Arnold Schwarzenegger and the German Oak

Built Report German Oak

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The world of bodybuilding has a rich history, filled with colorful personalities and nicknames bestowed upon champions by influential figures such as Joe Weider. These monikers often capture the essence of the bodybuilder and their unique attributes. Among these celebrated champions, there is a fascinating tale involving the nickname “The German Oak.”

Joe Weider, a prominent figure in the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB), was known for giving distinctive monikers to the champions he promoted. These nicknames served to enhance their appeal and create a sense of mystique around their personas. Some of the most iconic ones include Dave Draper as “The Blond Bomber,” Sergio Oliva as “The Myth,” Larry Scott as “The Golden Boy,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger as “The Austrian Oak.”

However, there is an intriguing twist to the story. Before Arnold Schwarzenegger assumed the moniker “The Austrian Oak,” there was a “German Oak” who preceded him. This earlier “German Oak” was Carl Johann Theodor Abs, also known as Carl Abs, a 19th-century professional wrestler and a pivotal figure in the history of modern professional wrestling in Germany. While he might not have been a bodybuilder in the contemporary sense, he earned the title of “The German Oak” during his wrestling career, further enriching the legacy of the nickname.

The journey into the world of cinema adds another layer to the narrative. In a 1932 movie adaptation of H.G. Wells’ “Island of Dr. Moreau,” a commentator makes a reference to one of the beast-men characters played by Hans Steinke. Hans Steinke, known as “The German Oak,” was a wrestler who transitioned into a movie career during the early 1930s. His physical presence and imposing stature made him a fitting choice for roles in the entertainment industry, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who followed in his footsteps several decades later.

The mention of these “German Oaks” raises a question about the preference for tree-related nicknames among individuals of Germanic origin. Could Arnold Schwarzenegger have been “The Austrian Elm” or “The Austrian Black Walnut”?

In the accompanying images, you see these remarkable individuals. The original “German Oak,” Carl Abs, from the late 19th century, left a legacy as a pioneer in professional wrestling in Germany. Hans Steinke, “The German Oak” of the early 20th century, made a name for himself in both wrestling and film. Finally, Arnold Schwarzenegger, known as “The Austrian Oak,” went on to become a legendary figure in bodybuilding and a renowned Hollywood actor, carrying forward the tradition of distinctive monikers that have become part of the bodybuilding folklore.

Schwarzenegger, Carl Abs and Hans Steinke photos below

For info on the origin of Sergio’s “The Myth” nickname look here:

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Weider at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California
Carl Abs, The first “German Oak”
Hans Steinke, The second “German Oak”
Hans Steinke
Charles Laughton and Hans Steinke in The Island of Lost Souls, 1932
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