Atomic Athletic Meet

by Al Myers




Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe

Contact: email –
phone – (419)-352-5100

Location:  TBA, Bowling Green, OH 43402

Sanction: USAWA Membership Required

Weigh-Ins: 10 AM, Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Divisions:  Juniors, Women, Masters and Open

Awards:  Medals for 1st five places by formula

Entry:  $20 Make Payment to Atomic Athletic
(Includes Official Meet T-shirt and Poster)

Lifts:  One Hand Deadlift, Clean and Push Press, Trap Bar Deadlift

Send entry form and fees to:

Atomic Athletic
500 Lehman Ave, Suite 21
Bowling Green, OH 43402


For a pdf of the entry form – Atomic Athletic Meet Entry Form

1970 World Weightlifting Championships

by Al Myers

This is a picture of the Upper Darby Weightlifting team at the 1970 World Weightlifting Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Denny Habecker graciously provided us a few more pictures taken at the 1970 World Weightlifting Championships. These pictures are CLASSIC – and definitely worth sharing in the USAWA Daily News!!  Thank you Denny!!!

Vasily Alexeev watching TV prior to the competition.

Vasily Alexeev stretching and warming up prior to the competition.

Mystery Picture

by Al Myers

Mystery Picture

I just found this picture, which I found very interesting.  Obviously, the BIG MAN in the center front is none other than the great superheavyweight Russian Weightlifter Vasily Alexeev.   Take a look at all the guys around him – do you recognize anyone??  Does anyone have any guesses when this picture was taken??  Please respond on the USAWA Discussion Forum if you can help me out with information on this picture.


This mystery picture has stirred up lots of comments on the USAWA Discussion Forum.  Tom Ryan and Thom Van Vleck figured out when and where this picture was taken, and Scott Tully identified our USAWA President Denny Habecker as the man in the glasses.  This identification still left some confusion, as most of the guys in the picture are wearing glasses.  I finally have the “full report” on this picture, thanks to Denny.  The following is Denny’s comments regarding this picture,“The picture was taken on September 18, 1970 at the Ohio Stater Inn in Columbus, Ohio.  The lifters are all members of the Upper Darby Weightlifting team, except Alexseev of course.   The lifters seated are Dave Brown, Alexseev, and Woody Wilson.  The back row is me, Conrad Falvello, Libro Taglianetti, and Barry Branyon.  We had 2  rooms for the six of us and Alexeev’s room was right across the hall from ours  He came out of his room after he heard the noise of a fire cracker that was thrown into one of our rooms by one of the lifters from the other room.”


Joseph L. Greenstein, aka The Mighty Atom

by Dennis Mitchell

This photo of Joseph Greenstein, aka The Mighty Atom, was prominently displayed on the stage at York Barbell during the York Barbell Hall of Fame induction of The Mighty Atom.

In 1893 in the village of Suvalk, Poland, Joseph Greenstein was born.  He was born prematurely and was not expected to live more than a few hours. Somehow he did survive, however,  his childhood was a battle of various illnesses.  At the age of fourteen he had tuberculosis, and his parents were told that he would not survive.  Once again he proved the doctors wrong.  His life changed when he was caught sneaking into a circus to see a strongman called “Champion Volanco”.  The stagehand who caught him was in the proses of beating him up when “Champion Volanco” came to his rescue.  Volanco took a liking to Joseph and over the next eighteen months the two of them traveled with the Issakev Brothers Circus where Joseph learned how to develop and strengthen his body.  He changed so much that when he returned home his family didn’t recognize him.

With in the next few years Joseph got married and started wrestling under the name of “kid Greenstein”.  With anti-semitism on the rise in Europe, Joseph and his wife, Leah, left for America. This was sometime in 1914.  They settled in Galveston, Texas where he worked on the docks.  Another life changing event occurred at this time when a man who was obsessed with Leah tried to kill Joseph by shooting him.  The bullet hit him in his forehead, but instead of killing him, flattened out and fell to the ground.  Somehow, according to Joseph, this awakened his mental powers, and by focusing his mind he was able to do amazing strength feats.  This started his career as a strong man.

He was billed as The Mighty Atom because of his small size.  At 5′5″ he weighed 140 pounds.  He could drive nails through a board with his bare hands. He would lie on a bed of nails while supporting as many as fourteen men.  He would bend iron bars with his hand or with his teeth.  He could bite through chains, nails and coins, and lift weights and pull cars with his hair.  Along with his strongman act,  The Mighty Atom would give lectures on exercise, clean living, and diet.  It was while performing in Gilbertsville, PA that he met Lawrence “Slim” Farman.  Shortly after this meeting, The Mighty Atom became Slims mentor.  Later Slim was known as Slim the Hammer Man.  However, this is a story for another article.  Along with performing and lecturing, Joseph wrote several books.  He was written about several times in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and in 1976 was in the Guinness book of World Records.  Both he and Slim the Hammer Man were honored at York Barbell on May 21, 2011 by being inducted into the York Barbell Hall of Fame.

The Mighty Atom was still performing into his 80’s.  He passed away on October 8, 1977 in Brooklyn New York.

Andrew Durniat & the Inch Dumbbell

by Al Myers

Andrew Durniat lifts the Dino Gym's Inch Dumbbell Replica at the 2010 Dino Gym Grip Challenge.

USAWA member Andrew Durniat did something at the York Barbell Festival that not very many lifters have done – he walked with a pair of Inch Dumbbells!  I was busy with the USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals at the time he did it, and unfortunately missed this feat.  I really wish I could have seen it!  He walked at least 50 feet, and then after he dropped the dumbbells, he picked them up again and walked back to the starting line.   I am just glad Jedd Johnson, of Diesel Crew,  caught this unbelievable Inch DB walk  on video and uploaded it on YouTube (YouTube Video of Andrew’s Inch Dumbbell Walk).  Without this proof, I might even have a hard time believing it! 

I have an Inch Dumbbell Replica in the Dino Gym.  Most of the time it is nothing more than a heavy doorstop – as most of the gym members can’t even budge it an inch off the floor.  The interesting thing about it is that it LOOKS liftable, but only after repeated failures and shaking your head in defeat, do you realize what a grip challenge it really is.  The Dino Gym’s Inch Dumbbell Replica has only been lifted by FIVE people, all of which are great grip lifters.  Let me give you a list of these guys, because they deserve the recognition -  Matt Graham (the first one), John Conner, Dave Brown, Matt Vincent, and now Andrew Durniat.  Andrew lifted it with ease at my 2010 Dino Gym Grip Challenge which was promoted by Dino Gym member Ben Edwards.  It seemed like he could hold it forever when I took his picture of him doing it.  At the York Festival I compared my hand size with that of Andrews.  It was humbling to say the least.  His fingers are at least an inch longer than mine, which is a very important part of most gripping feats. In the future,  Andrew Durniat is a name you will be hearing alot of in the world of strength!

Jackson Weightlifting Club Logo

by Thom Van Vleck

The modern JWC Logo.

The Jackson Weightlifting Club has a history that reaches back to 1928.  Like many Clubs and Gyms it has it’s own logo.  Above you will see the modern JWC Logo.  The modern logo has it’s root to the late 1950’s and is based on one that my Uncle Phil Jackson drew.   I have a copy of  that drawing, the original drawing is in Phil’s possession.

Copy of the original JWC logo first developed by Phil Jackson in the late 50's

There was a point I wanted to make a standard logo for the modern incarnation of the JWC.  After some experimentation, I came up with the modern logo and you will find it painted on the JWC Training Hall wall and it is often used on our meet shirts and other related JWC stuff.  In the modern JWC Logo you will find many elements present in the original and a few new things.  I used the shield and barbell, just like Uncle Phil did.  I used a copy of the York Barbell “deep dish” weights for the “barbell” part of the logo.  I felt this appropriate as this was the first Olympic set ever purchased by the JWC (and I still have it!).  I used the same shield but got rid of the small barbell plate at the middle point.  I kept the JWC on the diagonal and added a couple elements.  A lot of thought actually went into this.

First, I added the cross.  A Celtic style cross to celebrate the Celtic roots of the Jackson family.  But more importantly to signify our Christianity.  My family has always been strong in their faith and that is most notable in the fact that the modern JWC has an evangelism team that has done well over 200 strongman evangelism shows in the spirit of how Paul Anderson used to spread the Gospel with his feats of strength.  The cross is at the top because it is most important.  That section of the shield is the symbolic location of the heart and I wanted everyone to know that the JWC holds Christ in it’s heart.

The fancy JWC logo.

Second, the Anvil. It was added to symbolize Grandpa Jackson’s Anvil.  If you don’t know, the first inspiration for Dalton Jackson to lift weights was his father (Arthur Jackson) lifting his anvil overhead to impress his kids.  Later, around 1928, Dalton and his future brother-in-law, Coda Baugher, made some homemade weights and began to train.  Every generation since has lifted the anvil and it sits proudly in my gym to this day!  I  tried to make the shape exactly like the real anvil.  I also put it at the bottom because to me the anvil is the foundation of our club.  So now you know the history of the JWC logo.  I hope someday my kids take it and make it their own!

Judging at York

by Al Myers

Joe Garcia had the last lift of the meet at the Heavy Lift Nationals with his successful 1900# Hip Lift. By this time at meets, most officials are "nodding off", hoping to be finished with their obligation. But look at these guys, they are judging like it is the first lift of the day. (officials left to right): LaVerne Myers, Denny Habecker, and Thom Van Vleck

I know I have already mentioned this in a previous story, but I want to reiterate how pleased I was with the officiating at the Heavy Lift Nationals in York.  Thom wrote a story about professionalism amongst officials in a Daily News Story a while back, and how in the “old days” officials took their job as officials serious and looked the part of officials at meets by dressing up in suits and ties.  Thom had a picture of his Uncle Phil officiating a meet in his suit, of which he changed into after competing in his singlet.   You don’t see that at any meets anymore nowadays. In the business workforce, people used to dress up for work as businesses felt it set a positive image for the company.  Then along came casual Friday, followed by EVERYDAY becoming casual Friday and dress codes became relaxed or nonexistent.  This same thing has happened to the way officials dress at meets.  I have been at meets where the officials were dressed in shorts and a ratty t-shirt, which definitely doesn’t send a good message to those watching the meet.  

It was a great pleasure to be at a meet where the offiicals came to do their job because that is what they wanted to do, and not rely on the lifters judging themselves.  I never mind judging at meets I’m competing in as I know it is an important part of contributing to the days event. But it was nice FOR ONCE to have dedicated and committed officials who only job was to make sure that everyone was officiated justly and fairly.  We are a small organization and we all are know each other and are good friends, so it is hard not to have personal bias even when we try our best not to.  But I have always felt it was a conflict of interest when an lifter is judging another competitor.  Even when you make your best call, and in turn have to turn down a bad lift, it may appear that it was turned down for other reasons.   At the breakfast table the day of the meet, Thom remarked to my father in jest that it would be best  for them to sit at another table away from us lifters.  I found this pretty funny, because in the “old days” that is how it was.  The officials were “stand offish” to the lifters as not to have any personal relationships with them that might lead to future biased judging. (However, I tried to bribe Thom the night before with free scotch but I don’t think it worked!!). 

