Articles from January 2010

Phil Pfister

by Thom Van Vleck

Phil Pfister and Thom Van Vleck

I first met Phil Pfister in 2002 in St. Louis. Phil is, of course, the 2006 winner of the World’s Strongest man. I was there helping Randy Richey and his Omega Force Strongman Evangelism Team. The team was serving as a sort of “half time” entertainment between events along with John Brookfield. Evidently, Phil had done some strongman evangelism work with Randy and he came over and hung out with us a couple of times. When we first met, he shook my hand and I actually felt his thumb and fingers meet on the back of my hand! His hands are enormous! I got to write a small piece in MILO on that meet and complimented Phil on not only winning two events, but how he donated the individual event bonus of $100 to the children’s charity the event was benefitting.

The next year, Omega Force was an even bigger part of the show and so was I. The final day ended up in the Family Arena with some 3,000 spectators and Fox Sports Midwest recording the show. It was as big a production as I can recall ever being a part of and I was allowed full access as I was part of it. Phil hung around with us as he knew Randy and we got to visit between events and we cheered him on when he took his turn. At one point, before we did our show, Phil came and joined our prayer circle and as he stepped in he laid his arm around me and it was then I first noticed how big he really is, his size is deceptive on television. He seems much bigger in real life and I think he’s taller than his listed 6’6”. Later, he walked up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder and it literally felt like a baseball glove enveloping my shoulder.

It was not until this year that I got to see Phil again. It was at the Arnold Expo in Columbus, Ohio and again I was with Randy Richey and Omega Force. Again, when Phil was free he came over and hung out with us. At one point he brought Mark Henry with him. They stayed and watched one of our performances. Randy has an 800lb log he lifts in his shows. At one point Randy asked Phil to autograph his log. Phil took a pen, traced his baseball mitt sized hand on the log and signed it.

Phil is obviously a little bit of an introvert that tries very hard to be outgoing. The result is that he can seem a little stand-offish as he gazes away and avoids direct eye contact. This, combined with his intimidating size (I’m 6’3 and 300lbs and he makes me feel little) can sometimes make people feel a little put off. But the reality is Phil has a huge heart and after you are around him a little you realize he just wants to fit in….but it’s hard to fit in when you are so BIG! Phil is a great guy and I’m proud to call him my friend!

Meeting Louis Cyr

by John McKean

Statue of Louis Cyr in Montreal

While attending the 1987 Master’s Pan Am weightlifting championships ( I believe I was 41 at the time and had trimmed down to 132 # -too much aerobics!), my friend & driver John Harrison and I got slightly lost in the suburb of Montreal between the meet venue and our hotel. This was the third or fourth time we had become lost in that sprawling city during that exciting weekend! Since the hotel was only about 2 miles away, we knew we couldn’t be that far off course! Another group of lifters were following us back and, of course, they didn’t know exactly where we were either. So we pulled off beside a tiny park to check the map. As we got out of the cars some one pointed over and exclaimed “Look at that!! Isn’t that Louis Cyr?!” We all eyeballed the massive, well weathered statue and couldn’t miss the inscription! We lifters were like school kids over this find! Was this the neighborhood that Cyr himself once roamed?

In case anyone is not sure, Cyr is the big one in the background and the tiny figure in the bottom right in a similar pose (I think at that bodyweight I had the advantage in shape & definition over ole Louie for this pose-off!!) is yours truly! I captioned the photo as ” Louis Cyr asking John for All-Round training advice!”

Later we asked our Canadian hosts ( who did one heck of a job in hosting this big event) about the statue and they seemed completely mystified, not knowing of its existence. Since that time, in fact, NO ONE who I’ve ever heard of has seen this really cool statue! We couldn’t even locate it again ourselves when describing it to other lifters back at the hotel. Thank goodness we took the photo! I thought it would be neat to display this since the recent article appeared in a recent Daily News below.( the pic since has inspired me to bulk up!!).

The Foot Press

by Al Myers

Dave Glasgow lifting over 1000# in the Foot Press at the Dino Gym Challenge

Recently at the Dino Gym Challenge we performed an “exhibition lift” that was a very popular Old Time Strongman performance feat. I initially termed it the “Plank Support”, but the proper name for the lift we did in the meet should be the “Foot Press”. This lift has never been contested before (in modern times at least) so I had some uncertainty in how the event would go. The difference between a Plank Support and a Foot Press is this – in the Plank Support the legs are already locked as weight is added to the feet while with the Foot Press the weight is pushed up with the legs/hip to lockout. Both of these were favorites of Arthur Saxon, and it is reported that he did 3200# in both. Saxon would lay on his back while a heavy plank was placed on his feet in which weight (often in the form of people) was loaded onto the plank. He did “a little extra” with his act in that once the weight was loaded and supported he would slightly unlock his knees and then leg press it out again. So in a sense he was doing both a Plank Support and Foot Press at the same time! Other strongman didn’t unlock their legs when doing this stunt. He also didn’t use any hand supports, thus maintaining balance with his feet only! The rules for the Foot Press as was done at the Dino Gym Challenge is as follows:

Rules for Foot Press

An apparatus is used in which weight is loaded onto the feet only while the lifter is laying on his/her back on the floor/platform with the legs vertical and perpendicular to the floor. The apparatus used must allow the weight to rise without providing any leverage to the lift, but may be guided in a tract. It is also acceptable to use a plank resting on support platforms. The lift starts at the lifter’s discretion. Hands may be placed on the legs or any part of the apparatus, but must not be used to push directly against the weight being lifted. The weight lifted must clear the supports and be held motionless, at which time an official will give a command to end the lift.

The following is a story told and written by Sig Klein, “When Arthur Saxon came to this country to fill an engagement with the Ringling Brothers Circus, weightlifters in and around New York thought here was the athlete for Warren Lincoln Travis to meet in competition. For reasons never made clear to me, this match never materialized, although Travis trained for the match that was being talked about. He told me that he could never hope to equal Saxon in the Bent Press or on the Foot Press, but he trained on these lifts nonetheless. Travis spoke to Saxon about the Foot Press and I will tell you what transpired regarding this lift. Travis asked Saxon if a contest was to be arranged and the Foot Press was one of the tests, if he, Saxon, would agree to allow Travis to do his lift with the plank resting on two trestles and iron placed on the plank. Saxon, who had his two brothers trained and a group of men who were placed on this plank in perfect order by the brothers, agreed to allow Travis to do anything that he desired. Travis said that this was the way Saxon acted about most any lift. He was very fair and would agree to most any kind of arrangements for a contest as long as Saxon could get a contest. Travis had the greatest respect for Arthur Saxon and told me that in an overhead weightlifting contest Saxon could beat him but that Travis hoped to defeat Saxon on the Back and Harness and Finger Lifts.”

I was very impressed with this lift and everyone at the meet seemed to enjoy it. It is a lift that can be done in almost any gym. All it takes is a Vertical Leg Press Machine or a Power Rack in which a plank could be placed across the supports. The Foot Press is the Heavy Lift version of the Leg Press. There are a couple of Leg Press Lifts as official USAWA lifts, but they are full range of motion lifts and nothing like the Foot Press. I am going to present this lift to the USAWA Executive Board for new lift approval so hopefully, the next time the Foot Press is done it can be “official” and records can be set in it.

The Unsupported Leg Press

by Thom Van Vleck

Ed Zercher performing an Unsupported Leg Press. In 1952, Ed Zercher did 200 reps with 250 pounds in 7 minutes, 30 seconds. In 1962, Ed Zercher did 10 reps with 605 pounds.

Recently I did a story on the “Zercher Lift” and “Zercher Squat” for Milo Magazine. I had been looking for a good picture of Ed Zercher doing a Zercher lift when I came across this photo (supplied to me by Al Myers). It is really quite a picture and you will find it in the rule book illustrating how to do the “Leg Press-Unsupported”. If you go into the average gym today and ask about the leg press, you will likely be pointed towards the “leg sled” or some variation of it which involves using the legs to press a sled loaded with weights at what is typically a 45 degree angle. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a leg press that is vertical where you lay under it and press the weight straight up in the air. But by USAWA standards, these lifts are not a true LEG PRESS!!!!

The rule book lists the rules as such:

D19. Leg Press – Unsupported

The lifter will lay on the platform, with the back, shoulders, and buttocks flat on the lifting surface. Padding, such as a towel or mat, may be placed under the lifter’s body, but must not exceed one-half inch in thickness. The bar will then be placed on the lifter’s feet by spotters, with the legs straight and the legs positioned at a 90 degree angle to the platform. Boots with heels are allowed to be worn. The spotters must not touch the lifter’s legs, the bar, or plates during the lift. Once the bar is motionless and under control, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter will bend the knees to lower the bar until the top of the thighs touch the torso, and will then recover and straighten the legs. The hands must not be braced or touching the legs during the lift. The lift ends on command. The bar may be removed from the lifter’s feet by spotters.

I recall doing these as part of my early training program in the late 70’s when I was a teen. I did these in a power rack, lying in the rack and taking the weight out like you would for a standing press out of the rack…..just with my feet! I did them with the pins in so I wouldn’t drop the weight on my self and close enough to the rack itself that if I lost my balance I’d drive the bar into the rack and press it up against the uprights for leverage (not really good on the bar and it’s always a must the power rack is secured to the floor if you are going to attempt this!). I didn’t do them because I was “old school”, I did them because I had no leg press to use in the first place. I learned them from my Uncle Wayne who learned them from Wilbur Miller.

I fell the unsupported Leg Press can have a lot of added benefits. First, you have the “feel” of a free weight. I’ve always felt the balance involved in a free weight lift makes one more athletic than any machine type lift. Second, you won’t likely use more weight than you can handle. Third, it will hit your legs more than your hips….at least it did mine. And finally, fourth, you will be familiar with the lift should you go to a USAWA meet that contests it some time.

There is also a variation on the Leg Press in the USAWA rule book called the Leg Press – Self Loaded. The rules of the Leg Press – Unsupported apply except the bar must be loaded onto the feet from the platform by the lifter only. The lifter may do so in any manner, but must not be assisted. I’ve never tried this one, but it sounds interesting and difficult….which could explain why I can’t find a single record on it! Like everything in the USAWA….it’s not the easy way!

