One of the first images that comes to mind about the circus is The Strongman; leopard skin-clad and luxuriant of moustache with bulging biceps hoisting huge weights into the air, no circus would be complete without one. And so, this year at Bestival’s own multi-ringed circus of love we have engaged the very finest specimen of a man, Sir Leopold Aleksander to perform amazing feats of skill and strength before our very eyes.
A sportsman, strongman, circus artist, adventurer and all-round paragon of gentlemanly conduct, Sir Leopold is an exemplar of the virtues needed by the true gentleman. He will combine brute force with poise and aplomb leaving one and all mesmerised by the muscular magnificence of an athlete and showman pushing the boundaries of physical accomplishment. But “what makes a gentleman strongman tick?” we hear you cry… Well, as luck would have it, we caught up with Sir Leopold last week and asked him.
What inspired you to become a strong man?
After a decade or so as an aerialist I had developed a good strong grip and a friend challenged me to roll up a frying pan like the classic strongmen do. I tried it and so began a love affair with old-time feats of strength. I started training hard for more size and strength and worked my way up through the feats. Once I amassed a decent repertoire I built my act as an homage to the great Strongmen & Women of history.
Who are your heroes?
Historically I’m a huge fan of Louis Cyr, Alexander Zass, Sigmund Breitbart, Eugene Sandow, Thomas Inch, Joe Greenstein, Sandwina and many more. The golden age of strongmen and women was very theatrical, and I love that side of it – I try to deliver my show as a show rather than just a demonstration of pure strength.
The modern greats of Strongman are sportsmen rather than performers, but they have scaled incredible heights of human achievement. People like Eddie Hall, Zydrunas Savickas, Brian Shaw, Terry Hollands are doing the impossible every day and I would absolutely call them heroes.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever lifted?
Golf carts can be pretty strange. Especially if the people in them don’t keep still.
How important is being a gentleman?
It’s everything to Sir Leopold. The state of gentleman-hood is not gender specific. Anyone can aspire to be polite, kind, strong in your resolve and yet mannered in your delivery. A moustache helps too, even if you have to use a false one…
How do you relax?
I’m a big reader. And anyone who trains hard knows the baths are amazing. Book & bath – mmm.