I hope with our new USAWA Officials Program that the pride of being an official will be restored like it used to be.  We have made great progress in our Officials Program and will continue to make improvements to it until it gets where it needs to be.  It is not there yet.  I hope to someday have ALL of our meets like this one – where the officials show up to just officiate because they WANT to, and in turn get the respect and recognition they deserve.

The Long Journey to York Barbell: Part II

by Thom Van Vleck

In part I of my story about my trip to York Barbell and I detailed my trip.  Now, I’m going to share my feelings about my trip.

The current York Gym

May 28th, 1064 was the date of the Missouri State Championships in Olympic lifting.  How do I know?  Because my Uncle Wayne won that year and he told me that when he got home with the rest of the JWC gang he said I upstaged him being born that day.  He said they all headed down to the hospital to see me.  It was literally a couple blocks away.  Later, he would give me that medal because of the significance of the date he won it.  Without Wayne, I’d never been a weight lifter and I would not be half of what I am today.  Without my Uncle Phil, you could halve that again and without my Grandfather Dalton, I’d be nothing today.  So me wearing that medal was like them being there at York with me.  That medal has been to every lifting meet, highland games, strongman contest, and USAWA event I’ve ever been to, including a couple trips to Scotland where I “dipped” it into Loch Ness.

So, you can see, lifting has been a big part of my family.  It’s not about winning, it was always about getting better.  Being stronger, healthier, and self improvement.  York Barbell was always a part of that.  I practically “teethed” on a 5lb plate.  I remember taking an interest in throwing the discus and not having one, so I took a 5lb York plate out and practiced with it!  In 1963, my Uncle Wayne ordered a Jackson International set and he told me that he sold it partly out of feeling disloyal to York….plus he said his York sets (and the JWC had several by then) were superior in his mind.

Thom Van Vleck checking out the Cyr Dumbbell. My grandfather told me a story about it when I was just a kid.

But the opportunity never came up to travel to York.  Phil told me they talked about it often.  They would lift and talk about meeting Tommy Kono, John Grimek, Steve Stanko, Bob Hoffman and the rest.  They would day dream of lifting in the York Gym  with the greats and seeing where all the weights were made.  But time and circumstance intervened and the dream faded away.  Until now.

So when I went out, I had a lot riding on this trip.  I needed to soak up every detail and take lots of pictures.  I even called both of them in the museum and gave each one a walk through.  They both asked me if I saw the Sandow Statue or the Grimek statue.  They knew a lot of the stuff that was in there!

Thom with the Grimek statue....I don't think he's impressed with me.

Overall, it was a great trip.  But later, I did get a little melancholy.  York is well past it’s pinnacle.  But then again, I  remember stopping at Peary Radar’s old Ironman Headquarters in Alliance, Nebraska a few years back.  It’s all long gone and not a thing remains as is the fate of a lot of the other American barbell makers.  At least York Barbell is still there and it seems the guys that work there appreciate the history.  Mike Locondro told me that the event we attended (Wounded Warrior Project Strength Fest) was all about getting York back to were it belongs….but more than that he told me that his Uncle was John Grimek’s brother in law and to him it was not just about “company policy” but it was personal.  That gave me hope and took a little of that melancholy away.  Maybe York isn’t what it was, but it seems to be rising up again!

On a side note, I traveled 15 miles to the west of York and went by the burial place of my Great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather (yes, that’s right….6 “greats”).  He was a Lutheran pastor that has been credited with starting over 50 churches.  His home still stands and members of my distant family still occupy it.   I hope to go back some day and see some more and meet some of my relatives…the dead one’s and live one’s!

The Long Journey To York Barbell: Part I

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck completes the 73 year journey to York Barbell

Recently I traveled to York, Pa to the home of York Barbell to judge at the USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals.  This, however, is not a meet report but a story about a Long Journey.

Back in 1938 my Grandfather ordered his first “real” barbell set.  Oh, sure, he had been training for along time before this, since 1928 to be exact, but it was at this point he finally could afford a real barbell set to replace the bodyweight exercises, the concrete “bucket” weights, and the assorted things like anvils he would find to train with.  By that time he was married and I recall he had a real fight with my grandmother over ordering that set since they were short on cash.  But it was his dream.  I still have what is part of that set.

Then, in 1957, my Uncle’s Phil and Wayne began to train and scrimped and saved until they could order a real “Olympic” set.  There was other choice but York!  This was the classic deep dish York set.  At that time, Wayne and Phil became avid Olympic style lifting fans and at that time York Barbell was the center of it all.  When I started training, in 1977, my Uncle Wayne bought a new set to encourage me.  I remember vividly him ordering it with a mail order form and a check.  I’m pretty sure he wanted it as much as I did and it was just a good excuse to order a new set!

I have a few hundred Strength & Health and Muscular Development magazines that were published by York Barbell.  I’m not a collector, most are the magazines that my grandfather and Uncles bought off the news stand to read.  I would read these for countless hours as a kid when I started training and as a result, probably know more about York Barbell than all the people who currently work there!

So, when Al asked me to come along and be a judge, I pushed aside a chance to go to Iceland and compete in a highland games and chose to go to York.  You see, even though my family had been “York Men” since 1938, NOBODY from my family had ever been there!

So, here it was, 73 years after that first York barbell set was mail ordered by my grandfather and I was on my way to York.  I was pretty excited but at the same time, I was realistic.  I knew it was not what it was in the glory days.  But I hoped it would still be a great trip.

We arrived the morning of the contest and pulled up out front.  There was Bob Hoffman’s statue standing as proud as ever.  My grandfather used to tell me that Bob was “a little full of himself” and I had to chuckle as I looked at the statue.  Most accomplished men are a little full of themselves.  It often takes a big ego to drive great success.  I wish I could have met the guy, big ego aside, he did much for lifting and made America quite literally….a lot stronger.

The life size barbell mobile hanging in the York Barbell that thing real!!!!

Soon, we went inside.  There was a large “Barbell Mobile” hanging from the ceiling.  Barbell plates and bars balanced from a single point from the ceiling.  Not sure if they were real….but if they were that’s a lot of weight hanging there!  Then to the right was a lifting auditorium where the hall of fame induction took place.  I walked through and into the gym area.  It was loaded with platforms and weights, much more modern than I expected but then again, this is not the “original” club where the “York Gang” trained.  That place was long gone and while we drove by the location, nothing remains of it downtown.

The York lifting auditorium

Next, I walked through the museum.  I won’t detail all of it, but while what was there was very cool, it was not as big as I expected, but still not a let down.   What was there oozed history.  I would detour through the museum many times while I was there, taking just a minute to look at something else I had missed.  I then went into the retail store, that was nice, again not as big as I expected but it had “one of everything”.  While there I picked up matching York Barbell shirts with the old style split jerk logo for me and my Uncle Wayne.  I took tons of photos so that later I could show Wayne and Phil a “virtual” tour of the place.  I didn’t go anywhere else, but looked around at the warehouse.  The foundry is gone, they don’t make anything on site anymore.   Later, we also traveled by Bob Hoffman’s old house as the sun set on my York trip and we called it a day.

Next:  Part II My feelings about my Trip.

Heavy Lift Nationals

by Al Myers


Group picture from the 2011 USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals. (front row left to right): Denny Habecker, Chad Ullom, James Fuller, Al Myers (back row left to right): Thom Van Vleck, Joe Garcia, Scott Schmidt, Randy Smith, Dennis Mitchell, LaVerne Myers (not pictured): Art Montini, Kohl Hess

Last weekend was a weekend I had been looking forward to for a long time!  Mike Locondro, of York Barbell,  had graciously invited us to be part of special day at York Barbell that included the York Hall of Fame induction of Slim “The Hammerman” Farman.  The days festivities included many functions, and our meet was just a small part of the things going on.  This report will only cover the Heavy Lift Nationals.  I’m sure the other activities and special events will be covered in future USAWA Daily News stories – so I’ll save those for that time.

Due to this meet being contested at the “mecca” of weightlifting York Barbell, we had the largest turnout of lifters for a Heavy Lift Nationals in a long time.  The attendees included some old veterans (Art Montini and Dennis Mitchell), some experienced Heavy Lifters (myself, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt, and Joe Garcia), as well as some newcomers to the Heavy Lift Nationals (James Fuller, Randy Smith  and Kohl Hess).  The judging crew was as good as it gets.  These guys took their job serious and looked the part of competent officials as they were all dressed in the new USAWA Officials Shirts with black slacks.  Our USAWA President Denny Habecker served as head judge and did an excellent job. Every lift was held for a count with a down command.  All lifts were required to “become motionless” as the rules require before the down command was given.  I don’t even recall a questionable lift being passed.  Thom Van Vleck served as one of the side judges and seemed very focused on his duties all day.  LaVerne Myers, my father and recent new USAWA Official, made his judging debut and looked the part of an old seasoned judge.  These guys didn’t just sit in the chairs half asleep, but instead, got down on the floor to make sure the weights cleared the platform.

The officials at this meet were dressed in official judging attire. I felt their professional appearance provided a positive reflection on the USAWA. (left to right): LaVerne Myers, Denny Habecker, and Thom Van Vleck

Now on to the lifting!  The first lift contested was the Neck Lift.  The expectations were high for Chad Ullom, as he just recently did a 750 pound lift at the Club Challenge in Ambridge.  Let me tell ya – he didn’t disappoint anyone!  He opened with an easy 700 pound opener, and then jumped to an ALL-TIME WORLD RECORD lift of 810 pounds.  He made it with ease.  At this point, the largest crowd of the day that were watching our meet had gathered.  For his third attempt he went for 850 pounds.  It looked as easy as his opener.  I was doing my best to get the crowd “fired up”.  It didn’t take much prodding to get Chad to take a shot at 900 pounds, which is more than 90 pounds more than anyone had ever done in history.  Chad didn’t waste any time in getting to it and made HISTORY by becoming the first man to ever Neck Lift over 900 pounds. And with this, broke the previous record THREE TIMES in one day.   This amazing lift made quite the impression on several of those in attendance, as throughout the rest of the day he was receiving congratulations on his record lift.  I’m tremendously happy for Chad and this record.  There was no question on it being a good lift (I have a picture showing the weight off the platform and evidence recorded on video).  It marked a great start of the day. 

