- Posted July 21, 2014 by
Brooklyn, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Tell us the Good Stuff!
Coney Island Strongmen- a culture..
His name is Joe. He is a former NYC police officer, strongman and member of the fabled Icebergs that preceded the famous Coney Island Polar bears, although some say there are still some Iceberg members floating around.
the Icebergs who had a club on 22nd St. took the dip in the frigid Atlantic at the Coney Island beach every weekend during the winter for the health and rejuvenating benefits. After the swim, they would lounge on the often snow covered beach for awhile. A lot of the Icebergs were also strongmen, or weightlifters, boxers, musclemen, that worked out a lot at the Brooklyn gyms. In fact there is a whole muscleman strongman culture that still goes on today at Coney Island, meaning guys who lift and work out at the gyms, or try to stay in shape. You see them walking around or working out on the beach.
In fact, Joe was good friends with the famous Joe Rollino who was born and raised in Coney and said to be the world's strongest man in the 1920's and 30's. he started lifting weights, trained with Warren Travis and took up boxing, going under the name, Kid Dundee.
Rollino a strict vegetarian could move more than a ton, bend nails with his teeth, lift three or four people at a time, and bend coins with his bare hands. he was also a decorated WW11 veteran. He was struck down by a car and killed at the age of around 103, and was said to still be able to bend coins with his teeth.
It was wonderful to talk to Joe. He had so much history in his pocket and he helped Charles Denson with some information for his book, "Coney Island, Then and Now. "
I cant wait to see him again so he can tell me more true stories...
The photos I took are of Joe and some of the pictures he showed me about Joe Rollino and the Icebergs that he had in a large envelope. The first five photos are of Joe himself when he was young at Coney and with the Icebergs, and shaking hands with a NYC firefighter on the beach. The last photos he is holding are of Joe Rollino.
July 21, 2014.
Photos by Linda Glovach