Often referred to as “The World’s Strongest Man,” competitive weightlifter and philanthropist Paul Anderson used his platform to promote FCA and minister to athletes and coaches around the world. Anderson was a regular speaker at FCA’s national conferences, citywide events, and summer camps, including the first gathering at Black Mountain, North Carolina, in 1964.
Anderson overcame the kidney disorder Bright’s Disease (now known as chronic nephritis) during his childhood en route to a successful high school athletic career. After briefly playing football at Furman University, Anderson turned his attention to power lifting where he helped pioneer the sport’s national popularity. He was a two-time national champion (1955-56), World Champion (1955), and Olympic gold medalist (1956 Melbourne Games).
Anderson set four official Olympic weightlifting records (clean and press, snatch, clean and jerk, and total weight), and was listed in the 1985 Guiness Book of World Records for his 6,270-pound backlift, which at the time was considered the greatest weight ever lifted by a human being. Some of Anderson’s more unusual feats of strength included driving a twenty-penny nail through a two-inch board with his fist, lifting two 85-pound dumbbells with his little fingers, and picking up a table with eight men sitting on it.
In 1961, Anderson and his wife Glenda founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia. He routinely traveled 100,000 miles while averaging 500 speaking engagements and strength exhibitions each year including numerous Billy Graham crusades. Anderson wrote the weekly column “Tomorrow’s Leaders,” which appeared in over 1,500 newspapers. He served on the FCA Board of Directors and was presented the 1975 Branch Rickey Award.