BADDEST MOFOS EVER - MAC BATCHELOR
How many people do you think you’ve met with measurements even close to 6’ 1½ “, 300-330 lbs, 20″ neck, 19¼” arms, 52½” chest, and a 19″ calf? I’ll tell you how many- maybe one. Offhand, the only person of whom I can think who had these cold measurements was legendary strongman, Olympic weightlifter, strongman, and stand-in for Godzilla otherwise known as Mark Henry. Having met him a couple of times, I can tell you that shaking hands with Mark Henry is like shaking hands with a Transformer wearing a double-size Predator mask and boasting hands so big they make a catcher’s mitt look like a small child’s mitten.
You know, he is the sort of man who has the physical presence of a literal mountain- the dude left more of an impression on me than the Grand Canyon had a few years earlier. So, the fact that Mac Batchelor was similarly sized to our version of a modern-day Colossus in an era that food rationing was in effect is nearly unbelievably, but that’s hardly the most insane thing Batchelor pulled off in his life.
If you’ve never heard of the guy, and I know I hadn’t, that’s a goddamned shame. No athlete of which I know this side of the legendary Greek wrestler and bovine-lover Milo had a career like
Batchelor, who never lost an arm-wrestling match in 25 years (1931-1956). He never turned down a match, whether he was so drunk he was pissing down his own leg, had just lifted for four hours, was at a funeral, or was in the middle of banging some sloot- Mac Batchelor effed up all comers for 25 years like he was Mike Tyson with a fistful of Viagra backstage at the Ms. America pageant.
That’s right- unlike almost any other athlete of whom you’ve ever heard, save for champion jogger and alleged boxer Floyd Mayweather and a couple of other boxers, “Ian “Mac” Batchelor, who retired at the age of fifty after having taken on all comers night after night and decade after decade at his bar, playing right hand or left seated or standing, open hand or thumb lock, sick or well, tired or fresh, drunk or sober, [straightened] the arm of every man he met” and was generally the type of man-monster about whom you only hear in myths and legends about superhumans from the mists of history (Todd).
As a bartender, Mac Batchelor had a hell of a lot of time to apply product to his mustache and to practice mangling beer bottle caps… and not the new-school aluminum twist off types, but old school, manlier-than-shirtless-Reg-Park-wrestling-a-drunken-Russian-bear-for-a-steak steel bottlecaps. To say he was a monster4 in the grip department is like saying I’d kind like to punch that stupid bitch Sia out of her shoes for thinking she’s clever for walking around in public with a paper bag on her head. Mac could pinch grip 80 lb plates with no lip in each hand and walk 30 feet and could pinch grip a 165 lb plate with one hand. As if that wasn’t enough, he could simultaneously crush 3 bottlecaps simultaneously, one in between each finger on his right hand. He could also crush a bottlecap between his thumb and forefinger with his fingers held straight.
Seriously, the stuff this man could do with his hands makes the stories about Paul Bunyan seem plausible.
“MAC COULD BEND EVERY STANDARD SPIKE INTO A “U” SHAPE – 60, 80, 100 AND 120. HE COULD MUSCLE OUT A 12 POUND SLEDGEHAMMER, 30 INCH LONG HANDLE, BY
GRASPING THE END OF THE HANDLE. HE COULD HOOK HIS MIDDLE FINGER INTO THE HOLE OF AN 80 POUND BARBELL PLATE AND DO A ONE-ARM CURL.
WHILE WEIGHING 300 POUNDS MAC COULD HANG ON TO A VERTICAL CLIMBING ROPE WITH ONE HAND, WITH HIS THUMB UNLOCKED. HE COULD GRASP A LARGE 2 OR
2½ FOOT HIGH WINE BOTTLE AT THE TIP OR NECK AND THEN WORK THE BOTTLE UPWARD BY WORKING THE FINGERS DOWNWARD. THE BOTTLE WAS FILLED WITH LEAD
SHOT. HE COULD PINCH GRIP A BEER BOTTLE WITH BOTH THUMB HOLDING THE LIP OF THE BOTTLE SO THAT IT WAS PARALLEL TO THE BAR” (BOFF).
Who cares about that crap, right? No one’s ever heard of a grip specialist dominating a “real” strength sport… except for the fact that Big Mac wasn’t just a grip specialist- he was just all-round strong. Beast mode when he entered the gym was for light days- most days he seemed to have been stuck on Godzilla mode, smashing everything around him and causing all the little people around him to run away screaming in terror.
On a few occasions, Mac did a back lift of 3,000 lbs. at a bodyweight of 275, just for funsies. In true Viking-style form, Mac once shouldered a 40-foot-long telephone pole weighing seven to eight hundred pounds and walked over 300 feet with it- it might be half the weight of the ship’s mast that killed the legendary Viking Orm Storulfsson, but it was longer and Mac practically went for a jog with the goddamned thing.
