Articles from December 2009

Use it or Lose it

by Thom Van Vleck

I like to lift weights, but I also “LIKE” weights. I have some antique stuff in my gym but I am not a collector. Everything in my gym is there for training. It if breaks, so be it, but I don’t like to have things around just to collect dust.

One of my favorites, is a complete Jackson Barbell set I have. There is a long story on how the Jackson Weightlifting Club had a set, lost it, then got it back. It is also a story that is not quite finished as I am still trying to find a pair of 2 1/2lbs plates to complete the lost set (that’s a big hint for anyone out there who knows where I could get a couple!). Oh, and in case you thought maybe the maker of Jackson Barbells was a relative of the Mom’s family and the JWC family….the simple answer is “not that I know of” but he’s certainly a brother in iron. Just a happy coincidence.

I also have collection of Jackson advertising. Most of which I have framed in my gym, but some socked away for when I have more wall space.

The new Jackson Adjustable Dumbbell Sets

The above is a nice example. I really like the “capital exercise” that was chosen to illustrate the benefits of owning a set of Jackson “Dumbells” (I also like the way they spell Dumbell). At any rate, It might be a good exercise to try as I see Al Myer’s has a “two hands anyhow” coming up in his Dino Gym meet on January 16th, 2010!

I like the old stuff as well as the new stuff. When I wrap my hands around the oly bar from the set my Uncles ordered in 1957….I’m inspired. You know that there’s a basement somewhere with a dumbbell set just like the one above and it’s just rusting away, long forgotten. I won’t knock guys who collect stuff, I can understand that, but to me, it was made to be used and my stuff will get used until it falls apart….but considering how Andy made his stuff…I may fall apart long before that happens.

A USAWA Christmas Carol

by Thom Van Vleck

My father in law, Bob Baybo, came up for a visit from St. Louis today. He is 70 this year and still in great shape. He lifts, bike rides, scuba dives, he has lots of interests that keep him active. Back in the 60’s and 70’s he was a bodybuilder. He entered a couple of small contests, but 4 kids to take care of meant it was more of a sideline than his goal in life.

Before that, he played a lot of baseball, even ending up with a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals. He retold that story today for my kids, his eyes still twinkled at what he called his best day ever on the field. He said his glove was like a vacuum, he hit everything that was thrown at him, and didn’t miss a throw, but alas, it was not to be and he went about the business of the rest of his life after a few more tries at the big time.

He ended his story with “no regrets”. Maybe some dashed dreams, but he felt like he did his best, he played his hardest, he did the best that he could but time and circumstance weren’t in his favor. Then he talked about a trip he has planned for 2010. It will involve a grueling hike and physical challenges that a man half his age would probably cringe at.

I try to live that way. I lift as hard as I can, when I can. I don’t shy away from a chance to display my skills, and I try to go after my dreams while I can because life will soon enough take the opprotunities away. We all seem to reflect on our past at the end of the year. I think that is good. We should count our blessings, share stories, love and laugh.

We should share in the present. Tell stories, share a few laughs, maybe a tear or two. Be there for one another, show support, let others know you are there for them.

And soon, the New Year comes. The future. New goals to chase, new dreams are born, and new stories to be made.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the members of the USAWA! Now is the time to reflect on your past, share your present, and plan for the future!

What is the “Right Way”?

by Thom Van Vleck

I had the privledge of doing an article a few years ago that included Al Oerter. Many know that Al won 4 Gold medals, breaking the Olympic record each time. No one has dominated the Olympics quite the way Al did and just before he passed away he granted me an interview and I did a story on him for Milo magazine. In the process, we corresponded for some time afterwards and talked training many times. For my article, I requested and received several good photos of Al. I asked specifically for one of him training and this is the one I he sent:

Al Oerter bench pressing off a chest pad.

I liked the photo for a lot of reasons and sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. You will note that he has a 50lbs scale weight on the end of the bench. This was to help keep the bench down as Al said he always benched very dynamically….or should I say the “ol’ bounce and heave” or “cheat bench”. You will note the pading on his chest. He told me it was to cushion his chest as he really slammed the weight down and then drove his hips as high as he could to complete each rep. He also told me he used a weight light enough to explode off his chest and he also told me that this was his intended purpose. Being a thrower, he wanted to be explosive, so he took the most undynamic of lifts and turned it into something very dynamic. In other words, he cheated on purpose.

Very often we are told the “right way” to do things. The reality is that our bodies adapt to what we throw at it and if winning a bench press contest is what you desire, then you want to train that way. Al Oerter had other goals in mind and trained the lift for his own purpose. My point is, there are many “right ways” to do any lift, the only thing wrong would be to do it in a way that does not make you stronger in the way you want to be.

The Jackson Weightlifting Club and Paul Anderson

By Thom Van Vleck

A lot has been said about Paul Anderson over the years. He has become an almost mythical person with often fantastic feats of strength to his credit. Paul was the 1956 Olympic Superheavyweight World Champion, this is well documented. He then became a professional strongman and traveled all over the nation, and world, next couple of decades using his strength talents to spread a Christian message. Often, exactly what Paul lifted and how he lifted it has been the center of debate. Paul rarely lifted in anything close to contest conditions and his weights could rarely be verified. Often, his lifts were exaggerated by enthusiastic fans and few of the hundreds of exhibitions he did were well documented. No one can say exactly what Paul did or didn’t do over the course of his entire career.

However, two of my Uncles did see Paul when he was in his prime. I consider them to be reliable sources and I recently talked to them again to get the “straight scoop” on what they saw and their impression of Paul.

Wayne Jackson met Paul in February of 1967 Monroe, Iowa. Paul was preaching and performing after an Olympic Lifting meet held there that day. The meet was over and Paul came out and talked for about 30 minutes. Wayne said Paul would have been 34 years old, and that Paul said he weighed 375lbs. Wayne was always good at guessing people’s bodyweight and he thought that was pretty accurate. He also said he’d guess Paul was 5’8” to 5’9” tall. He said that Paul started lifting after he finished talking. Wayne said that if he warmed up, he did not see him do it and that it was impossible for him to have warmed up after the speech he gave. Wayne said that Paul did no warm ups, just went straight to the weight and lifted it. He said that Paul used the bars and weights used in the contest and Wayne felt certain of the weights he lifted. Wayne was always a master at glancing at a bar and telling you how much was on it and was meticulous about things being accurate. He said Paul did the following lifts and feats:

1. 755lb Squat, below parallel, barefoot, swimming trunks, t shirt, belt only.

2. 700lb deadlift

3. 370lb Power Clean and Press followed by a 390lb power clean and press (Wayne said he did a slight squat on the clean to catch it and did not hold the press at the top, but pressed it in a strict fashion).

4. Drove a nail thru a board with the nail wrapped in something using arm strength.

5. Back lift with volunteers in the audience, Wayne said he could not recall them mentioning the weight, but he’d guess there were 20 teenage boys and girls on the table.

6. Finally, the last feat was Paul skipped rope and did all kinds of moves with the rope. Wayne called it “real fancy footwork like boxers did”. He said he was amazed how fast and nimble Paul was and this impressed him as much as the weight lifted.