Following the Neck Lift, we were scheduled to take a break for the Hall of Fame Inductions and other performances on the main stage.  This added to the difficulty of this meet.  We had to constantly ”warm up” again for the next lifts as we had to take breaks throughout the day.   The next lift was the Hand and Thigh. Joe Garcia showed everyone that he is still “King of the Hand and Thigh” by putting up the meet best lift of 1400 pounds.  I was next in line with a 1300 pound lift, followed by Chad’s 1250.  The last lift of the day was the Hip Lift.  By this time, Joe had pretty much sealed the victory and the battle was for second place between Chad and myself.  Chad has really progressed in the Heavy Lifts, and put up a 1800 which is a personal best. I managed a 1900 pound Hip Lift on my last lift to edge him out for second place overall.   The interesting thing is that Chad, Joe and me all tied in total poundage with 3900 pound totals.  But when the age and bodyweight corrections were made, Joe won fairly easily.  I consider Joe one of the “top 3″ heavy lifters in USAWA History,  and he proved it again at York.

There are several other lifters I would like to mention.  What more can be said about Art Montini??  He makes all of his lifts look easy and you just have to scratch your head in disbelieve at the amount of weight he lifts at his age.  He doesn’t seem to age, as his lifts are always as good as the year before.  Dennis Mitchell was solid in everything.  He does his Hip Lifts facing the bar (instead of straddling it), but uses this technique to his advantage.  James Fuller made his first USAWA appearance, and what a trooper he is!  This is not the best choice of a meet for your first outing in the USAWA, but James fit right in with the rest of us and with a little more specific training on these lifts he will be a force to be reckoned with.  Randy Smith made the trip from Michigan with Helen and has showed tremendous improvement in the Heavy Lifts.  Randy is now equipped with all the Heavy Lift Equipment, and I could tell his training had paid off. Scott Schmidt was a steady as ever.  I know he was nursing a sore knee that held him back a little, but not once during the day did I hear him complain about it.  Things like that impress me.  He was there to support the event even when he wasn’t 100 percent.  Scott has the spirit of  a Champion, and every lifter has the utmost respect for him.  After the meet was over, David “The Iron Tamer”  Whitley from Nashville, TN, came over and signed up for the USAWA.  David wanted to try for a record in the USAWA, and when I asked him what lift he wanted to do, he replied, “the bent press”.  I was somewhat surprised as this is not an easy lift to do.  But once David started his attempts it was clear to me that he had trained it before.  His technique was picture-perfect, and even Bob Hoffman himself would have given it his seal of approvement.  David went on to set the ALL-TIME best Bent Press with both arms with lifts of 137 pounds.  I hope to see him again soon in the USAWA.

This event would never have happened if it was not for York Retail Manager Mike Locondro. Mike organized the entire event and even put on his suit to serve as the Master of Ceremony!

This meet turned out better than I expected.  All lifters received beautiful awards for their Championship efforts.  The meet T-Shirts were very special.  The front of the shirts contained a picture of USAWA Heavy Lift Legend Dale Friesz performing a heavy Neck Lift.  Dale was not able to be in attendance, but he deserves a big THANK YOU from all of us for providing the intial inspiration for making this event happen. His initial contact with York Barbell is what led to our involvement on this special day.  Mike Locondro has already made his intentions known that he will be hosting this event next year,  and in the process has extended another invitation to us.  So – Heavy Lift Nationals may be held in York again next year.  Put it on your calendar now!!!


2011 Heavy Lift Nationals
York Barbell, York, PA
May 21st, 2011

Meet Director:  USAWA Executive Board

Lifts:  Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift

Officials:  Denny Habecker, Thom Van Vleck, LaVerne Myers

Lifter Age BWT Neck H&T Hip Total Points
Joe Garcia 57 212 600 1400 1900 3900 3981.2
Al Myers 44 252 700 1300 1900 3900 3236.7
Chad Ullom 39 244 850 1250 1800 3900 3132.9
Scott Schmidt 58 251 350 1000 1400 2750 2589.9
Randy Smith 56 194 400 850 1000 2250 2390.0
Art Montini 83 184 250 450 800 1500 2024.1
Dennis Mitchell 79 158 250 425 600 1275 1838.4
James Fuller 39 217 350 700 1000 2050 1751.7
Kohl Hess 16 297 400 0 0 400 320.9

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points is adjusted points for age correction and bodyweight adjustment.


Chad Ullom – Neck Lift: 900 pounds
David Whitley – Bent Press, Left Arm: 137 pounds
David Whitley – Bent Press, Right Arm: 137 pounds
(Age 41 years, bodyweight 284 pounds)

Chad’s 900 Pound Neck Lift

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom set the ALL-TIME World Record in the Neck Lift with a lift of 900 pounds at the 2011 Heavy Lift Championships. Take notice that you can see light under both ends of the weights in this picture.

Last weekend at the Heavy Lift Nationals in York, PA, Chad Ullom did what I would classify as one of the most outstanding feats of strength I have ever seen in the USAWA.  Chad set the ALL-TIME WORLD RECORD in the Neck Lift with an unbelievable lift of 900 pounds.  The previous World Record was held by Joe Ciavattone set at the 2005 Heavy Lift Nationals.  In March, Chad showed everyone that he had the potential to break this record as he took an extra attempt and made a 750 pound lift with ease at the USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge.  What made this record even more spectacular was that he broke the prevous World Record THREE TIMES in the competition.  His second attempt was 810, followed by a third attempt at 850, and ending with his historic 900 pound lift.  Often with heavy lifts, there is always speculation about the authenticity of the lift due to the nature of these type of lifts. Heavy lifts only need to clear the platform to be legal and if someone doesn’t have the right angle to view this, often people will feel like the lift didn’t clear adequately.  However, Chad’s lift was lifted so high there was no doubt among anyone in attendance.  The judging crew did an outstanding job in officiating this lift.  They didn’t get “caught up in the excitement” and they made sure Chad had to hold it at lockout the same as all other lifts of the meet.

What made this record even more special was the the largest crowd of spectators we had were present to watch it happen.  I was trying to “fire up the crowd” about what they were about to see, and I could tell many were in disbelief when it happened!  I knew before this meet that Chad had the potential to make this happen.  We trained together on the Neck Lift a couple of weeks prior and he made an easy 800 pound lift in training.  We actually considered having him open at the record, as he did this training lift as easy as an opener.  But after thinking about it for awhile, we decided a 700 pound opener would set him up better.  If you pick your attempts correctly, the first attempt shouldn’t matter anyways. 

After the record lift, Chad was "all smiles" as he posed with the record loaded heavy bar.

It is always a big thing to be the first person to break a barrier – and I consider this a major barrier.   Let me give you a little history on the Neck Lift.  Steve Schmidt was the first man to break the 400 pound and 500 pound barrier in the Neck Lift.  An English lifter, Adrian Blindt, was the first person to Neck Lift over 600 pounds.  Frank Ciavattone was the first American to Neck Lift over 600 pounds, with his lift of 603 pounds at the 1990 Strongest Man in New England.  Joe Ciavattone was the first man to Neck Lift over 700 pounds and 800 pounds.  And now Chad becomes the first man to Neck Lift over 900 pounds!!!  It makes you wonder who will be the first one to go over half a ton – or 1000 pounds! 

I have always considered 600 pounds as the “mark to hit” if you want to be in the elite club of Neck Lifters.  To date, there have been only 10 individuals who have done this or more in USAWA competition. 

USAWA Members in the “600 Club” for Neck Lifts over 600 pounds

Chad Ullom 900 2011 Heavy Lift Championships
Joe Ciavattone 804 2005 Heavy Lift Championships
Frank Ciavattone 750 2002 Heavy Lift Championships
Al Myers 750 2011 Club Challenge
Mike McBride 630 2005 National Championships
Jeff Ciavattone 625 2002 Heavy Lift Championships
Joe Garcia 623 1998 National Championships
Dale Friesz 605 1995 Goerner Deadlift
Nils Larson 603 2004 Heavy Lift Championships
John Monk 600 2000 Heavy Lift Championships

Congratulations to Chad on this amazing new record!

Black Swamp Meet

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE:  The following was taken with permission from Andrew Durniat’s blog covering the Atomic Athletic Olde Time Strongman Picnic and USAWA Black Swamp Meet. Congrats to Andrew and his record lift in the One Arm Deadlift!)

by Andrew Durniat

Andrew Durniat and his record setting lift in the One Arm Deadlift (519 pounds).

It was a good day to lift this past Saturday, May 14 while in Bowling Green, Ohio. It was here at the Atomic Athletic Olde Time Strongman Picnic and US All-Round Weightlifting Association (USAWA) meet that I set the single arm deadlift record. My lift of 235.5kg (518.1 lbs.) on my left arm bested Steve Angell of Britain previous record of 219kg (479.6 lbs.).

The running joke at the Durniat household leading up this event was; ‘there’s my problem, I just didn’t have a world record scheduled on my calender.’ You see, when Atomic Athletic approached me about this event, they did so asking me to break a world record. I then put a plan together and executed it perfectly.

The next time a challenge is presented to you, just schedule it in writing on your calender. Put together a plan and take action. You’ll be setting records in no time.

YouTube Video of Andrew’s Record One Arm Deadlift


Black Swamp Meet
Bowling Green, OH
May 14th, 2011

Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe and Atomic Athletic

Lifts:  Deadlift – One Arm, Clean and Push Press

Officials:  Denny Habecker and Scott Schmidt

(All lifts besides Habecker’s and Schmidt’s were passed with 2 whites using the 3-Offical system and are eligible for IAWA World Records.  Habecker and Schmidt were officiated using the 1-Official System and their lifts are only eligible for USAWA records)

Lifter Age BWT DL-1arm C&PP Total Points
Andrew Durniat 32 103.1 228-L 105 333 277.6
Chris Rice 62 94.7 138-R 75 213 228.6
Denny Habecker 68 87.5 120-R 70 190 223.5
Michael Rogowski 25 78.6 135-R 95 230 223.4
Scott Schmidt 58 113.3 136-R 85 221 208.8
Tom Montague-Casillas 14 121.0 55-R 60 115 106.0

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight recorded in kilograms.  Lifts recorded in kilograms.  Total is total kilograms lifted.  Points is adjusted points for age correction and bodyweight adjustment. )

Extra lifts for record:

Andrew Durniat – 235.5 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Left
Denny Habecker – 125 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Right
Chris Rice – 138 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Left

Awards as Motivation

by Al Myers

This is part of the collection of awards present in Clark's Gym.

I have been in numerous club gyms, and one thing that sets them apart from commercial “chrome and fern” gyms is that there is always an abundance of old trophies, medals, plaques and award certificates hanging around.  Some of these places have awards that are over 30 years old!  Yet, they still bask in their glory of being visible for all gym members to see, as the day they were shiny new.  I always marvel at these old awards, and take the time to check all of them out.  I wonder, “who won this one?, and “what competition did this one come from?”.  This is a sight full of mystery, but at the same time gives you the burning desire of motivation. Anyone who has won an award knows the satisfaction that it brings, and not because of the hardware itself, but the hard work that goes into earning it.  The time in the gym pushing those extra sets, and the commitment and sacrifice training time takes away from the rest of your life.  If it was just the trophy that gave you this fulfillment – go out and buy yourself a big trophy and put wording on it proclaiming yourself the greatest weightlifter of all time!!  I assure you – that award would not mean near as much as the tiny certificate that you won the day you had a personal record lift.