Cyprien Noe Cyr – World’s Strongest Man

by Dennis Mitchell

Louis Cyr

Cyprien Noe Cyr was born October 10, 1863 in Saint Cyprien Napierville Canada ( now Quebec ). He was the second child of seventeen children born to Pierre and Philomene Berger Cyr. He was never a frail or slight child as he weighed 18 pounds at birth. His father was quite strong and worked as a lumberjack and farmer. However Cyprien Noe inherited his exceptional physical power from his mother who stood 6′ 1″ tall and weighed 265 pounds, and could toss around 100 pound sacks with ease. At the age of 8 years, it is reported that he carried a calf in from the field when it did not want to return to the barn. He went to school from age 9 to 12 years, and then went to work in the lumber camps in the winter, and on the farm in the summer. Though gentle by nature, he soon had the admiration of his fellow workers for his unusual strength. Legion has it his mother decided he should let his hair grow long like Sampson in the Bible, and was said to curl it regularly. In 1878 the Cyr family moved to the United States in hopes of greater financial gains. It was at this time that Cyprien Noe changed his name for a more American of Louis. By age 17 he weighed 230 pounds, liked to play the violin, dance and work out with weights. In spite of his size and strength, his chubby pink cheeks and long blond curls gave him a babyish look, and made him the butt of jokes and teasing. At the age of 18 he entered his first strongman contest in Boston where he lifted a full grown horse off the ground. The horse stood on a platform that had two handles attached. The total weight was three quarters of a ton. There were no more jokes or teasing. His family moved back to Quebec in 1882. He was married that year to Meline Comptois and for a while worked as a lumberjack. From there he and his wife moved to Saint-Helene, where his parents had moved to. They soon organized “The Troupe Cyr” and performed through out the province with great success. For about two years he worked as a policeman, and for a short time owned a tavern. But soon organized another troupe of wrestlers, boxers, and weightlifters. He later defeated Canadian strongman David Michaud in one hand lifting and by lifting 2,371 pounds on his back. He also worked for Ringling Brothers Circus for a year and then with Horace Barre opened their own circus, with jugglers, strongmen, and acrobats. They performed for five years. In 1900 Cyr’s health started to fail. His over eating and large size and the onset of Brights disease put an end to competition and performing. He died at his daughter’s home November 10, 1912 at the age of 49. Dr. Dudley Sargent of Harvard University measured Cyr when he was 32 years old. He measured him at 5′8.5″, neck 20″, biceps 20″, forearms 16.3″, wrists 8.2″, chest 55.2″(expanded 60″) waist 47.4″, thighs 28.5″, and calfs 19.2″. His weight at that time was 291 pounds. He did reach the weight of 365 pounds later. Some of his bests lifts were: 500 pound one finger lift, back lift 4,337 pounds, bent press (more of a side press) 273 pounds, hand and thigh 1897 pounds, crucifix 94 pounds right , 88 pounds left, one hand dead lift with 1.5″ bar 525 pounds, and a “Platform” squat of 2,371 pounds.

Hair Lifting by the Mighty Atom

by Al Myers

The Mighty Atom breaking chains with chest expansion.

Joe  “The Mighty Atom” Greenstein really knew how to make a name for himself, and was one of the last true carnival strongmen in the United States.  He was not a big man at all, weighing only 140 pounds, and did strength feats that other strongmen wanted no part of!  He was from the Bronx in New York, and did strongman shows for over 30 years, both in the United States and in Europe.

I recently came across this YouTube Video of a man performing various stunts using his HAIR.  I am pretty sure this is the Mighty Atom himself – as he looks exactly like him and it is from the right years that the Mighty Atom was performing. However, the video doesn’t identify the person in the video as the Mighty Atom.   If someone disagrees with this, please send me the correct information  and I will print a retraction! The lifts (or stunts) that he did is this video are definitely beyond the capabilities of me or Chad (it would take both of us a few years to grow our hair out that long to even try), but maybe there’s someone who would like to give hair lifting a try!

During my trip last fall to the York Barbell Museum, I took this picture of a display showing a nail bitten in two pieces and a horseshoe bent by hand, both courtesy of the Mighty Atom.

Among the “other” strength stunts that were performed by the Mighty Atom were:
- Breaking chains by chest expansion
- Bending bars and horseshoes with his teeth
- Biting nails in half
- Breaking coins with his teeth
- Driving spikes into metal-covered wood with his hands

The Mighty Atom had several incidents during his lifetime in which he almost died, but each time he survived and regained his strength. He died from old age at the age of 84, in 1977.

USAWA Business Updates

by Al Myers

New Officers

With the new year comes a change in leadership within the USAWA.  The newly elected officers took office on January 1st. Denny Habecker will remain as our President, Chad Ullom will be the new Vice President, and I will take over the position of Secretary/Treasurer, a position that has been held by Bill Clark since the inception of the USAWA.

Membership Dues

With the coming of a new year comes the time that everyone needs to renew their USAWA membership dues. There are some changes in how this will be done.  The USAWA will no longer issue membership cards with membership. Instead, I will maintain a Membership Roster on the website of all current members.  This Membership Roster is kept in the Members Section. The Members Section is only visible for viewing if you are registered for the website and are logged in to the site. There is no cost associated with being a member of the website, and you can be a member of the website and not a USAWA member.  Also located in the Members Section is the USAWA Discussion Forum. Please send your USAWA Membership dues to me for processing.  Membership forms can be found under “Forms & Applications”.

Video Page

The USAWA Video Page is still under construction.  I am hoping later this month I will have enough videos on it to make it viewable. If anyone has videos of All-Round lifts and would like to contribute to this please contact me.  I have set up a USAWA YouTube account that videos can be directly placed on.  Contact me if you want the password for this account.

Facebook Page

Chad Ullom has put alot of work into the USAWA Facebook Page. If you have a Facebook Account, you will want to join this group.  This page contains lots of pictures of USAWA events – way more than you get to see here on the website.

Drug Testing

There will be some changes this year with drug testing.  We will continue to be very aggressive in our drug testing approach, but have to make some changes due to economic reasons.  Last year the USAWA only tested at two events – the National Championships and the World Championships. But in both of these events, several competitors were tested. At Nationals 77% of the competitors were tested and at Worlds 38% were tested. This year more competitions will be tested but fewer will be selected for testing at each meet.  Not all meets will be announced that testing will occur so be prepared to be tested at ANY event!  However, I will give you the heads up on this one – the next meet testing will happen at will be the Dino Grip Challenge, held next month.

Year in Review

I have finished a Year in Review publication of all news that has happened in the USAWA this past year (2009).  This document contains all Daily News articles, all 2009 meet results, Hall of Fame Bios, and pretty much everything else  that has been put on the website this past year. It is all in one neat document. I am going to take it to the printer soon so if anyone wants a copy please let me know. I am going to have it bound. All I ask for payment is to cover the costs of copying and binding.  However, the document is over 200 pages long and over 100,000 words.  I am not sure what this might cost – but I would predict 40$ – $50.  Or if you just want a copy of it in digital format I’ll email it to you free of charge. Let me know soon so I know how many to have printed.

Writers for the Daily News

I am always looking for people to contribute to the Daily News.  If you like to write and see your words in print, maybe writing for the Daily News is for you!! It doesn’t pay much (actually nothing) but the satisfaction you will get from contributing to our great organization will make it all worthwhile!  Again, please send any story or article to me.

National Postal Meet Winners

Today I sent out Championship medals to all class winners of the 2009 National Postal Meet, hosted by John Wilmot. The awards were sponsored by the USAWA.  Congratulations to all participants and be expecting your award for your accomplishments soon!

Welcome Back Joe’s Gym

USAWA Hall of Famer Joe Ciavattone just renewed his club, Joe’s Gym, as a Member Club in the USAWA. Joe’s Gym was a club member in 2002.   Along with paying the club dues, I received individual memberships from 4 Joe’s Gym members.  This includes Joe Ciavattone Sr., Joe Ciavattone Jr., Jonathan Ciavattone, and Mike O’Brien. Hopefully, everyone will follow the great example set by Joe’s Gym and get your memberships in early this year.

Dino Gym Challenge

The Arthur Saxon Pentathlon

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom demonstrates how to do a 258# Arthur Lift. (And YES - That's the bar going UP the back)

Chad Ullom captured his third straight overall best lifter title this past weekend at the Dino Gym Challenge, by winning this year’s Arthur Saxon Pentathlon. Chad showed complete dominance in all of Arthur’s lifts, demonstrating flexibility that most lifters lack. He put up big marks in the One Arm Dumbbell Swing (150 pounds) and the Arthur Lift (258 pounds). An exhibition lift, which I called the Plank Lift, was the last lift of the meet and despite Chad’s dominance in the previous four lifts when meets include a lift like this, in which a large amount of weight can be lifted compared to the other lifts, things are never “in the bag” until the meet is over. I had the disadvantage of being before Chad “in the order of call” so he used good strategy in matching my attempts in the Plank Lift. I tried to “put the pressure on him” by calling for 2050# for my last attempt, but it is only good strategy if you get the lift! That was just a little over my strength abilities, but making a small jump wasn’t going to overtake him. Congratulations Chad on the win!! Dave Glasgow made his USAWA debut in this meet, and looked and lifted like a veteran. Dave has been around the iron game a long time, and has been one of the top Highland Games throwers in the country in his age class for several years. Dave is very athletic and had no problems with the lifts in this difficult meet. I was very impressed with his Two Hands Anyhow, when he went “old school” and did the lift with two KETTLEBELLS. My father-in-law Rudy Bletscher came in fourth. Rudy really enjoys competing against guys much younger than him, and constantly surprises me when he puts up a great mark in a lift he never tried before. Most guys his age could not even come close to doing a Bent Press, but he managed to post a successful lift in this extremely difficult lift. We held to the TRUE RULES of the Bent Press and did not allow any side press. That is the reason our Bent Press poundages are not as high as you would expect. When you are not very proficient at the Bent Press it is very easy to CHEAT and try to side press the weight – but we held TRUE and performed the Bent Press the proper way. Arthur Saxon would have been proud of us (but probably amused by all of our obvious lack of ability in this lift compared to him!). Darren Barnhart was a surprise entry for me. Darren is a “regular” at the Dino Gym and just showed up to the gym to help judge and load, but I persuaded him into competing. Darren is a real trooper and gave all the lifts a try despite his lack of training them or even seeing them done before! This is the main ingredient in what it takes to be an All-Rounder – no fear of any lift. I was extremely impressed by Darren and his effort he put forth in this meet – he “almost” had a record in the Arthur Lift at 203#, and after struggling to get the bar to his shoulders which required much exertion he “double pumped” his Jerk, causing him to get red lighted. These are the red lights that are the hardest to give – but as an official you have to “call it like it is”. I hope Darren will come to my record day in February and get that record – he is more than capable of it.

