Articles from April 2010

The Saxon Trio

by Dennis Mitchell

The Saxon Trio

Back in he late 1890s Eugene Sandow was the king of strength in England. A gentleman by the name of Arno Saxon (His real name was Arno Patschke) saw the interest that the public had for strong men acts and also the possibility of making a good living by forming his own strongman act. Arno was a German wrestler and strongman. Traveling back to Germany in 1897, he formed the first Saxon Trio. Arno Saxon teamed up with  Oscar Hilgenfeld and the 19 year old Arthur Hennig, who later changed his name to Arthur Saxon. The three traveled to England and put on a genuine strong man act. There were no false weights, tricks, or illusions. Just honest lifting, supporting and juggling heavy weights.
The first to leave the trio was Oscar Hilgenfeldt. He joined with Albert Attilla to form their own act called The Attilla Brothers. His place was taken by a man named Somerton. Somerton stayed with the trio only a short time and was replaced by another German named Adolf Berg. More changes were to come when the originator of the group, Arno Saxon left. Arthur Saxon had his 17 year old brother, Hermann, take his place. Once again the ever changing trio changed again when Adolf Berg left and was replaced by Arthur’s youngest brother, Kurt. We now had the true Arthur Saxon Trio. But not for long as Hemann decided to do a solo act and once again Adolf Berg returned. After a time Hermann returned and once again the three brothers were billed as the Arthur Saxon Trio.

Arthur was born April 28, 1878. Hermann was born March 17,1882 and Kurt, March 11,1884. All were born in Leipsic, Saxony. They started training at an early age using stone weights, and putting on shows in their back yard when Arthur was 15 years old, Hermann,11, and Kurt 8 years old. They offered ten Pfenning (2.5 cents) to any one up to the age of 15 who could defeat them. When Hermann was still 16 years old he could bent press 100 kilos by holding together two 50 kilo kettle-bells. Kurt at the age of 11 could swing 50 kilos. Even as the members of the trio kept changing they were quite successful and traveled with the Wirth Brothers Circus through Europe and India. Not only did they lift weights but were quite skilled in wrestling.

Other than their outstanding lifting the Saxon Brothers were “Strong Eaters.” At a typical breakfast they would eat 24 eggs, 3 pounds of smoked bacon, porridge with cream, honey, marmalade and tea with lots of sugar. Lunch served at about 3PM consisted of 10 pounds of meat, with vegetables, sweet fruits, sweet cakes, salads, pudding, and tea with lots of sugar. Supper was usually smoked fish and cold meat. There was never any whiskey or brandy, but they did drink some beer. The stories of their beer drinking were greatly exaggerated. After their 3 o’clock meal they would rest for a couple of hours. During this time Kurt would do the shopping for their next days food. He was the cook.
It was now time for their workout. They never did a light workout and did a large variety of lifts with ring weights and barbells. They would warm up with leg presses. (No leg press machines) The bent press was done at every work out, doing as many as thirty lifts at each training session. The only non lifting exercises the did was jumping and swimming, and sometimes wrestling. They trained six days a week for four hours.

When Arthur died, August 6, 1921, Hermann and Kurt continued the act for a wile with great success. However Hermann did not have the heart to continue, as it was not like the old days. Kurt continued on his own until he was injured August 24, 1924, when a bridge and car that he was supporting collapsed and put an end to his career as a strong man. He then worked at the University of Leipzig as a trainer, and for a wile ran his own gym until it was destroyed during the second world war. Kurt died September 5, 1952, and Hermann, February 12, 1961. Arthur was best known for his bent pressing, an official lift of 371 pounds, and the two hands any how lift of 448 pounds. Listed here are some of Herman’s and Kurt’s lifts.

Kurt                          Hermann
Right hand snatch                                                        213 pounds                  206 pounds
Left hand snatch                                                           189 pounds                  202 pounds
Right hand bent press                                                332 pounds                   332 pounds
One hand clean & bent press, right hand             275 pounds                  272 pounds
Kettle bell swing right hand                                         187 pounds                  196 pounds
Two hands clean and jerk                                            341 pounds                  330 pound

Below is a comparison of their measurements taken by Dr. Sargent of Harvard University.

Kurt               Hermann                    Arthur
Height                                       68.1″               67.6″                         69.5″
Neck                                         15.5″               16.0″                         16.5″
Chest                                        43.0″               45.0″                         45.7″
Hips                                          36.0″              36.5″                          36.5″
Biceps                                       15.5″              16.0″                          16.5″
Forearm                                    14.2″               14.5″                         14.2″
Wrist                                         8.2″                 8.1″                           8.1″
Thigh                                        23.0″               22.0″                         23.2″
Calf                                          16.0″               15.0″                         15.7′
Weight                                    164 pounds      163 pounds                204 pounds
Age                                          26 years          28 years                     32 years

Bob Burtzloff at the 2002 SuperGrip Challenge

by Ben Edwards

"This is Bob Burtzloff's double overhand deadlift of 305 pounds on a 2" bar at the 2002 SuperGrip Challenge at Kevin Fulton's farm in Nebraska. It was a great contest and a great group of people." - Ben Edwards

History of the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet

Written and Compiled by Dale Friesz

There has been 15 Deanna Springs Memorial Meets.  Joe Garcia owns this meet – he has won 9 of these meets.  He participated in two others – 2003 and 1997.  Amazingly he failed to total in 2003 and 1997.  In 2003, he was unable to do a Hand and Thigh Lift and in 1997 he failed in the Hip Lift.  He could not do the Hand and Thigh Lift in 2003 as he had been kicked by his own horse! In 1997, his choice of weight in the Hip Lift was too heavy.  That amounts to 9 wins in 11 contests. My hat is off to Joe!!

Deanna and Al Springs, performing a 2-person Cheat Curl

The following is from the USAWA Strength Journal, Vol. VI-7 11/25-1995:

Deanna Springs Dies in Auto Crash
by Kerry Clark, a national USWF titlist like Deanna, contributed the following eulogy for her close friend.

On October 5, 1995, Deanna Springs was killed in a car accident at the age of 45. Deanna was the wife of Al Springs of Dearborn, Missouri. Deanna met Al when she came to his fitness center for rehabilitation for shoulder and wrist problems. She lifted in her first USAWA meet at Steve Schmidt’s in 1992, and although she continued to battle back and arm problems she developed into an excellent and enthusiastic lifter over the last few years.  Al and Deanna were rightfully proud of her record-making marks of 600 pounds in the Hand and Thigh and 1100 pounds in the Hip Lift. But more than a devoted lifter, Deanna Springs was a wonderful person.  She and Al came to all of our meets at Clark’s Gym. Deanna was always the friendliest and most supportive person in the room.  She worked hard to become a better lifter herself and she always gave out encouragement, even to her competitors.  I always looked forward to our meets because I knew that Deanna would be there.  At her funeral, the minister spoke of Deanna’s accomplishments in the USAWA and her National Championship medal was placed in the casket with her.  I felt glad to know that Deanna cared so much about the USAWA because I know that my experience in this organization was enriched by her presence. Deanna Springs was a great lifter, supporter of the USAWA, and a friend. She was also Al’s greatest booster.  Her death was an unexpected blow and she will be greatly missed.