Phil Jackson met Paul twice. The first time was in April of 1968 at a Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He said that Paul had on a black outfit, tight and stretchy like wrestlers wore and the letters “PA” were embroidered on breast of the shirt to one side. Paul did a side press with a 225lb Dumbbell for 15 reps. Phil said that Paul didn’t lock out each rep, but that he had each rep to arms length and felt he could have locked them out had he wanted to. Paul blew up a hot water bottle, drove the spike through a board and did a back lift. He said he got to sit on the table when Paul lifted it and that there were a lot of young people, mostly teens on the table. He guessed there were about 2000lbs total. He said Paul lifted it easily, and then twisted from side to side with it. Afterwards, Phil had his wife take a picture of him with Paul.

Phil requested a private meeting with Paul and was granted it in the study of the Church after the show. He said Paul appeared very tired and when Phil tried to tell him how much he admired him Paul said, “Admire me for what I say and not for my strength”. They sat and visited and while Phil is a devout Christian and felt secure in his own salvation he felt Paul was uncomfortable talking about his own strength and much preferred to talk about his Christian faith. He said in hindsight Paul probably thought he was being sent someone who wanted to become a Christian and not just a fan. Phil said he was not “put off” by Paul at all, though.

Phil offered to help him load his gear into the truck and trailer Paul had. Paul refused help and said he loaded and unloaded his own gear at all times. Phil said he went and sat in his car across the street and watched Paul load his truck. He said that he was amazed at how strong Paul looked and how thick his shoulders, back, arms and in particular his neck were. Phil said he was in “Awe” of Paul and had never seen anything like him up to that point in his life. He said that the next time he was impressed by someone that looked to be on Paul’s level was when he met Joe Dube, which would have been about the time Dube won the Superheavyweight World title in 1969. Phil saw Paul speak at a Church in Atlanta about 3 months later. Paul did no feats of strength, just delivered a message while wearing a suit and tie. Phil said the suit and tie made him appear even bigger.

Both of my Uncles were devout Christians before and after meeting Paul Anderson, but both stated they were inspired by his words and his lifting. I recall in the 80’s, just before Paul passed away there was a big event held in, I think, Florida that honored him. I wanted to go at the time, but could not afford it and could find no one that wanted to split costs. Now I wish I would have made that trip even if I begged, borrowed, or stole the money to do it. I have that picture of Paul with Phil hanging in my gym and consider Paul an honorary member of the JWC.

Round 4 – Yesterday versus Today

Yesterday’s 242# & SHW Classes versus Today’s 105k to 125K+ Classes

by Al Myers


Lift Yesterday Today Winner
Deadlift – One Arm 455# – Joe Nanney (1961) 562# – Frank Ciavattone (2000) Today
Deadlift – Heels Together 670# – Lou Greenlaw (1982) 650# – Al Myers (2004) Yesterday
Deadlift – Middle Fingers 350# – Ken McClain (1984) 400# – Kevin Fulton (1999) Today
Deadlift – One Leg 305# – Bill Clark (1963) 309# – Al Myers (2005) Today
Hack Lift 650# – Wilbur Miller (1963) 620# – Ed Schock (2002) Yesterday
Jefferson Lift 650# – Wilbur Miller (1963) 617# – Bob Moore (1992) Yesterday
Hand and Thigh Lift 1150# – Steve Schmidt (1986) 1910# – Joe Garcia (1997) Today
Neck Lift 470# – Steve Schmidt (1986) 805# – Joe Ciavattone (2005) Today
Harness Lift 3000# – Steve Schmidt (1986) 3500# – Steve Schmidt (1988) Today
Hip Lift 2135# – Steve Schmidt (1986) 2515# – Frank Ciavattone (2007) Today
Back Lift 2610# – Steve Schmidt (1986) 3050# – Steve Schmidt (2009) Today
Clean and Press 330# – Wayne Jackson (1971) 276# – John Dundon (1997) Yesterday
Clean and Seated Press 280# – Wayne Jackson (1983) 275# – Brian Meek (1988) Yesterday
French Press 135# – Wayne Jackson (1981) 140# – Joe Ciavattone (2009) Today
Bent Press 220# – Bob Burtzloff (1984) 105# – Mike McBride (1998) Yesterday
Bench Press – Feet in Air 465# – Gary McClain (1980) 441# – Brian Meek (1989) Yesterday
Bench Press – Hands Together 265# – Callie Dealy (1982) 310# – Dave Beversdorf (2009) Today
Front Squat 470# – Terry Stephens (1979) 507# – Brian Meek (1989) Today
Snatch – One Arm 170# – Bob Burtzloff (1982) 171# – Bob Burtzloff (1987) Today
Continental to Chest 363# – Bob Burtzloff (1987) 358# – Frank Ciavattone (1992) Yesterday
Jerk – From Rack 407# – Clay Oliver (1986) 397# – Clay Oliver (1987) Yesterday
Clean & Jerk – One Arm 253# – Bob Burtzloff (1983) 175# – Bob Burtzloff (2004) Yesterday
Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm 145# – Bob Burtzloff (1985) 143# – Chad Ullom (2007) Yesterday
Zercher Lift 505# – Bill Davis (1979) 529# – Bob Moore (1992) Today
Steinborn Lift 460# – Al Robbins (1967) 430# – Chad Ullom (2007) Yesterday
Cheat Curl 253# – Ray Bradley (1979) 260# – Antoniano DelSignore (2003) Today
Pinch Grip 210# – Jim Easley (1981) 200# – Matt Graham (2002) Yesterday
Crucifix 110# – Steve Schmidt (1985) 140# – Eric Todd (2005) Today
Pullover – Straight Arm 126# – Steve Schmidt (1985) 132# – Al Myers (2009) Today
Pullover and Push 474# – Bob Burtzloff (1986) 474# – Bob Burtzloff (1987) TIE
Clean & Press – Behind Neck 220# – Bob Burtzloff (1984) 251# – Ernie Beath (2009) Today
Clean & Press – Heels Together 300# – Wayne Jackson (1983) 300# – Brian Meek (1989) TIE
Deadlift – Dumbbells 520# – Wilbur Miller (1984) 480# – Al Myers (2009) Yesterday
Clean & Press – Dumbbells 240# – Ken McClain (1986) 240# – Ken McClain (1987) TIE
Pullover and Press 165# – Ed Zercher Sr. (1963) 352# – Al Myers (2007) Today
Bench Press – Roman Chair 210# – Bob Burtzloff (1985) 250# – Dave Beversdorf (2009) Today
It was close – but Today’s Lifters pull out the WIN!

Final score in Round 4 – Today 19 wins, Yesterday 14 wins, 3 ties.

So overall – Today’s Lifters win 3 Rounds to Yesterday’s Lifters winning 1 Round.  Does this review comparison really answer the  question, “Are today’s lifters stronger than yesterday’s lifters?”.  I still can’t say that for sure because Today’s lifters do have a few advantages that the lifters before us didn’t have – such as better bars and equipment to compete with, a better understanding of proper training learned from those before us, and more opportunities to compete than they did.  I do think this study showed that several lifters from the past would still be great in today’s lifting world.  In all rounds, Today’s lifters dominated the Heavy Lifts which definitely helped in margin of victory but if taken out wouldn’t have changed the outcome.  I found this study to be very interesting – and was glad to see “the numbers” of several oldtime lifters that I have only heard about.  ANYONE making these lists are/were truly great lifters.  I welcome any comments from those who have memories of these past lifts/lifters.  I think it is very important to keep track of the history of our sport.  We have to remember that those before us paved the way for what we have today. If it wasn’t for interest in All-Round Weightlifting 50 years ago – we may not even have All-Round Weightlifting today!!