Dave Glasgow and his 150# Two Hands Anyhow using a pair of heavy Kettlebells.

I was very happy that I had five participants in this meet. I knew that the lifts I selected were probably not anyone’s favorites, and was prepared for a low turnout. But part of the excitement of All-Round Weightlifting is trying new things, and learning how to do some of the lifts that the Old-Time Weightlifters performed. I want to thank everyone who showed up to participate. I also want to thank Wilbur Miller for AGAIN coming to my meet to help out and give encouragement. Wilbur is a true inspiration and lifting hero to us at the Dino Gym! Wilbur was entering All-Round Weightlifting Meets as far back as the early 1960’s, when hardly anyone competed in the All-Rounds and there was no USAWA. Lifters like him are the reason we have All-Round Weightlifting today – so we need to give credit where credit is due. Thanks Wilbur for everything you have done for our sport!

Afterwards, my wife Leslie prepared a huge German Feast for everyone. I figured since we were celebrating the lifting of Arthur Saxon – this would only seem appropriate. Lots of Brats, Kraut and German Potato Salad was consumed!!! A few of us even celebrated with some German Dark Beer (Warsteiners) afterwards!! A day like this doesn’t happen every day so we made the most of it. When we finished eating, I “challenged” the group to consuming an Arthur Saxon Health Drink, which Arthur would drink every morning to start the day. It consists of one Dark Beer, 2 shots Gin, one raw egg, and 2 big spoons of sugar. Of course, Chad “jumped” right on this challenge with Dave not far behind! We again “toasted” to Arthur and the great fun that was had by all.

Toasting to Arthur Saxon with a Saxon Health Drink

2010 Dino Challenge Group Picture Front Row (left to right): Chad Ullom, Al Myers Back Row (left to Right): Darren Barnhart, Wilbur Miller, Dave Glasgow, Rudy Bletscher


Dino Gym Challenge
Arthur Saxon Pentathlon
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
January 16th, 2010

Meet Director: Al Myers

Officials (1 official system used): Al Myers, Chad Ullom, and Darren Barnhart

Lifts:  Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm, Bent Press – With Bar, Two Hands Anyhow, Arthur Lift, and Plank Support (Foot Press)


Lifter Age
BWT Swing Bent Anyhow Arthur Foot Total Points
Chad Ullom
38 236 150 R
85 R
220 258 1450 2163 1767.39
Al Myers
43 257 140 R
75 R
180 132 1450 1977 1608.88
Dave Glasgow
56 257 95 R
85 L
150 132 1050 1512 1384.27
Rudy Bletscher
74 219 60 R
30 R
90 45 850 1075 1233.42
Darren Barnhart
42 296 110 R
75 R
160 132 1050 1527 1148.78

All lifts recorded in pounds. BWT is bodyweight in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.

National Postal Meet

Results of the National Postal Championships

by Al Myers

Defending 2008 National Postal Champion Chad Ullom wins Best Overall Lifter in the Men's Open Division this year.

Yesterday I received the results of the USAWA National Postal Championships which was held in December, 2009. I was pleased with the participation, which matched the same number of entries as this past year’s National Championships. John Wilmot was the Meet Director for this Postal Championships for the second straight year, which culminates his postal series of four postal meets throughout the year. The Best Lifters for this years Championships are as follows:

Women Juniors – Molly Myers

Men Juniors – Joe Ciavattone Jr.

Master 40-44 Age Group – Al Myers

Master 45-49 Age Group – Orie Barnett

Master 55-59 Age Group – Dennis Vandermark

Master 60-64 Age Group – John Wilmot

Master 65-69 Age Group – Denny Habecker

Master 80-84 Age Group – Art Montini

Men Overall Open – Chad Ullom

Men Overall Master – Al Myers

Men Overall – Al Myers

Congratulations to this year’s winners!


2009 National Postal Championships
December 1st – 30th

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Some used the three official system while others used the one official system:
Art Montini – Officials: Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, and John McKean
Denny Habecker – Officials: Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, and John McKean
Kohl Hess – Officials: Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, and John McKean
Molly Myers – Official: Al Myers
Al Myers – Official: Chad Ullom
Dennis Vandermark – Official: John Monk Jr.
John Monk Jr. – Official: No certified official used
Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Official: Mike O’Brien
Jonathan Ciavattone – Official: Joe Ciavattone Sr.
Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Official: Mike O’Brien
Orie Barnett – Official: No certified official used
John Wilmot – Official: No certified official used

Lifts:  Clean and Push Press, Zercher Lift, Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip



Lifter Age BWT Wt Cls
Push Press
Zercher Deadlift Total Points
Molly Myers
11 128 60 60 85 175 320 506.59


Lifter Age BWT Wt Cls
Push Press
Zercher Deadlift Total Points
Al Myers
43 257 120 264.5 407.7 462.7 1134.9 923.58
Chad Ullom
38 237 110 253.5 407.7 440.7 1101.9 898.60
Joe Ciavattone Jr.
16 207 95 200 325 365 890 858.19
Orie Barnett
48 228.6 105 188 330 415 933 845.10
John Monk Jr.
44 175 80 205 325 275 805 816.17
Joe Ciavattone Sr.
41 245 115 220 325 425 970 793.00
Denny Habecker
67 200 95 148 215 290 653 746.99
John Wilmot
62 212 100 135 205 335 675 718.25
Jonathan Ciavattone
15 207 95 145 230 300 675 680.46
Dennis Vandermark
56 206 95 95 225 285 605 621.99
Art Montini
82 181 85 80 158 200 438 592.83
Kohl Hess
15 264 120 130 215 290 635 563.75

“BWT” is bodyweight in pounds. “Wt Cls” is kilogram weight class.  “Total” is total pounds lifted.  “Points” is bodyweight and age adjusted points.

What it feels like to lift 150 pounds with one hand

by Arthur Saxon

Arthur Saxon demonstrating the proper technique for the Bent Press.

I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting. In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting. The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitors, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail. This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed.

As the weight steadily rises aloft, perhaps half way it wavers, the balance alters, and I have immediately, yet very carefully and quietly, to adjust my position to the altered balance of the bar. Then I proceed with the press, my body gradually falling lower towards the left knee, my eyes fixed all the time upon the ponderous weight balanced over my head, ready to fall at a moment’s notice should I weaken or place myself in a false position, and should at this moment anyone shout out, it might startle me, make me waver, and cause the weight to fall. Therefore, if I am attempting a world’s record in this position, I generally ask for complete silence until I have either failed or succeeded, and I might mention here that to think of failure is to fail, and always tell myself all the time that I am certain to succeed even though I am attempting a weight more than I have hitherto lifted. Eventually, my arm is straight, and before coming to an upright position I engage in another tussle with the enormous barbell, in which I have to exert all my will power to hold together the flagging powers of tired muscles, which have been strained by the tremendous pressure which 350 lbs. brings on to them in the effort of pressing aloft. By supreme effort of the will I fix the bell in a good position and then stand upright. Often the bar will roll on to the fingers instead of being directly over the wrist, in which case severe pain is inflicted, and I have to persevere with the lift under doubly hard conditions, or else drop the weight and try again.

Credit: The Development of Physical Power by Arthur Saxon

The Arthur Saxon Pentathlon

by Al Myers

The most famous picture of Arthur Saxon - performing a Two Hands Anyhow.

Don’t forget this coming weekend the Dino Gym is presenting the Arthur Saxon Pentathlon.  This meet was designed to honor the great German weightlifter, Arthur Saxon.  I have always respected the great lifts of Saxon – he was well-rounded with his lifting ability and showed the world that you could be athletic and still a great weightlifter.  He performed with his brothers, Kurt and Hermann, making up the Saxon Trio.  Their strongman act was based on weightlifting, and not gimmicky stunts which a lot of their contemporaries performed in their shows at the time.  For this meet I selected Five of Arthur Saxon’s best lifts in setting up this challenge.  A couple of them are difficult to perform, and aren’t contested very often in the USAWA, so this will give everyone a chance to do something different.  These are the five lifts and Saxon’s best mark in them:

Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm     187 pounds
Bent Press – with bar                371 pounds
Two Hands Anyhow                  448 pounds
Arthur Lift                                386 pounds
Plank Support                          3200 pounds

Arthur Saxon was 5′10″ and weighed around 210 pounds at his prime.

I haven’t had a Quiz of the Week for a while now – so here is a question.

What was Arthur Saxon’s real name?

The winner will receive a USAWA patch. Rules: First correct answer emailed to me wins, and only one answer per day.

Dave Glasgow of Winfield, Kansas has already provided the correct answer to the Quiz, with Saxon’s given name being Arthur Hennig. Dave is a seasoned Highland Game athlete and is entering his first All-Round Weightlifting Meet this weekend, at the Arthur Saxon Pentathlon. Welcome Dave to the All-Rounds!!

Meeting Bill Kazmaier

by Ben Edwards

Ben Edwards shaking hands with Bill Kazmaier

I’ve been fascinated by Bill Kazmaier since I was old enough to realize just how incredibly strong he was. I was only 8 when Kaz won his 3rd World’s Strongest Man contest. But even then it was quite apparent that he was almost superhuman in his strength and athletic abilities.

I found out on the KC Strongman forum that Kaz was going to be speaking in Parsons, Kansas on December 15th. I jumped at the chance to finally get to meet him! Got off early that day from work. I must’ve sounded like a star-struck kid when I explained to my supervisor who I was going to meet. Of course it also helped that Kaz is very well known among anyone who lifts weights. And luckily, my supervisor is definitely a guy who has spent time under the bar.

