Toccoa in Stephens County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
Paul Anderson Memorial Park
1956 Olympic Games
"The Greatest Weight Ever Raised by a Human Being
6,270 pounds in a backlift."
The Guinness Book of World Records and Famous First Facts
World Record Holder
U.S. National Champion
U.S. National Record Holder
U.S.A. Goodwill Ambassador
Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame
Georgian of the Year
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
"Hall of Champions"
Honorary Presidential Sports/Fitness Award Granted
by President Ronald Reagan
Founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home
with wife, Glenda
Best known as
"The Strongest Man in the World"
Chu Do Prirody - "A Wonder of Nature"
Landscape Architect - Tim A. Pollock, Pollock & Associates, Inc.
Project Manager - Marty Wallis, Specialty Construction Group, Inc.
Park Dedicated to the Glory of Our Lord and Savior,
Paul's life was threatened at age 3 when he became ill with Bright's Disease, a kidney ailment. The doctors gave little hope of recovery, but family and friends united in prayer for Paul. He triumphantly survived, but was plagued with kidney problems for the remainder of his life.
Paul attended Toccoa City Schools and graduated from Toccoa High School in 1950. He entered Furman University on a football scholarship. It was there that he first became seriously interested in weightlifting. He soon left college returning home where all of his attention turned to his new found sport. During these early years, the true champion began to emerge as this ingenious young man envisioned and created homemade weights and apparatuses that are still awe-inspiring. On any given day, Paul could be seen lifting old car axles, 50-gallon drums filled with concrete, huge iron wheels, a safe filled with weights and concrete, or a combination of them all.
During 1953 and 1954, Paul suffered many setbacks, which including injuries to his right wrist and the breaking of his left wrist, sustained while lifting. His hip was seriously injured and several ribs were broken in an automobile accident. With his tenacity and ingenuity, he modified the cast on his broken wrist by rigging a brace, which allowed him to continue training.
In June of 1955, he won the U.S. Senior National Weightlifting Championships. Through this victory, Paul earned a spot on the United States Weightlifting Team and was invited to travel behind the Iron Curtain for a series of weightlifting contests against the Russians, Paul and his fellow weightlifters were the first
In St. Petersburg, a crowd of sixteen thousand enthusiastic Russians gathered in steady rain at a sports amphitheater called Gorki Park to watch the weightlifting meet. Anderson exceeded two world records that evening as the Russians first watched in disbelief and they shouted chudo prirody which translates into "a wonder of nature." The immense popularity of the U.S. weightlifting team was evident and the international goodwill trip was extended to Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. Paul's fame had spread around the world and he became one of the best known athletes of all time.
In October 1955, Anderson became the world champion in Munich, Germany by breaking two world records.
In early 1956, Paul exceeded three world records and retained the U.S. senior national weightlifting championships.
On November 26, 1956, Paul won the Olympic gold medal at the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. The New York Times reported that his triumph was one of the most dramatic in Olympic history.
After visiting several detention facilities and prisons, he began to develop a deep concern for young people. Many of the prisons placed young boys together with hardened adult criminals. Paul had an idea to use his abilities to make money and start a home for troubled and homeless young people. Paul began raising the needed funds for his dream to help America's youth.
In 1959, Paul married Glenda Garland (b. 1941) also from Toccoa. Glenda shared in Paul's dream and was the catalyst he needed in getting the youth home started by 1961. The Andersons had opened the doors of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia.
Paul made over 500 public appearances a year to support the home. He would give a weightlifting demonstration, share his Christian faith and love for American. Paul would hold a crowd almost spellbound with his booming voice and his keenly
While Paul was traveling the country raising money for the Paul Anderson Youth Home, Glenda was caring for the youth home residents. In 1966, Paul and Glenda welcomed their only child, Paula Dean Anderson, into the world. Paula and her husband, Edward Schaefer (b. 1964 having three children: Paul Anderson Schaefer (b. 1996), Spencer Edward Schaefer (b. 2000), and Garland Dean Schaefer (b. 2000).
In the early 1980's Paul;s kidneys, which had been seriously damaged by his childhood bout with
Paul often told a story about how a great race car driver once won a race even while driving a slightly broken down automobile. Paul would relate that it was not the vehicle, which won the race; it was the driver inside that mattered. Paul demonstrated this in the wee hours of the morning at the Olympic games and everyday of his life. Anderson was indeed, blessed with a mighty body but he revealed that his greater strength was his personal relationship with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
My life has been given as an offering to God, and the time has come for me to leave this life. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; and I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:6-7
Erected 2008 by Paul Anderson Memorial Park Foundation.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Sports. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #40 Ronald Reagan series list. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1955.
Location. 34° 34.833′ N, 83° Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Toccoa GA 30577, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Paul Anderson (approx. 0.2 miles away); Harper Home (approx. half a mile away); McBath Home (approx. half a mile away); Hudgins Furniture (approx. half a mile away); Troup's Studio (approx. half a mile away); R. L. Smith Furniture and Appliance (approx. half a mile away); Stephens Federal Bank (approx. half a mile away); Western Auto Associate Store (approx. half a mile away); Barron and Lawrence 5 and 10 Cent Store (approx. half a mile away); Red Apple Grocery / Sears (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Toccoa.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . .
1. Paul Anderson. Paul Edward Anderson (October 17, 1932 - August 15, 1994) was an American weightlifter, strongman, and powerlifter. (Submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
2. Paul Anderson Video Tribute (youtube.com). The world's real strongest man triumphed in the Melbourne Olympics and the 1955 AAU world championship in (Submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
3. Unshackled!. Radio drama based on Anderson's life. (Submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
4. 1956 Summer Olympics. The 1956 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in 1956, apart from the equestrian events, which were held five months earlier in Stockholm, Sweden (Submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
5. Paul Anderson Youth Home. Official website. (Submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
6. Paul Anderson Memorial Park. Long recognized as one of Toccoa’s most famous, and inspirational, citizens, Paul Anderson not only brought home an Olympic gold medal from Melbourne, Australia in 1956, he brought home a new and passionate love of Jesus and a determination to share that love and to make a difference in the lives of others, said Anderson’s daughter Paula Anderson-Schafer. (Submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,319 times since then and 54 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on February 19, 2013, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.