Charles Atlas (1893-1972)
Charles Atlas was one of the most famous and commercially successful body-builders of the 1900s. Born Angelo Siciliano in Italy, he went to the United States as a child. Atlas claimed that as a teenager he had been a ‘97 pound weakling’, but working out according to methods devised by earlier body-builders such as Eugen Sandow he doubled his body weight over the course of just one year!
At 19, Atlas was earning a living as a performer, and in 1921 he won a contest for ‘The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man’. In 1922 the young man adopted the name Charles Atlas after Atlas, the mythical Greek who carried the world on his shoulders. He developed his own exercise methods, and sold them through a mail-order company which is still in business today.