“Behind the Scenes”: The Secret Life of Harry Bosco

in Sport History Review
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  • 1 The University of Texas at Austin
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From 1914 to 1957, athlete, author, and artist Harry Paschall entertained physical culturists with his striking images, wisdom, and wit. As a columnist and editor for Strength & Health, he gained notoriety for his pungent writing style and controversial views, enhanced by cartoons of Bosco, a superstrong hero who defends Paschall’s views on health, fitness, and weight training. Behind the scenes, however, suspicions always lurked that Paschall’s idealistic portrayals were not reality-based. Some suspected that Paschall harbored anti-Semitic sentiments and his articles were as much political statements as physical culture contributions. This perspective stems largely from Harry’s scathing portrayal of Bosco’s antithesis, Weedy Man, a caricature of training methods espoused by the rival Weider organization which stressed form rather function. By unpacking evidence of Harry Bosco’s life, it is possible to determine how much anti-Semitism, alcoholism, homophobia, and an unhealthy lifestyle played a role in his intemperate actions and death.

Fair (john.fair@austin.utexas.edu) is with The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA.

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