We have been hearing about the Fantastic Festivities planned for December 4 at the Paul Anderson Park. Carolling, Varsity hotdogs, ornaments for sale, a tree lighting. Now we want to know more about the man behind the park, Paul Anderson himself.
In 1956, Paul weighed well over 350 pounds; his neck size was 24 inches; his biceps were over 24 inches, his chest 58 inches, and his thighs were 36 inches. In the best condition and form of his life, Paul was ready for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. All the experts of the day believed that Paul merely had to show up to win the Olympic gold medal.
Paul and his teammates arrived in Melbourne, Australia 18 days before the lifting competition. Shortly after his arrival, Paul began to feel feverish and unsteady but he could not pinpoint the reason. Less than two weeks before the competition, he awoke in the middle of the night burning with fever. He was treated by a doctor but for twelve days the fever raged as his body weight dropped by 30 pounds. He felt miserable and weak. There was constant talk of sending him back to the States since no one could determine what was wrong.
Three days before the competition, the doctors told Paul that he would not be able to lift and that they could not allow a man in his condition to compete. Paul asked the doctors to postpone their decision until the last possible moment and they agreed. Without the doctors’ consent, Paul put himself on four aspirins every three hours. The aspirins did bring the fever down and by the morning of the day he was scheduled to lift, November 25, 1956, his temperature was nearly normal. The concerned professionals said they would not forbid Paul’s competing if he would agree to take all responsibility.
The super-heavyweights were scheduled to lift at 8 p.m. but the meet was far behind schedule. Paul’s first lift arrived around 1 a.m. The effects of the aspirins had worn off and his fever had returned. Feeling dizzy and cold, he perspired profusely. Paul held on with each lift but was trailing behind an Argentine lifter in the point count. At 3:30 a.m., he approached the platform for his final lift. He had three chances to successfully make this lift. He would have to beat the Olympic Record.