In the Dino Gym I have a large collection of old weightlifting, strongman, and Highland games awards placed on a mantel overlooking the gym.  This mantel runs the entire width of the gym – 40 feet.  Most awards are “double stacked” on this shelf.  I haven’t counted them but it has to be well over 100 trophies. The funny thing is that I have at least that many in boxes in the attic!  When the mantel was full, I had to call it good.  When I first put up this trophy mantel, my wife referred to it as “my shrine” to myself.  I tried to let it slide, but her comment really hurt my feelings (even to this day and that has been a dozen years ago!).  That was not my intention.  I wanted to have a gym that any lifter would take serious when they enter the doors. I wanted us to not just “talk the talk, but walk the walk”.   Displaying hard-earned awards shows a gym newcomer that we are serious about what we do – and that we have the proof to back up what our training is all about. 

The trophy case in the Ambridge Barbell Club.

Most all of the other USAWA Clubs have a “trophy wall” as well.  Last November at the Gold Cup, Frank Ciavattone took me down into his basement which holds Franks Barbell Club.  I was overwhelmed by his collection of trophies and such.  Just a quick glance at this, and ANYONE would know  that Frank was a Champion.  As we browsed through things, Frank had a story on each award.  To him – these trophies were mementos that held a collection of memories from the competitions he has been in.  I have been to the historic Ambridge BBC a few times now, and each time I spend a little time looking over their collection.  Their collection is a lesson in weightlifting history – some awards date back 40-50 years.  The JWC Training Hall has many very unique awards.  Thom has on display some awards that were won by previous JWC members.  Truly a compliment to those that had a significant part of  the JWC history.  Clark’s Gym is another gym that has a great display of awards that is rich in history.  As you look over Clark’s Gym extensive collection of awards, it is a true inspiration.   I could go on with several other examples like these.

The point I want to leave you with is that it is not egotistical to display awards if done for the right reasons.  If it motivates one young kid to change their life by forming a commitment to training and physical fitness that keeps them out of trouble, it is worthwhile!   But now I gotta go – it’s time to polish my shrine!!!  (haha – THAT’S A JOKE!!)

York Barbell Shirts

 by Thom Van Vleck

Gene Thudium, JWC member in the 50's and 60's, sports his old school York Barbell T-shirt.

I don’t know about you, but I have received about 300 meet shirts in the last 30 years.  Probably 200 I competed in, the rest I was a judge, loader, spotter, scorekeeper, patron, or meet director.  I know how many because every few years I thin them out and keep the ones that have sentimental value in a special drawer, give away some, and keep the rest for workouts.  Some shirts become “lucky”…I have a good meet or workout in it and I then use it when I need some “mojo” for a contest or record day.  Some, a select few, get retired and are never worn again.  The ones I give away go to good homes, guys who are really into the lifting or throwing and really appreciate the shirts.  I gave a fellow highland gamer 75 shirts and he made it into a quilt that was pretty cool and he hung it in his living room.  I can go over and point to different designs and almost tell you how I placed, my throws, and even what the weather was like that day. 

Recently, Al and I traveled to Colorado and met with Russ Murphy, a highland games legend.  I got some really old meet shirts from him, about a dozen or so that go back 20 to 30 years.  He even had one that was from the first meet I ever competed in, in 1995.  Mine had been “retired” so I got his and now I have one I can wear, too.  Years ago, World Powerlifting Champ and the man that broke Kaz’s total record, John Ware, gave me a shirt he wore when he broke Kaz’s record.  I kinda felt like the kid in the Coke commercial getting the jersey from Mean Joe Greene.

Shirts can be pretty special.  Today some of us will be heading to York Barbell for the USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals this weekend.  I can’t wait to get there.  I also know that Al has designed the meet shirts using the  York Barbell logo.  I have a feeling this trip will be epic in many ways, mostly me traveling to the “mecca” of weightlifting for the first time in my life!  I remember seeing many photos of Gene in his York Barbell shirt and thinking I would like to have one….now I will and it will be pretty special.  But I wonder, will this shirt become a retired one, or a lucky shirt, or will I give it away…..only time will tell.

York Barbell, here we come!

by Al Myers

The event we have been waiting for a long time is almost here!  Mike Locondro, retail manager of York Barbell, has put LOTS of work and effort into this historic event.  We are very fortunate to be able to share in this event by having our Heavy Lift Nationals in conjunction with it.  Mike has made it clear that this may become an annual affair, and plans to continue the tradition that Bob Hoffman started many years ago of hosting an annual York Picnic that drew in lifters and spectators alike that wanted to share in the experience of celebrating a day of enjoyment centered around York and all types of strength feats.

The official name for this function is the “Wounded Warrior Kettlebell Benefit and Strength Festival”.  Mike Krivka will be teaching and conducting a RKC Kettlebell workshop throughout the day.  There will also be crossfit demos and bending demos.  Other contests of strength will be contested throughout the day.  I have heard there might be a 2″ bar lift competition - I might have to enter that one!  There will also be lots of raffles.  Steve Stanko’s daughter has donated some of her Dad’s personal equipment to be sold in a silent auction with proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project benefit.  So bring along extra money!!!  You may want to take part in some of the special auctions.  Mike has told me that because of this charity benefit, several members of our armed forces will be in attendance.

The highlight of the day will be the York Hall of Fame Induction of Slim the Hammerman.  What an opportunity to get your picture taken with a strength legend!  Now on top of this, Mike has said that Joe “the Mighty Atom” Greenstein will also be inducted into the York Hall of Fame.  Things just keep getting better!  I know, without a doubt, that this day will go down in USAWA history as a day we will never forget. I’m sure the attendance will include a “who’s who” of the strength world.   See everyone there!

Nomination Time!

by Al Myers

The USAWA Awards Program was established last year with the first award winners being recognized at the 2010 USAWA National Meeting.  Well, it is time to make nominations for this years’ candidates.  The rules of this are the same as last year. 

  • You  must be a USAWA member to make a nomination or cast a vote
  • Nominated individuals must be a USAWA members to be eligible
  • Only one individual may be nominated per person per award
  • The awards are for the calendar year 2010
  • An individual may be nominated for more than one award

 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.

Please send your nominations to me (at by June 1st.  All nominations will be kept confidential.  The awards will be presented in conjunction with the awards ceremony at the USAWA National Championships in Kirksville, MO on June 25th.

USAWA Nationals: The AWARDS

Special awards for the USAWA Nationals for 2011 (purchased at

by Thom Van Vleck

The USAWA Nationals for this year will have a unique award for the participants.  The Jackson Weightlifting Club (JWC) had long been defined by Grandpa Jackson’s Anvil.  For the last few years I have used these real anvils for awards.  Each award will come with a CUSTOMIZED plaque engraved by a Jim Spalding (Jim’s Gems) who is a local jeweler and also happens to be a 6 time Masters World Champion in Highland Games.   When the results are tabulated, we will write down you address and send you an engraved plate that will fit on the award with your placing and name.  How many personalized awards do you have in you trophy case?  I bet not many!  There will also be an 11lb Anvil for the overall best lifter.  Again, it’s a REAL anvil.

The “Original” JWC anvil will be present as well and used in the strongman show at the awards banquet.  We will take it outside and give anyone who wants a crack at lifting the anvil like Grandpa Jackson used to from the ground to overhead.  It is a 150lb Anvil and it’s very “doable”!  The real challenge is to lift it by the horn with one hand, pinch grip it by top or lift it by the neck.

Grandpa Jackson's Anvil - The Centerpiece of the Jackson Weightlifting Club

I will also have a 300lb anvil present….This is the MONSTER that so far has defied all who have tried to lift it overhead.  I want to see someone put that thing overhead!  But at the least, We will have the Whiskey Barrel there and the challenge is to lift the anvil onto the whiskey barrel.   Come on out, the USAWA Nationals will be more than just lifting weights…..we will try and make some history!









 by Thom Van Vleck

Private room at the Dukum Inn. This is where the banquet will happen after Nationals

Just an update on the USAWA Nationals.  I have ordered shirts.  They are POLO type shirts –  so better than your standard meet t-shirt!  They will have a stitched USAWA Nationals 2011 patch on them.  I have also ordered the awards.  These are like none you have ever received and I will be putting up a photo at a later time showing them.  Al Myer’s will be bringing his top notch equipment for the meet supplemented by my own.  If you ever wanted to lift on a set of York Hub plates or Jackson International Barbell plates, we will be using them in the meet!

I have recently confirmed reservations at the Armory and the Dukum Inn.  I recently attended a private party there and I was more than pleased.  The bar in the private room was built in 1938 and was the original bar that used to be downstairs.  There is a stage area opposite the bar that will offer a really nice podium for our awards ceremony.  You can see a big screen behind the bar and during the banquet we will scroll pictures of past and present USAWA meets and legends.  I highly recommend the onion rings at the Dukum….they are the best!

Outdoor Lifting: Time for Fresh AIR!

Phil Jackson lifting outdoors at the old JWC club

by Thom Van Vleck

I have a photo album full of old photos of the Jackson Weightlifting club in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  Many of the photos, maybe even more than half, are taken outdoors.  Back then, there was a very practical reason for lifting outside in the summer time….NO AIR CONDITIONING!  My Uncle’s told me they built a platform outdoors so they could get some fresh air and keep cool.  The JWC gym moved around several times and often was in an old unairconditioned building.  One of the favorite places of my Uncle Wayne of gym locations was on Jefferson Street near the old Kirksville  Railroad Depot.  Wayne said they rented an old store and they would lift in the store front during the winter.  There were large plate glass windows open to the street with a potbelly wood stove for heat and in the summer they would move the weights out back and lift right under the down town Water Tower.  The Water tower is still there but the store is long gone.  Sadly, not a single picture exists of the gym from that time.  Just the many great stories….including one of how my Aunt Linda would walk by there every day going home from work and see Wayne lifting…..and now they have been together for over 40 years!  She would stop and watch them workout with other girls…..she must have been impressed.

My Uncle Phil told me that lifting outside was also a benefit in other ways besides a cool breeze.  The bright sunshine helped get rid of the winter blues come spring and the fact that girls might walk by just motivated them to lift a little harder!   It might be a hassle to move the weights outdoors, but I think you’ll find a little lifting on a sunshiny day will boost your motivation and be a nice change of pace.

The Blob

by Al Myers

Scott "THE ENFORCER" Tully demonstates a pinch grip lift of two 50 pound blobs, one in each hand!!