Ben "leaning" on Kaz for support

My wife offered to go with me, solely to take pictures of me with Kaz. That was a great offer, but I wanted to go alone so that if I embarrassed anyone – it would only be me. I was a nervous wreck by the time I got to the building where he was speaking. It didn’t really feel “real” until I got out of the car and walked by a big window where I saw Kaz standing in the middle of a room that was packed with people there to see him speak.

Good thing I hadn’t eaten very much before driving to Parsons. Because I puked right there in the grass outside the building! Puking might not have been such a bad thing because after that I felt much more relaxed than I had even on the 90-minute drive to Parsons. I mingled with the crowd and picked a spot near the back of the room – but one with an unimpeded view of Kaz – so I could take photographs while he spoke.

Kaz gave a great introduction to the youngsters in the audience who may not have known who he was. Most of the people in the crowd knew exactly who he was though. He was humble, genuine, friendly, charming, and the list goes on! I was extremely impressed with his 15-minute talk about the decline in the health and fitness of today’s youth. I don’t want to call it a “speech” because it didn’t seem rehearsed or like he was reading it from a cue card.

The event was ran in a very tasteful manner. There was no money exchanged before the speech, during the speech, or afterwards. Signing autographs was free, and the event staff even handed out free health and fitness items, such as pedometers and low-calorie cookbooks to anyone in the audience that wanted them.

I was second-to-last in line to get Kaz’s autograph. I already have four items signed by Kaz, thanks to my wife – who bought some items from Kaz on Ebay about 5 years ago and then asked him to sign them. One more signed item is always a good thing, so I brought up a photo that event staff was handing out to get it signed and add it to my collection.

Throughout his speech I took a good number of photos and got a few of him rolling up frying pans and then signing them and choosing someone from the audience to give them to. He also brought a few guys out of the audience and gave them a short lesson on how to roll the frying pan. Then he coached them through starting the bend to finishing it. It was really neat watching him really rooting for the guys he picked to come to the front with him! He was a true gentleman the entire time and even started the bend for one of the guys who couldn’t get it started. I also believe that he had several different types of frying pans, of varying difficulties, and that he specifically chose which frying pan to give to each guy – based on their physical appearance.

I was impressed that it wasn’t just a show about Bill Kazmaier. It was about helping someone else feel like a strongman in front of the audience (and their families) for a day. I didn’t volunteer to bend a frying pan, although I’m sure I could’ve bent anything he brought with him since I’ve bent a good number of them in the past few years. I reminded myself that it also wasn’t a show about what I could do. Everybody came to see Kaz perform and they were not disappointed!

By the time the line moved along and I made it up there to shake Kaz’s hand, I thought I had talked myself out of being nervous. Nothing could’ve been farther from the truth! I managed to shake his hand and say how glad I was to meet him. Then I froze up a bit when someone took our photo. All I could think to do was just lean on him awkwardly! He was a great sport and even has a friendly grin on his face in that picture. The photographer gently suggested that I just shake his hand on the next picture, haha! That turned out to be a much better picture than the first one.

Anyone who has seen Will Ferrell in the movie Talladega Nights will appreciate the first photo where I leaned on Kaz. I remember it was kind of like the scene where Will Ferrell is being interviewed on TV and he keeps saying “I don’t know what to do with my hands” – while his hands are inexplicably rising into the frame.

The drive home felt like no time at all. My mind was still racing even days later. One thing I didn’t mention is how solid his handshake was. That wasn’t a surprise of course. With forearms like his, I figure he could probably crush most normal hands. His hand was also as solid as a brick. My workouts since meeting him have been more intense because I know there is a lot more I can get out of this body.

For the record, I cleaned up my puke before driving home! It’s handy to have doggie-doo bags in your coat pocket.

USAWA Record Holders in the Reeves Deadlift

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, has the ALL-TIME USAWA Record in the Reeves Deadlift with a record lift of 400#. His record matches the best performance of the legendary Steve Reeves. In this picture, Mark is setting a Dino Gym record in the Reeves Deadlift with a lift of 455#! Mark is planning on entering a record day soon to increase his USAWA record in the Reeves Deadlift.

The following are the overall USAWA records for the Reeves Deadlift per weight class.  Records are listed for women and men.

Lift                                  Sex  Wt.Cls     Record    Lifter                                 Date               Location

DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 70 65 McConnaughey, Amber 12/10/2005 2005 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 75 155 Paul, Andrea 12/14/2003 2003 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 80 135 Fritz, Misty 12/10/2005 2005 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 125+ 215 McConnaughey, Mary 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 90 275 Holcomb, Seth 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 95 275 Hart, James 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 100 225 Bletscher, Rudy 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 105 325 Burks, Joe 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 110 225 Clark, Bill 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 115 300 Myers, Al 12/6/2008 2008 Goerner Dino Gym
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 120 335 Myers, Al 12/6/2009 2009 Goerner Deadlift
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 125 335 Fulton, Kevin 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 125+ 400 Mitchell, Mark 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner

Do you want to see a BIG Reeves Deadlift in action?

Then check out this YouTube Video of Ben Edwards successfully lifting 352# in Reeves Deadlift!

The Reeves Deadlift

by Al Myers

Steve Reeves demonstrating the lift named after him. Notice the wide-flange plates turned outwards, to help with the grip. Steve used York Deep Dish 45# plates as his gripping plates.

The USAWA Discussion Forum always stimulates new topics for me to include in the Daily News. Recently, the Reeves Deadlift has been among one of the hottest discussed threads, resulting in several forum members issuing challenges to one another. For those that are not familiar with this unusual All-Round Lift, it is named after the late great bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves is a former Mr. World, Mr. America, and Mr. Universe Champion. During the 50’s and 60’s he starred in several movies, and became a movie star with his movie rolls playing Hercules. Steve Reeves used this exercise as an upper back exercise, and maybe it helped him in developing his stunning lat spread. It has been reported that he was capable of 400# in this lift! I have found the limiting factor in this lift is the ability to hold the grip on the plates – so it is also a great grip exercise. It helps if you have long arms. The Reeves Deadlift is also known as the Rim Lift, and goes by that name in the IAWA(UK). The rules for the Reeves Deadlift are pretty straight forward:

USAWA Rule for the Reeves Deadlift:

“The rules of the Deadlift apply with these exceptions. The lift starts by the lifter gripping one plate on each side of the bar. The flanges of the plates may be turned outwards to provide a better gripping surface. A regulation bar of legal length must be used. There are no width specifications of the flanges of the lifting plates. Weight is added to the bar with smaller diameter plates so the lifter always has just one plate per side to grip.”

Coming tomorrow – the list of the USAWA Record Class Holders in the Reeves Deadlift.

Mr. Deadlift – John Robert Peoples

by Dennis Mitchell

Bob Peoples with his amazing deadlift.

Bob Peoples was born Aug. 2nd, 1910 in Northern Tennessee. He stated that no one in particular started him lifting, and that he always admired men who were strong and that his father was locally noted for his strength. He started lifting his father’s 50 pound dumbbell and anything else that would give him a challenge. He lived on a farm and trained outside or in one of the out buildings. Eventually he moved to his own house and had a gym in his basement that was referred to as “The Dungeon”. Other than lifting, Bob’s favorite sport was horse back riding and he spent many hours riding the mountain trails.

Bob was quite strong and was never a 97 pound weakling. When he started lifting he could deadlift 350 pounds and clean and jerk 160 pounds. At first he followed no set system of training as he was unaware that there were actual training systems. Later he followed the advice given in the different lifting magazines.

Much of his equipment was home made, although he did have a Milo Duplex Barbell set. He would use 50 gallon drums that he would fill with rocks. Later he added a Jackson International Olympic set with plenty of extra plates. He was unhappy with his progress in the Olympic lifts. As a middle weight in 1937 he did a 150 pound press, a 160 pound snatch and a 205 pound clean and jerk. It was at this time he started to experiment with different training ideas and is credited with making the first power rack.

Bob’s most outstanding lift was the deadlift, and in 1940 after winning the Tennessee State Olympic Lifting meet he made an official deadlift of 600 pounds, which was a “Southern” record.

Bob’s progress was interrupted by some health problems and during the war years the demands on farmers limited his training. However by the time of the Tennessee State championships in 1946, Bob was doing quite well and won the light heavy weight division with a deadlift of 651.25 pounds at a bodyweight of 175 pounds, which was a world record, beating Jack Hope’s record of 624.25 pounds. Later that same year at a show put on by Bob Hise, Bob lifted 700 pounds, only to find out when the bar was weighed it was 699 pounds. The newspaper photographer missed photographing the lift so Bob did it again so he could get the photograph. Later that year he did break the 700 pound barrier with a lift of 710 pounds. He did not get official credit for this lift as it was not weighed, as was the rules at that time.

Bob’s top deadlift was 728 pounds at a body weight of 178 pounds. He did all his lifts with an overhand grip, and of course at that time there were no power suits.

Other outstanding lifts that he made included deadlifting 500 pounds 20 times, a deadlift off of high blocks of 900 pounds, a 530 pound full squat, a 300 pound bench press, alternate standing press with a pair of 130 pound dumbbells, and cleaning a pair of 110 pound dumbbells for 10 reps.

He is in the U. S. Power lifting Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, and the Upper East Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He was also very active in local civic and political issues.

Bob was married for 53 years to Junta Wills People. They had one daughter. Two grand daughters and one great grand daughter. Bob passed away in 1992.

Interview with Bob Moore – Part 3

by Al Myers

Bob Moore squatting at a fundraiser for a young girl with cancer. His efforts raised over $4000.

Al: I know you were involved in several big meet promotions. Could you tell me a little about the meets that you directed.

Bob: I had the opportunity to direct several large, successful USAWA and powerlifting meets, one being the 1992 USAWA National Championships. If I recall correctly, it was one of the first USAWA meets to secure major sponsors (Budweiser, PepsiCo, etc). The site for the meet was a great location, and the local hotel we worked with had a great nightclub for everyone’s enjoyment. Town officials even got involved and handed out the trophies during the awards ceremony. Other meets I directed involved a bench press meet at a nightclub; we had a huge turnout and a lively environment. I also co-promoted several meets with a close friend, Howie Waldron. Knowing that a strong support staff can make or break a meet, we worked with the Warrior Weightlifting Team, which consisted mainly of Coyle Cassidy High School powerlifters. One particular meet was held in a huge grand ballroom – with state of the art equipment, food and drink for the lifters, and huge trophies for the winners. The meet netted thousands of dollars, which in turn was donated to the Warrior team, which enabled them to take the trip to the Teenage National Championships.