Round 3 – Yesterday versus Today

Yesterday’s 198# Class and 220# Class versus Today’s 90K, 95K, and 100K Classes

by Al Myers


Lift Yesterday Today Winner
Deadlift – One Arm 352# – Clay Oliver (1985) 410# – Don Verterosa (1989) Today
Deadlift – Heels Together 600# – Stan Frenchie (1986) 605# – Ed Schock (2003) Today
Deadlift – Middle Fingers 335# – Daryl Johnson (1980) 309# – Bill DiCiccio (2003) Yesterday
Deadlift – One Leg 270# – Steve Schmidt (1987) 295# – Eric Overfelt (1989) Today
Hack Lift 700# – Stan Frenchie (1986) 615# – Ed Schock (2002) Yesterday
Jefferson Lift 700# – Stan Frenchie (1986) 605# – Ed Schock (2001) Yesterday
Hand and Thigh Lift 1225# – Steve Schmidt (1987) 1620# – Joe Garcia (1995) Today
Neck Lift 500# – Steve Schmidt (1987) 676# – Joe Ciavattone (1992) Today
Harness Lift 3325# – Steve Schmidt (1987) 3515# – Steve Schmidt (1991) Today
Hip Lift 2515# – Steve Schmidt (1987) 2525# – John Carter (1994) Today
Back Lift 2805# – Steve Schmidt (1987) 2912# – Steve Schmidt (1992) Today
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells 500# – Clay Oliver (1985) 332# – Chuck Urbanski (1995) Yesterday
Clean and Press 280# – Ron Sisk (1965) 231# – Drue Moore (1997) Yesterday
Clean and Seated Press 253# – Don Gleneski (1987) 245# – Phil Anderson (1988) Yesterday
French Press 185# – Homer Lewellan (1962) 125# – Randy Smith (2009) Yesterday
Bent Press 175# – Bruce Stresnider (1962) 110# – Robert English (1998) Yesterday
Bench Press – Feet in Air 385# – Bob Burtzloff (1986) 480# – Tony Succarotte (2004) Today
Bench Press – Hands Together 250# – Rocky Proctor (1984) 225# – Mike McBride (2004) Yesterday
Front Squat 380# – Leonard Friesz (1963) 441# – Tim Bruner (1989) Today
Snatch – One Arm 154# – Bob Burtzloff (1986) 171# – Thomas Incledon (1999) Today
Continental to Chest 358# – Phil Anderson (1987) 380# – Phil Anderson (1989) Today
Jerk – From Rack 350# – Leonard Friesz (1963) 331# – Don Venterosa (1993) Yesterday
Clean & Jerk – One Arm 187# – Bob Burtzloff (1986) 154# – Don Venterosa (1995) Yesterday
Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm 120# – Clay Oliver (1985) 120# – Ed Schock (2002) TIE
Zercher Lift 460# – Stan Frenchie (1987) 500# – Phil Anderson (1988) Today
Steinborn Lift 365# – Ray Wells (1974) 375# – Steve Schmidt (1989) Today
Cheat Curl 245# – Homer Lewellan (1962) 235# – Phil Anderson (1988) Yesterday
Pinch Grip 198# – Kevin Fulton (1983) 170# – Doug Fulton (1999) Yesterday
Crucifix 104# – Steve Schmidt (1983) 100# – Bill Spayd (2001) Yesterday
Pullover – Straight Arm 135# – Steve Schmidt (1984) 110# – Tony Succarotte (2004) Yesterday
Pullover and Push 441# – Bob Burtzloff (1986) 446# – Phil Anderson (1989) Today
Clean & Press – Behind Neck 220# – Jimmy Lott (1978) 198# – Terry Grow (1994) Yesterday
Clean & Press – Heels Together 237# – Ron Sisk (1986) 254# – Tim Bruner (1989) Today
Clean & Press – Dumbbells 200# – Bob Burtzloff (1986) 200# – Ed Schock (2004) TIE
Pullover and Press 314# – Steve Schmidt (1984) 281# – Robert English (1998) Yesterday
Bench Press – Roman Chair 200# – Steve Schmidt (1985) 100# – Lewis Heater (2009) Yesterday
Yesterday’s lifters finally WIN one!!

It was close, but Yesterday’s Lifters get 18 wins to Today’s Lifters 16 wins, with two ties.  Now the overall score is Today 2 wins – Yesterday 1 win.  Tomorrow’s round will be the final round – with Yesterday’s 242# and SHW Classes battling Today’s 105K, 110k, 115K, 120K, 125K, and 125K+ Classes. Some really BIG NAMES will take each other on in this one.  Yesterday’s team will include guys like Wilbur Miller, Bob Burtzloff, Steve Schmidt, Wayne Jackson, and Clay Oliver versus Today’s team of Frank Ciavattone, Joe Ciavattone, Bob Moore, Chad Ullom, Mike McBride and others.  Yesterday’s team needs this win to say that Yesterday’s lifters are just as good as Today’s lifters.  I can’t wait to see how this turns out – as it appears Yesterday’s team is stacked with a lot of great talent.  Come back tomorrow to the USAWA Daily News for the final results -  and the answer to that long asked question.

Round 2 – Yesterday versus Today

Yesterday’s 165# & 181# Classes versus Today’s 75K, 80K, and 85 K Classes
by Al Myers


Lift Yesterday Today Winner
Deadlift – One Arm 317# – Ray Esquibel (1987) 441# – Bob Hirsh (1995) Today
Deadlift – Heels Together 570# – Sid Littleton (1986) 560# – Bob Hirsh (1995) Yesterday
Deadlift – Middle Fingers 350#- Bill Broadnax (1981) 235# – Dale Friesz (1995) Yesterday
Deadlift – One Leg 160# – Ray Esquibel (1987) 260# – Abe Smith (2001) Today
Hack Lift 600# – Sid Littleton (1985) 670# – Bob Hirsh (1997) Today
Jefferson Lift 580# – Sid Littleton (1986) 702# – Bob Hirsh (1996) Today
Hand and Thigh Lift 1000# – Kevin Hale (1986) 1350# – Bill DiCiccio, Jr. (1994) Today
Neck Lift 450# – Ed Zercher III (1987) 605# – Dale Friesz (1995) Today
Harness Lift 2300# – Rick Evans (1986) 2060# – Abe Smith (2005) Yesterday
Hip Lift 1900# – Sid Littleton (1987) 2030# – Bill DiCiccio, Sr. (1997) Today
Back Lift 1265# – Ed Zercher III (1987) 2200# – Tim Pinkerton (2005) Today
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells 410# – Sid Littleton (1985) 515# – Bob Hirsh (1995) Today
Clean and Press 285# – Robert Burnett (1967) 220# – Abe Smith (2004) Yesterday
Clean and Seated Press 210# – Dave Hahn (1962) 220# – Bob Hirsh (1996) Today
French Press 190# – Jim Charlton (1981) 121# – Bob Hirsh (2001) Yesterday
Bent Press 115# – David Lloyd (1975) 90# – Dennis Mitchell (1990) Yesterday
Bench Press – Feet in Air 352# – Ronnie Kinnamon (1984) 364# – Barry Bryan (1990) Today
Bench Press – Hands Together 275# – Ronnie Kinnamon (1984) 250# – Lon Beffort (2005) Yesterday
Front Squat 360# – Dennis Turner (1979) 380# – Barry Bryan (1990) Today
Snatch – One Arm 135# – David Lloyd (1976) 160# – Barry Bryan (1990) Today
Continental to Chest 264# – John Haynes (1987) 353# – Barry Bryan (1990) Today
Jerk – From Rack 315# – Swede Salsbury (1963) 353# – Barry Bryan (1990) Today
Clean and Jerk – One Arm 155# – David Llyod (1976) 160# – Barry Bryan (1991) Today
Swing – One Dumbbell 110# – Ray Webb (1984) 120# – Abe Smith (2004) Today
Zercher Lift 475# – Rick Evans (1986) 504# – Bob Hirsh (1995) Today
Steinborn Lift 325# – Sid Littleton (1982) 340# – Dan Wagman (2006) Today
Cheat Curl 255# – Dave Hahn (1962) 220# – Drue Moore (1995) Yesterday
Pinch Grip 205# – Tim McClain (1981) 160# – Matt Kucera (2001) Yesterday
Crucifix 130# – Joe Southard (1963) 90# – John Monk (2002) Yesterday
Pullover – Straight Arm 90# – Dick Hamilton (1963) 110# – Bob Hirsh (1996) Today
Pullover and Push 315# – Alense Barber (1986) 364# – Barry Bryan (1990) Today
Clean and Press – Behind Neck 200# – Wayne Gardner (1975) 209# – Bob Hirsh (1997) Today
Clean and Press – Heels Together 195# – Chester Words (1984) 248# – Barry Bryan (1990) Today
Clean and Press – Dumbbells 150# – Ray Webb (1984) 200# – Abe Smith (2006) Today
Pullover and Press 225# – Carles Allen (1984) 287# – Bob Hirsh (1996) Today
Bench Press – Roman Chair 185# – Kevin Hale (1985) 135# – John Monk (2006) Yesterday
Final Score of Round 2
Today’s lifters 25 wins to Yesterday’s lifters 11 wins.

