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The autobiography of Panagis Coutalianos.

Photographic material from the authentic biography of Coutalianos.

The right book in the right hands.

Thoughts are thoughts and they always have a right to exist. True events and true works always have the potential to overturn us and our thoughts. This is precisely their grace and value.

G. Tsarouchis. “Good to confess.” Kastaniotis publications, 1986. p. 132

We are lucky indeed to have this book at last in our possession, after decades of searching. We discovered it by chance in an online auction, bought it unhesitatingly, and had it shipped from Cyprus. “The Autobiography of Panagis Coutalianos” was published at the expense of his sons Georgios and Ellinas, and edited by the distinguished scholar G. P. Kastritsis. It seems to have been published first in New York City, where the editor Kastritsis resided permanently. The print run must have been quite limited, so not every Greek could obtain a copy. As copies changed hands, pages were ripped out, primarily those with photographs,  in order to secure a piece of the history of this iconic athlete. Thus most copies were quickly destroyed, their content scattered. Today we are pleased to be able to present the whole work to the reading public, using digital technology to guarantee the work’s survival and its free distribution to anyone interested. The following is the presentation of the images contained in the book.

Hardbound. On the front cover, stamped in gold letters, “The autobiography of Panagis Coutalianos”. 19x13cm, 311 pages.
The above image follows the cover. The caption states that Panagis is depicted at the age of 37 wearing the following medals: Nine from the South American republics. One from England, awarded to him by Queen Victoria. Two of the French Republic. Two of Turkey, awarded to him by Sultan Abdul Hamid. One of Egypt, awarded to him by the Khedive. One French, awarded to him on the recommendation of the captain of a French frigate that took part in the war between Chile and Peru in 1881. The medal was awarded for rescuing two Chilean officers and many families. One medal of the Greek-English Commerce Association of Alexandria.

(Second page after the cover) This photo shows the two sons of Coutalianos, George (left) and Hellin (right), wrestlers and weightlifters like their father. They are the publishers of this book.

p. 89. The French ship Bordeaux. Working as a sailor on this ship, Coutalianos realized how much power nature had endowed him with. He single-handedly lifted the ship’s anchor and hauled it from bow to stern in front of everyone’s astonished eyes.
p. 168. This image was created in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay and published in the local newspapers. The athlete is shown fighting a tiger which was unleashed against him in a treacherous manner by the English businessman Mr. May.
p. 179. This photo appears to be a a montage. In its upper part, Coutalianos is on a stage as is clear from the folds of the curtain behind him. Below is a horse, suspended from his teeth, tied and not touching the ground. These two parts were joined to present the athlete, who had accomplished the feat at some earlier time.
p. 213. The above photo was created in Peru and published in local newspapers. Coutalianos is shown fighting a bull in a bullring. In the background are the fans, while down on the ground is the tiger killed by the athlete’s hands, cannonballs, an anchor and cannons. It seems that the painter wanted to describe in the same image as many feats of the athlete as he could.
p. 225. This image was created and published in Brazil, shortly before Coutalianos left there to travel back to Europe. The athlete is shown holding two cannons shown firing. On the groundin front of the athlete’s feet, the painter wants to immortalize the tiger killed by the hands of the Virgin Mary. One can still make out a cannon and an anchor, heavy objects that the athlete used to lift in his performances, causing a frenzy of excitement in the spectators who appear gathered in the back left part of the picture. Behind Coutalianos on the right is a figure of a man holding something like a rod. This is one of the people who helped him in his demonstrations. The long object he holds at the end has a flame which he rested on the fuses of the cannons to cause them to explode while the athlete held them in his hands. The terrifying explosion that followed the firing of the cannons, leads Coutalianos’ assistant to look for cover behind the column, on the contrary, the athlete appears steadfast and fearless. At the bottom of the image, an inscription can be seen, but quite illegible.
p. 257. This image is a copy of a photograph taken when the athlete was in Athens. Coutalianos was then 37 years old. On his chest are various medals awarded by officials who witnessed his exploits.
p. 275. Coutalianos holds three cannons. A large one on his shoulders and two smaller ones hung from hooks and thick ropes. The photo is edited to show conical shadows, the smoke or flame  emerging from the cannon muzzles.
p. 283. Coutalianos at the age of 50 poses next to his favorite gym equipment. Around him can be seen five large iron spheres of various sizes. His left hand grasps a sphere  fixed on a funnel-like object, an instrument for gymnastic demonstrations. His chest is decorated with medals, which he seems to have worn with pride on those rare occasions when he was photographed In the left part of the photo you can see a stack of large weights.
Kostas Michos

Kostas Michos



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