A very popular gripping device that originated in the mid 1990’s was the Blob.  Initially, the term “the blob” referred to only the 50 pound end of a  York 100 lb. dumbbell (the heaviest dumbbell from the casting), but since then has been applied to all weights of these York dumbbell ends.  The dumbbell in question is the York Dumbbell design from the 1970’s where the ends are round with sloping sides - a shape much like a hockey puck.  The preferred method of lifting a blob is to use a one hand pinch grip. The sloping sides add to the difficulty of maintaining a hold.  In the Dino Gym, we have a “complete set” of York Blobs – from 20 pounds to 50 pounds in 2.5 pound intervals. Often, challenges arise and we will start with the smaller ones and work our way up.  I’m usually in “this game” until we get to the 40-42,5 pounder, and then I have to bow out.  Darren and Scott always win,  as both have picked up the 50 pound blob many times.  One hand pinch lifting a 50# blob is considered the ultimate accomplishment.  It takes someone with an exceptional pinch grip to be able to accomplish this.  The “pure way” of lifting them is without chalk – and using tacky is forbidden!!

Around 2005, York discountined the production of this dumbbell style for awhile.   It made those that had York Blobs worth alot!  I remember watching ebay and seeing some of the prices paid for York Blobs.  For a while, one of these York Dumbbells was worth more as two blobs than an intact dumbbell!! You gotta say the grip guys can be quite the fanatics!  I know lots of  hard-core weightlifting collectors didn’t like to see a collector dumbbell like these getting cut up into two pieces!!  It wasn’t long after this and these dumbbells were manufactured again using the original foundry casting, and in return, the value of blobs came back down to an affordable rate.  They are now sold under the “Legacy Line” of York products.

Link to York Barbell Website -

Monster Garage Meet




Larry Traub squats 520 pounds in the Monster Garage Meet.

Abstinence of chemical assistance when building strength has long been the message of Larry Traub. His inclination and mind set are that anything worth having is worth working (hard) for and, thus, earning.  He has preached this message to hundreds of his high school lifters over the years.  That is what led the multi-time national masters powerlifting champ to the USAWA.  It was against this backdrop that 5 of his former high school pupils/lifters returned to their mentor, joined his current protege and took to the platform.  All to be a part of the first, and now to be annual, USAWA sponsored Monster Garage Powerlifting Meet and Record Breakers Day.  The pedigrees of each of these young men is impressive.  Even the spotters were former high caliber lifters!  One of the judges, Larry’s brother Barry, can even boast a 650 deadlift!  The only mongrel in the house was yours truly!!  This was, indeed, an exceptional day of lifting.

The premise was simple. The lifts contested would be the three powerlifts. The ‘catch’ being that the rules of the USAWA would be enforced (rules are no joke!).  So, all the lifts were truly raw, and as they used to say in drag racing, ‘run what ya brung!’  With only seven contestants, the action was fast and furious. As there were a wide range of weight classes being contested, so were the weights being handled by the lifters.

Monster Garage Participants: upper left - Adam Roth, upper right - Tyler Baines, lower left - Blake Dedas, lower right - Bobby Bonifacio

The youngest of the crowd was 18 year old high school senior, Adam Roth.  His flawless technique helped him accumulate a total of 930 pounds at a body weight of 58.8 kg. (he was voted ‘best lifter’ junior and senior years at st. ‘X’ high school, Louisville).  Tyler Baines kept the momentum rolling, posting a total of 935 pounds.  Another technician, he used that along with determination to secure his place in the meet (he was teen national champ/bronze medalist at sub junior worlds).  Showing true competition experience was Felix Rodriguez.  His 455 pound deadlift was outstanding and gave way to his final total of 1070 pounds (he was 2nd at teen nationals).  Blake Dedas came to show that strongman training has left him in good stead as he posted a fine 1485 total at a 220 pound body weight (he was a subjunior team member and collegiate national champ).  Drew Traub, Larry’s boy, provided proof that strength does run in families.  He took a break from his usual 60 hour work weeks and ran up a total of 1385 pounds with next to no training for the past year (he was a teen national champ and subjunior world champ).  The new kid in the house was Bobby Bonifacio, Larry’s son-in-law (and my god-son in-law, lol).  Bobby started training about 9 months ago and to say his lifts needed help, at that time, would be the understatement of the year!! Bobby has persistence, a great attitude and a top notch coach to thank for a very creditable total of an even grand. I am certain this will spur him on to even greater totals in the future.

When the final attempt was made, the tally sheets said that it was the old man, Larry Traub himself, who carried the day!  His bench presses made one of the spotters remark, “coach!!? is that your shoulder creekin’?? It sounds like someone is trying to open an old door!!” . His 520 pound squat and 560 pound deadlift would make most lifters days, however, this was a ‘down’ day for him. Regardless, it was enough to win by 175 points on the formula.

Monster Garage Meet Participants: left - Drew Traub, right - Felix Rodriguez

As a side note, I want to mention our loaders. Mike Tullis (who was a subjunior world team member) and his running buddy, Jon Clark (who was selected to be on the world subjunior team but subsequently passed up that opportunity to ‘walk on’ as a player at the University of Louisville, where he is today) spent the competition loading for their friends and adding good stories and commentary at the ‘after glow’.  These were great kids to be around, indeed!!  Although this meet was touted as a ‘record breakers’, I think the days lifting damped spirits for any further lifting as only four USAWA records fell; two by the youngster and two by the ole man.

Plans are already being made for next year’s version of the Monster Garage Powerlifting Meet. the last weekend in April will be the permanent date. We are looking for this meet to be much bigger by then!!

Good friends, great lifting and superb food/drink - what could be better!? Plan NOW to attend next year!!  YOU WON’T BE SORRY!


Monster Garage Powerlifting Meet
Georgetown, Indiana
April 30th, 2011

MEET DIRECTOR:  Larry Traub and the Ledaig Heavy Athletics

LIFTS CONTESTED:  Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift

OFFICIAL (1-Official System Used): Dave Glasgow


Lifter Age BWT BP SQ DL Total Points
 Larry Traub  57  92.0  290  520  560  1370  1433.0
 Blake Dedas  26  100.0  355  545  585  1485  1257.9
 Adam Roth  18  58.8  205  320  405  930  1129.3
 Felix Rodriquez  21  75.0  255  360  455  1070  1070.0
 Tyler Baines  23  64.5  235  300  400  935  1033.5
 Drew Traub  27  128.8  310  525  550  1385  1032.2
 Bob Bonifacio  30  118.5  205  365  430  1000  776.5

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in kilograms.  All lifts recorded in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted in pounds.  Points is adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age allowance.

Angelo Siciliano, aka The 97 Pound Weakling

by Dennis Mitchell

Angelo Siciliano, aka The 97 Pound Weakling

Angelo, sometimes called Angelino, was born in Calabria Italy in 1893, either on October 30, or April 20, depending if you asked his mother,Teresa, or his father, Santo.  He arrived in the United States at the age of ten, and lived in a poor section of Brooklyn, New York.  After a short time his father, who worked as a farmer, returned to Italy.  His mother, a devout Catholic, raised him while working in a sweat shop as a seamstress.  Angelo soon left school and went to work in a factory making ladies pocketbooks.

Angelo was a frail child, and two times was beaten up, once near his home and once at Coney Island on the beach.  Humiliated that he could not defend himself, he joined the Y.M.C.A. where he started working out on stretching machines and doing gymnastics. He read Bernard Macfadden’s Physical Culture magazine, and using a set of home-made barbells followed his instructions. He said that his results were very disappointing.  At this time in order to sound more American, he changed his name to Charles.

While visiting the zoo at the age of seventeen, he was fascinated with a muscular lion and watched as the lion would stretch and “flex” his muscles. Charles thought this may be a more natural way to develop his muscles. Using a system of using one muscle against another muscle, he began to show results and by the age of nineteen, he was demonstrating a chest developer in a store on Broadway.  He was soon working as an artist’s model and performing strength feats in vaudeville with a strongman named “Young Sampson”. He worked with Earl E. Liederman and in the ConeyIsland Circus side show.

This was a popular advertisement for the Dynamic Tension Training Program.

In 1918 he married Margaret Casana and in time they had two children.  It was somewhere around this time that he legally changed his last name to Atlas. In 1921 he won Bernard Macfadden’s ” Worlds Most Perfectly Developed Man” contest at Madison Square Garden. When he won again the following year, Macfadden said there was no use putting on future contests because Atlas would win every time. In 1922 Atlas started his mail order body building business.  His course needed no equipment, and he also gave advice on nutrition, grooming and personal behavior. For several years his business was struggling. He opened and soon closed a gym in Manhattan. He worked as physical director at a summer camp for two years, with no pay. His mail order business finally started to make money in 1928, when he hired a young advertising agent named Charles P. Roman.  Charles Atlas Ltd. was formed in February 1928 with the two men being equal partners. Under Roman’s guidance the business was very successful. It was Roman who came up with the name of “Dynamic Tension”, which was the main part of the Charles Atlas system. They advertised in many pulp magazines, Popular Science, and many comic books. The course sold for $30.00.  He opened branches in London, England in1936, and one in Rio de Janeiro in 1939. By the early 1940’s, over 400,000 copies of the Atlas course had been sold. Even with his financial success, Atlas lived a private and simple life. The partnership lasted until 1970, when Atlas retired and sold his half of the business to Roman.

This body building article would not be complete without a list of Charles Atlas’s measurements.  He stood 5′10″, 180 pounds, 17″neck, 47″ chest, 17″ biceps, 14″ forearms, 32″waist, and 23.75″ thighs.

Charles Atlas died in Point Lookout, New York, December 23, 1972.

York Update

by Al Myers

We are now just a little over two weeks away from our Heavy Lift Nationals at York Barbell, in York, PA.   The event organizer and the person who made this whole affair happen, Mike Loncondro, just sent me the days itinerary.  There will be many activities happening at the same time.  We will have our competition in the Main Gym while the kettlebell workshop will be in the auditorium.  We will need to have our meet done by noon in order for all attention to be given to the main feature of the day – the York Hall of Fame induction of Slim the Hammerman.  In the afternoon, we will have a record day session and All-Round Weightlifting demonstrations.  Hopefully, this will give us the opportunity to introduce the All-Round Lifts to several new lifters.

The meet t-shirts are being picked up today.  On behalf of the USAWA, several of these shirts will be donated to this event to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. This charity helps wounded soldiers restore their physical abilities through the pursuit of athletic fitness.  It is truly a worthwhile cause!!  I think everyone will really like the t-shirts I designed for this.  The awards will be ordered the first of next week for the competition.  So – all the plans are “in motion” to make this day a very special day for everyone involved.   

Kettlebells For Warriors – May 21, 2011          Schedule of Events
  Main Gym Auditorium Main Hall
0800 USAWA Contest    
0900 Crossfit Workout KB Workshop Registration  
1000 USAWA/Crossfit Opening Ceremony  
1030   KB Workshop (until 0100)  
1100 BREAK    
1200 USAWA/Crossfit    
0100 LUNCH (until 0300) LUNCH (until 0300) Dan Cenidoza and Slim
0300 USAWA/Crossfit KB Workshop (until 0500) Mighty Mitts Bending
0530 Main Gym Clean Up Auditorium Clean Up Main Hall Clean Up

Team Spirit

by Thom Van Vleck

We have a lot of fun with our team rivalries in the USAWA.  While it is all in good fun, it has gotten heated from time to time, but that’s OK.  Sometimes that’s what it takes to get fired up for big lifts!  It reminds me a lot of the rivalry I felt when I was a Marine.  We hated the Army, Air Force, and Navy, but when we had a common enemy we quickly banded together.  In the Marines we had a saying: “You won’t find a better friend or worse enemy”.  I also believe: “Once a Marine, always a Marine” (Chesty Puller said that, the most decorated Marine of all time and a personal hero). I feel the same about my affiliation with the JWC.