Today’s Lifters win in a landslide Victory!  It seemed for Today’s lifters that Bob Hirsh dominated (9 wins total), and in his weaker lifts Barry Bryan took over (8 wins).  Yesterday’s Lifters were lead by Sid Littleton (5 wins) – who made up about half of the wins for Yesterday’s team.  This list is an ALL-STAR lineup and everyone on it deserves recognition – after all I picked the BEST out of more than one weight class.

Now Today’s Lifters lead by a 2-0 margin over Yesterday’s lifters.  Can Yesterday’s lifters win the next two rounds in the battle of the heavyweights?  Or will Round 3 be just more evidence that Today’s lifters are stronger than Yesterdays lifters?  Round 3 brings out the 198# Class and 220# Class for the Yesterday’s Lifters versus the 90 K, 95 K, and 100 K Classes for Today’s lifters.  Tomorrow’s battles will include these famous all-rounders going head to head – Stan Frenchie vs. Ed Schock, Bob Burtzloff vs. Phil Anderson, and Steve Schmidt vs. Steve Schmidt.  This Round will be somewhat different than the previous two – as you will see a few lifters playing for both teams.  Anyone want to put out any bets???  I got a feeling this is going to be a real BATTLE!!

Round 1 – Yesterday versus Today

Yesterday’s 148# Class and Below versus Today’s 70K Class and Below
by Al Myers


Lift Yesterday Today Winner
Deadlift – One Arm
319# – Randy Joe Holden (1985)
369# – John McKean (1993)
Deadlift – Heels Together
500# – Glen Terry (1985)
452# – Bob Hirsh (2004)
Deadlift – Middle Fingers
255# – Art Tarwater (1961)
245# – Colby Howard (1999)
Deadlift – One Leg
215# – Robbie Porter (1983)
235# – Bob Hirsh (2004)
Hack Lift
550# – Glenn Terry (1986)
550# – Bob Hirsh (1991)
Jefferson Lift
540# – Edwin Stitt (1986)
634# – Bob Hirsh (1994)
Hand and Thigh Lift
850# – Glenn Terry (1986)
1108# – Roger Lynch (1991)
Neck Lift
405# – Jim Borwick (1987)
600# – John Monk (2000)
Harness Lift
1800# – Glenn Terry (1986)
1805# – John Monk (2000)
Hip Lift
1200# – Edwin Stitt (1986)
1640# – Bob Hirsh (1993)
Back Lift
800# – Larry Blatt (1986)
1305# – John Monk (2000)
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells
440# – Robbie Porter (1984)
377# – John Monk (2005)
Clean and Press
220# – Guy Gronniger (1967)
176# – Chris Waterman (1997)
Clean and Seated Press
165# – Fred Yeargood (1977)
165# – John Monk (2000)
French Press
125# – Fred Yeargood (1974)
77# – Chris Waterman (2001)
Bent Press
80# – Fred Yeargood (1985)
72# – Dennis Mitchell (1998)
Bench Press – Feet in Air
290# – Glenn Terry (1985)
270# – James Longo (1990)
Bench Press – Hands Together
155# – Robert Johnson (1984)
240# – John Monk (1999)
Front Squat
308# – Brent Pierce (1984)
315# – George James (2006)
Snatch – One Arm
150# – Gordon Strain (1931)
127# – Chris Waterman (1991)
Continental to Chest
308# – Brent Pierce (1987)
325# – Chris Waterman (1996)
Jerk – From Rack
260# – Willie Wells (1958)
281# – Chris Waterman (1997)
Clean and Jerk – One Arm
170# – Gordon Strain (1931)
132# – Pete Zaremba (1997)
Swing – One Dumbbell
135# – Gordon Strain (1927)
90# – Pete Zaremba (1996)
Zercher Lift
430# – Edwin Stitt (1986)
408# – Bob Hirsh (1993)
Steinborn Lift
250# – Glenn Terry (1985)
325# – John Monk (2002)
Cheat Curl
160# – Fred Yeargood (1974)
180# – Jason Groves (2002)
Pinch Grip
115# – Wayne Smith (1980)
100# – Colby Howard (1999)
Crucifix 70# – William Nicholson (1982)
90# – John Monk (2001)
Pullover – Straight Arm
90# – Dick Hamilton (1963)
100# – John Monk (2004)
Pullover and Push
264# – Randy Joe Holden (1987)
297# – John Monk (2006)
Clean and Press – Behind Neck
165# – Fred Yeargood (1977)
183# – Bob Hirsh (1992)
Clean and Press – Heels Together
176# – Robbie Porter (1984)
182# – Chris Waterman (1991)
Clean and Press – Dumbbells
160# – Robbie Porter (1984)
155# – John Monk (2006)
Pullover and Press
135# – Art Tarwater (1962)
265# – John Monk (2005)
Bench Press – Roman Chair
150# – Glenn Terry (1995)
135# – Kyle Achenbach (2006)

Today’s lifters win over Yesterday’s lifters!!

The final score is:  Today 20 wins, Yesterday 14 wins, 2 ties

At times it seemed close, but due to John Monk (9 wins), Bob Hirsh (4 wins) and Chris Waterman (3 wins), this trio beat the Yesterday lifters by themselves.  Today’s dominance in the Heavy Lifts appeared to be a big factor in the win.  I’m not sure why Gordon Strain’s records were in the record list (before the Mo Valley listed started), but they were so I used them in this comparison.  Gordon Strain’s lifts would be great compared to Heavyweight lifters!!

Tomorrow will be round 2 of this epic battle.  It will be Yesterdays 165# Class and 181# Class versus Today’s 75 K, 80 K, and 85 K Classes. Yesterday lifters include a lineup of big names such as  Ray Webb, Sid Littleton, and Joe Southard versus Today’s lifters of Bob Hirsh, Abe Smith, and Barry Bryan.

