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Frank “Toledo Strongman” Stranahan, who was talented in a number of sports including weightlifting, has died at the age of 90. Stranahan was a standout amateur golfer and is credited with being the first man to bring the concept of using weights to build strength and muscle to the sport.
The “Toledo Strongman” was the number one powerlifter in his weight class from 1945 to 1954, and later in life he took to distance running, completing 102 marathons. All the top golfers these days, from Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy, work out in the gym, and it was Stranahan who first brought that mentality to the game. Stranahan won over 50 amateur titles before turning professional, and the only major amateur title to elude him was the U.S. amateur.
Golfing legend Arnold Palmer, who defeated Stranahan in the 1954 U.S. Amateur championship match, paid tribute to his friend, saying, “He was my old buddy. We were pretty close for a lot of years. He always thought I would be one of his guys and do the muscle thing and all that. And of course, we played against each other a lot. He was a great guy, a good friend. He played some very good golf.”
Palmer also noted that Stranahan made sure he got his workouts in, no matter where he was playing golf. “He used to carry his weights in a suitcase,” said the seven-time major winner. “He’d get the bellman to carry the luggage to his room, but it was so heavy they couldn’t lift it.”
Here is Stranahan doing a deadlift of 265 lbs. on his 78th birthday in 2000.