Past Winners of the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet:

2010 – 3/28
56 215 3770 3611.64
2009 – 3/28
55 240 3950 3711.88
2008 – 4/06
42 239 3525 2948.17
2007 – 3/25
25 171 3610 3534.55
2006 – 3/26
52 245 4035 3655.85
2005 – 4/02
23 165 4105 4111.98
2004 – 4/04
50 231 3980 3650.87
2003 – 4/06
47 215 3940 3654.37
2002 – 4/07
48 241 4120 3627.67
2001 – 3/31
47 242 3195 2783.60
2000 – 3/26
24 209 2960 2581.12
1999 – 3/28
45 241 4525 3876.54
1998 – 3/28
44 229 4140 3608.4
1997 – 4/12
39 226 4245 3553.07
1996 – 3/30
42 223 2550 2210.98

2004 – 4/04
28 188 1850 1712.18
2001 – 3/31
22 132 2140 2490.32
1996 – 3/30
33 175 1875 1810.50

Notes:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.


1996 – Cheat Curl, Zercher Lift, Crucifix, Jefferson Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift
1997 – Cheat Curl, Crucifix, Jefferson Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift
1998 to present – Crucifix, Cheat Curl, Deanna Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift


1996 – Springs’ Garage Gym (Dearborn, Missouri)
1997 to present – Clark’s Championship Gym (Columbia, Missouri)

Inspiration Photos

by Al Myers

An autographed photo of Steve Stanko, which is displayed in the Dino Gym, courtesy of Dale Friesz.

I have been collecting pictures for a long time – and if you have been to the Dino Gym you have seen my collection covering the gym walls. There are now over 100 photographs lining the walls of the gym! I find that these photos of lifters, some famous and some just lifters that I have great respect for, inspire me to train harder. I can’t really explain why – it’s just that when I look at these pictures during a workout and KNOW the hard work and dedication that each one of these athletes put into working out – it is INSPIRATIONAL to me. It makes me want to workout even harder! Most all of my pictures in the gym have a story behind them. I didn’t just didn’t pick them out random and throw them up on the wall for a little gym decoration!

My favorite photos are the ones that have been autographed. So far, some of my autographed pictures include great lifters such as Wilbur Miller, Norbert Schemansky, Bruce Wilhelm, Joe Dube, Bill Pearl, John Grimek and Terry Todd. I also have autographed pictures of great throwers such as Al Oerter, Al Feuerbach, John Godina, and Brian Oldfield. Among others are great athletes including Vince Young, the “best Highland Games athlete of All-Time” Bill Anderson, Jesse Marunde, and Tom Manno. I probably have some more that I didn’t mention here. I am not the only one that has this fascination with inspirational photos. Thom Van Vleck has more pictures in the JWC Training Hall than he has weightlifting plates (and he has TONS of plates). I have been in Thom’s gym several times and each time I notice a photo that I hadn’t seen before. When I attended the USAWA Club Challenge this spring hosted by the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, I noticed the many pictures they have lining the staircase as you descended into the dungeon of iron that is known as the Ambridge VFW BBC. By just looking at their photograph display, you are motivated to lift before you even enter the gym!

This is one on the many reasons why I prefer small club gyms over commercial gyms. You very rarely see pictures on the walls of commercial gyms – instead you see promotional posters trying to sell you something. Inspirational photos give a private club gym the “personal touch” that you don’t get in a big commercial gym – and this results in a better workout!

Paul Anderson’s Neck Training

by Dale Friesz

Paul Anderson training the Neck (photo courtesy of Glenda Anderson, Paul Anderson Youth Home, Vidalia, Georgia)

“This is a picture of Paul Anderson doing a Neck Lift with a side to side swinging motion. I find this very interesting. I also have an old VHS video tape that shows him do a Neck Lift with a 360 degree continuous swing.” – Dale Friesz

(Webmaster’s comment – I sure would like to see that tape!!)

What’s your Reward?

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck hoists his reward, a free beer at the Inver Inn in Scotland after hoisting the Inver Stone

We all lift for a variety of reasons. And at some time we’ve probably had someone question our sanity for the things we do! I mean, really, why would a grown man travel half way around the world just to put on a kilt, and lift a 265lb Stone, just to get a free beer? I must mention that there is a tradition that if you lift the Inver Stone, you get a free beer and so far I know of at least 4 USAWA members who have done it. Why would someone travel across the country, or even across the ocean….just to do a Bent press and maybe win a small award of some type.

I should point out that I also competed in the Master World Championships in Highland Games in that trip in Inverness…..but I don’t know if that makes my trip any more sane. All I got for that was a medal and two shot glasses (although, they have come in handy!)

Some people lift, or compete in athletics, because of money. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that….I might have done the same thing had I been good enough. Some people do it for the personal challenge and could care less who sees them break a record. Some do it for glory. Some do it for attention (I’ve been accused of that a time or two). There are probably many more reasons. Often, the reasons change over the years.

My point is that it seems when I have my priorities straight, when I have a goal, and when I know what my reward will be…..I seem to make greater progress. Having that clear image of the reward can help with great gains. My Uncle Phil Jackson used to say to me that the only time Success comes before Work is in the dictionary.

That free beer meant a lot to me. What’s your reward?

Meeting Bob Hoffman

by Dale Friesz

"This picture is of myself, the one and only Bob Hoffman, and my youngest daughter, Pam age 4. This picture was taken in 1972 at the Junior Nationals Olympic Lifting Competition, just outside of Washington D.C." - Dale Friesz

Eastern Open Postal Meet

Results of the Eastern Open Postal Meet

by Al Myers

The month of March was the first of the USAWA’s Quad Postal Series. John Wilmot is again the Meet Director for these Postal Meets, and through his hard work, put together one of the most participated Postal Meets to date. Thirteen lifters turned in results for this competition, and several placings were very close. The lifts John chose were easy to do which I think helped in the turnout of lifters. John went to the work of sending out nice certificates to the winners, which is more than expected in a meet where you don’t have to pay an entry fee. I want to point out that you do not need a Certified USAWA Official to participate in these Postal Meets – but you do need someone to “unofficially judge” your lifts. You also must be a current USAWA member to participate. Of course, it is best to have Certified Officials judge your lifts as that is mandatory for any lifts to count as records. The USAWA allows the “One Official System” to be used for records, but IAWA (World Records) require the “Three Official System” to be used. This is specified on the results sheet so the Records Chairmen of the USAWA and the IAWA will know which lifters are eligible for records.

Congratulations to the Best Lifters and thanks to everyone who participated. Your continually support of these Postal Meets is what is needed to keep them going!


Eastern Open Postal Meet
March 1-31, 2010

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts:  Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells, Heels Together, Continental to Belt, Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells

Officials for lifters using 3 official system:
Al Myers – Chad Ullom, Mark Mitchell, Scott Tully
Chad Ullom – Al Myers, Mark Mitchell, Scott Tully
Jesse Landes – Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Scott Tully
Scott Tully – Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Mark Mitchell
Mark Mitchell – Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Scott Tully
Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Frank Ciavattone Jr., Mike O’Brien
Frank Ciavattone Jr. – Joe Ciavattone Sr., Mike O’Brien
Mike O’Brien – Joe Ciavattone Sr., Frank Ciavattone Jr.
Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Frank Ciavattone Jr., Joe Ciavattone Sr., Mike O’Brien

Officials for lifters using 1 official system:
Kohl Hess – Denny Habecker

Lifters using an individual to judge who is not a Certified USAWA Official:
Orie Barnett
John Wilmot
Denny Habecker

Lifter Age BWT Cls DB Press
Con to Belt
Total Points
Al Myers
43 250 115 170 424 578 1172 967.18
Chad Ullom
38 235 110 170 402 490 1062 869.88
Joe Ciavattone Jr.
16 212 100 140 350 400 890 846.94
Orie Barnett
49 230 105 160 350 402 912 831.15
Joe Ciavattone Sr.
41 245 115 180 375 410 965 788.92
Mark Mitchell
49 365 125+ 210 363 424 997 779.64
Jesse Landes
30 238 110 150 308 490 948 771.29
Denny Habecker
67 184 85 110 242 275 628 752.53
Mike O’Brien
27 145 70 80 275 310 665 724.25
Scott Tully
34 352 125+ 200 308 490 998 709.48
Frank Ciavattone Jr.
55 285 125+ 60 335 410 805 694.56
John Wilmot
63 211 100 100 225 280 605 650.80
Kohl Hess
15 283 125+ 110 220 341 672 577.17

BWT is body weight in pounds. Cls is bodyweight class. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are adjusted points for bodyweight and age.


