Franco-American and Québécois Athletes
Cyr - A Strong Man
- Born Noe Cyr on October 11th 1863 in St. Cyprien, near Montreal,
Quebec, Canada. Coming from a robust French Canadian family, developing
extraordinary strength, when even at a early age. The family moved
to Lowell, Massachusettes when Noe was 15 and his mother changed
his name to Louis. Cyr started his strong man career at the age
of 17, after some publicity came about due to an incident when the
young Louis was reported to have lifted a farmers heavily laden
wagon out of the mire in which it had become stuck. He was matched
in a contest against David Michaud of Quebec, who was recognized
as Canada's strongest man of the time, the results being that Cyr
beat him, the tests being the lifting of heavy stones, Cyr winning
the match by hoisting a granite boulder weighing 480 lbs./ 217.7
kg. In Boston in 1895, he lifted a platform holding 18 heavy men
on his back! From 1894 to 1899, Louis toured with the Ringling Brothers
and the Barnum and Bailey circuses, displaying his strength to amazed
spectators. Louis Cyr was formally designated the Strongest man
in the world in 1896 when he confronted Swedish champion August
Johnson in a competition that lasted more than three hours.
- In more recent years, Ben Weider wrote and published a similar
tome, well worth reading, and highly entertaining, entitled The
Strongest Man in History detailing much of Cyr's life and adventures.
Perhaps because of his tendency to overeat, Louis died of Bright's
Disease in 1912, at the age of 49.
- Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie - Baseball
"Nap" Lajoie (September 5, 1874 February 7, 1959),
also nicknamed "Larry," was an American professional athlete
of French Canadian descent. In his career as a second baseman in
Major League Baseball, he was considered one of the greatest players
of the fledgling American League in the early 20th century and the
most serious of Ty Cobb's challengers.
Born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Lajoie started his career in the
National League with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1896. In 1901,
he jumped to the crosstown Philadelphia Athletics, owned by Connie
Mack. Lajoie's batting average that year was .422, still a league
record. Lajoie also became the first major leaguer to be intentionally
walked with the bases loaded that year.
- David Michaud - A Strong Man
- David Michaud, born at Kamouraska in 1856, was the son of Pierre
Michaud and Josephte Michaud. Initially farmer like his father,
military life attracted him so, in 1878, he enroled in the army
and was garrisoned in the Citadelle of Québec. Very tall,
he had an Herculean strength. In 1883, David gave himself up to
the professional and stage athletics. On March 17, 1885, he faced
the famous Louis Cyr in Québec at the time of the American
championship. Cyr was 23 years old and Michaud 29. Cyr won the competition
having lift up 390 pounds more on the total. Nevertheless, David
made an impressive performance lifting up 228 pounds with his right
arm only and lifting up 3200 pounds on the benchpress.
- Traveling through all the province, David Michaud was above all
famous for his feats of strength : he crushed stones with his fist
and he made break a large piece of stone on his chest. From 1890
to 1905, no trace was ever found of the strong man.
- In August 1905, the daily newspaper Le Soleil informed
its readers that "Bébé Michaud" (so named
"Michaud Baby") had just died at Vancouver. This death,
remained obscure, had brought down David at the age of 49.
B. Gagnon - A Strong Man
- John B Gagnon (1883-1939) was born in Caribou, Maine. He was 5'
10'' tall, and weighed 230 pounds. He could tear a horseshoe apart
with his bare hands; bend a railroad spike into a U; or pick up
794 pounds with one finger. His second cousin, Phil Ganyon (anglicized
name), told me that he lifted a total of 16,650 pounds in 10 lifts
in only 25 minutes.
- Hector Décarie - A Strong Man
Girard - A Strong Man
- Girard was born in 1971 in Ste-Anne-de-Portneuf, a small village
in northern Quebec (Canada). At the young age of five years old,
Hugo began his training. His father gave him a set of 2.5 lbs weights
to develop his strength and is physique! Considered to be one of
the Strongest men in the world, Hugo is a police officer for the
city of Gatineau in Quebec. He shares his life with is longtime
companion named Nadine Tremblay who is a continuous source of motivation.
He holds many records and is currently the Strongest Man in North
- Louis Sockalexis - Baseball
- Louis Sockalexis of the Penobscott Nation whose natural ability
made him stand head and shoulders over future hall of fame baseball
players was also of French Canadian Descent. Much has been made
of his Native American heritage but French Canadians can claim him
A brief story of one of Maine's greatest athletes is told in
the lyric called simply Louis
Socakalexis. It is from the CD Baseball Songs Sports Heroes
whose songs have been featured in an HBO film, a major sports
book, and added to the National Baseball Hall of Fame
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