|Died||26 September 1962|
|Professional wrestling career|
The Amazing Samson|
|Billed height||167 cm (5 ft 6 in)|
|Billed weight||80 kg (176 lb)|
Alexander Zass, (1888-26 September 1962) was a Russian strongman, a professional wrestler, and an animal trainer. He was better known by his stage names, The Amazing Samson, Iron Samson, or simply Samson, Zass has been credited as the "first Russian champion in weightlifting in the pre-Revolutionary era".
During World War I, Zass served in the Russian army, fighting against the Austrians. However, Zass was taken as a prisoner of war four times, but managed to escape each time. As a prisoner, he pushed and pulled his cell bars as part of strength training, which was cited as an example of the effectiveness of isometrics. At least one of his escapes involved him 'breaking chains and bending bars'. He went on to promote the use of isometric exercises.
Following the war, Zass joined a circus to perform feats of strength, touring internationally. It has been claimed that Zass was a spy and secret agent working for Russian military intelligence, using his circus travelling as cover. In 1926, his autobiography, The Amazing Samson: as Told by Himself, was published. His first wife, Blanche, died in 1928 while still a teenager. He was still performing as a strongman in the 1930s.
Zass has been credited with various feats of strength:
- Carrying his injured horse in wartime
- Carrying on his shoulders two lions as part of his circus act
- Carrying on his shoulders simultaneously a grand piano, a pianist and a dancer.
- Catching a woman fired from a cannon
- Suspending a piano from his teeth
- Bending with his bare hands an iron bar 5 inches long and 0.625 inches square into a U-shape
- Being able to "pound a 5-inch spike through a 2 inch thick plank using only the palm of his bare hand"
From the 1950s until his death, Zass lived in Hockley, Essex, staying in a bungalow along with other former circus acts. Zass died in 1962; after a dawn funeral, he was buried in the parish church of St Peter & St Paul in Hockley, England. He was honoured with a statue in a museum in Orenburg, Russia.
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