Karl Norberg: A Phenomenon of Strength at 69

Written by Hal Stephens in May 1961 issue of Iron Man

In the realm of strength and vitality, Karl Norberg, a barrel-chested, gray-haired man from San Francisco, emerged as a true phenomenon. At the age of 69, he astounded audiences at the San Francisco open weightlifting meet with a display of power that defied his years.

As Karl stepped onto the stage, his robust physique spoke volumes — arms thick as oak beams and a powerful build that belied his age. Hal Stephens, recounting the awe-inspiring event, emphasized Karl's vitality and features that seemed more fitting for a man of 50 than one approaching 70.

The showcase began with Karl's warm-up routine, where a barbell, casually loaded by two husky loaders onto his massive chest, set the tone for the remarkable feats to follow. Karl, seemingly toying with the weight, pressed it effortlessly for several repetitions, leaving the audience in awe. This was just the beginning.

Bill Stathes, the capable Master of Ceremonies, announced Karl's recent 69th birthday, adding another layer of amazement to the proceedings. The Olympic barbell, loaded to 275 lbs., was placed under the plates of an up-ended dumbbell as Karl positioned himself on the bench. With the ease of a seasoned lifter, he lay back into the supine position.

The true spectacle unfolded as the barbell weight increased. Karl, in a narrow grip, smoothly pressed weights ranging from 300 to his final lift of an astonishing 380 lbs. Each lift seemed effortless, lacking any hesitation or pause. The audience could hardly believe the unbelievable power this septuagenarian possessed.

Hal Stephens, in his narrative, expressed no doubt that Karl Norberg could have pressed 400 lbs with apparent ease. However, the weightlifting committee had previously advised Karl to stay within certain limits. Despite this, Karl's performance left an indelible mark on the audience, showcasing not only strength but also the enduring spirit and vigor that defy conventional expectations of age.

Karl Norberg's remarkable display serves as a testament to the timeless power of the human body and spirit, inspiring awe and admiration for those who witnessed the feats of this super strong man at the age of 69.