THE MIGHTY ATOM: HIS PHILOSOPHY OF HEALTH

By Vic Boff
(Circa 1962)



Many stories have been written about Joe M. Greenstein, professionally known as "The Mighty Atom." If I were to write about his life and the various feats of strength he has performed, it would indeed be repetitious. Sig Klein's excellent article in his "Strong Men I Remember Best" series in the June 1958 issue of this publication covered a great deal about this amazing man. But I feel that something has been left out of all that has been written about The Mighty Atom. This something reaches very deeply into the spirit of his personality and is profoundly reflected in the genuineness of his philosophy and work.

Over the years this amazing man has lectured on every phase of health and strength. His audiences no doubt total in the hundreds of thousands. It was back in the early thirties while visiting New York City that I first wandered into the lecture hall of Professor Greenstein. There on the lecture platform, for several hours he gave the most profound disclosure on health, strength, beauty, harmony, peace of mind and holiness that I have ever heard. He performed feats of strength that fascinated me. Needless to say, thereafter I was a constant visitor to the Professor's lectures. He certainly proved to be an inspiration to the weak and a model to the strong.

I was not alone in this appraisal, as both laymen and the professional shared the same opinion and feeling about this dynamic's work. Only by actually seeing and hearing The Mighty Atom can one fully appreciate what a monument he is to the profession of health and strength.

The Mighty Atom's lectures are free to the public. Anyone, regardless of age, creed, or color can hear him speak. Whether he is lecturing in some vacant store, on a busy city street, or in the fair grounds, or wherever he may park his truck, no admission is charged.

He earns his living selling his products -- herbs, soap, liniment and various health items. The Atom is endowed with the most extraordinary ability to exploit and apply his great gospel beneficially as well as profitably. He attracts most of his audience through sheer curiosity. Surrounding his premises are fabulous pictures and news clippings about his feats of strength. While on the lecture platform Atom is stripped to the waist, showing off his strong, muscular torso, with his long unbraided black hair flowing down over his shoulders. The only requirement or request he asks of the listeners is to remain quiet and orderly. I shall never forget way back in 1936 when si giant longshoremen became disorderly and tried to interfere with one of his associates who was lecturing. The Atom, after a dramatic fight, put al six men in the hospital. Many of the New York papers carried a front page story "Little Giant Knocks Out Six." He weighs but 148 pounds, and is only 5'4'' tall. No wonder writers have termed The Mighty Atom as "The World's Biggest Little Man."

"Mighty," as we personally call him, has put fear out of his life forever because of his confidence and belief in himself. Greenstein is an example of a man who believes he has a special work to do in this world and allows nothing to stand in his way of doing it. Whether it is in the blistering heat of the summer of the freezing cold of the winter on the Coney Island Boardwalk, this superman is spreading his message. The Atom's years of experience as a wrestler and strongman in his early days made a superior man of him, mentally as well as physically. He is endowed with a world of common sense -- a mentality absolutely free from bondage, an individuality which is clear and pronounced. When you hear him talk you realize that there is a real man before you. Strong and forceful as he is, you cannot listen to him without being affected. He tells you the truth as he knows it. He uses verbal sledgehammers to drive home the plain facts of life and living. Often he will quote from the Bible, not only as a literary masterpiece, but a workable theory for living. Throughout his talk he may anger his audience, of have them rolling with laughter, or practically crying. And yet as he carries them along, the audience is usually made to see the reasonableness of his message and the necessity of his products. During the course of his message Professor Greenstein coordinates and performs astounding feats of strength. He may drive a spike through ten layers of metal and through a two-inch plank. If incline, Atom will then pull the spike out with his teeth. He may alternate his feats of strength by biting a chain in two. The chain is of soft steel and its links are about one-eights inch thick. The audience can hardly believe this, as he bites through the chain with a grinding motion in less than two minutes. At times he varies the routine, bending various spikes or breaking a chain with his chest. Truly the Mighty Atom illustrates the possibility of a man -- being a supreme master of two great accomplishments at the same time. No wonder the late Mark Hellinger said of The Mighty Atom -- "The Best Show on Broadway."

During World War II Mr. Greenstein unselfishly gave his time to Uncle Sam's Bond Drive. This modern day Samson did not only lecture but demonstrated the strength of his hair by pulling a truck loaded with passengers, and in this way he sold hundreds of thousands of bonds for Uncle Sam.

It is a fact that this modern Samson's hair is so strong it cannot be pulled out. One of the most astounding feats of strength ever seen was headlined by the Buffalo (New York) Evening Timeson Sept. 29th, 1928 "Mighty Atom - Super Strong Man Pits Brawn Against Plane, Wins." At the Buffalo Airport before a large crowd of stunned witnesses this human dynamo held his ground when the pilot increased the plane speed from 800 r.p.m. for an approximate speed of 30 miles per hour to a speed of 1600 r.p.m., for a speed of 60 miles per hour. Without a doubt the Atom is the strongest haired man in the world. "Believe It or Not" by Ripley has featured this superman many times over the years.

To get back to his patriotism during World War II -- The Mighty Atom helped, without any compensation, to recruit men for New York City's diminishing Police Force. He toured the city for two years giving demonstrations of Ju Jitsu, Judo, etc., to interest men in joining the civilian Police Force. He was highly commended by the Mayor and other officials of New York City.

The Atom's strength of unselfish character has manifested itself in many directions. Many times I have seen a crying mother approach this man for his help to straighten out a delinquent child. Never will I forget one of the most dramatic incidents I ever witnessed while working with the Atom on Union Square in New York City. With traffic at its heaviest a chauffeur-driven car stopped all traffic at the spot where the Atom was lecturing. Out of the back of the car jumped a well-dressed man shouting at the top of his lungs, "God bless that man. He saved my life. Buy everything he sells!" With that the gentleman jumped back into his car and off he went allowing the traffic to proceed.

And today, past eighty, this superman, father of ten children, a great grandfather, seems never to tire of spreading his message or performing feats of strength that he was capable of doing 50 years ago. The Atom's encouraging doctrine, and his secrets of long life are not vague. Health and happiness do not beckon alone to youth. It is for people of all ages. Too many of us drift in out later years into a sort of fantasy life, dreaming of our lost youth. Instead of indulging in self pity for our drab and existing life - do something about it. We live not according to reason, but according to mere fashion and tradition.

The Atom's secrets of youth and longevity are as clear as spring water for those with determination, enthusiasm, and will power.

If we are willing to conscientiously exercise our bodies; if we are willing to push ourselves away from the table before we are stuffed; if we are willing to cut out, or cut down our self- indulgences; if we are willing to meditate each day for tranquility and peace of mind - yes, even in a world of nuclear fallout - a longer, healthier, and stronger life can become a reality. You will then realize what it is to have a magnificent body to add to the completeness of a human career.

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