Junior – Joe Ciavattone Jr.

Senior (20-39 age) – Chad Ullom

Master (40-44 age) – Al Myers

Master (45-49 age) – Orie Barnett

Master (55-59 age) – Frank Ciavattone Jr.

Master (60-64 age) – John Wilmot

Master (65-69 age) – Denny Habecker

Master Overall – Al Myers

Overall Lifter – Al Myers

USAWA Awards Program

by Al Myers

It is exciting to be able to announce the start of the USAWA Awards Program. Discussion on the development of this Awards Program happened on the USAWA Discussion Forum, with everyone showing overwhelming support. These awards will be given out the USAWA National Meeting which occurs at the same time as the National Championships over the weekend of June 26th and 27th. Nominations must be sent to me by April 30th. The two individuals receiving the most nominations will be listed as the candidates for the awards, with voting done by May 15th by the membership. You must be a USAWA member to make a nomination or cast a vote. Only one individual may be nominated per person per award. The awards are for the year 2009. An individual may be nominated for more than one award. The award categories are as follows:

Athlete of the Year – This award is for the individual who has accomplished the most athletically within the last year in the USAWA. Top placings at the Nationals and World Championships should figure in high. Also, participation in other National Competitions such as the Heavy Event Nationals or Team Nationals could factor in, along with the Gold Cup.

Leadership Award – This is for an individual that has shown exceptional leadership qualities within the USAWA during the past year. Things that should be looked at are: going above the level expected of an Officer position, promoting sanctioned events with emphasis being on promoting National or World Competitions, promoting the USAWA by developing a strong club, writing articles for publications about the USAWA, or through other means.

Sportsmanship Award - This goes to an individual who possesses and shows great sportsmanship within the USAWA. The act of sportsmanship may be by conduct at all events, or by an specific example of exceptional sportsmanship.

Courage Award – This goes to an individual who shows the courage to overcome an obstacle in order to return to competition. This may be a comeback from an injury, or just having to deal with difficult personal issues but still shows the courage to compete in the USAWA.

Newcomer Award – This award goes to an individual who in new to the USAWA or has become involved again. It doesn’t have to go to someone in their first year of being involved in the USAWA.

All nominations are to be sent to me at by the 30th of April. I will keep the nominations confidential. The voting will end by May 15th to give me time to have the awards made. The USAWA Discussion Forum will be the place to discuss reasons why a certain candidate should be voted on, or for individuals to make the pitch why their candidate nominated should receive the award.

…And a Good Time Was Had By All

by Thom Van Vleck

Chad Ullom, Tedd & Thom Van Vleck, & Al Myers have a good time after a meet

I grew up in Schuyler County, Population about 3500. We had a weekly newspaper (long since gone) that often was filled with social items. There was this one lady that wrote about the gatherings and she would talk about who came, what they ate, and what they talked about…..big news where I came from. To be honest, I kinda miss that kind of news over the stuff we deal with now! At any rate, she would end her column with “…..and a good time was had by all”. That kind of became a “catch phrase” in my family for social gatherings.

Recently, Chad and Al came up for a contest I put on. Al’s Dad came along, too. As is usual, we all ended up at a “get together” at my place after meet. And, as usual, we ended up telling stories until the wee hours of the morning…and maybe a liquid refreshment or two. My wife went to bed at a reasonable hour (we did not!) and commented the next day, “Al sure laughs loud!!!”. The point is, we all laughed and we laughed a lot!

The next day, when we went to the Deanna meet, Al and I talked about this part of almost every meet and contest we have been to over the years. Al commented later that his dad told him, “I finally understand why you like to do these meets”. While I enjoy the challenge of competing and I have many memorable moments of contests, I have just as many stories about the trips to, and from, and the get together’s that happen afterwards. It’s all part of the fun.

I hopefully have many more contests to come in my life time, and win or lose, I will do my best to make sure they all end with “….and a Good Time was had by All!

Five Decades

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Jackson & Bill Clark in front of "Clark's Championship Gym" in Columbia, Missouri.

Recently, Al and I went to Clark’s Gym to compete in the Deanna Meet with Joe Garcia. My Uncle Wayne Jackson came along. It has been some time since he had seen Bill and along the way we talked about him and Bill’s relationship.

It was in 1962 Wayne told me they first met, it was hard for him to believe that it had been nearly 50 years! It was a 3 hour round trip for us and during that time Wayne shared many stories of taking trips with Bill back in the day. Some were pretty long and believe me, I’m going to write these down. But a couple of short one’s:

One time Bill gave Wayne, Phil Jackson, and Bill Fellows a ride to a meet in Kansas. Bill had an old hearse that he used as his personal vehicle. On the way back, the lights went out and they stopped at a truck stop but could not get them to work again. So Bill talked a trucker in to letting them tailgate him all the way from Kansas City to Columbia. As they left and the next 100 miles revolved around Bill staying glued to the back bumper of this truck…..Wayne said him and Phil got to laughing as they contemplated the irony of being killed in a HEARSE.

Another time, Wayne shared a the story of a write up that Clark did on him in the forerunner of the USAWA newsletter, the MO Valley Lifting News. Wayne had broke the state record in the clean and press and the age of 18 and Bill wrote, “Look out Russians, here comes Wayne Jackson”. Wayne’s brother Phil was excited about the headline, Wayne has always been a modest person and said he was actually embarrassed by it!

Wayne and Bill go way back, and Wayne got Bill’s newsletter from 1962 until the last one and read it religiously. In a way, it almost seemed like a chance to say goodbye for Wayne as his health has not been the best and if that is the case, I’m glad he came…..but I don’t think guys as tough as Bill and Wayne ever give up the ghost quite so easily!!!!!

Nice Rack!!!

by Thom Van Vleck

Rack of York Globe Dumbbells at Clark's Gym

I know a lot of guys will conjure up a different image when another guy yell’s out “nice rack”. But if you are a real ironhead like myself, a different image may come to mind (like the one in the above photo!). Of all the cool stuff at the “Mecca” of the USAWA, Clark’s Gym, this has got to be the coolest. There’s a small fortune there and if it weren’t for my fear of judgement day (both this world and the next!)…..I’d break in and steal those!

I don’t know what it is about globe DB’s, but I like’m. No, I love’m. Maybe it’s their resemblance to something you would find on a nice rack….this time I’m talking the metaphorical “rack” that any real man would admire (Ok, maybe that’s getting a little weird). Maybe it’s because every picture I’ve ever seen of an old timer they are lifting a globe DB (and by old timer, I don’t mean Bill Clark or Art, or Dale, or Denny….they are “new” compared to Saxon, Sandow, and my favorite, Louis Uni). Or maybe it’s just because form follows function and that is the perfect shape! Hex DB’s and Cylinder shaped DB’s just don’t look cool.

Last year, Al Myers and I made a crazy road trip to Denver to see legendary Highland Games Athlete Russ Murphy. Russ was getting up in years and selling his house, and needing to get rid of some equipment which Al and I bought. Russ also entrusted us with some of his “finer” possessions. Things he knew that we would appreciate and take care of and most people wouldn’t understand the value. While there, I spied a set of 95lb York Globe DB’s. I pulled Al aside and explained that a fight was about to break out. He asked why, and I pointed to them and said, I know you are going to want those…..but I saw them first!!! Al smiled, looked at me, and explained he had already “called them” and Russ had promised them to Al! Al had beat me to the punch!!!!! Russ did give me the original RMSA 22lb hammer and it is in a place of honor in my gym and for that I’m very grateful.