A great photo of Dino Gym member and enforcer Scott a great shirt! While I've kidded Scott about this photo, it would not be hard to find one of me in a Dino Gym shirt. And, no, that's not my bald head in the photo!

We all enjoy our training for lots of reasons.  I’m sure most of us have a primary reason for doing it and for most, that primary reason is probably to get strong!  For a bodybuilder it may be to “look strong” (I never understood why you would want to look stronger than you really were….I want to be stronger than I look!).  The reality is that we probably train and compete for lots of reasons beyond that.  One of those reasons is for the social aspect.  We are humans, we generally seek out companionship….even loners will have a dog or cat for companionship! So, for social interaction, we join teams.  Now, I’m not talking about “socializing” (although that certainly happens!) but the act of finding a common bond or thread.  Common interests, so to speak.  That’s the social aspect I’m talking about.

We also like competition.  I can recall going out to the old JWC gym at about age 10 with a buddy of mine and doing a powerclean and push press.  The first thing he did was slide on a little more weight and lift it….and it was “ON”!  We didn’t stop until we’d about killed ourselves!   Teams give us the best of both world’s.  We can hook up with like minded individuals and find the motivation of competition within our own team and then against other teams.  But we can also have mutual respect for our rivals.  I know I have a lot of respect for my “rivals” in the Dino Gym, Clark’s Gym, Ledaig…and the rest.  That’s why I own at least a t-shirt from each and in the case of the Dino gym almost a whole wardrobe of clothes!

Teams are a good thing.  They give us motivation, friendships, rivalries, and in the end, good times.   Being a part of a team can hold us to a higher standard than standing alone.  It can also reflect a lot about who we are and if done right, in a very positive way.  So join a team in the USAWA, or start a new one and join the rivalry for bigger gains and good fun.  I’m sure Scott will love the fact I used his photo for my example….and I’m sure it will motivate him to lift a little harder the next time we compete!

The One Best Exercise

by Thom Van Vleck

My brother Tedd is a Clean and Press man. It goes to show that different exercises work best for different lifters.

I was out throwing with Bill Leffler the other day.  We were talking training and some of our frustrations.  Between us, we have about 75 years of lifting and throwing experience and the topic became “The One Best Exercise”.

I recall many years ago in an old Ironman there was a question posed to several top lifters and trainers: “If you could do only one exercise, what would it be”?  The answers centered around two lifts.  The squat and the Clean & Press.  Debates and arguments were presented.  It kind of reminded me of a recent thread on the USAWA forum centered around Al Myers’ article on the Deadlift.

The reality is that there are exercises that are better than others, but all exercises have some merit, and it all depends on what you want and how you use it to get what you want.

1.  Does the exercise work the most muscles in the body?  The Clean & Press certainly does that,  but the Squat and Deadlift certainly work the biggest muscles in the body the hardest.  If that were the only criteria for the One Best Exercise, that would probably be the end of it…but that is not the only criteria.  I would argue it’s not even the best way to chose the One Best Exercise.

2.  Does the exercise create the adaptation that you desire?  We all lift for different reasons.  I lift mainly to improve my throwing for Scottish Highland Games.  Does the lift fulfill that need?  Do you grind out reps, or do you explode through them?

3.  Any exercise done for too long will become more and more dangerous and less and less effective.  You get stale, you get lazy on your technique, and eventually the boredom, lack of focus, repetition on the body will lead to injury.  Your body is always fighting against you because it is trying to protect itself and when it knows what is coming, it will resist damaging itself.

4.  Do you perform the Deadlift in a way that creates the muscle adaptation you desire?  The JWC has a member that has done a 4 times bodyweight deadlift.  He can’t clear 8 ft with the 56lb Weight in the Weight Over Bar event.  Al is a great deadlifter and when he was deadlifting 700 plus he could clear nearly 16ft!!!  The JWC member is very much a specialist and he’s very happy with the adaptation he has created.  Al trains for different reasons and his lifting has adapted to that.

So, my opinion is the “ONE BEST EXERCISE” changes over time and it depends on how you perform the exercise.  You have to find what works for you, and you must think outside the box from time to time.  I was stuck at 360 on my Bench Press for a year and made a point to specialize on my Bench for a year and managed only 365!  I used the best routines I could find.  So, out of desperation, I started doing 10 sets of 10 reps.  I started with 185lbs and kept adding 10lbs a week until I finally got 300lbs for 10 sets of 10.  After only 12 weeks I then maxed out and hit 400!  A 35lb jump!  I have theories on why this worked but my point is that it was unorthodox and I don’t know if I even recommend it!  So, don’t get too hung up on finding that “magic” exercise because it’s kind of like the old saying “Just when I figured it out, they changed the rules”.  Just when you find that “One Best Exercise” your body adapts and its time to shake things up and keep an open mind.  As for me….I’m doing deadlifts and squats right now, but not forever!

World Championships

by Al Myers

The entry form is now available for the 2011 IAWA World Championships held on November 19th & 20th in Perth, Australia hosted by the ARWLWA.   The Worlds have not been held in Australia since 2003, so it is about time we get the opportunity to compete in the “land down under” in our most prestigious meet offered by the IAWA.  I know I’m looking forward to it!   Let’s show our support from the USAWA by several USAWA lifters attending.  This time of the year is a beautiful time in Australia, and making a trip like this could easily be combined with a vacation.  The promoters have made it easy on us – all you have to do is send in your entry “to commit” and then pay upon arrivial.  The selection of lifts look like a perfect list – all areas of All-Round Weightlifting will be contested. Entries must be sent in by October 3rd to secure a spot in this World Championships.


Date: Saturday 19 & Sunday 20th November 2011

Venue: Belmont Sports & Recreation Club, Cloverdale, Perth WA

Lifts: Zercher,Cheat Curl, Push Press from Racks, 1 Hand Dumbell Swing, Continental Clean & Jerk, Fulton Deadlift 2″ Bar, 2 Hand Vertical Lift

Participants must be current paid up members of their respective lifting clubs – IAWA UK, USAWA, ARWLWA, NZ

Entry Form (pdf) - World Entry Form 2011 

Entry Form (word doc) – World Entry Form 2011

Rules of Competition Lifts – WORLDS LIFTS GUIDE

The ARWLWA Website contains more details regarding directions to the meet site and possible hotel accomodations near the meet.  Please check out the ARWLWA website for this information.



by Thom Van Vleck

The USAWA Nationals is in two months!  Time to get your plans made and entries sent in.  I have a had a lot of interest, but the entries have been slow.  There is no deadline on the entry form, but there is a point I need to have numbers for my banquet!  So get those entries sent in.

I will have polo type shirts with embroidered “USAWA Nationals 2011″ on it.  We will have anvils for trophies for the winners and other awards for place winners.  You will not walk away empty handed, but if you want a JWC Anvil you will have to earn it!   We will have a great banquet experience after the meet and you won’t forget it.  We will have a strongman show after the contest with world class short steel bending, hot water bottle explosions, bed of nails (like Ed Zercher used to do) and much more.

This will be an USAWA Nationals like no other!  Often in life we are faced with choices and you “can’t do them all”.  This is one you won’t want to miss!

Heavy Lift Nationals Reminder

by Al Myers

The deadline for entry into the 2011 USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals is approaching.  The deadline is May 7th.  There will be no late entries accepted.  This is stated FIRMLY on the entry form, but I just want to remind everyone of this since most of the USAWA meets do not have entry deadlines.  The reason for this deadline is that  administrative decisions will be made based on the number of entrants.  This meet will be different than most of the past USAWA meets in that we have only a set amount of time to get the meet finished.   We can NOT run past this time limit because it would interfere with the other functions planned at York Barbell that day.  Also, awards will be made up based on the number of entrants – thus another reason for the meet deadline.  

Even if you don’t plan to compete in this meet, try to make it there that day.  In the afternoon (from 2-6) we will have a spot in the gym to set up a display table and perform lifts for records or exhibition.  There is no entry to participate in this – just show up.  It will give us a great opportunity to talk to people coming through the York Show about All-Round lifting and the USAWA.   See everyone in York on May 21st!!

Wilbur Bohm, Pioneer of Sports Medicine

Dr. Wilbur Bohm, pioneer of Sports Medicine

by Thom Van Vleck

I recently did a story on Dr. Russell Wright who was pretty well know in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s in the weightlifting world for his work in sports medicine.  In that article I mentioned Dr. Wilbur Bohm.  Dr. Bohm was certainly Dr. Wrights inspiration in terms of Bohm’s early work in sports medicine leading the way.  Dr. Bohm wrote nearly 2 dozen books on athletic training and was the first every full time sports physician for a professional team.  He worked for the Cardinals, the Redskins, and the Reds, just to name a few.  He was a founding member of the National Athletic Trainer Association and was the first ever inducted into their hall of fame in 1962.

Wilbur Bohm started out as the Washington State University head athletic trainer before becoming an osteopathic surgeon in 1919.  He is credited with helping define sports medicine by writing books and filming a 1941 documentary on charley horses and sprained ankles. Bohm – with Jake Weber, Billy Morris and the Cramer brothers – was a member of the first athletic training squad to serve a U.S. Olympic Team, in 1932 in Los Angeles.  You will recognize the name “Cramer” as the name of the company that makes training supplies.  I use Cramer spray tacky all the time!

Bohm did so much and was involved in so much a book could be written about him.  I would like to focus on a couple of stories on him.

First, he was friends, possibly best friends, with the man I affectionately refer to as the “Phantom of the Anvil”.  Several years ago I was at the Rec Center here at the school I work at (A.T. Still University) and saw this picture on the wall.  Since that time I have devoted a lot of time trying to figure out who this man was.  I have a couple leads, and someday I WILL figure this mystery out.  I do know know this man left school before graduating to join the war effort in WWI.  He was legendary playing football and there are many stories I have found on him that include a 70 yard drop kick documented in a game (I know, seems impossible) and stories of him dragging numerous opponents down the field refusing to be tackled.  He was said to be 6′6″ tall and he had a build that was very good for his day.  But that story is for another day and for now, he’s the Phantom.  You will find this photo in the JWC gym and in the Dino Gym.

