Big Men History (Part I)

  • 4 min read

For eons, a man’s physical stature has symbolised his significance. In ancient history, well-fed, big men were perceived as both powerful and wealthy. The past is pockmarked with plagues, famine and pestilence, thus it was the well-fed who could withstand difficult times.

Throughout history the elite always ate very well, and accordingly their societes saw them as both healthy and large and in charge.

At this unparalleled time in human history, whilst the Coronavirus requires us to be a bit more reflective, let’s take a look at some famous big men of history and uncover what helped them stand apart from the crowd.

Business Heavyweight: Samuel Terry (1776 – 1838)

During his lifetime, this colonial Australian big man tycoon amassed so much wealth he is known as the ‘Botany Bay Rothschild’. The history books have largely forgotten his exploits. However, in his day Terry was a big man who had a great impact upon his society. Whilst his exact measurements haven’t survived the test of time, let’s just say that his enemies described the big man as portly (possibly because they we losing to him in matters of litigation). Cutting a wide public figure, big Terry certainly had his fingers in a lot of pies.

Over his career he succeeded in many business ventures, including stonemasonry, running a tavern, and supplying the government with meat and flour. But it was real estate where the big man really made his mark. In fact, at one time he owned more mortgages in the colony than did the Bank of New South Wales! This was a surprising turn of fortune as Terry first arrived in the colony wearing convict irons.

Style: Uniformed clout

Public Service Kingpin: King Henry VIII (1491 – 1547)

king henry big man fashion history

Sporting a layered look helped King Henry VIII look large and in charge

History’s most famous serial groom, big Henry certainly knew how to flaunt his wealth and status. Being born into the royal family surely sets one up for a comfortable life. However, Henry was not one for resting on his laurels. He started wars, began a new religion, and got married six times, causing his poor wives to lose their heads (Sorry! – Ed.). Certainly, this is one big man who left his mark on history. He was also an infamous party animal, throwing extravagant feasts to impress his benevolence upon hangers-on. It was at these feasts that Henry would delight in eating a whole slew of variously delicious and strange foods. Whole roasted peacock, anyone?

Henry’s suits of armour over the decades showed that as his power grew, so too did his physical size. His waistline originally measured 32 inches in 1512 but grew to a formidable 54 inches by the end of his life (he died aged only 56). When the King kicked the bucket he weighed in at over 180 kg’s.

Style: Layered luxury

Public Service Kingpin: President Grover Cleveland (1837 – 1908)

Officially recognised as America’s second heaviest President (the top gong going to Pres. Billy Taft), Grover Cleveland didn’t just have a badass name, he was quite the anomaly in Presidential terms also. The big man is the only President to enter the Oval Office as a bachelor. President Cleveland would eventually marry his 21 year old bride, Frances, when he was 48! What’s more, he is the only US President to ever leave the job and return for a second gig four years down the track (1885-1889 and 1893-1897).

Despite being a powerful big man, it seems as if this Democratic leader did not like treating himself to fancy fare. “I must go to dinner,” he once wrote, “but I wish it was to eat a pickled herring a Swiss cheese and a chop at Louis’ instead of the French stuff I shall find.” Despite their being at opposite ends of the political spectrum, Trump, it appears, would approve.

Style: Suits

Business Heavyweight: James Packer (1967 – Present)

james packer big man fashion

Billionaire dress code: Breezy casual

Standing an impressive 1.98m tall and tipping the scales at 130 kg’s (in 2016), Packer is a big man with an even bigger appetite for wealth accumulation. Not only that, this famous Aussie big man pursues the high life, including extravagant mansionsand luxury super yachts. Heck, he was even snogging Mariah Carey!

But it seems the big man's bad business dealings have come home to roost. In 2018 Packer quit the board of Crown and even walked away from his family’s company, Consolidated Press, citing mental health concerns as the reason. Nevertheless, the big man is still worth in excess of $3 billion. That’s why he can be found sunning himself in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, checking out his new ‘beach shack’ aboard his yacht. It’s tough at the top!

Style: Breezy casual

History is replete with big men whose physical stature marks them as forces to be reckoned with. Whether it’s in the sphere of government or business, big men continue to prove their worth and significance. And you can begin this process yourself simply by attending to how you might best dress for success.