1956 Olympic Games
"The Greatest Weight Ever Raised by a Human Being
6,270 pounds in a backlift."
The Guinness Book of World Records and Famous First Facts
World Record Holder
U.S. National Champion
U.S. National Record Holder
U.S.A. Goodwill Ambassador
Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame
Georgian of the Year
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
"Hall of Champions"
Honorary Presidential Sports/Fitness Award Granted
by President Ronald Reagan
Founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home
with wife, Glenda
Best known as
"The Strongest Man in the World"
Chu Do Prirody - "A Wonder of Nature"
Landscape Architect - Tim A. Pollock, Pollock & Associates, Inc.
Project Manager - Marty Wallis, Specialty Construction Group, Inc.
Park Dedicated to the Glory of Our Lord and Savior,
October 17, 2008
Paul AndersonJust a short walk from here, down East Tugalo Street is the birthplace of Paul Edward Anderson. On October 17, 1832, Paul was born at home and was welcomed by his parents Robert and Ethel Anderson and sister Dorothy. Throughout his youth, Paul frequented these very grounds on his daily journeys to school and during neighborhood adventures with friends.
Paul's life was threatened at age 3 when he became ill with Bright's Disease, a kidney ailment. The doctors gave little hope of recovery, but family and friends united in prayer for Paul. He triumphantly survived, but was plagued with kidney problems for the remainder of his life.
Paul attended Toccoa City Schools and graduated from Toccoa High School in 1950. He entered Furman University on a football scholarship. It was there that he first became seriously interested in weightlifting. He soon left college returning home where all of his attention turned to his new found sport. During these early years, the true champion began to emerge as this ingenious young man envisioned and created homemade weights and apparatuses that are still awe-inspiring. On any given day, Paul could be seen lifting old car axles, 50-gallon drums filled with concrete, huge iron wheels, a safe filled with weights and concrete, or a combination of them all.
At nineteen, with less than a year's training under his belt, Paul was lifting poundage that was approximately equal to the world records at that time. The weightlifting world quickly took notice of this new lifting prodigy and marveled at Paul's natural brute strength, which many noted as "unbelievable." Paul's strength grew to rapidly that he continually broke his own records and those of others as well.
During 1953 and 1954, Paul suffered many setbacks, which including injuries to his right wrist and the breaking of his left wrist, sustained while lifting. His hip was seriously injured and several ribs were broken in an automobile accident. With his tenacity and ingenuity, he modified the cast on his broken wrist by rigging a brace, which allowed him to continue training.
IIThese setbacks only served as further examples of Paul Anderson's unbreakable determination. Paul made a victorious comeback and continued his record-smashing spree while drawing large crowds whenever he lifted in competitions or exhibitions.
In June of 1955, he won the U.S. Senior National Weightlifting Championships. Through this victory, Paul earned a spot on the United States Weightlifting Team and was invited to travel behind the Iron Curtain for a series of weightlifting contests against the Russians, Paul and his fellow weightlifters were the first non-dignitary delegation from America to visit Moscow after World War II.
In St. Petersburg, a crowd of sixteen thousand enthusiastic Russians gathered in steady rain at a sports amphitheater called Gorki Park to watch the weightlifting meet. Anderson exceeded two world records that evening as the Russians first watched in disbelief and they shouted chudo prirody which translates into "a wonder of nature." The immense popularity of the U.S. weightlifting team was evident and the international goodwill trip was extended to Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. Paul's fame had spread around the world and he became one of the best known athletes of all time.
In October 1955, Anderson became the world champion in Munich, Germany by breaking two world records.
In early 1956, Paul exceeded three world records and retained the U.S. senior national weightlifting championships.
On November 26, 1956, Paul won the Olympic gold medal at the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. The New York Times reported that his triumph was one of the most dramatic in Olympic history.
IIIIn 1957, Paul Anderson confirmed his reputation as the strongest man in the world by lifting 6,270 lb. in a back lift. The Guinness Book of World Records entry was, "Greatest lift. The greatest weight ever raised by a human being is 6,270 lb. in a back lift (weight raised off trestles) by the 364 lb. Paul Anderson (US) (b. Oct. 17, 1932), the 1956 Olympic Heavyweight Champion, at Toccoa, Ga. on June 12, 1957." In the yard of his East Tugalo Street home, Paul's father constructed a platform on which Paul placed the heaviest objects that he could find. Among the many items assembled were a safe, filled with weights and concrete, and its detachable base, totaling 2,488 lb. These relics are favorite keepsakes of Paul's family.
After visiting several detention facilities and prisons, he began to develop a deep concern for young people. Many of the prisons placed young boys together with hardened adult criminals. Paul had an idea to use his abilities to make money and start a home for troubled and homeless young people. Paul began raising the needed funds for his dream to help America's youth.
In 1959, Paul married Glenda Garland (b. 1941) also from Toccoa. Glenda shared in Paul's dream and was the catalyst he needed in getting the youth home started by 1961. The Andersons had opened the doors of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia.
Paul made over 500 public appearances a year to support the home. He would give a weightlifting demonstration, share his Christian faith and love for American. Paul would hold a crowd almost spellbound with his booming voice and his keenly clever wit. His feats of strength would bring audiences to their feet and his message would change many hearts.
While Paul was traveling the country raising money for the Paul Anderson Youth Home, Glenda was caring for the youth home residents. In 1966, Paul and Glenda welcomed their only child, Paula Dean Anderson, into the world. Paula and her husband, Edward Schaefer (b. 1964 having three children: Paul Anderson Schaefer (b. 1996), Spencer Edward Schaefer (b. 2000), and Garland Dean Schaefer (b. 2000).
IVPaul and Glenda's original vision for the Paul Anderson Youth Home remains unchanged today: the home works with young men who would otherwise be incarcerated. They are first and foremost taught about the saving grace and enduring love of Jesus Christ. The Paul Anderson Youth Home, located in a 50-acre campus, offers to its students the opportunity of completing their education at the home's accredited high school which more than adequately prepares the young men for college, vocational school, or a career in the military. Paul believed that if a troubled boy learned to love himself rather than striking out at others, he would instead reach out to help others. Paul Anderson also strove to instill in each boy a strong work ethic.
In the early 1980's Paul;s kidneys, which had been seriously damaged by his childhood bout with Bright's Disease, failed him. His sister, Dorothy Anderson Johnson, selflessly gave him one of her kidneys in 1983. This priceless gift gave the entire Anderson family many more years to share together with their beloved Paul.
Paul often told a story about how a great race car driver once won a race even while driving a slightly broken down automobile. Paul would relate that it was not the vehicle, which won the race; it was the driver inside that mattered. Paul demonstrated this in the wee hours of the morning at the Olympic games and everyday of his life. Anderson was indeed, blessed with a mighty body but he revealed that his greater strength was his personal relationship with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Paul Anderson celebrated his home-going on August 15, 1944.
My life has been given as an offering to God, and the time has come for me to leave this life. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; and I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:6-7