Al: I am glad to hear that you will be making a “comeback” into All-Round Weightlifting. The USAWA needs individuals like you involved in our sport. Do you have any views on the future of the USAWA?

Bob: I believe there is tremendous growth potential, maybe more than any other sport, for the USAWA. However, the USAWA and IAWA need to make a concerted effort in bringing the sport to the public. Efforts should be made to recruit more lifters, and to make it more of a mainstream sport. Powerlifting and Olympic lifting are known by just about everyone who sets foot in a gym. When I was training for USAWA events, my training would naturally draw questions and interest from other gym members. When it came to presenting to Corporate Sponsors, I found they loved the idea and eagerly wanted to get involved. How many other sports can you find a 13 year old and an 80 year old competing side by side? A few suggestions would be to have trained persons work in a public relations role to make the equipment, lifts, etc, more widely know by a bigger audience than currently exists. There should be a “core” set of lifts that are familiar to the public; lesser known lifts can be introduced at a later time. Demonstrations prior to powerlifting meets would be both informative and entertaining. More head to head competition would also give the sport a needed boost, whether done by weight class or age. With a great set of records in the books, the USAWA and IAWA need to make sure these records, as well as new ones are challenged in dynamic and creative ways.

Strength sports in general have always been divided by drugs, big egos, and equipment. The future of all strength sports is dependent on the credibility of their respective organizations. The USAWA has major advantages over other strength sports; it does not have any splinter organizations, we have one set of record books, strict drug testing rules are in place and there is no equipment that affects lifts. It is my hope that the USAWA can take advantage of the huge opportunities that lie ahead of the organization.

Al: Bob, thank you very much for doing this interview. As a final question – What advice would you have for a new weightlifter that is interested in All-Round Weightlifting?

Bob: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Weightlifters love to talk! They would love a new set of ears to talk to, don’t be afraid to talk to them. The key to success in any area of your life is knowledge. When I needed help with my back lift I called the king of all back lifters, Paul Anderson. Who better to ask? He turned out to be a wonderful source of information, as well as a nice, kind individual. He also became my role model later in my lifting career, and life. To this day I still donate to the Paul Anderson Youth Home (

Young lifters should surround themselves with successful, dedicated, positive, knowledgeable lifters; there is no room for doubt or negativity when you are training. Failure is not an option. As weightlifting is an art form, young lifters also need to study the mechanics of the lifts they are going to be performing. Just because someone can lift a lot of weight does not mean they are doing lifts in the most effective way. Minor changes in hand, foot, knee or shoulder position can lead to major gains. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the All-Rounds or strength sports as everyone has different proportions, strengths and weaknesses. My 17 year old brother, Ryan, has broken several long standing teen and high school powerlifting records with techniques that are slightly different than my own. His squat and deadlifts are both well over 600, and his bench is going over 400 now at a bodyweight of 242. His body is different than mine so we made the proper adjustments in his training.

If I may say one more thing before this interview ends, all the talent in the world is of little to no value if you do not use it to help others. Use your God given talents to help others! Go out and make a difference in the world!

Bob Moore lifting a car at a fundraiser sponsored by Venture Sports on Founder's Day in Mansfield, MA. The weight of the car was 3430 pounds!

Interview with Bob Moore – Part 2

by Al Myers

Bob Moore doing a Hip Lift at a benefit fundraiser, in which money was raised to help a young boy with cancer.

Al: I had no idea that you underwent that many physical hardships before your distinguished lifting career. That must have took tremendous courage and willpower. I know Frank had to be a major influence on your All-Round Lifting. Along with Frank, who inspired you to take up weightlifting and compete in the USAWA?

Bob: As a young boy, a weightlifting or strongman competition on Wide World of Sports was a must see. I remember watching Bill Kazmier and Vasili Alexeyev dominate their respective strength sports. After watching those shows I would go outside and lift weights. I recall the time that I was outside lifting and my dear dad said “I don’t care what you want to be in life, just make sure you are the best you can be.” Those words have stuck with me ever since. My dad inspired me to be the best at what I loved, powerlifter and strongman.

Al: What was your favorite All-Round lifts? I know the Zercher Lift had to be one since you still hold the All-Time USAWA record in the Zercher Lift with a lift of 529#.

Bob: The Zercher lift was indeed my favorite. Although my highest official lift was 529, my best gym lift was 585. I had to stop doing them at the gym after dropping that 585 on the floor- the third floor of an old warehouse. I am still in shock that the floor didn’t collapse! My other favorites are the hip lift, hack lift and the straddle lift. I never had the chance to do the back lift in the USAWA but you will see me back on the platform in an attempt to break the all time record late in 2010.

Al: Please tell me about some of your accomplishments in All-Round weightlifting that you are the most proud of.

Bob: When I look back, I am most proud of the opportunities that the All-Round Weightlifting gave me to help others. My talents on the platform eventually led to the creation of my foundation, Lift For Life. While attending a fundraiser for a young boy with cancer, I observed a group of former pro athletes donating their time signing autographs to raise money for the cause. I thought to myself “Your autograph is worth less than the paper its written on, but you do have a talent in weightlifting.” A couple of weeks later there was a home show. The World’s Gym in Foxboro, MA, who was kind enough to sponsor me, had rented booth space at the show. I came up with the idea of getting people to sponsor me for each pound I was able to lift. World’s Gym did a terrific job in getting their members to sponsor me, and we raised over $6,000 for the young boy, who sadly lost his battle with the disease shortly thereafter. However, the idea caught on and I was approached by others to do events for their children. I will never forget the time that I did a 2,000+ pound hip lift to benefit a boy with cancer. The day of the event, I lifted and did several other feats of strength; afterwards, I was exhausted. While packing up for the day, unknown to me, the boy and his mother arrived (she had gone to get him from the hospital to witness the hip lift). I knew I couldn’t let him down, so I loaded the bar back up and did a 2,200+ pound lift (2 reps) for him. That was the best I had done at that time and it was also the most rewarding. Other moments of pride in strength sports include traveling to Russia and winning two gold medals for powerlifting, taking home a bundle of cash at a pro strongman competition in Canada, and of course, winning my division at the IAWA in London.

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Interview with Bob Moore – Part 1

by Al Myers

I recently had the opportunity to interview one of the early pioneers of the USAWA, Bob Moore. Bob competed in the early 1990’s and was one of the top heavyweight USAWA lifters at the time. I have seen his name in the USAWA Record List for years (we’re about in the same class) and was always tremendously impressed with some of his records. Now after this interview I am even more impressed with him. He is a man of great character, and has used his extraordinary strength for several benefit causes. This says a lot about a weightlifter – using his God given ability to help out the less fortunate. Bob had to overcome severe physical hardships in becoming a top level weightlifter which shows the amount of determination and desire that he has in his heart. He was also involved in the USAWA as a Meet Director – thus demonstrating his leadership abilities by giving back lifting opportunities to others in the USAWA. Now lets get on to the Interview!

Bob Moore still holds the top ALL-TIME Zercher Lift in the USAWA, with a lift of 529#, set at the 1992 USAWA National Championships in Walpole, Massachusetts.

Al: Bob, please tell me about yourself and how you got started lifting weights?

Bob: I live in Norton, MA with my wife of 21 years and 2 children, Caroline, 16, and Robert Jr, 11. I am employed by a major Wall Street firm as Senior Vice President of Institutional Sales and Trading. My exposure to lifting weights started when I was about 12 years old. I purchased a plastic set of weights in response to the daily beatings I took at school. I continued to lift in high school until I suffered a serious football injury. The result was a broken back that required a spinal fusion of my L2,L3 and L4 vertebrae. After a couple of years of rehab I was back to playing sports. All that ended after I was in a serious car accident that resulted in the re-breaking of my back, broken bones and hundreds of stitches and plastic surgery to my face. This time I was told my luck had run out and my only goal should be to walk again. Fast forward a few more years and I was walking and started lifting very light weights to strengthen my back. It seemed the more weight I put on the bar the better my back felt. About a year later I entered a local powerlifting meet where I totaled 1,300.

Al: When and why did you get involved with the USAWA?

Bob: I had been enjoying a successful powerlifting career when I met Frank Ciavattone in 1991. Frank invited me over to his house to train together. Knowing his reputation and accomplishments I gladly accepted, and what I learned was a turning point in my lifting career. While I was doing squats, he was hooking up a belt and chain to a bar on the ground then hoisting up a couple of thousand pounds. I was blown away. I racked the weights and asked him if he could teach me how to do it. I was hooked! It was a perfect way to change up my powerlifting workouts. It also taught me not to fear big numbers when I was powerlifting.

