A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“He who goes to bed hungry dreams of pancakes” (2/28)
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Entry from August 19, 2012
“No one ever drowned in sweat”

"No one ever drowned in sweat” is a popular sports/exercise/work saying that has usually been attributed since the 1980s to college football coach Lou Holtz (born in 1937), but Holtz couldn’t have originated it. “No one ever drowned in sweat” has been cited in print being used in a football context since at least 1968. Pete Dimperio, Sr., the football coach of Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse High School Bulldogs from 1946-66, has also been credited with the saying and probably used it well before Holtz.

The Farm Journal, in a 1946 issue, included the saying, “Nobody ever drowned himself in sweat.” In the 1950s, this was said to be a cowboy saying—not a sports saying. Harry Oliver (1888-1973), known for his humorous writings about the American Southwest, was credited with “Nobody ever drowned himself in sweat” by at least 1968.


23 September 1946, Brownsville (TX) Herald, “In Our Valley” by E. C. Osborn, pg. 4, col. 2:
From the Farm Journal we pick up some typical cow country folk sayings as follows:
(...)
“Nobody ever drowned himself in sweat.”

29 October 1950, Boston (MA) Globe, “Things Eaterners May Not Know About the West”:
Plenty of cowboy sayings are worth remembering, like these two: “Nobody ever drowned himself in sweat” and “Never call a man a liar because he knows more than you do.”

29 December 1953, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, “Ranch Talk Is Preserved For All Time” by Clifton Abbott, pg. 12, col. 4:
A philosopher and old westerner, Dr. Hendricks pointed out, might say that friendship rides best without too tight a cinch and that the main thing in life is for a man to keep his forked end down and that mighty few men ever drowned in their own sweat.

Google Books
The Westerners Brandbook
Volumes 15-18
1958
Pg. 172:
“No canary (burro) ever drowned himself in sweat;” and “A wink’s as good as a nod to a blind mule.”

6 November 1958, Sioux Center (IA) News, “Others Are Saying,” pg. 2, col. 1:
This bit of truth do not forget, no one has ever drowned in sweat.—Emma Lee.

Google Books
Cowboys and Cattle Country
By Don Ward
New York, NY: American Heritage Pub. Co.; Book trade distribution by Meredith Press
1961
Pg. 37:
It would take time and hard work to get the cattle there, but these Texans had plenty of time, and there was an old range saying that nobody ever drowned himself in sweat.

Google Books
An Editor’s Treasury;
A continuing anthology of prose, verse, and literary curiosa

By Herbert R. Mayes
New York, NY: Atheneum
1968-
Pg. 629:
Nobody ever drowned himself in sweat. — Harry Oliver

Google Books
Conquer the World
By Chas Messenger
London: Pelham
1968
Pg. 77:
Remember, no one has ever drowned in sweat!

Google News Archive
4 July 1968, The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan), “Minor hurts continue to plague Rider camp” by Bob Hughes, pg. 22, cols. 2-3:
There is a sign hanging conspicuously over theheads of the 55 remaining candidates seeking employment with the 1968 Saskatchewan Roughriders. It is located in the dressing room and another, carrying an identical inscription, has been nailed to wall of the training room.

Its sombre message: “No one ever drowned in sweat.” Its interpretation is simple: Don’t be afraid to work harder than the guy standing next to you. The job you save may be your own.

Google News Archive
25 May 1972, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), “Chambers found his subject” by Bill Buttram, pg. 18, col. 2:
“Keep in shape. I always tell my players, ‘No one has ever drowned in sweat.’ You think about it.”
(Bill Chambers, baseball and basketball coach at Collegiate School in Richmond—ed.)

Google News Archive
10 February 1974, Victoria (TX) Advocate, “‘Intangibles Spur Sandies” by Cecil Parker, pg. 1B, col. 4:
To her surprise, she discovered a musty locker room converted into a cheerful chamber covered with slogans. “Backbone not wishbone.” “No one ever drowned in sweat.” “Austin or bust.”

Google News Archive
7 May 1975, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Sidelights on Sports” by Al Abrams, pg. 32, col. 1:
Pete Dimperio used to remind his players: “No one ever drowned in sweat.”

Google News Archive
11 November 1980, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, “Warrior Academy learns how to win” by Chris Welch, pg. 13, col. 2:
Another thought-provoking poster that occupies the locker room wall reads, “Nobody ever drowned In sweat,” which some players might question after some of the Warrior Academy workouts.

Google Books
Sportswit
Recorded and Compiled by Lee Green
New York, NY: Ballantine Books
1986, ©1984
Pg. 19:
LOU HOLTZ Arkansas football coach:
“Genius: It’s 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. No one has ever drowned in sweat.”
(The first sentence of this quotation is commonly attributed to inventor Thomas Edison.)

Google Books
Knowledge in a Nutshell on Success
Compiled by Charles Reichblum
Pittsburgh, PA: Arpr
2002
Pg. 56:
“It’s good to put forth a lot of effort — no one yet ever drowned in sweat.” Pete Dimperio

Google Books
Parris Island
By Karen S. Montano
Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub.
2008
Pg. 57:
PHYSICAL TRAINING. Another (U.S. Marine Corps—ed.) cadence went as follows: “Here at Parris, running till I’m wet. No one’s ever drowned in sweat!”

Google Books
One More Step:
The 638 Best Quotes for the Runner:
Motivation for the Next Step!

Edited by Randy L. Thurman
Bloomington, IN: iUniverse
2012
Pg. 13:
No one ever drowned in sweat. —Lou Holtz, American football coach

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityExercise/Running/Health Clubs • (0) Comments • Sunday, August 19, 2012 • Permalink