The Phantom of the Anvil circa 1918 (notice the skull and cross bones on his shirt, that was the school sports logo)

It was through the “Phantom” I learned about Dr. Bohm.  As I have researched the Phantom, I have found his connection to Dr. Bohm and that opened me up to the amazing accomplishments of Dr. Bohm and his connection to Dr. Wright.   It seems that the Phantom and Dr. Bohm were good friends and played football, baseball, threw shot and discus and participated in other sports with the schools teams.  Yes, back then, the medical school had sports, even a hockey team…and less surprisingly a golf team!  Dr. Bohm was quite an athlete as well and a very big man in those days.  I found one listing of him at 6′4″.  He threw the shot and discus at the Drake Relays, one of the most prestigious and oldest track & field meets in the world!  Some day, I’ll learn the mystery of the Phantom of the Anvil and when I do, Dr. Bohm’s story will be a part of it.

The second story on Dr. Bohm I’d like to share relates to his work in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics.  He served as the team physician in those Games and if you recall, it was the 1932 Olympics where the modern Olympic lifting began.  The lifts were cut to three that year (Clean & Press, Snatch, and Clean & Jerk) and it appears to be a watershed moment in terms of Olympic lifting’s popularity.  You may recall that Bob Hoffman attended the 1932 Olympics and when he returned to York he started York Barbell.  Karo Whitfield also attended the 1932 Olympics and as a result he made a life long friendship with Hoffman and the York Gang and returned to the Atlanta area and started a legendary gym, ran hundreds of bodybuilding and weightlifting meets, and trained thousands.  That list includes Paul Anderson, Harry Johnson (1959 Mr. America) and ran meets that saw Joe Dube’, Frank Zane, Boyer Coe, and many, many others get their feet wet.  So, that 1932 Olympics had three very important people it the sports world: Dr. Bohm, the “Father of Sports Medicine”, Bob Hoffman, the “Father of American Weightlifting”, and Karo Whitfield, “The Bob Hoffman of the South”.

The third and final story has to do with what may be Dr. Bohm’s greatest accomplishment.  In the Museum archives of A.T. Still, there is a collection of Dr. Bohm’s works.  Some are original type written copies of some of his books, personal notes, and a very interesting book that includes the raw data he collected for a study he did entitled “How Champions Train”.

"How Champions Train" by Wilbur Bohn, D.O.

The book itself is not very long and it’s message is really quite simple.  Coaches need to train athletes as individuals with different needs.  This may seem pretty common sense, but before this they would often train athletes with special diets that would be extreme in design and workout programs that weren’t very specific and overtraining was the norm.  The real treasure is the “scrap” book that is with the original manuscript that holds all the questionnaires from most of the track athletes at the 1936 Olympics.  Each athlete had been given the questionnaire at the Olympics and had autographed each one.   There are also many personal letters from these athletes over the next two years as he compiled results, most still in the original envelopes.  Since I am more of a “field” guy than a “track” guy I was focused on the throwers.  There were letters from Dimitri Zaitz (6th place shot put), Ken Carpenter (Gold medal, discus),  Lee Bartlett (12th place in the Javelin), William Rowe (5th in the Hammer throw), among others.  But there was one name from the track portion that caught my eye…..Jesse Owens.  Yes, in this stack of personally filled out questionnaires that had been signed by each athlete was one from Jesse Owens.  It detailed his typical diet, training, etc.  I asked the Museum curator just to be sure and she confirmed the signature was really his!

Many of Dr. Bohm’s books were on training athletes and injuries.  His collection includes many photos of him with famous sports figures that he helped over the years.  While his conclusions today may seem well know and well accepted, you have to understand in his time they were groundbreaking.  Dr. Bohm was a great athlete and a great doctor who’s legacy is long and wide!

Eastern Open Postal

by Al Myers

MEET RESULTS – The 2011 Eastern Open Postal Meet


Chuck Cookson put up a big 12" Base Squat in the 2011 Eastern Open Postal Meet. His squat of 600 pounds is the top lift of ALL-TIME in the USAWA Record List. This postal meet drew 19 competitors, which according to Meet Director John Wilmot, is the most he has ever had in one of his postal meets. John has been coordinating the USAWA Postal Series Meets the past several years.


Eastern Open Postal Meet
March 1-31st, 2011

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts Contested:  Bench Press – Alternate Grip, Squat – 12″ Base, Deadlift – Dumbbell, One Arm

Lifters using 3 Certified Officials:

Denny Habecker – Officials Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, John McKean
John McKean – Officials Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker
Art Montini – Officials  John McKean, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker
Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Jonathon Ciavattone -  Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Kohl Hess – Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Al Myers – Officials Mark Mitchell, Scott Tully, Darren Barnhart
Darren Barnhart – Officials Al Myers, Scott Tully, Mark Mitchell
Scott Tully – Officials Al Myers, Darren Barnhart, Mark Mitchell
Chuck Cookson – Offiicals Al Myers, Scott Tully, Mark Mitchell

Lifters using 1 Certified Official:

Mike Murdock – Official Thom Van Vleck
Helen Kahn – Official Randy Smith
Randy Smith – Official Helen Kahn
Scott Campbell – Offiicial Al Myers
Chad Ullom – Official Al Myers
Dave Beversdorf – Official  Joe Garcia

Lifters using a judge who is not a certified official:

Orie Barnett -  Sam Rogers
John Wilmot – Kay Wilmot


Lifter Age BWT BP SQ DL-DB Total Points
Helen Kahn 59 161 70 115 101-R 296 361.6


Lifter Age BWT BP SQ DL-DB Total Points
Al Myers 44 251 335 507 395-R 1237 1028.4
Chuck Cookson 41 274 300 600 305-R 1205 932.4
Chad Ullom 39 240 275 440 350-R 1065 862.8
Orie Barnett 50 228 251 427 255-R 933 860.6
Dave Beversdorf 45 300 400 500 205-R 1105 850.2
Randy Smith 56 196 195 300 281-R  776 819.6 
Scott Campbell  36  302  275  500  300-L  1075  777.9 
Joe Ciavattone Jr.  17  220  260  385  222-R  867  772.1 
Joe Ciavattone Sr.  42 254  325  315  272-R  912  739.5 
Denny Habecker  68  188  165  265  182-R  612  730.7
Scott Tully  35 345 350  440  210-R  1000 710.9
Darren Barnhart 43 290 280 330  310-R  920  705.6
Kohl Hess  16 285  175  385  277-R 837  684.8
John McKean  65  175  145  175  222-R  542  659.4 
Jonathon Ciavattone 16  234 210 255  222-R  687  620.2 
MIke Murdock  71  231  175  220  158-L  553  602.7 
John Wilmot  64 219  145  225  160-R  530  563.1 
Art Montini  83  179  80  135  149-R  364  499.4 

Notes:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. R and L stand for right and left.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted for age and bodyweight.

MEET REMINDER – Monster Garage Contest

by Larry Traub

I need to get a rough idea of how many lifters to expect at the Monster Garage contest. Please E mail me back with yes, no, probably, maybe or whatever. If you have someone coming with you let me know. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be big, so I’m looking for entries. I know a lot of you didn’t have time to prepare properly but think about jumping in to post some numbers as a baseline for improvement for future years. There is still complete information at Click on Monster Garage under coming events. I also have two articles that I wrote at the site. Check it out if you get a chance. You will also fine some info about a machine I built. I’ve been working on it for over two years and it has been recently been painted and is taking it’s place in the weightroom. I’m anxious to get some feedback on it, especially from Ray, Doug, Tom, Tim and people who have been involved with strength training and athletics over the years. Just drop me a line and tell me where you stand. For the Iron Tiger alumni make sure the beverages you bring are age appropriate.

Name This Group

by Al Myers

Picture from 2006 Gold Cup. (front): Ed Schock (second row - left to right): Denny Habecker, Elizabeth Monk, Karen Gardner, Dick Durante, Dennis Mitchell, Scott Schmidt, Kathy Schmidt, Mary Anne Durante (Back row - left to right): John Monk, Steve Gardner, Jim Malloy, and Judy Habecker. Picture taken by Flossie Mitchell.

Now I know most everyone in this picture, but I would like someone else to identify and name these members of the All-Round Weightlifting family.   I received this picture from our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  Most of the other pics that Denny has given me has “pertinent information” written on the back – but this one didn’t!!  Also – I have no idea which meet this group picture came from.  So consider this a CALL FOR HELP and help me in this quest of proper picture identification!!!  I will update the names in the caption as the proper identification is provided on the USAWA Discussion Forum.

Thanks goes to Denny Habecker for providing the information to identify everyone in this picture!

Gone Fishin’

by Thom Van Vleck

Our USAWA Secretary Al Myers knows how to relax from the stresses of work and weightlifting. He goes fishing! But by looking at the size of these two big paddlefish he caught this week, it looks like he had to put his training to good use!

I sent Al Myers a message the other day and he said he was on a fishin’ trip.  I said, “AGAIN!”   I often will call Al, and he’ll return my call and say, “Sorry, I was taking my nap”.  I like Al, he’s a good guy.  But he’s also a pretty smart guy.  Al works hard and when it’s time to rest, he rests hard.

Weightlifters are a special breed.  Some might say we were so special we are mentally ill!  We do tend to be pretty obsessive and often that’s a good thing.  But just as often, we don’t know when to back off (I can’t say “quit”….because we don’t like that word!).

Recuperation is more than sleep, it’s rest, it’s feeling rested and ready.  It’s often the lost ingredient in an effective training program.  I work at a medical school and the constantly tell the students…”GET MORE SLEEP”.  Because more sleep, more rest means less mistakes.  A doctor makes a mistake, and people can die.  A weightlifter makes a mistake and an injury can result that, at best, will set us back a few days, at worst, end a career!

But it’s more than just your body that needs sleep.  Sleep is probably most important for you brain.  I would argue that you brain needs sleep more than any other part of your body.  Why?  Well, science hasn’t quite figured that out yet.  But the fact is that the brain does some pretty important things ONLY when it’s asleep.  And your most important training tool is you brain.  If your brain is not fresh and focused, your body won’t be.

I think that every lifting program should also include how you are going to rest and how long.  It should also include the occasional break from lifting altogether.  So, every once in awhile you have to remind yourself to back off a little.  So, get more sleep.  Take a nap.  And go Fishin’.

The One Arm Snatch: My Five Favorite Pictures

by Al Myers

One of my favorite all-round lifts is the One Arm Snatch.   From the first time I tried it I knew I was going to like it.  I have never been a good Olympic lifter (I started my lifting career as a Powerlifter), and everyone knows that it is much harder to master the proper technique of Olympic Lifting as you get older.  It is something you should learn to become proficient in early on at a young age – and definitely not after several years of heavy bench press training and the tight shoulders that follow.  But the One Arm Snatch – now here was my chance to do an Olympic-type lift that really requires NO advance training in Olympic Lifting as it is so different from the 2-handed Snatch.   I think I also like this lift because my One Armed Snatch is not too far behind my Two Handed Snatch.  I can do slightly over 75% in the One Arm Snatch compared to the two handed version, which either means I excel at the One Arm Snatch or I am just really, really bad at the Two Handed Snatch!