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Hall of Fame Biography – Bill Clark class of 1999

Bill Clark

William Merle Clark was born in Clinton, Missouri on August 18th, 1932.  He graduated from Clinton High School in 1949, and then spent three years in the U.S. Army (1951-1954), including a year in Korea.  Bill graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1958, and worked briefly on the sports desk of the Lexington Kentucky Leader.  He returned to Columbia Missouri in 1958, where he has lived since.  Bill married Dolores Denny on August 11th, 1955 and they have five children and five grandchildren. He was a full-time major league baseball scout for 36 years (1968-2003).  He retired from baseball at the end of the 2003 season and has been a columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune since March of 2004.  Bill has written for numerous baseball publications through the years and even worked as a sports reporter in the baseball off-season.  He has officiated over 20 sports from the junior high school level to the international level from 1949 until today.  He wrote the original Powerlifting and All-Round Weightlifting rule books and is currently writing a book about the fun of officiating more than 10,000 athletic contests.  As a member of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) weightlifting committee (1959-1990), he was responsible for the origin of the following:

- Powerlifting as a separate sport (1964)
- Masters lifting, both Olympic Lifting and Powerlifting (1973)
- Held the first womens only Powerlifting and Olympic meets which gave the   start to women’s competitive lifting (1976)
- Introduced prison weightlifting and the acceptance of inmates as full AAU members (1966). Held the first prison weightlifting postal competition (1962)
- Created the odd lifting record book (1961)
- Formation of the USAWA and the IAWA (began in 1983, finalized in 1986)
- Wrote the first USAWA and IAWA Rule Book (1986)

Bill started weightlifting in 1959 when his boxing team was looking for an off-season sport.  There was not a state meet at the time, so he held the very first one in Columbia in 1959.  He held the Junior Nationals and the National Teenage Championships in Columbia from 1962-1964, including the “Mr.” contests for each, along with numerous state and regional meets both in Columbia and in many prisons throughout the Midwest.  He has directed over 100 meets under USAWA sanction at his gym, Clark’s Championship Gym, including the USAWA National Championships in 1995, 1997, and 2001.  Bill has been the sole sponsor of the Showme State Games Powerlifting Meet since 1988.  Both Bill and Dolores are in the Missouri State Games Volunteer Hall of Fame.  He has had a commercial gym in Columbia since 1987, which is one of very few commercial gyms in the country that specializes in All-Round Weightlifting.   Bill was the first President of the IAWA and has been the Secretary of the USAWA since the beginning. He is responsible for starting the drug testing program and the certification of officials in the USAWA.  Bill has published a weightlifting newsletter since 1960, and is now nearing his 50th year!  The past 19 years have been devoted to the all-rounds, with his publication “The Strength Journal” being the sole source of information regarding All-Round Weightlifting in the US.   Bill’s main contribution to weightlifting  was the origin of the masters program.  The idea came to the table in 1973 at the AAU convention, and was approved by a laugh with the mention of old people wanting  to lift and compete.  In 1974, only four lifters  entered the National Masters Meet – Jim Witt, Jack Lano, Wilbur Miller, and Bill Clark.  The Meet was cancelled that year.  In 1975, the meet was held in Columbia with 15 entries.  Today, the masters program is found in 70 nations and accepted without question.  Master lifters outnumber open lifters in the US today.  Bill was one of a half-dozen people who brought Powerlifting to the committee floor of the AAU in 1962, and saw it approved two years later as a sport by the AAU.  Today, Powerlifting has expanded far beyond Olympic Lifting as a sport.  In 1976, Bill violated the IWF rules which limited lifting to males only, and worded a sanction which made a combined Power/Olympic lifting competition into an all-female meet.  It broke the gender barrier and women’s weightlifting was off and running.  Bill commented, “In retrospect, I take pride in being the driving force to establish Powerlifting, women’s lifting, prison lifting, master’s lifting, odd lifting – and seeing them all grow and prosper.”  Bill holds over 200 records in the USAWA, with most of them occurring after multiple joint replacements. Bill said, “I do take pride in my hip and harness lifts that were done after four joints – both knees and both hips – were totally replaced and being able to remain competitive with the youngsters in the finger lifts. Age and replacements have slowed the competitive urge today, particularly with the loss of cartilage in both the upper and lower spine.”  In his earlier years, Bill was best known and seldom beaten in the Zercher and Steinborn lifts, once doing 460# in the Zercher and 455# in the Steinborn on the same day.  There has not been an USAWA member since capable of doing this.  When asked if he had any special memories of a competition, Bill replied, ” The one I most remember was in 1994 in Middletown  Pennsylvania when I made a hip lift with 1400 pounds, less than five months after I had a double joint replacement – the right knee and the right hip on the the same day – a double only a few have tried!”  Bill Clark will always be known as the “Founder of All-Round Weightlifting”, and his influences and contributions to the iron game will forever be felt.  His last comment was this, “It has been a good 50 year run in the weight game. I’m now looking for time to go through voluminous files and to do a book I’ve promised myself for years, titled, An Irreverent History of Weightlifting.”

Hall of Fame Biography – Dale Friesz class of 2002

Dale E. Friesz was born on July 30th, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri. As the son of a career Army Colonel he traveled a lot as a youth. His family spent two tours in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.. Dale has lived at the same address for the past 35 years – 11523 Wild Acre Way, Fairfax Station, Virginia, 22039-2117.

Dale did his undergraduate and graduate work at George Washington University in Washington D.C.. He spent 11 years as Director of Human Resources for Fairfax County before taking over the family owned shooting sports business.  He ran it for 21 years until his retirement.

Dale has been married to Penny for 43 years. They have three beautiful children – Pamela, Mark and Karen. They also have a great son-in-law Mark, one lovely daughter-in-law Christine, and two beautiful grand children Ansley and Cody. Dale believes his family is his greatest treasure.

Dale Friesz at age 19

Dale learned about Olympic lifting from his older brother Leonard. Dale taught himself to be an Olympic lifter. It was at the 1960 National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships at the University of Maryland that he first met fellow USAWA Hall of Famer, John Vernacchio. In 1963, at the Junior Nationals in Columbia, Missouri he was introduced by his older brother to Bill Clark.  In preparation for entering Bill Clark’s Masters Olympic Weightlifting at age 39, he again started Olympic lifting. Dale stayed with that style of competition until back and shoulder problems put him on the shelf at age 45.

210 pound Snatch at age 19 at the 1960 National Collegiate Championships

Dale was inspired by Bill Clark’s writings to join the USAWA and is a charter member. The bug to lift again took hold and against medical advice (birth defect in back and a bad shoulder) he entered his first all-round meet in 1989.  He has won 18 Masters National Championships, and has placed in several open all-round competitions – which includes the Zercher Meet, the Heavy Lift Championships, and the Deadlift Dozen. Dale has created more than 150 USAWA records.

Dale attempting a 360 pound One Hand Deadlift at age 54 (85 kg class)

Dale is most proud of his Right Hand Deadlift of 353.6 pounds at age 52 in the 85 kilogram class and his Neck Lift of 605 pounds at age 55 in the 85 kilogram class. When these lifts were made they were not only masters records but also open records. Dale also like all the Finger Deadlifts and holds a wide range of records in each weight class from 75 kg to 90 kg.  He received the Francis D. Ciavattone Sr. AWARD FOR COURAGE in 2003.

Dale doing a heavy Neck Lift

Since 2002 Dale has spent nearly as much time in the hospital with a variety of life threatening issues as he has spent trying to train. Yet as recently as May 2009 he did a 405 pound Neck Lift record at age 68 in the 85 kilogram class at the Heavy Lift National Championships.

Dale believes, as does his primary physician, that weightlifting is responsible for him being alive. Dale thanks Bill Clark for having the sagacity to create masters weightlifting competition!!!

Hall of Fame Biography – John Vernacchio class of 1996

John Vernacchio performing a Front Squat.

John Vernacchio was born in 1936 and grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania where he still resides today. He attended Holy Savior Catholic Elementary School and graduated from Bishop High School in 1956. He attended Shippinsburg State University where he played football while attaining his degree. After graduation in 1961, he finished his education at Temple University where he earned his Masters degree in Exercise Physiology. John taught High School for several years and coached football. He has also coached football at the College and minor pro league level. At the present time, John is working as a rehabilitation therapist for a Chiropracter. John has two grown sons – John born in 1962 and Jeffrey born in 1965. John lives in Texas and has two daughters. Jeff lives in Pennsylvania with one son. Both received B.S. degrees from Westchester State University. John started training when he was 13 years old at the local YMCA and began competing in weightlifting in 1957 with friends Richard Durante and Domenic DeSanto. John Vernachio-DLFB.JPGwon his first National title in 1961 at the National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships. He continued to train under the direction of James Messer at the Holy Savior Weightlifting Club. John got his start in Olympic lifting, but eventually competed in powerlifting for many years for the Valley Forge Weightling/Powerlifting Club. John was one of the charter members of the USAWA, being involved since the beginning in 1987. He was introduced to the USAWA by Bill Clark. John has served two terms as President of the USAWA, and one term as Vice President of IAWA. He has promoted several National and International competitions throughout the years. He has promoted three National Meets – in 1988, 1989, and 2004. John has the destinction of being the Meet Director of the very first National Meet (1988). He has promoted three World meets – in 1989, 1991, and 1997. He also promoted the 2003 Gold Cup. His favorite lifts are the military press and the squat. Even though John has won numerous weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round meets through the years, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he replied, “My biggest accomplishment was to see both my sons graduate from College.” John Vernacchio displays every quality a Hall of Famer should possess – excellence with the iron and excellence in life.

John Vernacchio deadlifting with a Fulton Bar.

Hall of Fame Biography – Steve Schmidt class of 1993

Steve Schmidt holds the All-Time record in the USAWA in the Back Lift, with a lift of 3050 pounds.

Steve Schmidt was born on August 22nd, 1955 in Franklin County Missouri. He still lives there and is self-employed in the fertilizer business and as a farmer. Steve is married with two grown sons and 3 grandchildren. He started lifting in 1977 as a powerlifter. He got involved with the USAWA from the very beginning. In fact, he held the very first membership card issued. Steve has spent most of his time training at home in an old building with no heat, electricity or doors, but at times trains at Clark’s Gym in Columbia Missouri and represents Clark’s Gym when he competes. Steve was the Overall Best Lifter at the first two National Meets in 1988 and 1989. He was the Open Best Lifter in 1991. He was the Overall IAWA Best Lifter at the 1989 World Championships in Plymouth Meeting Pennsylvania. He has promoted the Backbreaker Meet 7 times, which consists of the Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift, in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was held at his farm. Today, Bill Clark hosts this meet at his gym every year and it is now named the Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon, after Steve. He has won the Backbreaker 14 times and the Zercher Meet 8 times. Steve’s favorite lifts are the Harness Lift, Back Lift and Teeth Lift. He holds the overall USAWA record in the Harness Lift at 3515 pounds and the overall USAWA record in the Back Lift at 3050 pounds. Steve holds nearly every repetition record in the Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift. He holds the Total Poundage record using the Back Lift, doing 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours and 50 minutes!! He also holds the Teeth Lift record with a lift of 390 pounds, with his hands held behind his back! Steve has also done numerous strength shows in which he pulls heavy loads with just his teeth!! He is also a World Class Bender and has performed at the AOBS Banquet where he did 10 repetitions in the Hip Lift with 1800 pounds! Steve has very calm demeanor when he lifts and often makes impossible lifts look remarkably easy. When asked why he likes all-round lifting, Steve replied, “It’s the best!!” Steve has always been a man of few words and just lets his outstanding lifting accomplishments speak for themselves.