Will Yesterday’s lifters tie up the score?  Or will Today’s lifters win another one?  Tune in tomorrow to the USAWA Daily News to find out…..

Are Today’s Lifters Stronger than Yesterday’s Lifters?

by Al Myers

That is a question worth finding an answer to!!  But how do you “really know”?  Rule changes, drug use and today’s equipment allowances make it near impossible to answer this question using Powerlifting Records.  In today’s “geared” Powerlifting it is as important to learn how to maximize your equipment to it’s potential as to get stronger.  That is an art in itself that has nothing to do with actually getting stronger.  New advanced bars and rule changes have definitely helped Olympic Lifters today – so it is hard to use Olympic Lifting as your model.

I am going to undertake this challenge of answering this question using All-Round Weightlifting as my data source.  After all, not much has changed in All-Round Weightlifting over the last 50 years.  We have never allowed any gear besides a lifting belt, no one can say we are drug users as we test regularly and more than any other organization at meets, and our rules have not really changed any.  Sure – some may say the “judging was more strict in the old days”, but I have watched old videos and I feel not much has really changed with officiating. After all,  Bill Clark was judging THEN and is judging NOW!!

Thanks to Frank Ciavattone for providing me with the old Region IV Missouri Valley Odd Lift record List so I have something to compare today’s lifts with.  This Record List covered the States of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.  This was also the Region that Odd Lifting was most contested in – under the direction of Bill Clark.  This Record List was established in 1961 and went to 1987, at which time the USAWA was formed and the USAWA Record List started.  So we got 26 years on the Old Record List and 22 years on the New Record List.  Sounds like a good matchup to me!   There are some difficulties in setting up this comparison however – as in the “Old Days” weight classes were in pounds and today they are in Kilograms.   But I have devised a plan for comparison and it goes like this:

Group 1.  Compare best record mark in the “Old” 148# Class and below to today’s 70 K Class and  below.
Group 2.  Compare best mark in the “Old” 165# and 181# Class to today’s best record in the 75 K and 80 K Classes.
Group 3.  Compare the best record in the “Old” 198# and 220# Classes to today’s best record in the 85 K, 90 K, and 100 K classes.
Group 4.  Compare the “Old” 242# Class and HVY Class records to the best record in today’s 105 K, 110 K, 115 K, 120 K, 125 K, and 125+ K classes.

This give 4 body weight groups to compare in rounds.  I will pick lifts that were done in the “Old Days” as some of the newer lifts we have today were not done then.  All together – I have come up with 36 lifts to compare so this will be an extensive study. So come back tomorrow to the USAWA Daily News for the First Round of this Comparison!!  I’ll see if I can answer that age-old question, “Are today’s lifters stronger than yesterday’s lifters?”

Dale Harder’s Strength & Speed Newsletter

by Al Myers

Dale Harder's Strength & Speed Newsletter

Are you like me and get NOTHING out of reading today’s muscle mags?  Most of the information in them I don’t believe anyhow – usually an article about one of TODAY’S top bodybuilders and his “secret program”. Somehow I doubt this bodybuilder would actually tell his competition his “secret program” in a magazine thus giving his competition an edge over him. I also get tired of the rampant commercialism in these magazines about all the special supplements that a lifter should be taking. How healthy is taking handfuls of pills everyday if they are not medically needed?  If you got rid of all the BS in these pump-up mags, they would be reduced to one page of useful information.

However, there are still some GREAT newsletters and magazines available for the hard core strength athlete.  One of these is Dale Harder’s Strength and Speed Newsletter.  This is a MUST READ for any lifter.  Dale is an amazing strength historian and writer, and produces an information-packed Newsletter every two months.  In it you find every page is interesting, and it contains no ads trying to sell you the latest nutritional gimmick. Dale has covered numerous All-Round Weightlifting Events and All-Round Lifters in the past in his Newsletter.  Also, in his Newsletter you will find coverage of Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, Strongman Competitions, Highland Games and even interesting strength trivia.  Dale loves statistics and it shows in his Newsletter.  You often get rankings and comparisons of different strength feats. Plus, Dale has written several strength books that are a MUST BUY.  I have always considered The Super Athletes by David Willoughby as the book that contains the  greatest accumulation of strength history (which was published in 1970). Well, Dale Harder is the modern day David Willoughby and if you put all of his writings together in one publication it would surpass Willoughby’s book.

Take the time today to give yourself a Christmas Present and subscribe to Dale’s Strength and Speed Newsletter. Better yet – buy a couple of his books at the same time.  I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

Matt Graham – The USAWA’s Grip Sensation

by Al Myers

Matt Graham pinch gripping Two York 45's in one hand and lifting the Inch Dumbbell with the other.

Roger Davis inquired last week on the USAWA Discussion Forum about the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip.  There has been some differences in “the name” of this lift between the USAWA and the IAWA(UK).  This has lead to some records that have been put in the IAWA Record List that probably shouldn’t be there. I am not going to go into detail here regarding that discussion (check out the USAWA Discussion Forum if you are interested in this).  But the discussion lead to the phenomenal lifting of Matt Graham, of Liberal, Kansas, and his great 540# Deadlift on the Fulton Bar, done with a overhand grip at the 2001 SuperGrip Challenge, hosted by Kevin Fulton.  This is a remarkable lift, and possibly could be the highest of All-Time done in this fashion.  Matt hasn’t competed recently in any USAWA meet, but I would like to take today to highlight some of his amazing grip feats.  Several of his grip lifts done in the USAWA are the tops in the USAWA Record List.  I had the opportunity to train with Matt a few times, and he competed in my Dino Gym Challenge several times.  Matt is trained by an USAWA lifting legend, and a great grip master himself, Bob Burtzloff.  I have witnessed Matt doing several grip feats that just left me shaking my head in disbelief!!  I have seen him “snatch” the 50# Blob with one hand, close the #3 COC gripper three times in a row, and pinch grip two 45# plates and lift them high enough to place them on top of a tall barrel.

Matt is built to be a great grip lifter.  He is 6′7″ and weighed around 325# at one time (now he’s a little lighter).   He has very long fingers, and an even larger thumb in proportion. His fingers are long enough that he can Hook Grip a 2″ bar!  Not many people can do that!  Several of his grip feats are well-documented.  He competed several years at Kevin Fulton’s SuperGrip Challenge in Litchfield, Nebraska and won many of them – and he was judged by a couple of very qualified officials – Kevin Fulton and Bill Clark.  Matt is indeed the “real deal” when it comes to grip power!!

Matt Graham’s USAWA Grip Records

600# – Deadlift – 3″ Bar
455# – Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip
540# – Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Overhand Grip (with Hook)
225# – Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm
344# – Deadlift – Two “Inch” Dumbbells
200# – Pinch Grip

Still not convinced that Matt is the USAWA’s Grip Sensation?
Then check out this video evidence.

YouTube Video – Matt doing a 600# Deadlift with 3″ bar.

YouTube Video – Matt doing a 540# Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Overhand Grip using a Hook Grip.

YouTube Video – Matt deadlifting two Inch Dumbbells at the same time.

YouTube Video – Matt taking the Inch Dumbbell overhead with only one hand using a knee kick, outside on a windy day.

YouTube Video – Matt doing a 192#  One Arm Clean and Jerk with the Fulton Bar.

Maybe I can convince Matt to make a “comeback” at this year’s USAWA’s Grip Challenge, hosted by Ben Edwards in February?

