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Aleksandr Zass

Circus artist

Aleksandr Zass, Circus artist.

Background

Zass, Aleksandr was born in 1888 in Wilno (now Vilnius). Son of a Jewish father and Russian mother.

Career

Entered the circus and soon became a strongman, nicknamed the Iron Samson. His usual advertising stunt when he arrived in a new town was to have a car run over him. His most famous stunt was inspired by a real event in his life, when he had had to carry a horse on his shoulders.

In his act he made this even more complicated by wading knee-deep through water while carrying the 375kg. horse. He was called up for active service when World War I broke out. Repeated his stunt under enemy fire when his horse was shot in the leg.

After the war, as a private, moved to England, and performed all over Europe. Worked in the circus until his death. In his 70s, he was still able to walk into the arena carrying a special shoulder-pole, on the ends of which sat 2 enormous lions.

His strength was the more remarkable taking into consideration his height (a mere 167cm.) and his weight (only 80kg.).