Hall of Fame Biography – Art Montini class of 1993

Art Montini performing an One Arm Deadlift.

Art Montini was in the inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees – and rightfully so. Art is the most decorated all-rounder in USAWA history, having won overall best lifter at four National Championships (1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995). He was born October 11th, 1927 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. After graduating from High School, Art joined the Navy in 1945 and served our country in WWII aboard a naval ship. After his military service, he went to work in a steel mill in which he continued until retirement. Art’s early sport activities included playing “sandlot” baseball, and even some semi-pro football. Art started lifting weights when he was 20 years old. At first, he competed in Oylmpic lifting. But once he got started competing in all-round weightlifting that was his focus from then on. Art’s favorite lifts are the Steinborn and all of the chain lifts. However, he trains all of the all-round lifts at different times in his workouts. Art is one of only two lifters that has over 300 USAWA records!! Art is a member of the Ambridge V.F.W. Barbell Club and does all of his training there. He has competed in over 100 all-round weightlifting meets!!!! You can always count on Art being at the National Championships. He has even been involved in the promotion of the National Championships, being the Co-Meet Director of the Nationals in 1991 and 1999 in Ambridge. Art is an outstanding official as well, both at the National level and at the World level.

Art is a master of the Heavy Lifts. In this picture he is performing a Hip Lift.

When asked what he enjoys about the USAWA, he replied, “I really enjoy competing with other lifters. I’ve made many great friends at all of the meets.” In 1988, Art was selected to the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Art lives in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and still competes in all-round weightlifting meets even though he is over 80 years of age!! He even celebrates his birthday every year by hosting Art’s Birthday Bash, an all-round weightlifting meet, on his birthday.

Hall of Fame Biography – Jim Malloy class of 1996

Jim Malloy performing a Clean and Press.

Jim Malloy was born July 7th, 1941 and currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Following High School graduation, Jim went to work in a steel mill where he has worked for over 47 years. He has been married to his wife, Sandy, for over 45 years. They have one daughter, Tracey, who now lives in Texas. Jim started out with Olympic Weightlifting in 1968, and then got involved with the USAWA in April of 1990 after being introduced to all-round weightlifting by Bob Karhan. Jim spends most of his training time lifting in his garage. When asked if there were any lifters that inspired him in all-round weightlifting, Jim named two great lifters – Howard Prechtel and Art Montini. Jim worked out with Howard quite often, and often helped Howard in the promotion of several competitions, which included a National Championship, a World Championship and several Gold Cups. Jim is a true all-rounder with his lifting and has set USAWA records in many lifts that are very different from each other. Jim has done a 400# Front squat, a 400# one handed Deadlift, a Continental to Chest and Jerk of 300#, and a 420# Zercher Lift. I should also mention that these were all done after the age of 50!!!! Jim has set over 100 USAWA records and has lifted in close to 100 competitions. Among his greatest accomplishments in the USAWA was winning overall Best Lifter at the National Championships in 1997. He was the Master’s Best Lifter in 1994 and 1997 at the National Championships. He has also won many Championships in his age and weight class. Another thing that is very impressive is Jim has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 12 National Championships!!!! He has also placed in the top six in 4 IAWA World Championships, with his best placing being 3rd Overall in 1995. When asked what he likes about the USAWA, Jim replied, ” I have lifted in several other weightlifting organizations, but nothing compares to the people I have met in the USAWA.” Jim is a great Champion and role model in the sport of All-Round Weightlifting.

Jim Malloy performing a Jefferson Lift.

Hall of Fame Biography – Frank Ciavattone class of 1996

Frank Ciavattone performing a One Arm Hack Lift at the 2005 USAWA National Championships. Frank has the top USAWA lift of All-Time in this lift at 402 pounds.

Frank Ciavattone lives in Walpole, Massachusetts. He is a self-employed Excavator Contractor two-thirds of the season and a Heavy Snow Remover the remaining time. He started to lift weights after he received a 75lb. weight set for Christmas in 1966. Frank’s uncle Ralph was a bodybuilder in the early 1950’s who placed 5th in the 1951 Mr. Boston Contest. Frank’s dad was a Marine during the Korean War and was a Power Shovel operator (steam shovel). These two men were Frank’s early inspiration to take up weight training.

Frank trained for many years (1971 to 1988) with his coach Joe Mills of The Central Falls Weightlifting Club in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Frank started out doing some Olympic lifting but soon found out that he had tremendous potential with All-Round Weightlifting. It was at this time that he got help from Bill Clark, John Vernacchio, and Howard Prechtel – all of which were very accomplished and experienced All-Round Weightlifters. Frank was a charter member of the USAWA, and competed in the organization from the start. Frank is a very sincere and honest person who always gives thanks to those who help him. He commented, ” John & Howard gave me endless phone time on educating me how to do a lot of the lifts before upcoming contests. I can not leave without mentioning Frank Gancarz and Ed Jubinville (both deceased) who played a big part in making me feel Allround lifting was just as important as life itself! To these MEN I truly admire and respect and I thank them from the bottom of my HEART! ”

Frank Ciavattone was the first American to ever lift the Dinnie stones unassisted. He performed this amazing feat in 1995.

Frank was also involved in meet promotions. He was the Meet Director for several National Championships (1996 and 1998) and World Championships (1993 and 2000) in both All-Round Weightlifting and The Heavy Lifts. His most memorable All-Round meet was definitely the 1st one in 1993, in his home town of Norwood/Walpole, Massachusetts. Frank had his family, friends, the towns people, and lifters from other countries all together in one meet. Frank said, “With that combination it was a week of comradeship, competitiveness, and support. The rest was a true celebration of what this sport is by bringing a half dozen countries together as human beings. This is a time I will always cherish in my heart.” One of his most cherish meet wins was winning the Outstanding Lifter Title at the 2005 World Heavy Lift Championships in front of his home town Norwood/Walpole. Regarding this, Frank said, “I was in the 275lb. class. I gave the award to my daughter Domenique. That was a Hallmark moment for me.”

Frank has lifted overseas in 6 World Championships and 1 Millennium Gold Cup for a total of 7 trips. When in Scotland at the 1995 IAWA World Championships Frank achieved something no other American had ever done previously. This story is best told in his own words, “The Dinnie Stones story got started by Willie Wright and his team wanting me to go north and give them a try! They offered to take time off from work and take me. For this I said yes and would give it my best shot. Well after lifting in 2 day competition with 10 lifts at the 1996 World Championships, and the 9th lift being a 507lb. right hand- 1 arm deadlift, I was beat. After the meet we all got ready for the banquet, which anyone who’s ever lifted in Scotland know their banquets are right up there with the best of them. Well around midnight Willie informed me that the mini-bus was leaving at 5 a.m. sharp, tomorrow morning with about a 4 or 5 hour drive. The next day everything goes on schedule and we arrive there with a full mini-bus. I never saw the stones in person before but have to say I was overwhelmed at them. They were both chained to the wall, and it was drizzling out. Everything had a film of water over it, and the marble size piece of chalk I brought was disintegrated. So I found an area not so wet and dug my hands through the dirt to dry them up and it helped. At this point I picked up the little stone right and left, then I did the same to the big stone. Well now I thought I did it. They all yelled NO – do the 2 stones together. Since they were chained to the wall I decided to keep my 2 feet together since the stones were close to the wall. It was hard for me to straddle them and definitely too tight to have one on each side. So finally on my 1st. attempt I reached down and slowly stood up, and stood there while Willie Wright gave his down signal. I was in another world as I felt like I could not put them down. I got an IAWA World record certificate and the honors of being the 1st. US citizen to lift up the stones without straps or other assistance. Also to be one of few to lift them feet together. I am not sure who the others are. The truth to all this is I lifted them fatigued, never seen them before, and never trained to lift them. No excuses – just got of the bus and within 5 minutes lifted both of the ground. I did it my way!!!!!!”

Frank Ciavattone and his All-Time Record in the One Arm Deadlift, with a lift of 562 pounds.

Franks favorite lifts are the three Ciavattone lifts, the One Arm Deadlift and the Neck Lift. He also excelled at these lift and set many USAWA records in them. His records are One Arm Hack Lift -right hand 402 1/5 pounds, One Arm Deadlift – right hand 562 1/5 pounds, One Arm Ciavattone Lift – right hand 331 pounds, Neck Lift 808 pounds, Hand and Thigh 1610 pounds, and a Hip Lift of 2515 pounds. Frank has won 15 IAWA World Championships, 14 USAWA National Championships, 3 Heavy Lift World Championships, and 5 USAWA Heavy Lift National Championships. Frank was the Overall Best Master lifter at the 1998 National Championships. He has placed in the top 10 Overall at 9 National Championships.

There is more to Frank than just being one of the best All-Round Weightlifters of All-Time. He is a man of integrity and outstanding character. He always is willing to help those who need it, and is the perfect role model for the young generation of lifters. When asked what advice he would have for a new lifer, this is what Frank said, “Stay away from any artificial way of getting ahead. Hard, hard, hard work is what got me to do the best I could without jeopardizing my number one thing in my life, FAMILY. Keep your priorities in the right order. This formula keeps everyone happy and supportive.” I would say this sums up Frank Ciavattone.

Frank is a true Pioneer in the Sport of All-Round Weightlifting. He is the ultimate sportsman by demonstrating that a big man can be very strong without the use of drugs, showing that strength comes from within, and displays the unselfish attitude of always helping out his fellow competitors.

Frank has done 808 pounds in the Neck Lift!