Records Race

by Al Myers

After the recent activity of several record days and meets, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the USAWA Records Race between Denny “Prez” Habecker and Art “Man of Steel” Montini.  After Worlds, Denny was holding a slight lead over Art for most current records held in the USAWA (4 records).  It is still very close, but Denny has increased his lead over Art.  These two are WAY AHEAD of the rest of the field, and I have a feeling the battle between the two of them will continue for quite some time.  I have expanded the list from the TOP TEN to the lifters who hold over 100 USAWA current records. I’m going to call it the CENTURY CLUB, which seems appropriate since most lifters in it are approaching that age!  To date, there are 20 lifters who hold over 100  USAWA records. Special recognition goes to Scott Schmidt – the most recent addition to this elite group of lifters.

Century Club

1.   361  Denny Habecker
2.   350  Art Montini
3.   225  John McKean
4.   216  Bill Clark
5.   214  Noi Phumchona
6.   207  Dennis Mitchell
6.   207  Frank Ciavattone
8.   204  Joe Garcia
9.   201  Bob Hirsh
10.  195  Al Myers
11.  171  Howard Prechtel
12.  138  Dale Friesz
13.  137  Jim Malloy
14.  134  Ed Schock
15.  123  John Monk
16.  118  Mary McConnaughey
17.  114  Chris Waterman
18.  110  Joshua Monk
19.  106  John Vernacchio
20.  106  Scott Schmidt

Congratulations to JIM MALLOY – who just recently passed the USAWA Rules Test. Jim has now joined the ranks of a LEVEL 2 Official – which includes passing the Rules Test and having the experience of officiating in over 25 USAWA/IAWA competitions.  I want to point out that all certified officials (both level 1 and level 2) have the same authority as officials. “Level 2″ just distinguishes those who have completed both avenues in becoming an USAWA official.  I know there probably are individuals who have met the “experience requirement” to be on the list (as a Level 1 Official) and are not listed there. I have no way of knowing who these are if I am not told, especially if these individual’s involvement happened many years ago, before I got involved in the USAWA. Most old result sheets didn’t list who the Officials were even.  If this is YOU , and you have officiated in over 25 USAWA All-Round Competitions in the past,  and want to get involved again in the USAWA as an Official – PLEASE let me know and I’ll gladly put you on the list. The USAWA would LOVE to get you back into the fold!!  The “experience” route was developed in the Rule Book as a “Grandfather Clause” so those very qualified and experienced officials would not have to “start over” in getting certified as an USAWA Official. After all, these individuals have already “earned” their official status the hard way – by sitting in the judges chair for many, many hours.  The purpose of the Rules Test is about certifying NEW officials.

The JWC’s Apollon Wheels Replica

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck, of the JWC, takes the Apollon Wheels Replica overhead at the JWC Training Hall

Al had told me for years he was wanting to make some Apollon’s Wheels and he finally made them! The best part was he made two sets and gave one to me as a contribution to our Strongman Evangelism shows.

Lifting Al’s version of the Apollon’s Wheels were like lifting history. But that did not change the fact they were formidable pieces of equipment!

My strategy was to do an over and under grip on bar and continental it to the belt. Then, I switched to a double overhand grip and popped it in the air. I had to let go of the bar, as it will not rotate (and you don’t want it to rotate on you as it could build so much momentum it could throw you over backwards or break your wrists). Then drop under the bar and regrip it in a “rack” position. Once here, it was just a matter of completing the push press. I was so excited that once I got it overhead I did a 360 degree turn with it at arms length.

If you travel to my gym or Al’s, the Apollon’s axle is a must see!

Friedrech Wilhelm Muller

by Dennis Mitchell

A classical picture of Friedrech Wilhelm Muller (better known under his stage name of Eugen Sandow).

Friedrech Wilhelm Muller was born April 2, 1867, in Konigsberg, East Prussia. His father was a German army officer and his mother was from Russia. He also had an older brother who was a professor at the University of Gottingen. Friedrech was an excellent student, and even though he described himself as a delicate child he grew to be quite proficient as a gymnast and was a good all-round athlete. His parents had hopes for him to enter the clergy.

After his father retired from the military, he went into the jewelry business. He would take young Friedrech with him on some of his business trips. It was on a trip to Italy, when Friedrech was ten years old, that he saw the sculptures of the Roman athletes. It was from these that he first desired to get physically strong and have a well developed body.

Even though his father had been an officer in the German Army, Friedrech left East Prussia to avoid military service. He could never return or he would have been arrested for avoiding his military obligation.

He made his living by being an acrobat in the circus. It was on his second trip to London, England that he met Professor Louis Attila. Attila saw Friedrech’s great potential and coached him, and taught him how to perform as a professional strongman. He learned so well, that Attila and he traveled together performing strongman acts in various theaters, music halls, etc. It was at this time that Attila thought that Friedrech should change his name, as was the custom of most strong men performers. One story is that he took his Russian mother’s name Sandov, ( the V being pronounced as a W) and became Eugen Sandow. They had a very popular and successful strongman act. After a while Attila returned to his gym in London and Sandow continued to perform alone.

Florenz Ziegfeld saw Sandow performing his strongman act a circus side show and hired him for his own carnival show. After a wile it became apparent that people were more interested in Sandows muscles than how much he could lift, and a “Muscle display performance” was added to his show.

There was a very popular strongman act in London at that time by the name of Samson and Cyclops. At every performance they would offer one hundred English pounds to any one who could duplicate the feats performed by Cyclops, and one thousand English pounds to any one who could beat any of Samson’s feats. Sandow returned to London and with Attila watched several of their performances. When Attila felt the time was right Sandow accepted their challenge and defeated them both. Sandow was not only a very good showman but was also a very strong and capable lifter, and his reputation was made.

In 1894 Sandow once again joined with Florenze Ziegfeld and performed at the World’s Colombian Exposition, in Chicago. The only exhibit more popular than Sandow was “Little Egypt”.

Sandow was married in 1894 to Blanch Brooks Sandow. They had two daughters.

There were many different claims made as to Sandow’s measurements. I will list the ones taken by Dr.Sargent of Harvard University: height, 5′7.25″, expanded chest,47″, waist, 32.75″, thigh, 23″, upper arm, 17″, and he weighed 180 pounds.

There were many conflicting claims about his strength. He did have an official bent press of 269 pounds and an unofficial lift of 280 pounds.

Sandow’s greatest contribution was that he inspired many people to be physically fit, and taught that the average person could improve their strength and the development of their body. He ran the Sandow Institute of Physical Culture and also published Sandow’s magazine of Physical Culture and British Sport.

Eugen Sandow died on October 14, 1925. Again, there were various accounts of what caused his death, but the one generally accepted was he broke a blood vessel in his brain while lifting his car out of a ditch after an accident.

John’s B-day Record Day

by John McKean

Nature threw us one of its usual December curves with snow squalls on Saturday, which kept some away, but Sunday was sunny and clear, though cold! Art & I arrived early and weren’t sure if anyone would show up when the gym was still empty at 8:30, but we had a surprise official turn up for a workout – young Bill DiCioccio, veteran of most USAWA meets during the 90s. Then Big Ernie Beath, now at 400 pounds, “crowded” the gym all by himself! He and his mom & dad had driven their van up the previous day to slowly traverse any weather problems; traveling slow through the mountain areas, his dad said the drive from Maryland took almost 11 hours (normally 5). Then Scott & Cathy Schmidt bounced in from Cleveland – didn’t even see white stuff on the way over! Denny Habecker had given us frantic phone calls the evening before as he was almost snowed under in Lebanon, but made the drive on Sunday in record time!