The sad part of that story is that Russ had bought them years before and was cutting them up to use the globe parts as throwing weights for the Highland Games!!!! OH, the humanity!!!! Only the 95’s remained and one 60lb DB….which I thought maybe Al would throw me a bone and let me keep that one….but evidently, he’s as greedy as me when it comes to Globe DB’s!!!

I do have one Globe DB, it’s a 40lber. A few years ago, I got a call from a friend who had a guy contact him about some “rare” equipment. Evidently, there was a female professional wrestler back in the day named Ada Ash. She, and her husband, traveled for many years and were also known as Mr. and Mrs. Wrestling. She had never had children and had given this guy her equipment when she was up in years in back in the 70’s. This guy had kept all of this stuff, most of it homemade, and now that he was getting up in years wanted someone to have it that would appreciate it and take care of it. That DB was in that stuff! It also occupies an place of honor in my gym!

So, every time I go to Clark’s I have to peruse the DB rack and if you make the trip to Clark’s Gym… sure and check out that NICE RACK!

Grandpa Jackson’s Anvil

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck lifting Grandpa Jackson's Anvil

A little over a decade ago I wrote a story about my Grandpa Jackson’s Anvil and it appeared in Milo, the Strength Journal. I had wrote the article about how 4 generations in my family had lifted this anvil and how it was kind of a “rite of passage” into manhood. I recall almost not sending it in to the publisher of Milo, Randy Strossen, as I thought it was pretty corny and who would care outside my family. Well, Randy not only published it, but it started a relationship that has allowed me to publish about 25 more articles and allowed me to have a bit of a writing career. It wasn’t until recently that I wrote an article on Al Feuerbach (shot putter) that Randy told me I had finally topped that first story. I owe that anvil a lot and not just for my writing career!!!!

Grandpa Jackson was actually my great-grandfather, Arthur Jackson. He was an “old school” farmer that ran about 500 head of cattle and lived from 1880 to 1957. He had this Anvil, an English “Peter Wright” anvil made at the legendary “Mouse Hole” forge where anvils were made from around 1200 A.D. to 1969. It reportedly belonged to my Great-Great Grandfather, and who know, maybe further back as I have since dated it to being made between 1830 and 1865. He used to lift this anvil to impress his kids. It is not huge, but it is around 150lbs. He so impressed my grandfather that he would tell this story to his kids later about how he thought if he could lift that anvil, he’d be a “real man”. So, his desire to lift that anvil started his weight lifting career, which let to my Uncle’s lifting, and on to me, and now my kids…who I hope will be the fifth generation to lift that anvil! We have all lifted that Anvil and each has their own story which was detailed in that original Milo article.

That anvil inspired the formation of the Jackson Weightlifting Club and out of that Club came guys like Wayne Smith, Wayne Gardner, Phil Jackson, Wayne Jackson, Gene Thudium, and others that formed the foundation of the modern day USAWA as well as current or recent USAWA members and record holders like John O’Brien, Thom, Tedd, Morgan & Dalton Van Vleck (and soon, Ethan), Josh Hettinger, and others.

I have also had the privilege of having a bit of a strongman evangelism career, as inspired by Paul Anderson and his work. Both my Uncle’s saw Paul years ago (at different times) and this in turn inspired me. The Anvil has been a central part of our show. I not only lift it, but I lay on a bed of nails and have the guys pound it with sledge hammers (yes, that hurts). We estimate we have done 250 shows and been seen by over 25,000 people to date and almost all of them have heard the story of the Anvil.

Recently, we had our Highlander contest (combines strongman and Highland Games events) and we lifted the Anvil for reps as an event. Again, I told the story and shared a little bit of my family with everyone.

When the anvil is not in use, it rests in a place of honor in my gym, resting on top of a section of a huge I-Beam I “rescued” from a legendary bridge that used to cross the Chariton River near where I grew up. They were tearing the old Archangel Bridge down and replacing it with a boring reinforced concrete bridge and I spied this I-beam, with old style rivets and all, and thought it would be the perfect stand for my Anvil. It weighed around 400lbs and I had to haul it out of a ditch…..that was a workout by itself!

The anvil itself is just a chunk of steel, but it symbolized a lot for me and my family. A love of strength in all it’s forms, a passion for hard work, and a desire to seek out the challenges that life has to offer. If you ever come to the JWC Training Hall (AKA “Modern Day Torture Chamber), stop by and check it out…..and join the club of those that have lifted the “American Manhood Stone”.

Lee Gesbeck Passes Away


by Thom Van Vleck

I just read on the Ironmind website that Lee Gesbeck passed away. This word came from his family that he passed yesterday. Lee was a fellow Milo writer and he provided crucial coverage for the USAWA that reached thousands of readers. I always enjoyed reading his coverage of USAWA events and he will be missed.

I hope some of his friends will take the time to remember him on the message board. I never had the privilege to know him personally, but by all accounts, he was top notch and loved the iron game, Randy Strossen said he “had iron in his veins”. God Bless and God Speed, Lee and a prayer for your family!

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 4

by Al Myers

Scott's best official lift in the Hip Lift is 2000 pounds.

Al: I was glad to see you recently register your club with the USAWA and help with the growth of the USAWA Club Program.  Could you tell me the history of your club?

Scott: My club, The Schmidt Bar Bell Club, was founded in March, 1967. I was 14 years old at the time, lifting with my friends in my parents garage. We registered with the AAU later to be eligible to compete with the other clubs in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Our goal was to win team trophies, and that’s what we got good at! Our toughest competitor during our early years was the famous Olympic Health Club. Old Scotty Boy had to get some good talent to beat those guys! Ultimately, our winning strategy was boiled down to prepping our guys to be in the right weight class at the right time to have the best shot at winning. With weight control knowledge learned from High School Wrestling, our young guys in the light classes often scored more team points then their big guys. And if we were good enough to win the head to head battles, we often walked away with the title. As we got older and gained weight, by now we could still put up a good fight, because we had gained experience. One of our greatest accomplishments was winning the Ohio State Teen Age Weightlifting Championships. Believe it or not, when we won in 1971, it was the last year they held that specific tournament in our State. So, 39 years later, we are still the defending Champs!!

We stayed active as a club until the early 80’s. Since The Schmidt Bar Bell Club was not competing actively as a team, I personally have represented The Westpark YMCA for Olympic Weightlifting and The Prechtel AC  for All Round events since then.

But after a conversation with Al Myers, who is doing everything he can to grow our organization, I decided to resurrect the old club name for competing again in team competition. I love to train other folks to help them reach their potential. I have coached my family members and friends to World Titles and Records over the years, and my new goal is to repeat that process under the Schmidt Bar Bell Club banner!

Scott is doing a Zercher Lift at the 2009 IAWA World Championships. At this meet Scott was the Open 120 kg Champion and the Best Master 55+.

Al: What do you think the future of the USAWA will be?  What does the organization need to do in order to grow?

Scott: The future for the USAWA looks promising. I think it’s all about telling others of our activity, and engaging them to have fun with us.

I think we are on an outstanding track of communication methods to have the best shot at growth. As in most endeavors, the best way to grow is by word of mouth. If we can all encourage others face to face in addition to our event postings, I feel we have a great chance to attract more members.

