1932 - 2017
Leonithas Kostoglidis known as as Leon Samson
was born on the 15 March 1932 in the Greek village of Diavatos Imathias,
Konstadinos and Parthena (nee Tousounidou).
Leonithas survived a German bombing raid during the Second World War
and grew into a physically exceptional man.
He excelled at long distance running and wrestling.
Samson travelled by boat from Greece to Australia in 1954
[as per NAA records travelled per ANNA SALEN in April 1954].
He disembarked in Melbourne and then went to Bonegilla,
in Victoria’s north, before going to South Australia.
There he worked clearing farmland for 10 shillings an hour until falling out with a fellow Greek colleague.
Samson’s position was deemed untenable after that and he moved to Melbourne to work for General Motors Holden.
In 1955 he headed up to Brisbane, where he spent four or five months mainly operating a jackhammer for the city council.
At night he would go to the YMCA to compete and win at judo and jujitsu.
His strongman act was developing all the while.
It was at the Melbourne Exhibition in 1956 that he changed from Atlas, the strongman from Greece, to The Young Samson.
He said he appeared on a Channel 9 children’s television show, breaking nails and bending a bar using his eye socket, just 16 days after the station began broadcasting.
Eating razor blades became a part of his act and in 1958 he decided to take lying on a bed of nails to a new level.
With his back on a bed of sharpened nails, a 300kg stone was laid on his chest and members of the audience invited to slam it with a sledgehammer.
His career took him around Australia with performers such as Slim Dusty and Normie Rowe, and his act expanded to cutting the outer shell of a car into tiny pieces to eat that too.
In 1970 he returned to Greece and continued his act before moving to Germany in 1978 after catching attention at the 1976 Oktoberfest.
Samson continued to perform in Germany and Luxembourg until 1990 while also running businesses dealing in bratwurst, candy and popcorn.
He stopped performing after Oktoberfest in 1994.
He returned to Australia in 2012 and moved to the Sunshine Coast.
He spent his mornings there fishing and the evenings listening to a Greek radio station and would regularly call in to express his views on the world.
Samson sadly passed away in 2017, aged 85 years.
source: Sunshine Coast Daily
Read more about the life of Samson:
- Car-eating Samson the Strongman returns to Australia to reclaim family and show business legacy
- Βίος και Πολιτεία του Ελληνοαυστραλού «Κουταλιανού»
- Greek strong man was a real legend of the Australian showground circuit
- Samson stands on his metal | story by Damian Bourne, published in Canberra Times, On Fri 14 Feb 1969, page 11.
Leon Samson, 32, — otherwise known as Samson the Strongman — will perform his eat anything act at the Queanbeyan Show tonight and tomorrow and for a moment yesterday I thought I had seen the last of my typewriter. Munching metal is nothing new to Samson. During his 12 years in show business he has demolished more than 21,000 razor blades, which he claims is a world record.
Five feet 10, 16 stone, with a 50-inch chest and 19-inch neck, Samson’s big food fad at the moment is a 1958 Holden — a whole Holden — which he plans to digest before 1972. “I’ve already eaten the four doors and two mudguards”, he modestly admitted, “and I’ll probably get through four or five pounds of some other part during the Queanbeyan Show”.
Samson started his strongman career at the Brisbane YMCA, where he learned judo and wrestling. A naturalised Australian born in Grcece, he has performed at every major show in Australia and has toured Europe. His net includes being run over by a car, having a large rock smashed on his chest while lying on a bed of nails and chewing four inch nails, razor blades and electric light bulbs.
“I think people like most to see me on the nails”, he said, “and they also think eating nails is great”.
To prove his authenticity, Samson has a standing offer open to anyone who wishes to “muscle in” on his act. “I’ll give $1,000 cash to anyone who can eat my nails, or who can find anything false or misleading in my act. I’ll give $5,000 to anyone who can complete my whole act routine”, he said confidently.
Believe his claims or not, Samson will settle the issue at the Queanbeyan Show, and if you want to earn some “easy” money, just polish up polishing off four inch nails. Entries have been exceptionally good in this year’s show, with a near-record number in all sections except fruit produce, the show committee secretary, Mr W. A. Taylor, said yesterday.
The show opens this morning and will finish with a fireworks display tomorrow night. The sideshow area has been completely booked and the industrial section is also fully reserved. The pavilion is filled with garden produce, indicating that a record number of entries is likely in this section.
The nine contestants in the 1969 Miss Show Girl competition were judged last night. Miss NSW for 1968, Miss Janet Hayes, was one of the judges. The winner is to be announced tonight at the showground.