I could do about it.
The Challenge Begins
I forced my good friend Luke Reynolds to listen to every twist and turn of how it cost me a fortune to import faulty dumbells which I could not lift. He replied with the Australian favourite 'Suck it up, princess'.
Stung by the loss of money and his lack of empathy I defied him to lift the dumbell when he next visited.
So it was, on the 10/03/2013 the banana handed freak arrived at my house in Melbourne. After a few tentative attempts he lifted the dumbell off the ground for the first time in its life.
Still not sufficiently happy he then performed some Double overhand deadlifts with ridiculous weights on my pained axle. Then he sat at my dining table and subjected my dining chairs to immense stress while he ate enough food to sustain three adult males for 24 hours.
You can't help but admire someone like that.
To finish off the day, we then spent about an hour trading insults regarding our respective height, weight, weightlifting ability and places of birth.
Unfortunately due to increasing frustration and despite my Scottishness, I sent Luke a gift of a 67kg faulty dumbbell, with the assistance of Rob Mitchell, which was duly named "Wallace II". I named the sibling dumbell "Wallace I".
I instantly regretted sending Wallace II to Luke as he proceeded to flood me with his increasing ability with the dumbell. My inbox was full of pics and videos of the poor dumbell being wrenched from the ground with apparent ease.
Yet, Wallace I remained with me in Melbourne and was only used to prop open a door to allow me to remove lighter dumbells for my own training.
Below is the mutant Wallace I dumbell compared to a can of Coke; an accurate Inch replica handle; and an olympic dumbell handle
In early October 2015, Luke competed at the Australia's Strongest man contest being held in Bendigo, Victoria. James Grahame attended the same festival as one of the officials for the Highland games also taking place. Having had enough of using Wallace 1 as a doorstop, James kindly delivered the Dumbell into the care of Luke and in doing so reunited the pair of sister dumbells.
On the 15th of January 2016, Luke successfully farmers walked the pair of Wallace dumbells a distance of 5 metres.
To date, Luke remains the only person to successfully lift both or either dumbbell, despite many attempting the feat.
Thus far Luke's PB for max lifts in a single session for each dumbell sits at 50 reps with Wallace 1 and 60 reps with Wallace 2. A feat inspired by the timeless grip strength legend Odd Haugen of Norway, who Successfully lifted an inch replica 63 times in 10 minutes at the Arnold Classic, in Columbus Ohio.
The Wallace dumbells are quite tricky to press overhead as the handles and fixed round bells make them decidedly difficult to position. Jordan Steffens of Adelaide and Luke Reynolds remain the only two athletes to have successfully overhead pressed these dumbells to date.
The Challenge Lift
The challenge is to deadlift the dumbell with one hand. Then hold it at lockout for a count of 2 seconds. An example of a good lift is shown below.
If you can manage that then you will receive a copy of The History Of Heavy Events In Australia and a cash prize of $100 AUD.
To arrange a serious attempt, contact Luke Reynolds or James Grahame through the comments section at the end of the article.
The dumbells are located
- Luke's general local, Blue mountains, New South Wales, (Wallace1 and II dumbells)
These twin dumbells are a mighty grip strength challenge indeed. Their apparent physical size and weight disguise their extreme difficulty. Many have tried, many have failed. They are a brilliant strength artifact and nod to strength history.