I thought of this idea the other day: As you know, the fitness industry is booming with participants. Moving weights is no longer looked down at, like when weight training was in it’s infancy. So to appeal to that audience, with the intent of drawing them into a few of our “exercises” , here’s my thought. What if we touted the prestige of becoming a “World Record Holder” to those folks who haven’t jumped on board yet?

In other words, stress the honor a new comer could achieve by setting a record in one of our over 200 events.  I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who are good at some of the events we have. And to encourage them to try to obtain a “World Record” may just be the spark to get them to try our All Round Lifting.  The details of how, when and where we post this type of “advertising” would need to be figured out.  But it might spur some interest, in someone who trains hard at a fitness place and finally wants to test themselves against the record books.

Al: I agree!!  We have a great sport and all it takes is getting the word out. Thanks Scott for doing this interview.

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 3

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt performing a 100 kg Continental Snatch at the Ambridge BBC. Notice Art Montini as the head judge and Howard Prechtel watching on the left.

Al: How do you mix your training for Olympic lifting and All-Round Lifting?

Scott: I prioritize my schedule based on what competition lies ahead. I have clearly determined training for the sometimes awkward All-Round lifts actually improves overall performance for Olympic style events. How? First I work on the basics of getting used to moving heavy weights to increase power. Then as I focus in on speed and technique as the Olympic competition approaches, the movements have an easier feel. This encourages me to push up bigger Olympic lifts, and better results are obtained. One important fact to remember.

Do not over train! I find I get my best results when I am not nursing an injury. If I can’t move the warm up weights I need on the way to my goal, I just back away and do a fitness type workout.

Al: How do you train?  Where do you train?

Scott: I usually train 3 days a week, about an hour and a half per session. As a meet approaches, I add 1 extra day per week two months ahead of the competition. My objective for my style of training is to work programs in a cycle method. A blend of fitness exercise and moving heavy weights works best for me. When an All-Round meet is announced, I target my weakness on any given lift, and work to improve that area. Quick example: For Olympic Style training, I just work on clean style deadlifts. To maintain good form, the weight I use is much lighter than a regular reverse grip deadlift. However, when an Al-Round meet has a form of deadlifting, I try and pick up as much as I possibly can. And you know what? In the end, it improves my overall power, which enables me to pick up more in the Olympic movements! This is one of the many benefits of blending my training, so I can improve at both sports, instead of being too stubborn to try new movements.

For training locations, I have 3 primary locations. On Sunday’s I train at Jim Malloy’s Gym. On Friday’s, I train at the Westpark YMCA in Cleveland, Ohio. The rest of the week, I train at my own custom built facility attached to my house. In order to show support for the USAWA, I recently resurrected my original club name, The Schmidt Bar Bell Club, founded in1967, and submitted my club membership.

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 2

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt performing a 157.5 KG Clean and Jerk at the Ohio State Championships.

Al: When did you get started in All-Round Weightlifting?  Was there anyone responsible for introducing you to All-Round Weightlifting?

Scott: My first competition was the USAWA Winter Fest 2-15-92. Later that year, on 10-17-92, I was in the US Inlands meet. These were both held in the historic Ambridge Barbell Club.

I was first introduced to the sport in 1990 by Bob Karhan, past USAWA Champion and record holder, from Cleveland, Ohio. We both trained at the Westpark YMCA at t

he time. Since I was already in shape to move heavy iron, Bob encouraged me to try my strength on some new events. The Nationals wereheld in Akron, Ohio that year, but due to my Olympic style training schedule, I did not compete.

I did attend the meet, however and was able to coach Hall of Famer Jim Malloy with his lifts at his first All-Round competition.

Al: I know you have competed several times at the USAWA Nationals.  What have been some of your favorite meets?

Scott: I have fond memories of every one of them. They have all provided me with the opportunity to “bring out the beast in me”. I love to prepare for an event, then gain the satisfaction of putting up a goal breaking performance. Here’s a quick funny story. Good news? At the 2008 Nationals, I was mentally and physically ready to try my first 2000 pound hip lift. Bad news? They didn’t bring enough iron to accommodate me! They were able to locate 1800 pounds, and it did go up, at least!

Al: What are your favorite All-Round lifts and why?

Scott: My favorite All-Round lifts are: Overhead pressing and jerking events, gripping lifts, and hip and hand and thigh lifts. I haven’t posted a number yet, but I would love to try a back lift on the famous Al machine! The reason I consider these my favorites, is due to years of Olympic style training, I was able to make fast progress with these events. I strive to set the class record at what I am good at. Back in 1996, I was the first man in the USAWA to clean and push press 300 pounds. Made me happy!

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 1

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt performing a 107.5 KG Snatch at 228 pounds bodyweight at the National Masters Championships.

Al: Scott, please tell me a little about yourself.

Scott: Baby Boomer Scott Alan Schmidt was born 11-15-1952 in Cleveland, Ohio. I have lived in the Greater Cleveland Ohio area all my life. I was raised in a very competitive athletic environment, with 2 older and 1 younger brothers. Through out my Career in business, I have been employed as a Salesman. Most of my time has been in telecommunications sales. In addition to putting my efforts into providing for my wife, son, daughter, and now helping when I can with my  grandson, I also serve my church as council president.

Al: When did you start lifting weights?  Was there anyone who got you started? Who was an inspiration to you?

Scott: I was hooked on training with weights when I was 14 years old. A new neighbor moved in next door, and he had a York Olympic Set. He offered advice and old magazines for instruction, and I just loved working out to record my improvements! My neighbor, Al Steele, worked at a  Cleveland Steel Mill with Chuck Vinci,  2 time Olympic weightlifting Gold Medalist.They were good friends. Occasionally, Chuck would visit Al’s gym when I was there, and he would encourage this skinny 148 pounder to do good. 40 plus years later, Chuck happens to do his banking where my wife Kathy works. So we still stay in touch.Small world, huh?

Al: I know your lifting background is with Olympic Lifting. What are some of the awards you have won in Olympic Lifting?

Scott: I have been in many competitions since my first one in 1967. In my home State, Ohio, I have won the Open State Championship 10 times.  I have won the Masters State Championship 16 times. I have won 2 National Master’s Championships, 4 American Open Masters Championships, and 3 Pan American Masters Championships.  During the course of these events, I set Meet and National records at the competitions also.  I have also competed 4 times in the World Masters Weightlifting Championships.  My best result was a Third place finish in 1993.

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Joe Rollino – The Last Coney Island Strongman

by Dennis Mitchell

Joe Rollino

Joe Rollino was born in New York, March 19, 1905. He was one of ten children. By age ten he had developed an interest in being strong. His first sport love was for boxing, after he saw Jack Dempsey knock out Jess Willard. As a boxer in the 1920s he had over 100 bouts. Because of his small size, 5′5″ and weighing under 135 pounds, he fought men much bigger than himself. He stated that in spite of this he was never knocked out. He fought under the name of Kid Dundee. He credited his strength and long life to being a vegetarian, and never smoked or drank alcohol. Along with boxing he was an avid weight lifter and swimmer. He belonged to the Iceberg Athletic Club, and swam daily in the ocean regardless of the weather. In his prime he could lift 475 pounds with his teeth, do a one finger lift of 635 pounds, and a hand and thigh lift of 1500 pounds. He is credited with a lift of 3,200 pounds “On his back”. He had a physique that would have placed him very high in any body building contest. He performed for many years at Coney Island and in the circus. During the second World War he served in the Pacific area for five and one half years, and was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and a Bronze Star. At the age of 104 years he could bend a quarter in his teeth, and stated that when he was younger he could do the same with a dime. For many years he was a member of the Association of Oldtime Barbell and Strongmen. On January 11, 2010, on his way home from his daily three mile walk, he was hit by a Mini Van and died a few hours later . He would have been 105 years old in March of 2010.