Big Ernie was anxious to start and began as everyone else was just getting settled in. The drive & weather set him back just a bit, as he could “only” manage a rack jerk of 406 pounds!! He tried 426 three times, but had trouble holding the lockout!! Well, he may have been tired, but that lifting sure woke the rest of us up!! Ernie also did an EASY rack push press of 386. and a dumbbell side press of 154 that looked more like a strict stance DB press!! Denny, Art, and Kohl Hess, a promising new teen who Denny brought over, did the postal meet qualifying lifts under official judging, and set a few records while doing so! Of course ole Art ,just had to throw in a few extra lifts for records, as did the always smiling Scott Schmidt (probably smiling because his rolling barbell after the set down almost nailed me twice!). Even this old man, though not quite my birthday yet ( on the 15th I turn 64; all gifts freely accepted!!!), managed to lose the “return from retirement” rust to post a few new marks!

We managed to get done at about 12:30, so it turned out to be a very efficient session. Everyone was so enthused about the ” BIG WORKOUT” at the club, that Art & I have agreed to conduct several more throughout the calendar year. Heck, the gym is fairly vacant on Sundays, and it doesn’t cost us anything !! Besides EVERYONE does their best lifting with the shared adrenaline flowing through the air (or is that smell just our gym mold, some of which is almost older than Art??!!), and our new record certificates are already a hit! See ya all there at upcoming meets!


John’s Birthday Record Day

(and National Postal Meet Qualifier)

Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, Ambridge, PA

December 6, 2009

All lifts listed in pounds except as noted

IAWA International Officials: (3 judges on all lifts)

Art Montini, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, John McKean


John McKean – 174.5 lbs., 63 years old, 60+ 80K Class

Ciavattone Deadlift                    335

One-Arm Hack (L)                     175

One-Arm Hack (R)                    215

One-DB DL (R)                         225

Hack Lift – 2″ Bar                       275

Art Montini – 181 lbs, 82 years old, 80+ 85 K Class

Clean and Press – 2″ Bar          65

2 Hands Anyhow DB/BB           60

Clean & Push Press                 80

Zercher                                     158

Ciavattone DL                           200

Denny Habecker – 200 lbs, 67 years old, 65+ 95 K Class

Clean & Push Press                148

Zercher                                     215

Ciavattone DL                          290

Scott Schmidt – 262 lbs., 57 years old, 55+ 120 K Class

Clean & Seated Press-Behind Neck             75K

Clean & Seated Press                                   80K

Vertical Bar DL – 1 bar, 1″,  (L)                      92.5K

2 Hand (1 bar) 1″ Vertical Bar Deadlift          150K

Kohl Hess – 264 lbs., 15 years old, Jr. 14-15 120 K Class

Clean & Push Press                130

Zercher                                     215

Ciavattone DL                           290

Ernie Beath – 400 lbs., 28 years old, Open 125+ Class

Jerk From Rack                             406

Push Press From Rack                386

Overhead Squat (Arms Ext)          251

RH Side Press DB                        154

LH Side Press DB                         134

Alternate Grip Clean & Press        225

Reverse Grip Clean & Press         225

Goerner Deadlift Meet

by Al Myers

Group Picture at the 2009 Goerner Deadlift Dozen Plus One Left to Right: Chad Ullom, Al Myers, and Rudy Bletscher

Only three lifters attended the Goerner Deadlift this year – and all were representatives of the Dino Gym.  However, despite this small turnout, the competition was fierce for the overall.  I was able to pull the win out over my good friend and training partner Chad Ullom.  This was my 4th Goerner win – which is the most by any individual in the history of the Goerner Deadlift.  It has taken me several years but finally my finger deadlifts don’t let me down at the end of this meet! They still have a long ways to go though, but they are not near the embarrassment they used to be for me (like the time Mary Mac beat me in poundage on ALL the finger deadlifts at this meet!).  Chad had an outstanding performance – by far his best ever in this meet. I looked back at the results of past Goerner meets and Chad posted the second highest adjusted points of All-Time, with my adjusted points this year being the highest. So any other year Chad would have won – and this says a lot since many great lifters have lifted in the Goerner Meet throughout the years. Outstanding deadlifters such as Rex Monahan, Kevin Fulton, and Mike McBride have all lifted at the Goerner in the past. Chad’s One Arm Deadlift has been really improving lately (he got 410# with his right at a record day a few weeks ago) and he was hoping to go over 400# again, but had balance issues on his last pull, causing him to miss it.  He then tried for a record 445# One Arm Deadlift and had it up high enough – but just couldn’t hold it long enough to satisfy Bill’s two second count.  Give Chad some more time with this lift and I think you will see him pull over 500#!!  Rudy again turned in a solid meet.  At 74 years old, Rudy is very muscular for his age – and he doesn’t even spend much time training with weights. Most of his training involves doing bodyweight exercises – like pushups, deep knee bends, and situps.  He can still quickly drop to the floor and pound out the pushups!   He does the work around his farm the “hard way” and in return, reaps strength the old-fashioned way. I’m talking about such things as carrying buckets by hand, cutting down trees with a hand saw, and hand loading bags of feed – tasks that most farmers use mechanical assistance for. But it has paid off for Rudy – and I only hope when I’m his age I can be in the shape he is now.  I enjoyed getting to meet James Hockemeyer, of Fulton Missouri,  who came to watch this meet and to see Bill. James is an old Olympic Lifter/Powerlifter and has been a supporter of the Strength Journal for years, but has never tested himself in the All-Rounds. I was glad to see Tom Powell there.  Tom always shows up to load at Clark’s meets.  This time, he brought his step-son along to help also.  Loaders often don’t get thanked enough – so I brought along a Dino Gym T-Shirt for Tom as a token payment for all his efforts!  Thanks again Tom!!

I could go on and on about this meet, but I’m going to cut it short.  This has always been one of my favorite meets for a lot of reasons – and many thanks goes to Bill Clark for hosting it.  When the meet was over, I told Bill that I will always make sure the Goerner Deadlift continues, and when the day comes that he is ready to pass it along to someone else, I will be ready take it.


Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One
Clark’s Gym
Columbia, Missouri
December 5th, 2009

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Official: (One Official System) Bill Clark

Loader:  Tom Powell

Lifts:  Deadlift – Heels Together, Jefferson Lift, Hack Lift, Deadlift – 2 Bars, Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm (right and left), Deadlift – One Arm (Right and Left), Deadlift – Reeves, Deadlift – Index Fingers, Deadlift – Middle Fingers, Deadlift – Ring Fingers, Deadlift – Little Fingers


Lifter Age BWT DL-HT Jeff Hack 2 Bar
DL -NT, Right
DL – NT, Left
DL – Right
Al Myers
43 254 550 550 500 590 250 250 365
Chad Ullom
37 230 495 500 475 500 225 185 365
Rudy Bletscher
74 219 275 225 225 270 155 155 175

Lifter DL -Left
Reeves DL-MF
DL-RF DL-LF Total Pts ADJ Pts
Al Myers
365 335 305 225 225 155 4665 3672.29 3819.18
Chad Ullom
385 305 300 225 225 100 4285 3550.12 3550.12
Rudy Bletscher
175 185 135 135 115 65 2290 1947.19 2628.71

All lifts and bodyweights were recorded in pounds.
No records were set on extra attempts.
BWT – Bodyweight     Pts – Lynch Points    ADJ Pts – Age adjusted Lynch Points

The Dino Gym’s Replica of the Apollon Wheels

by Al Myers

The Dino Gym's Apollon Wheels Replica

The Apollon Wheels have a mythical attraction to them.  What makes a better Challenge Barbell than TRAIN WHEELS!   I have  heard  the stories of Louis Uni (Apollon) lifting these giant  Train Wheels is his performances, and can only imagine how impressive he must have looked doing it. I only wish there were some pictures of him lifting them!!

