- John D. Fair
Atlas, Charles (30 October 1893–23 December 1972), physical culturist, was born Angelo Siciliano near Acri in the Calabria province of Italy, the son of farmers. (The parents’ names cannot be ascertained.) He emigrated to the United States with his mother in 1904 and settled in Brooklyn. After leaving school at fifteen, he worked in a women’s pocketbook factory; his future seemed unpromising. Like most “pedlars” from this era, Siciliano was psycho-asthenic and of foreign extraction. Anemic and lacking confidence, Siciliano was subjected to beatings from a neighborhood bully and from an uncle. These humiliations provided an impetus for his lifelong struggle to overcome weakness. Statues of Hercules and other mythological heroes he saw at the Brooklyn Museum inspired him to build his body. Realizing that such beautifully proportioned physiques came from exercise, young Siciliano began reading ...