Andy Goddard Postal

Results of the Andy Goddard Postal Tribute

by Steve Gardner

Andy Goddard

What an amazing result, huge thanks to all of you who supported the tribute, and helped to remember our dear friend. Please read the full results below, it is very heart warming!

53 Lifters took part in the tribute – 27 of the lifters totals were performed before 2 or more referees and will be submitted for record purposes, but all 53 results count for the ‘Tribute to Andy’ competition! I am not sure, but I think this is the first time that a competition like this one has been held, and what a great result, we’ve had lifters who were great friends of Andy’s and lifters who just wanted to join in to support the tribute of a fellow IAWA athlete (even members of his family who had never lifted a weight before)

We had lifters of the highest World Class standing right through to new lifters, only recently stepping on to the competition platform, and lifters aged from 12 years to 82 years of age, boys and girls, men and women, and from all parts of England, Scotland, Canada, USA, New Zealand. I have been so encouraged by this wonderful response that I will run this Tribute Competition on an annual basis for 26th March, but with two different lifts next year, still based around the Bench Press and Deadlift concept! Well done to you all, I am sure that Andy is looking down on us all with a big smile, and hopefully feeling proud!

Neil Abery Wins the First Andy Goddard Tribute and will have his name put on the ‘Andy Goddard Trophy’ which will be kept on display at the Powerhouse Gym, Burton!

Meet Results:

Best Ten Totals Amended

Neil Abery 32 Open 90.0 90 142.5 130.1 250 229.0 392.5 359.1

Al Myers 43 M40+ 114.3 115 145 119.1 282.5 232.2 427.5 351.3

Mark Haydock 35 Open 121.0 125 165.5 127.1 280.5 215.4 446 342.5

Phil Crisp 40 M40+ 97.0 100 153.5 133.5 228.5 198.7 382 332.2

Steve Angell 39 Open 109.0 110 140 113.3 270 218.6 410 331.9

John Monk 44 M40+ 78.9 80 140.6 143.0 183.7 186.9 324.3 329.9

Mark Rattenberry 47 M45+ 64.4 65 90 107.4 165 196.9 255 304.3

Nick Swain 44 M40+ 85.0 85 110 107.1 200 194.7 310 301.8

Roger Davis 40 M40+ 82.0 85 110 105.2 200 191.3 310 296.5

Steve Andrews 50 M50+ 69.9 70 87.5 101.5 167.5 194.4 255 295.9

Best Five Bench Presses Amended

John Monk 143.0

Joe Ciavattone Senior 139.0

Phil Crisp 133.5

Neil Abery 130.1

Mark Haydock 127.1

Best Five Deadlifts Amended

Al Myers 232.2

Neil Abery 229.0

Steve Angell 218.6

Mark Haydock 215.4

Phil Crisp 198.7

Best Masters Lady Karen Gardner

Best Ladies Open Mandy Hughes

Best Ladies Junior Heather Mansell

Best Ladies Guest Lifter Louise Collier

Best Masters 60+ Frank Allen

Best Masters 40+ Al Myers

Best Open Neil Abery

Best Junior Joe Civiattone Jnr

Best Guest Lifter Vince Collier

Name Age Div Bwt Class Bench Am D/L Am Total Am

Kohl Hess 15 J14/15 123.3 125 68 59.5 136 119 204 178.5

Art Montini 82 M80+ 78.9 80 61.2 94.9 92.9 144 154.1 238.9

John McKean 64 M60+ 78.9 80 61.2 74.1 136 164.7 197.2 238.8

Chad Ullom 38 Open 108.4 110 102 82.8 206 167.2 308 250.0

(The above lifts were performed before 3 officials at Ambridge PA USA on Sunday 14th March)

Mark Rattenberry 47 M45+ 64.4 65 90 107.4 165 196.9 255 304.3

Gary Ell 39 Open 83.6 85 130 121.7 185 173.2 315 294.9

(The Above lifts were performed before 1 Official in Devon, England, so they count for the

competition but will not be considered for record purposes.)

Al Myers 43 M40+ 114.3 115 145 119.1 282.5 232.2 427.5 351.3

(The above lifts were performed in Kansas USA on 16.3.2010 before two USAWA Officials.)

Andy Milner 48 M45+ 96 100 107.5 101.4 180.5 170.3 288 271.7

(The above lifts were performed at the Hoghton Barbell Club, Lancashire, England, before fellow

lifters, so they count for the competition but will not be considered for record purposes.)

Phil Crisp 40 M40+ 97.0 100 153.5 133.5 228.5 198.7 382 332.2

Ed Shorttle 53 M50+ 68.0 70 67.5 81.9 150.5 182.1 218 264.0

Nick Swain 44 M40+ 85.0 85 110 107.1 200 194.7 310 301.8

(The above lifts were performed at Hailsham in Essex, England on 13.3.10. Phil Crisp and Nick Swain before one official which is good for the competition but lifts not able to be considered for record purposes. Ed Shorttle however, did lift before two officials and as such his lifts could be considered!)

Karen Gardner 51 M50+ 75.7 80 37.5 54.8 75 109.8 112.5 164.3

Mandy Hughes 18 J18/19 78.2 80 51 67.0 120 157.8 171 224.8

Karl Birkinshaw 26 Open 77.9 80 67.5 65.9 155 151.4 222.5 217.3

John Gardner 27 Open 123.9 125 80 60.7 150 113.8 230 174.5

Steve Gardner 53 M50+ 140.2 125+ 115 93.9 170 138.8 285 232.7

(The above lifts were performed at the Powerhouse Gym, Burton, England on 22.3.10 before three officials and can therefore be considered for record purposes.)

Cliff Harvey – - – – - – – - -

Julien Emery 27 Open 91.4 95 – - – – - – 151.9 135.2 135.2 135.2

(Cliff from New Zealand, is resident in Canada at the moment, he has been ill, but attempted to lift, he missed all of his Deadlifts and was forced to abort the mission, his friend Julien Emery deadlifted, but he could not Bench due to a shoulder injury. Thanks for the thought guys.)

Steve Angell 39 Open 109.0 110 140 113.3 270 218.6 410 331.9

(The above lifts were performed in Buckinghamshire on 22nd March, the lifts were not performed in front of two officials, so the results count towards the competition, but will not be submitted for record purposes.)

Mark Gecko 41 M40+ 84.0 85 122 116.2 156 148.5 378 264.7

(The above lifts were performed in York, England, the lifts were not witnessed by two referees, so the total counts for the competition, but consideration can not be given to record claims.)

Neil Abery 32 Open 86.8 90 142.5 130.1 250 229.0 392.5 359.1

(The above lifts were performed in Milton Keynes, but not before two referees, so they count for the competition but will not be submitted for record purposes..)

James Gardner 26 Open 91.4 95 100 88.9 200 177.9 300 266.8

Graham Saxton 48 M45+ 113.9 115 110 94.9 227.5 196.3 337.5 291.2

(The above lifts were performed at the Powerhouse Gym in Burton on 24.3 before two referees!)

Frank Allen 68 M65+ 87.0 90 82.5 99.6 155 187.2 237.5 286.8

Steve Andrews 50 M50+ 69.9 70 87.5 101.5 167.5 194.4 255 295.9

Daniel Andrews 13 J13+U 54.4 55 32.5 54.1 70 116.5 102.5 170.6

Mark Godleman 48 M45+ 101.0 105 115 105.6 210 192.8 335 298.4

(The above lifts were performed in Leicester 24.3, Frank and Steve before one Referee so count for the competition, and Daniel and Mark before two referees so results can be submitted for record purposes.