Later that year, Mac picked up a horse on a movie set and carried it on his back for 20 feet before climbing the world’s sturdiest 16-foot ladder with it on its back. Why anyone would attempt to carry a 700 lb. live animal 16 feet into the air is a mystery we may never solve, but it seems clear that the number of effs Mac gave about gravity was inversely proportional to the amount of awesome in his mustache.
Big Mac’s training was an interesting mix of bartending, powerlifting, and Diesel Crew stuff. All day long at his bar, he’d be casually bending beer and whiskey bottle caps while smiling like a lunatic, twisting his mustache like a cartoon evildoer, and slamming shots and beers. Afterward, he’d hit his badass little home gym that looked to be equal parts medieval torture devices and old timey powerlifting apparatus. Two days a week, he’d do straight powerlifting work. Given that all the training at that time was more volume heavy than a chick’s conditioner commercial, it stands to reason that a guy who would bend bottlecaps for eight hours a day would be all about some crazy intense, longer-than-a-well-hung-midget’s-dick workouts involving a hell of a lot of compound movements with low reps and not much else.
To give you some idea of how Batchelor might have trained at this time, here is a synopsis of how a beast of a 181lb proto-powerlifter trained in that era- Bob Peoples. The first 181lber to deadlift over 600lbs, Peoples utilized what was then standard for powerlifting training.
1.) WARM UP WITH LIGHT OR MEDIUM WEIGHT TO WARM MUSCLES AND JOINTS.
2,) DEAD LIFT
3.) DEEP KNEE BEND
6.) CLEAN AND JERK
ALL FOR 3 TO 5 REPETITIONS.
“I KEPT STRICT RECORDS AND WHEN FIVE REPETITIONS WERE REACHED, I ADDED WEIGHT AND STARTED AGAIN, MAKING AS MUCH PROGRESS AS POSSIBLE ON EACH OF
THE INDIVIDUAL LIFTS. ALONG WITH THIS, I USED SOME HEAVY LOCKOUTS OR HALF AND QUARTER SQUATS. I ALWAYS DID SITUPS WITH WEIGHT AND SOME LEG RAISES ALONG WITH THE ABOVE ROUTINE. AT TIMES, I WOULD MIX OTHER EXERCISES IN WITH MY REGULAR ROUTINE. SOME OF THESE WERE CHIN-UPS, NECK WORK, CURLS, TOE RAISES AND OTHERS.
I USUALLY USED ONE SET OF LOW REPETITIONS FOR STRENGTH BUILDING. I USED THE MOST WEIGHT POSSIBLE AND WENT FOR AS MANY REPETITIONS AS I POSSIBLY
COULD, GOING THE LIMIT EVERY DAY.
ABOUT EVERY TWO WEEKS OR LESS, ACCORDING TO THE WAY I FELT, I WOULD TRY A PERSONAL RECORD ON THE DEAL LIFT, DEEP KNEE BENDS AND THE THREE OLYMPIC
Mac likely followed a similar method, only his warmup was vastly different- he’d bang out a single set of 20 speed squats, cold, beltless, and without wraps, with 350 lbs. If that doesn’t clue you into Mac’s utterly fearless, zero-craps-given, damn the torpedoes style of training (which was very likely done drunk, because according to several sources he was rarely seen sober), nothing will. The man trained like nothing you have ever seen, and likely never will. Check out his method (and absurd weight for a modified concentration curl)- ridiculous.
“HERE IS AN EXERCISE FAVORITE OF MINE. SIT ON A CHAIR, PLACE A 100 LB. DUMBBELL ON THE FLOOR BETWEEN FEET, COLLARS ALMOST TOUCHING OPPOSITE ANKLES, PALM OF HAND GRIPPING BAR FACING BODY START, DISENGAGED HAND RESTING ON CORRESPONDING KNEE, BODY BENT OVER. THEN SPIN THE DUMBBELL ON FLOOR BY SUPINATING HAND UNTIL PALM IS FORWARD (CURL POSITION). AT THIS INSTANT, CURL TO SHOULDER AS YOU SIT UP AND PRESS STRONGLY WITH DISENGAGED HAND ON CORRESPONDING KNEE. THE ORIGINAL MOMENTUM FROM THE SPIN ON THE FLOOR BRINGS THE BELL EASILY TO THE SHOULDER AT THE COMPLETION AS YOU SIT UPRIGHT” (BATCHELOR CURLING).
Grip training for Mac Batchelor was like bone-in ribeye’s are for me- absolutely indispensable and a cornerstone of my life. Whereas I have been known to grill steaks in a hibachi out back of the gym during long workouts to boost my test levels, Big Mac was banging back whiskey and snapping corks between his thumb and forefinger all day long. When that kind of a maniac is at the wheel, you know every workout is going straight to the nuthouse in terms of inventiveness and intensity. There isn’t much in the way of definitive workout routines from this mustachioed maniac, but here are two of his favorite grips exercises, in his own words:
“FINGER GRIPPING BARBELL PLATES — HERE’S ANOTHER GOOD EXERCISE TO TOUGHEN AND STRENGTHEN YOUR GRIP AND FOREARMS: GRIP A 25-POUND OF HEAVIER PLATE (DEPENDING ON YOUR PRESENT STRENGTH) BY THE RIM, USING ONLY YOUR THUMB AND FINGERS — DON’T LET IT TOUCH THE PALM. LIFT IT TO SHOULDER HEIGHT IN SLOW MOTION FOR 10 TO 15 REPS. INCREASE THE REPS AS YOU BECOME STRONGER TO BUILD YOUR ENDURANCE FOR WRIST WRESTLING.