Hall of Fame Biography – Deanna Springs class of 1997

Deanna Springs and Al Springs performing a Team Cheat Curl

Deanna Springs was born in Gallatin, Missouri, daughter of Ray and Gertrude Cook. Deanna was introduced to All-Round Weightlifting by her husband, Al Springs, in 1990. Having no prior sports experience, she quickly developed a love for weightlifting, and trained with Al at their gym. Together, they also promoted several local competitions. Someone else who inspired her to take up weightlifting was Bill Clark. Deanna and Al would often compete in the All-Round Weighlifting competitions that Bill hosted at his gym. Her best National placing was placing 3rd overall at the 1994 USAWA National Championships in East Lake, Ohio. Deanna’s favorite lifts were the Zercher Lift and the Hand and Thigh. Her best Hand and Thigh was 620 pounds. That is how the Deanna Lift, which was named in her honor, came to be – by combining the movements of the Hand and Thigh and the Zercher Lift. Deanna died in 1995. Every year Bill Clark hosts the Deanna Springs Memorial, a meet which features the Deanna Lift.

Hall of Fame Biography – Dennis Mitchell class of 1997

Dennis Mitchell performing his favorite lift - the Bent Press.

Dennis Mitchell was born February 15th, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. He still lives in Cleveland. He was “raised” in the family business of photography, and worked in the family business part time during High School and College. After returning home from two years in the Army, Dennis worked full time with his father until his father retired in 1961. Dennis continued the family’s photography business until he retired in 1995. Dennis has been married to his wife Flossy for close to 48 years. They have two daughters and four grand children. Dennis started lifting in May of 1943. He started out with bodybuilding and some Olympic lifting training. He got involved with the USAWA in 1989. Dennis is very involved in other sports. He also has competed in running, swimming, and Judo. He still competes in Olympic Weightlifting and Masters Swimming. Howard Prechtel, who Dennis has known since 1949, introduced him to All-Round Weightlifting. Dennis remarked, “I’ve always been interested in training the odd lifts, and being part of the USAWA allowed me to enter competitions where these lifts are contested.” During the 1940’s and the 1950’s, Dennis trained at Joe Raymond’s A.C. He now trains at home and has a very complete home gym which is set up for All-Round Weightlifting training. Dennis is a member of the Ohio Olympic Weightlifting committee. He is chairman of the World All-Round Technical Committee. He has held that position for several years. Dennis is also a very active official, having judged at many local, National, and World meets. Dennis was the Co-Meet Director of the 2008 National Championships in Columbus Ohio. He also has helped organize the local portion for six All-Round World Postal Meets. The chain lifts and the Bent Press are his favorite lifts. Dennis has competed in 20 National Meets, 19 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. He has lifted in many states, and overseas in England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand. Dennis has won his weight and age class in 20 National Meets, 17 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. When asked what he likes about All-Round Weightlifting, he replied, “One of the best parts of being involved in the All-Rounds is the people. They are just a super group.”

Dennis Mitchell perfoming the Vertical Bar Deadlift.

Dennis Mitchell perfoming a Bent Press with a dumbbell.

Hall of Fame Biography – Joe Garcia class of 1997

Joe Garcia and his specialty lift - The Hand and Thigh Lift.

Joseph Anthony Garcia was born in Dewitt, Iowa, August 12, 1953. Joe and his wife Cindy started dating the last week of high school, got married August 11, 1973 and currently live in the country near Sturgeon, Missouri on 27 acres with their animals. Joe received a Business Degree with a major in accounting from the University of Iowa and got his first job as an accountant, but has spent the majority of his employed life in software, both as a developer and as a consultant. Joe’s immediate family consists of his wife and himself, a cat and 5 horses. He comes from a large family that had 9 kids. Joe actually started lifting back in the late 70’s when he was a policeman. As part of getting into shape, he got involved with the USAWA in 1987 when he was at a customer’s location and looked out the window and saw a small sign that read ‘Clark’s Championship Gym’. Joe said, “I went over and met Bill, joined the gym and have been a member of both the gym and the USAWA since that time.” Joe has been involved with some sport ever since he was a little kid, from baseball to track, basketball and football in high school, rugby in college, boxing as a cop, and finally Taekwondo in the early eighties, where he received a second degree black belt. Now days, he coaches boxing, lifts and competes in Cowboy Mounted Shooting. When asked who was responsible for getting him involved in all-round weightlifting, Joe replied, “Bill Clark introduced me to the USAWA and I would have to say he is responsible for my having accomplished what I have in the sport.”

Joe lifts both at Clark’s gym and at home. Joe has been the USAWA Record Keeper since the start of the USAWA and still holds that position. Joe was also responsible for designing and starting the USAWA website in the mid 90’s. He has been an official at many meets over the years. Bill and Joe have promoted three USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri (1995, 1997, 2001). He has also helped Bill put on numerous meets at the gym. Joe’s favorite lifts are the big bar lifts, and when asked if there was any record he was the most proud of, he replied, “I would have to say my record of 1910 pounds in the Hand and Thigh Lift is the one I am most proud of.” Joe’s record in the Hand and Thigh of 1910 pounds, which was set in 1997, remains the top Hand and Thigh Lift in history. Joe competed in the first World meet which was held in England, and has competed in several World Championships and National Championships since. Joe has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 10 National Championships, with three third place finishes overall in 2001, 1997, and 1988. He was the top overall Master at the National Championships in 2006 and 2001. He has also won numerous age group Best Lifter Awards at the Nationals. Joe is one of very few lifters who have been with the USAWA from the very beginning who is still competing at the top level – as showed by his most recent placing of 4th overall at the 2009 National Championships. Joe is always helping out new lifters at meets and has done numerous things through the years to promote the USAWA. Joe Garcia sets the standard that all future Hall of Famers should aspire for.

Hall of Fame Biography – Denny Habecker class of 1997

Denny Habecker performing a Zercher Lift.

Denny was born and raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and has lived there all but 3 years of his life. His father was always involved in sports when Denny was growing up, and Denny has continued that tradition. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1960 and got a job at Bayer Corporation in 1964 and worked there until his retirement in August, 2008. He got married in 1964 to Judy Gensemer. Judy is now a retired R.N. and they have one son who is an elementary school principal. His son and daughter-in-law have given them 3 grandsons that they are very proud of.

Denny started lifting in the spring of 1957 to build himself up for high school football. He entered a couple of bodybuilding contests in 1961 and 1962 before deciding weightlifting competitions were more fun. He competed in Olympic lifting competitions, with a few powerlifting competitions thrown in, from 1962 until 1975. Then with family commitments and other sports (volleyball, basketball) taking up his time, he didn’t compete again in weightlifting until 1984. He saw the results of the 1983 National Masters Olympic Lifting Championships and decided to start competing again. Denny entered John Vernacchio’s Eastern Masters and Tri-States Masters competitions every year and became a member of John’s Valley Forge Lifting Team. In 1989 John told him about an all-round weightlifting competition he was having. John talked him into entering it and Denny soon became hooked on all-round weightlifting.

Denny has been in every National All-rounds since 1990, 16 World All-rounds since 1991, and 13 Gold Cups since 1994, competing in Scotland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. In Olympic lifting , he has competed in 24 straight Keystone Games , 21 National Masters, 5 Pan-American Masters, 2 American Masters and 2 World Masters Championships since 1984. He also lifted in the 1992 WPA World Masters Powerlifting Championships. Denny still played volleyball, basketball, and softball in an over 40 league most of those years. He had to give up the other sports two years ago because of an arthritic hip.

Denny now trains at the New York Fitness Club in Lebanon and in his basement gym. He has been on the IAWA technical committee since 2000 and President of the USAWA since 2007. He has promoted the 2000 & 2007 USAWA Nationals, 2002, 2005 & 2009 IAWA World’s, 2006 & 2008 Gold Cup, and the 2004 & 2009 National Heavylift Championships. Denny was inducted into the Lebanon Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 , and in 2009 was given the Kelly Cup Award for his Keystone Games accomplishments . He was the overall best lifter of the 1999 USAWA National Championships and 10 times best lifter in his age group. He has placed in the top 10 in 14 USAWA National Championships and 8 IAWA World Championships. His favorite lifts are the Arthur lift and the Pullover and Push. His 87.5 kilogram Clean and Press with Heels Together, which was done in his first All-round Meet in 1989, is still a record.

Denny Habecker performing a Pullover and Push.

Denny Habecker performing a Hack Lift.

Hall of Fame Biography – John McKean class of 1999

John McKean deadlifting.

John was born on December 15th, 1945 and has been competing in weightlifting for over 45 years, starting in 1962. He started as a lifter primarily as a powerlifter, but also has competed in master’s olympic lifting, having won two US National titles. However, all-round weightlifting soon captivated his attention and he has devoted all of his efforts toward all-round training and competition since its inception. John is a retired teacher (32 years in Jr. High math), a

John McKean performing a 2 bar deadlift.

retired martial arts instructor (American Combatives for individuals and airline crews), and a retired weightlifter. John has won so many National and World Meets that he has lost count!!! One accomplishment that he has done that is hard to top is that he went for over 20 years never losing a meet in his age and weight division! He presently has over 125 USAWA and IAWA records on the books. His earliest all-round weightlifting inspirations came from the great National and World Meets that John Vernacchio promoted, followed by the tremendous atmosphere that Frank Ciavattone created in his National and World Meets. John said, “These guys worked so hard to insure that everyone enjoyed themselves and they provided the absolute best conditions to do top notch lifting!! Their meets were more like great workouts with good friends than the usual cut and dry weightlifting competitions. Just big parties, really!!!”. John has served as an official at many meets, and served a term as the IAWA international secretary. He has wrote extensively about all-round weightlifting training methods in Hardgainer magazine and MILO. He has been involved in the promotion of several National Meets which includes being the meet director at two National Championships in Ambridge with Art Montini, and being the

John McKean performing a Hip Lift.

co-director at the two National Meets at Jumpstretch Fitness in Youngstown, Ohio. John has received much personal satisfaction from the great time he has had getting his two sons, Sean and Rob, involved in the USAWA along with many of his school students. One of his biggest thrills in lifting was being probably the only teacher to establish an official class for all-round weightlifting in the public school system. For four years he was given the state’s mandate (IEP) to take over the complete physical education of a legally blind student by the name of Matt Van Fossan. Matt, under John’s coaching, really took to lifting and established several teen National and World Records and even won a National Championship!!! These days John trains at home, still writes a bit, and lives near Pittsburgh with his wife of 40 years, Marilyn. He is still very involved in the lives of his two grown sons, Rob and Sean.