Jim Madden 41 M40+ 89.0 90 95 87.5 125 115.7 220 202.6

Andy Tomlin 42 M40+ 92.4 95 95 86.5 200 182.1 295 268.6

George Dick 61 M60+ 129.1 125+ 110 99.8 180 163.4 290 263.2

Chris Hughes 20 Open 69.8 70 57.5 60.2 145 151.8 202.5 212.0

Dave McFadzean 39 Open 100.6 105 70 59.1 145 122.4 215 181.5

(The above lifts were performed in Glasgow, Scotland before three referee’s !)

Roger Davis 40 M40+ 82.0 85 110 105.2 200 191.3 310 296.5

(Roger Lifted to support the tribute to Andy, the lifts were not performed before two referees.)

Mathew Mansell 15 J14/15 62.5 65 60 77.8 122.5 159.0 182.5 236.8

Connor Mansell 12 J13+U 47.0 50 25 47.0 60 113.0 85 160.0

Heather Mansell 14 J14/15 43.0 45 25 58.9 70 164.9 95 223.8

(The above lifts were performed in Penzance, Cornwall under the watchful eye of Dad Simon! The lifts were not performed before two referees so they count for the competition but will not be submitted for records.)

Dan Butterworth 30 Open 131.0 125+ 140.5 103.8 220.5 162.9 361 266.7

Mark Haydock 35 Open 121.0 125 165.5 127.1 280.5 215.4 446 342.5

(The above lifts were performed at the Hoghton Barbell Club in Lancashire, the lifts were not performed in front of two referees so they count for the competition but will not be submitted for record purposes!)

Louise Collier 41 20 40 60

Vince Collier 42 50 90 140

(Louise and Vince are Andys Sister and Brother in Law , they are not lifters (never touched a weight before))

Joe Ciavattone Snr 41 M40+ 111.1 115 170 139.0 185.9 152.0 355.9 291.0

Joe Ciavattone Jnr 16 J16/17 96.1 100 115.6 110 181.4 172.7 297.0 282.7

Mike O Brien 27 Open 65.7 70 63.5 69.2 140.6 153.2 204.1 222.4

Frank Ciavattone Snr 55 M55+ 129.2 125+ 11.1 95.8 185.9 160.4 297.0 256.2

(The Above Lifts were performed at Joes Gym in Boston Massachusetts USA, before two referees. The deadlift was done with dumbbells i.e. Dumbells deadlift!)

Bill Crozier 71 M70+ 98.4 100 100 117.9 132.5 156.2 232.5 274.1

Jim Malloy 68 M65+ 109.2 110 102.5 109.2 140 149.1 242.5 258.2

Scott Schmidt 57 M55+ 117.0 120 115 106.0 185 170.5 300 276.5

(The above Lifts were performed before Two Officials at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA)

Denny Habecker 67 M65+ 84.4 85 88.4 107.0 133.8 161.9 222.2 268.9

(The above lifts were performed in Lebanon PA USA, but were not done before two referees.)

John Monk 44 M40+ 78.9 80 140.6 143.0 183.7 186.9 324.3 329.9

Dennis Vandermark 56 M55+ 94.7 95 95.2 97.1 131.5 134.2 226.7 231.3

Nathan Shelly 20 Open 70.3 75 102.0 106.3 165.5 172.4 267.5 278.7

Dan Vastyan 24 Open 90.7 95 — — 165.5 147.9 — —

(The above lifts were performed in Pennsylvania USA, and the results count for the competition.)

Chris Bass 63 M60+ 69.5 70 80 104.1 130 169.2 210.0 273.3

(The above lifts were performed at the Haven Gym before one official. The Bench was Feet in Air.)

Zercher Strength Classic – Review of Participants and Lifts Contested

by Dale Friesz

Oldest Lifter – Ed Zercher Sr. (age 81 at 1989 Classic)

Youngest Lifter – Jeremiah Schmidt (age 11 at 1990 Classic) and Jason Carter (age 11 at 1990 Classic)

Lightest Lifter – Jeremiah Schmidt (77.4 pounds at 1990 Classic)

Heaviest Lifter – Joe McCoy (324 pounds at 1994 Classic)

Lifts contested by year:

Leg Press 1985, 1986, 1988-2010

Clean and Jerk 1985-2010

Zercher Lift 1985-2010

One Hand Deadlift 1985-2010

Neck Lift 1985-2010

Hack Lift 1985-2010

Hip Lift 1985-2010

Bench Press Feet in Air 1985-2010

Clean and Press Heels Together 1985-2010

Deadlift Heels Together 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991-2010

Hand and Thigh Lift 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991-2010

Steinborn Lift 1985, 1988-2010

Harness Lift 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991-2010

One Hand Snatch 1985

Snatch 1985

One Hand Clean and Jerk 1985

Cheat Curl 1987, 1988

Back Squat 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988

Seated Press 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988

Front Squat 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989

Jefferson Lift 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988

Crucifix 1985

Number of Lifts by Year:

1985 – 20

1986 – 16

1987 – 16

1988 – 18

1989 – 14

1990 – 10

1991 to 2010 – 13

(1982, 1983 and 1984 data not yet available)

USAWA Members Win Big at Highlander

by Thom Van Vleck

USAWA Member Thom Van Vleck on the front page of the Kirksville Daily Express

Proving that being an All-Rounder really means being an “all around” athlete, Chad Ullom won the Middle Weight class, Scott Tully was the Heavyweight winner, and Thom Van Vleck was the top Master at the recent Missouri State Highlander competition held in Kirksville, Missouri on March 27, 2010. Highlander combines Scottish Highland Games events and Strongman events, an equal number of each, to determine the best overall athlete.

For me, while I consider Highland Games my first love, training for recent USAWA events in the off season has been a huge plus.  It has revitalized my training and some of the lifts made me realize I had weaknesses that needed to be addressed.  The pay off was a big personal record in my 56lb Weight Over Bar event.  This is a Scottish Highland Games event that requires the athlete to toss a weight over a cross bar for best height.  I cleared 15′6″ using the spin technique (much to chagrin of USAWA Secretary Al Myers who prefers the traditional technique!).  This was a full 1′6″ over my previous contest best, and considering the number of years I have been throwing, that’s a huge jump for me!  I credit the USAWA training I did for that big gain!

All-round training proves it’s worth!

Bill Cookson – A Lifting Hero

by Al Myers

Bill Cookson and his 185 kilogram (407.7#) Zercher Lift at the 2003 IAWA International Postal Meet. Bill placed first in the Open 110 kg class and 3rd Best Lifter Overall in the Open Division.

Tomorrow in the USAWA Daily News there will be a story by a lifter who exemplifies courage, commitment and honor. That lifter is Bill Cookson.  I felt an introduction was in order before tomorrow’s story – because Bill is one of the most modest people I have ever met and he would not “brag” about his lifting accomplishments (so I’ll do it for him!).  I also want everyone to know his importance to the Dino Gym and to the USAWA.

Bill is currently in Egypt, as part of the Army National Guard, on a World peace keeping mission.  I asked Bill to share how his training was going in this challenging environment – which will be covered in tomorrow’s story.  Bill is one of the founding members of the Dino Gym. Bill and I have trained together off and on for over 20 years, and competed in many powerlifting and All-Round meets together. Bill is a fierce competitor, and always is looking for new challenges in life.  When he told me about his plans to re-enlist in the Army National Guard (after a 13 year break in service) a couple of years ago, I was not really surprised. It takes a special kind of man to make this change in life when already settled down with a family, and Bill is that kind of man.

