The Wizard of Weight-lifting

 

W.A Pullum was a weight-lifting champion, instructor and author.
He had a surprising childhood for one so accomplished in his field.

 

Sources

His biography has been extensively recorded. Some of the main sources are

As their is so much information already available, I have only posted a resume here, with some details that I have not seen in the other sources.

Horatio William Albert Pullum (1887 – 1960)

Best known as W.A Pullum, William Albert Pullum was born Horatio William Albert, eldest son of Henry Horatio George Pullum, a milkman, and his wife Rose Ann neé Stirling on the 8th of April 1887 at 118 Wells Street, Camberwell, London, England. By the time he was 4, the  family had moved to 85 Wells Street, Camberwell, London, England.

Illnesses as a Teenager

He was unwell from infancy and aged 12 he was admitted to St Thomas’ and St George’s hospitals in London, where he spent nearly 3 years.
On the 1901 census, he is with his family at 61 Kimpton Road, Camberwell, London, England.
He had a series of illnesses, mostly related to tuberculosis. They included right lung t.b, peritonitis, “brain fever” (meningitis), and t.b osteomyelitis of his jaw bone. He had multiple operations and his weight dropped to under seven stone.

Picture Frame Maker to Strongman

After leaving hospital, he saw a strongman performance and was entranced.
He was an apprentice picture frame maker, but his interest in weight lifting continued.
He moved in with a family whose sons were professional strongmen and they helped him train.
However after observing their technique, he developed the first scientific principles of weightlifting.

His weight went up to 9 stone and using his own techniques, he became a weightlifting champion. Aged 19 he founded The Lothian Club in Camberwell, which was the first school of physical culture and became the famous Camberwell Weightlifting Club, where many famous weightlifters went to see “Pop” Pullum.

Marriage

In 1910 aged 23, he married 20 year old Alice Sophie Howe.
On the 1911 census, they are  at 20 Kimpton Road, Camberwell, London, England with his parents and two brothers (his sister is a servant in Croydon). His occupation is given as picture frame maker.
On 20th July 1912 Alice gave birth to a son, William Stanley, who later became a boxing promoter.

He had a patent accepted on 7th October 1920 – “Improvements in  and connected with bar-bells”

He was still listed in Hughes Business Directory, in 1921 and 1934, as a picture frame maker at 5 Church Street, Camberwell. His training club was in the basement and in 1938 in the Post Office directory, he is listed under Physical Culture Institutes (in same section is Charles Atlas). In 1939, he is at the same address, with his wife and son, and an occupation of Physical Culture Expert.

Weight-lifting Records

William A Pullum had over 200 weight-lifting records including:

Nearly 200 official World’s and British Weight-Lifting Records.

Undisputed 9-stone (featherweight) Champion Weight-Lifter of the World for 15 years

Winner of Over 50 Gold Medals

 

 

A Two Hands Anyhow of 204 pounds at a bodyweight of 112 pounds.

A Right Hand Clean and Bent Press of 177 pounds at a bodyweight of 126 pounds.

He did a plank feat where he would support nine men on a plank and three more seated on a barbell held in his hands for a total of about 2,000 pounds at a body weight of 122 pounds.

Other Achievements

As well as being a weight-lifting champion in his own right, he was an advisor to the newly formed British Amateur Weight-Lifters Association and coach of the 1948 British Olympic weightlifting team.

Publications

 

  • Published the first issue of The Strongman magazine in 1923.
  • “How to use a Barbell” in 1925
  • “Weight Lifting made Easy and Interesting” in 1926

Retirement and Death

He retired undefeated from weightlifting in 1929 age 42.
Articles were still written about him many years later including in The Western Mail (Perth, Australia).

After a 10 week illness he died on the 29th of August 1960 at King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, Lambeth, London, England.
He was buried at Camberwell Cemetery and Crematorium, Camberwell, London, England SE23 3RD

(Last updated 20.05.2017)