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Stone-lifting traditions were practiced in ancient Greece and Egypt.
Western weight lifting developed in Europe around 1880 to 1953, with strongmen displaying feats of strength for the public, and challenging each other.
The focus was not on the make up of their physique, and these strongmen often had a large stomach and fatty limbs.
He allowed audiences to enjoy viewing his physique in "muscle display performances".
Although audiences were thrilled to see a well-developed physique, the men simply displayed their bodies as part of strength demonstrations or wrestling matches.
Sandow had a stage show built around these displays through his manager, Florenz Ziegfeld.
The Oscar-winning 1936 musical film The Great Ziegfeld, depicts this beginning of modern bodybuilding, when Sandow began to display his body for carnivals.
Sandow was so successful at flexing and posing his physique that he later created several businesses around his fame, and was among the first to market products branded with his name.