Bill has competed several times in my Annual Dino Gym Challenge, the IAWA World Postal Meets and record days at the gym.  He currently holds over 20 USAWA records with lifts such as these:  380# Steinborn Lift, 355# Pullover and Push, 227# Index Fingers Deadlift, 540# Heels Together Deadlift, 352# 12″ Base Squat, and 340# Alternate Grip Bench Press.  I should mention that Bill is very much against lifting gear – and often even does big lifts like these WITHOUT a lifting belt.  His best powerlifting marks are 534# Squat, 380# Bench Press, and 606# Deadlift.   Again these were done without lifting equipment.

The Dino Gym is very proud of Bill Cookson – and looks forward to his return to the gym so we can train together once again.  I am sure you will enjoy his story  – it shows that you can still be an All-Round Weightlifter no matter what training obstacles or life circumstances stand in your way.

All-Round Weightlifting in Egypt

by Bill Cookson

Picture left to right: Major General Ludvigsen, First Lieutenant Kevin Farrell, SSG Jared Allen, and Bill "Doc" Cookson

My newest military journey started in December of 2007 and after prayer and consideration with my family I swore an oath to God and Country on January 24, 2008 and was again a proud member of The Kansas Army National Guard at the tender age of 43. During training in Ft. Riley about 60 days later I learned our Battalion would be deployed to Egypt. The mission here is a peace keeping mission between Egypt and Israel started by President Jimmy Carter and employs several different militaries from around the world to operate it. You can learn more at

I had some work to do before getting back in. At 5’9” I weighed around 240. The Army’s max weight for my height and age is 186 lbs. Fortunately the Army recognizes that we’re all built different and therefore has a body fat calculation test. We call it the tape test. I was too thick in the middle so I worked my way down to 222 with lots of stair running at the hospital parking garage, made tape, and passed my over 40 physical. Why is it that the skinniest doctors have fingers as big as bananas? The older guys can explain that one to the younger generation. Anyhow I got the green light and started again.

Bill training One Arm Dumbbell Bench Presses in Egypt.

I joined Charlie Battery out of Abilene and became a member of the Fire Direction Center for Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. In January 2009 my Operations Sergeant told me we needed a Medic for the deployment and asked if I was interested. So I went to school and became a medic. I continued to work full time for our unit when I returned from medic school. So I’ve been active duty since January 2009. Training balance is tough to manage. I’ve been back in the Guard for a little over 2 years and have had to modify the way I train. Fitness training for the Army and maximum strength training do not go hand in hand, so you sacrifice a little of each to be better in both. However weight training is and always will be a staple in any program I use. The iron always pays great wages for the toil the lifter endures. That’s a fact not an opinion.

This journey started back at the end of June when we had 3 weeks of pre-mobilization training at Salina. Most of it was combat occupation oriented. We left for Ft. Lewis, WA on 23 July for mission specific training. At Ft. Lewis we had shots, health screenings, and death by PowerPoint because we had more briefings than we care to remember. We were quartered at North Ft. Lewis which is where the old fort is situated. The post there is mostly WWII vintage but is all still fully functional. They really need new beds though. I thought my back was broke a couple of times. They have a real nice fitness center though with plenty of weight and a couple of power racks. The worst thing is those silly octagon plates. They aren’t deadlifter friendly. We moved to the neighboring McChord Air Force Base on 9 September where we were welcomed by the USO and some staff well wishers before our departure. I really appreciated the Chaplain. He shared Eph. 5:15-16 with us. He cautioned us to walk circumspectly for the days are evil. In other words, be careful and watchful because there are things and people around that can cause us harm. We boarded a DC-10, and flew from there straight to Bangor, Maine refueled then to Shannon Ireland refueled then on to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

A remote training facility in Egypt

The people who drive here make aggressive drivers back home look like school girls. There’s no traffic enforcement here like at home either, really frustrating for an old cop. Driving is the most dangerous activity here. The locals are like kamikaze pilots on the road.

With this mission being in effect for about 30 years there are decent accommodations here at our main camp with a fully functional training facility known as, “Herbs Gym”. Herb is a local gentleman that adopted the MFO (Multi National Force and Observers) and it adopted him. He welcomed every new rotation of soldiers coming here prior to our arrival. He was forced to retire before we arrived. The beach where we do combat water survival training is also named after Herb.

Bill training the deadlift with 550 pounds at Herb's Gym.

We rotate out to remote sites and they have a gym as well. It’s a pole shed with weights, benches, a rack, stationary bike, and concept 2 rower. Inside the fence of the sites is usually a makeshift running track which is basically a dirt road we run on. Nothing is state of the art, except those old rusty York plates we have at the remote site I’m deadlifting in the picture. They have those silly octagon plates here at Herbs gym. I generally train 6 days per week with two days devoted to weight training, two days of conditioning which usually consists of 1 or 2 dumbbell movements like swings, snatches or C&P and bodyweight work such as burpees, mountain climbers, rope skipping, pull-ups, push-ups, and dips. The other two days are usually just aerobic. I usually do something other than running. I like to run but my knees don’t agree.

After damaging my rotator cuff benching for the Andy Goddard memorial I have to concentrate on rehab so I can get back to it. In the meantime I’m relegated to lots of aerobics. We’ll see what the Physical Therapist says. Until then I wish all the membership well in life and lifting.

God Bless.

Bill Cookson

Thom Van Vleck’s Top Ten Lessons Learned

by Thom Van Vleck

  • 1. Wash your hands thoroughly after using liniment before going to the bathroom (especially before putting on a squat suit).
  • 2. Make sure your spotter is paying attention (and not “spotting” the hot girl stretching across the gym) as you can’t talk much when you are pinned in a full squat position with 500lbs on your back.
  • 3. Not only do you want to make sure you unload the bar evenly, you want to make sure anyone else around you is unloading evenly….especially your brother.
  • 4. Tall guys with long legs can’t sumo deadlift….your feet will be directly under the weight when you drop it.
  • 5. If you are tall and you are going to do overhead presses or jerks, make sure there is enough room for you, the bar, and the plates.  Also, if you push press a bar into a rafter, it will come directly back down and hit you in the head.
  • 6. If you are deadlifting on the second floor, make sure there is not a suspended ceiling underneath….it will fall and the person sitting under it will be upset.
  • 7. Make sure you have plenty of room to run up under a jerk…..or it will go out the window…..seriously….and you will have a lot of explaining to do to the owner of the garage.
  • 8. Don’t try and use old, tight jeans in lieu of a squat suit… will be left with the worst blood blisters of your life.
  • 9. If you don’t work a body part often or for awhile, work into it slowly.  Don’t do 20 sets the first workout or you may be really, really sore….and your mother may want to take you to the ER.  Especially Calves and Abs.
  • 10. Finally, If you training partner asks you to “hit me” to pump him up for a workout and you hit him too hard, he will hit back.

Bonus:  Don’t take supplements on an empty stomach….especially a lot of supplements, you will waste your money.

Top Ten Lessons I Have Learned “The Hard Way” During My 25 Years of Lifting Weights

(and NONE of these lessons were funny to me when they happened!)

by Al Myers

1.  It is best to use collars in lifts where the bar may tilt. (as demonstrated by the tears in the carpet by my squat cage)

2.  Always check for small plates on the bar when pulling off a 45# plate. (It only takes a 2.5# plate to break a toe)

3.  Stay away from open grips when pressing.  (caused me a fractured cervical vertebra when I was in my early 20s)

4.  Low blood sugar and 20 rep squats don’t mix.

5.  Always keep your calluses trimmed off or a big deadlift will rip them off.

6.  Keep a puke bucket within reach of the squat cage.

7.  Don’t rehydrate after weigh-ins with apple juice.

8.  Don’t wipe the sweat off your face when you still have rubbing liniment on your hands.

9.  Always unload the bar EVENLY!

10.  It is best to skip a squat workout if you have been battling intestinal flu!