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John Grimek

Sport: Weightlifting & Bodybuilding

Born: June 17, 1910

Died: November 20, 1998

Town: Perth Amboy

John Carroll Grimek was born June 17, 1910 in Perth Amboy. In the bustling industrial port, John’s parents—Slovaks who had emigrated from Austria-Hungary—found other recent arrivals from Eastern and Southern Europe. One of John’s schoolmates was John Otlowski, whose family came from Poland. Otlowski would serve as the town’s mayor for 14 years.

The Grimeks marveled how whatever their son ate seemed to turn instantly into muscle. John took an interest in weightlifting as a teenager. Bodybuilders often commented on John's perfect symmetry and encouraged him to compete. He felt uncomfortable around guys who were always looking at themselves in the mirror, and avoided bodybuilding tournaments.

John stood a shade over 5’8” and weighed around 200 pounds during his lifting and later bodybuilding career. At the age of 19, his pictures began appearing in health magazines, and in the ensuing years he graced the covers of several publications. What was obvious to even the casual observer is that his physique was nearly perfect in a modern sense—beautifully sculpted as opposed the he-man/Johnny Weissmuller bodies on other magazine covers.

In 1936, John was crowned U.S. national weightlifting champion and represented America at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. He finished 9th. In the ensuing years, John worked tirelessly to sculpt his body into what he considered the ideal male form. The result was a massive physique that put other weightlifters to shame. In


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