Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

Plaque to father of body-building

Eugen Sandow
Sandow made his London stage debut in 1889

A blue plaque has been unveiled in west London to commemorate the man dubbed the father of body-building.

Fitness pioneer Eugen Sandow devised the first major body-building contest, which was held at the Royal Albert Hall in 1901.

He also opened a gym, the Institute of Physical Culture, and performed on the stage all over the world.

The plaque was unveiled at 161 Holland Park Avenue, where he lived from 1906 until he died aged 58 in 1925.

The plaque was unveiled on Monday by Chris Davies, Mr Sandow's great-grandson.

He said: "I am delighted that Sandow now has an English Heritage blue plaque in London, so that - I hope - his Olympian efforts in the world of health and physical culture will long be remembered."

Tomb of Hercules

Mr Sandow's name lives on in the Sandow trophy awarded to the winner of Mr Olympia, the world's foremost body-building contest.

Even before he arrived in London in the 1880s, Mr Sandow was famous thanks to his legendary music hall performances, world tours and constant self-promotion.

He was born in Friedrich Wilhelm Muller in the region of Konigsberg in East Prussia, although later research show his origins may have been in the remote borderlands of Poland.

He left in 1895 to avoid military service and in 1889 he made his first appearance on a London stage.

He was a huge success and wowed audiences with feats such as his finale act, 'Tomb of Hercules', in which he balanced a board on his shoulders carrying not only weights but also his manager.

His celebrity was enhanced by Henry Van der Weyde's studio photographs of him in a variety of poses, the most memorable of which captured him clad only in a fig leaf.

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