Several people have made replicas of the Apollon Wheels (AW).  I have seen lots of pictures of them. What I don’t understand is why most replicas don’t resemble the original Apollon Wheels in the slightest.  Just look at the pictures of them and you will see what I am saying.  Most have rims that are way wider than the original Apollon Wheels. The hub design is not even remotely the same with some. Some replicas are plated with shiny chrome. The spokes are even turned wrong in some!  Sometimes I question whether they even used the original’s AW measurements! Most replicas that have been made look much bigger than the original AW.

I have wanted to undertake this project for quite some time – ever since I read in MILO several years ago (September 2004) an article  about the Hollie Brothers  and their quest in making an Apollon Wheel replica. They did it right, and tried to make a replica as close to the original as possible.  I had decided then, that when I took on this project, that would be my goal also.  Several design issues immediately became a problem.  First, only a “handful” of measurements have been recorded for the original AW and published. I read all the resources and tried to use what I considered the most accurate information.   I have several pictures of the original AW – and had to extrapolate from these pictures  and estimate some measurements – like the length of the gussets and width and diameter of the hub.  The one thing I did NOT want to be the same with my replica as the original AW was the weight.  The original AW weighed 366# (or 365# as some sources report).  I did not want to make it that heavy.  I don’t need any more heavy doorstops!  I wanted to make a replica that I could lift and train with!  So I decided my design weight goal would be around 250 pounds. The final weight of my AW replica turned out to be 240 pounds – which is ideal.

This project turned out to be a big success.  I was very pleased how my Apollon Wheels Replica turned out.  It’s nice to have something like this in the gym – when new lifters join their eyes are immediately drawn to this huge 2″ bar containing railroad car wheels as the plates.  It’s at that time I ask, “Have you heard the story about Apollon and his Challenge Barbell?”

The Apollon Wheels

by Al Myers

Norb Schemansky lifting the Apollon Wheels

The Apollon Wheels were made famous by the legendary French Professional Strongman, Louis Uni AKA Apollon, in the late 1800’s. Apollon used these in his strongman stage shows and billed them as the UNLIFTABLE Challenge Barbell. The Apollon Wheels were an old set of railroad car wheels connected by an axel. The Apollon Wheels weigh 366 pounds (total weight). The diameter of the Wheels are 26 inches and the diameter of the axel is 1.93 inches. The width of the Wheels are 4 inches wide and the length of the axel is under 6 feet (several sources report different lengths).

Who has lifted the original Apollon Wheels?

Besides Apollon himself, only three individuals have ever lifted the original Apollon Wheels. The first to lift the Apollon Wheels was Charles Rigoulet on March 3rd, 1930. Rigoulet, a Frenchman, was a World Weightlifting Champion and is credited with the first 400 pound Clean and Jerk in history!!! The next to lift the Apollon Wheels was John Davis, of the United States, on September 13th, 1949. Davis was also a World Champion Weightlifter and was the first man to Clean and Jerk 400 pounds under official meet conditions. Norb Schemansky, of the United States, was the third to lift the Apollon Wheels on October 17th, 1954, just one week after winning the World Championships. After Schemansky had the Wheels to his chest – he jerked the Apollon Wheels three times in a row!!!

Several modern day strength athletes have lifted Apollon Wheels replicas, but only these three lifters (or 4 if you count Apollon) lifted the original Apollon Wheels overhead. Today, the Apollon Wheels reside at the Musee National du Sport (a museum) in Paris, France.

Meeting Tommy Kono

by Thom Van Vleck

Tommy Kono and Thom Van Vleck

It is not often you get to meet a living legend, but earlier this year I did just that! I was at the Arnold Fitness Expo for the first time in my life. I got to meet a slew of legends, current stars, and I’m sure some future legends. This included Frank Zane, Lou Ferrigno, Phil Pfister, Derek Poundstone, even Arnold himself as well as many others. But I have to say, the one that I saw that literally gave me the biggest thrill was Tamio “Tommy” Kono. Growing up in a weightlifting family, Tommy was like a mythical legend to me. I expected to see Arnold there, as well as many others, but I didn’t know Kono was going to be there so when I literally ran into him in the hallway while talking to my wife on my cell phone…..well, my heart jumped in my throat and I literally hung up on her as I ran to him like some star crossed teen seeing a teen idol. At least I didn’t scream!

Some might wonder who Tommy Kono was. Well, let me tell you about the man that was voted the “Greatest Weightlifter of the 20th Century”. He represented the U.S.A. in the 50s and 60s. Tommy Kono is the only lifter to have world records in four different weightlifting classes from 149lbs to 198lbs. He won a Gold Medal at both the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games, and a Silver Medal at the 1960 Olympics. He was world champion from 1953 – 1959 and set 21 world records. He was the Pan-Am Games champion in 1955, 1959, and 1963. In 1976, he coached the United States’ Olympic weightlifting team in the Montreal Games. He was also a successful Bodybuilder, winning the Mr. Universe title in 1955 and 1957. Of Japanese descent, Kono was born in Sacramento, California, on June 27th, 1930. Kono’s family was relocated to Tule Lake internment camp during World War II. Tule lake camp was in a very isolated area in the desert in northern California. Sickly as a child, the desert air helped Kono’s asthma. It was during the relocation that Kono was introduced by neighbors to weight training . After 3 1/2 years they were released and he finished high school at Sacramento High. In the 1970s he moved to Hawaii, where he has lived ever since and in 1993 he was elected to the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

Tommy was extremely cordial and allowed me to have my picture taken with him and a copy hangs with pride in the JWC gym. He made a glowing comment that I must be a champion myself and commented on how big and strong I looked as he sized me up. I was very impressed by him and he lived up to my lofty expectations. Tommy is a legend in the truest sense.

In Memory of Bob Cox

by Al Myers

Bob Cox, a longtime USAWA lifter from Cleveland, passed away last May.  Bob was very involved with All-Round Weightlifting in Ohio and participated in several All-Round Meets throughout the years.  He will be missed by everyone.  Dennis Mitchell sent me his obituary, which I would like to share here.

Robert P. Cox, age 84, passed away May 8, 2009.  Beloved husband of Shirley (nee Peterman), loving father of John (Sherry), Joyce Acord (Dennis Riggleman), and the late Dale, dear grandfather of Heather Cox (deceased), James Cox, Jessica Acord, Shayna Cox, Steven Acord, great-grandfather of four, dear brother of Marilyn, Doris, the late Barbara and Marjorie.  Memorial contributions may be forwarded to Lakewood Presbyterian Church, 14502 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 44107. Inurnment Thursday, May 14 at 12:30 p.m. at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. A memorial Service will be held at Lakewood Presbyterian Church, Friday, May 15 at 11 a.m.  Friends may call at the Busch Funeral Home.

Bob Cox currently holds 63 USAWA Records – with most of them set when he was over the age of 70!

Here are a couple of videos of Bob Cox from the 2000 IAWA World Championships – which was held in Mansfield, Massachusetts:

YouTube Video – Bob Cox performing a Continental Snatch
YouTube Video – Bob Cox performing a One Arm Deadlift