A FAVORITE OF THE OLD-TIME WRIST WRESTLERS WAS GRIPPING A SMOOTH, FLAT, HEAVY PLATE BETWEEN THUMB AND FOREFINGER, THEN TRANSFERRING IT, WITHOUT
LOSING THEIR GRIP, TO A POSITION BETWEEN THEIR THUMB AND MIDDLE FINGER — AND SO ON DOWN THE LINE UNTIL THEY WERE HOLDING THE PLATE IN THE MOST DIFFICULT WAY POSSIBLE — BETWEEN THUMB AND SMALLEST FINGER. THEY WOULD THEN REVERSE THE PROCESS, NEVER ONCE PUTTING DOWN THE PLATE OR LOSING A GRIP ON IT.
BEFORE DOING EXERCISE IT’S BEST TO FIRST WARM UP YOUR HAND MUSCLES WITH SOME OTHER EXERCISE. START WITH LIGHT PLATES THEN GO ON TO HEAVIER ONES.
CONSIDER YOURSELF A GOOD MAN IF YOU CAN DO THIS EXERCISE WITH A 25-POUND SMOOTH PLATE.
CRUSHING BEER CANS — ONE OF MY FAVORITE EXERCISES, WHEN WORKING IN MY BAR DURING OCCASIONAL QUIET AFTERNOONS, WAS TO CRUSH BEER CANS BETWEEN MY FINGERS. I TRAINED MY GRIP AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO FORTIFY MY WRIST WRESTLING ARM AGAINST THE CONSTANT COMPETITION I HAD FOR MY TITLE OF WORLD’S CHAMPION WRIST WRESTLER. CRUSHING BEER CANS WAS A GOOD WAY TO OBTAIN THAT NEEDED CONDITIONING. WITH THE INNOVATION OF BEER CANS, WHICH VARY FROM SOFT METAL TO THOSE THAT SEEM TO BE MADE OF IRON, ARM WRESTLERS EVERYWHERE HAD A NEW AND CONVENIENT TYPE OF TRAINING MEDIUM.
FOR DEVELOPING FINGER STRENGTH TRY THIS: PINCH THE MIDDLE OF THE LIGHTER CANS TOGETHER WITH THUMB AND FOREFINGER ONLY. WITH THOSE OF HEAVIER METAL, GRIP EACH END WITH BOTH HANDS AND BEND BACK AND FORTH UNTIL A BREAK STARTS IN THE CENTER. NOW, WHILE MAINTAINING THE SAME GRIP, TWIST WITH BOTH HANDS BACK AND FORTH A FEW TIMES UNTIL THE CAN IS TORN IN HALF. BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT YOURSELF — THOSE EDGES ARE LIKE KNIVES. PRACTICE OF THIS EXERCISE WILL HELP GIVE YOU THE TWISTING POWER OF GRIP THAT IS VITAL TO BEING A SUCCESSFUL ARM GRAPPLER. WHEN PRACTICING STUNTS OR EXERCISES, PUT RESIN ON YOUR HANDS TO AVOID SLIPPING. YOU SHOULD DO THIS PARTICULARLY WHEN YOU’RE HANDLING BARBELLS AND DUMBBELLS” (BATCHELOR UNIQUE).
In summary, a badass mustache, rampant drunkenness, and training non-stop led Mac Batchelor to a 25-year undefeated streak in arm-wrestling. It wasn’t the perfect program, the perfect gym, any coaching whatsoever, or certain supplements that led to his ridiculous unbeaten streak- it was balls, brains, guts, and utter goddamned fearlessness.
Think less. Do more. Go effing nuts.
Anything less is civilized, and “civilized” people are good for nothing other than work camps and wage slavery.
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Batchelor, Mac. Unique ways to build arm wrestling power. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 11 Feb 2012. Web. 30 May 2017. http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2012/02/unique-ways-to-build-arm-wrestiling.html
Boff, Vic. Epitaph for a strongman- Mac Batchelor. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 5 Oct 2010. Web. 11 Oct 2016. http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2010/10/epitaph-for-strongman-mac-batchelor-by.html
Grimek, John. Ian “Mac” Batchelor. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 29 Aug 2008. Web. 8 Feb 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20150702223355/ditillo2.blogspot.com/2008/08/mac-batchelor-john-grimek.html
Peoples, Bob. The training methods of Bob Peoples. Reprinted from April/May 1952 Iron Man magazine. 12 May 2011. Web. 9 Feb 2018. https://www.myosynthesis.com/training-methods-bob-peoples
Todd, T. Mac and Jan. Iron Game History. 1995 Apr;3(6):17-19.