I want to share my five favorite pictures of the One Arm Snatch.  Actually it took me  longer to narrow down my list to five than write this blog!  Several I went back and forth on – and then the REALLY hard part was ranking them!  The One Arm Snatch is also often referred to as the One Hand Snatch, which is the older term that describes this lift.  Now on to the pictures!!!

Picture #5

Arthur Saxon and the One Arm Snatch.

I have always been an Arthur Saxon fan.  Arthur is usually noted for his outstanding Bent Press and 2-Hands Anyhow, but he was also quite good at the One Arm Snatch.  Unlike alot of other Oldtime Strongmen, I truly believe the lift poundages reported by Arthur Saxon.  He was a true weightlifter more than a  strongman performer.  His best official Right Hand Snatch was 195 pounds, and his best unofficial Right Hand Snatch was 210 pounds.  This was done at around 200-210 pounds bodyweight – AMAZING!

Picture #4

Milo Steinborn and the One Arm Snatch.

Henry “Milo” Steinborn has left his legacy in the USAWA with his signature lift, the Steinborn Lift.  What most people don’t realize is that Steinborn was more than just a squatter, as he excelled at the quick lifts as well. I like this picture because it signifies a truly “Oldtime Strongman” approach to weightlifting.  Notice the thick handled barbell with no knurling and the globe ends.   This bar weighed 173 pounds.   This picture was taken in 1921 in an exhibition done by Steinborn in Philadelphia.  It has been said he snatched this bar with one hand SIX TIMES that day!

Picture #3

Vasily Alexeev and the One Arm Snatch.

In 1980, the great Super Heavyweight Russian Olympic Lifter and winner of many Olympic Gold Medals, Vasily Alexeev performed a One Arm Snatch of 231 pounds.  I am sure he didn’t train this lift much at all, but still put up one of the best performances of all time.  Notice how he is catching the One Arm Snatch like a regular squat snatch.  This lift was done in an exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Bob Burtzloff and the One Arm Snatch.

My brother-in-law Bob Burtzloff introduced me to the USAWA over 20 years ago.  Bob is a legend in all-round lifting in the Midwest prior to the USAWA being formed.  He was a great all-round lifter, and excelled at one arm lifts.  His 171 pound One Arm Snatch performed in 1987 still ranks as the BEST ALL-TIME One Arm Snatch in the USAWA Record Book.  This picture was from the old USAWA Rulebook, and was early inspiration for me to train the One Arm Snatch.

Picture #1

Charles Rigoulot and the One Arm Snatch.

This is my favorite picture for one reason – because Charles Rigoulet was the best of ALL-TIME!  In 1929, he made a Right Hand Snatch of 115 kilograms (253.5 pounds).  This was done at a muscular bodyweight of 215 pounds.  A lot of people considered Rigoulot an One Arm Snatch specialist, but I disagree.  He also was very good at several other lifts, including the Olympic Lifts.   One thing about this picture that impresses me is his strict technique – notice his heels together at completion and upright finish.  Rigoulot loved to lift with his shot-loaded barbells, and it is also appropriate that this picture shows him doing just that.

Well, there you have it.  Now tomorrow I may have another list of 5 different favorites, but why can’t a man change his mind?  I hope these pictures give someone the inspiration to go to the gym and train the One Arm Snatch today!!

Why the Deadlift is the BEST LIFT

by Al Myers

This is one of several 700 pound plus deadlifts that I did in powerlifting competitions through the years. This picture is from the 2002 NASA Natural Nationals Powerlifting Championships.

I know – this is a bold statement I just made.  But after years of training experience, I truly believe that the deadlift is the best exercise for building overall body strength and power.   I know there are people who would disagree with me on this  statement, and I’m sure they have their reasons, but let me explain my feelings behind this and then you can give your arguments! 

1.  Argument 1 – The Squat is the KING of LIFTS

Early on I thought the Squat was the KING of LIFTS (and I’m sure others think this as well), and the squat is  by far the best lower body exercise, but other than that the deadlift RULES.  Very little upper body muscles come into play while squatting compared to a deadlift.  The deadlift works EVERY MUSCLE – lower and upper.  A deadlift hits the thighs, hamstrings, lower back, upper back, and even the chest muscles.  Plus it works the forearm and hand muscles.  A squat doesn’t do that!  Just name a lift that works all the muscles like a deadlift does – I bet you can’t name one!

2.  Argument 2 – The Deadlift will make you slow

I know the “deadlift critics” will say that the deadlift will make you slow.  I just don’t believe that.  The “critics” are usually ex-Olympic lifters who favor the Clean & Jerk and Snatch and are poor deadlifters (mainly because they don’t like it and don’t train it).  Now – I’m not saying these two Olympic  lifts are not great lifts (they both make my top five), but for building overall body strength they pale in comparison to the deadlift.  The Olympic lifts are highly technical and unless you are training them exclusively you have a hard time maintaining the proper techique and ability in them.  Add in a little age and decreased flexibility, and both of these lifts are limited by your technique and not by your strength.  And by the way, I have seen several Clean and Jerks that were PAINFULLY SLOW – so don’t use the “explosive” argument with me.  Any exercise can be done in an “explosive manner”.  Just use less weight and increase your speed of execution! 

3.  Argument 3 – I don’t want to hurt my back

The argument of not wanting to hurt your back by AVOIDING the best back exercise known to man does not even make sense to me!  Exercise strengthens the muscles and prevents injury (of course you have to be training correctly, but that’s another issue).   Name one exercise that strengthens the back better than the deadlift??  Lots of money has been invested in machines that make this promise – but where are they now?  They come and go with different manufacturers but the deadlift remains.  That ought to tell you something.

3.  Argument 4 – I’m an athlete and not a powerlifter

I hear this all the time.  Just because the deadlift is one of the competitive powerlifts does not make it a BAD EXERCISE.  Several of  my Highland Game friends seem to think the deadlift is an evil lift and has no benefit to a competitive Highland Athlete.  Instead, they focus on dangerous  lifts like jump squats and lifts on BOSU Balls.  But I will tell you – STRONG IS STRONG, and if you want to be strong, you have to train to be strong.  And NOTHING makes you strong like the deadlift!  This translates to increased ability in ANY strength related sport.  I always loved the Caber Toss in the Highland Games the most, mainly because it directly reflected on who the strongest throwers were.  I always threw in the more advanced classes and at that level everyone was experienced, and everyone knew how to toss the caber.  It was always very apparent who the strongest throwers  were when it got to big cabers, because only the strongest guys turned them. Sure the weaker-strength caber tossers looked “picture perfect” with light sticks, but when things “turned ugly” with the big sticks all the weak throwers could do was make their pfiffers look pretty. Great caber tossers like Mike Smith, Jim “the Big Chief” McGoldrick, Ryan Vierra, and  Harry McDonald were BULL STRONG.  If the deadlift was contested instead of  the caber these same guys would have still been on top.

By now you can tell that I am a little partial to the deadlift!  But my feeling is that if I was given the choice to train only ONE LIFT – it would be the deadlift.   There is just not any other lifting motion as pure as deadlifting.  Men have been picking up things off the ground for years and the deadlift strengthens this basic physical function better than any other lift.  Of course, these are all just my opinions and I welcome anyone to debate these points on the USAWA Discussion Forum.

Dr. Russell Wright

Dr. Russell Wright, D.O. & Pioneer in Sports Medicine

by Thom Van Vleck

You may not know who Dr. Russell Wright (D.O. Doctor of Osteopathy) is, but Tommy Kono, Bob Bednarski, Tommy Suggs, Gary Glenney, Norbert Schmansky and many others probably owe him half the hardware in their trophy cases.  Dr. Wright made his living as the team Physician for the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Pistons.  But he is best known to weightlifters as the team physician for five USA Olympic Weightlifting teams and countless World Championship teams.  He did much of this by traveling to these events on his own dime and providing a lot of the treatment for free. The lifters he treated often commented that he would tell them he’d “send them a bill” and the bill would never come.

Dr. Wright did back surgery on Schmansky and solved Kono’s knee problems to allow them to further their great careers.  He employed Osteopathic manipulation in his work with many other lifters and was there when Bednarski dislocated his elbow so badly at an international meet in Canada.  It was typical to put the dislocated joint in a cast and allow to heal, but Dr. Wright took the cast off once back home and worked with the injury with light exercise, massage, and Osteopathic manipulation.  This could have ended his career, but Bednarski won a World Championships after that!  Wright was an athlete himself having competed in football and basketball in college and a short pro career after that and he felt that gave him insight into athletic injuries and needs.  He was also known to be able to motivate the athlete in his recuperation and had a  deep understanding of sports psychology helping athletes who were devastated by their injuries forge successful comebacks.

Dr. Wright is credited with pioneering the “medical manager” concept.  It seems logical now, but until Dr. Wright came up with it, it was not practiced.  Simply put, someone trained in sports medicine would assist the coach in all medical decisions as a direct consultant.  Osteopaths like Dr. Wright were pioneers in sports medicine.  He was following in the footsteps of Dr. Wilbur Bohm  who was the first sports medicine specialist and he graduated from the school I work at, A.T. Still University which is the founding school of Osteopathic medicine.  Dr. Bohm was the team physician at the 1932 and 1936 Olympics for the U.S.A. track team and assisted  Jesse Owens in his historic run of 4 Gold Medals and the FIRST ever full time professional sports team doctor!  Dr. Wright was part of that heritage of sports medicine and his role in the 1956, ‘60, ‘64, ‘68, and ‘72 Olympics would continue that tradition.

Russell Wright was the president of the Medical Committee of the International Federation of Weightlifting and Culture and conducted many seminars on treating weightlifting injuries.  In 1966 he conducted a seminar in East Berlin, East Germany for Doctors from 92 nations.  He was a member of Sports Medicine (an organization that Dr. Bohm was a founding member) and was a delegate to the 16th World Congress of Sports.  He made most of these trips on his own.  His wife always accompanied him and they were considered real friends and ambassadors of Weightlifting.  He made dozens of these types of trips over the years.  Dr. Wright often joked that he kept “retiring” over and over again.

Dr. Wright graduated from the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University in 1929 and practice medicine for 7 decades as he lived well into his 90’s.  The Des Moines School was the second Osteopathic school ever and was founded in 1903, now there are over two dozen D.O. schools across the U.S. and they represent an ever increasing percentage of Doctors in the U.S.  They have all the same rights and privileges of an M.D. plus they have to know Dr. Still’s Osteopathic principles as well.  Dr. Wright represented the type of “forward thinking” that has made D.O’s so popular.  It is estimated in the near future D.O’s will represent 1 in 5 Doctors and they are a large part of the sports medicine world due to Doc’s like Dr. Wright and Dr. Bohm.

Dr. Russell Wright was a true friend of weightlifting as a sport, but was a better friend to the lifters.  He also wrote books including “How to Become and Olympic Champion” where he tried to integrate not only exercised but every aspect of being a top athlete into one book (Diet, sleep, etc.).  I hope you enjoyed reading about a real unsung hero of USA weightlifting.

Bernarr MacFadden

Bernarr MacFadden, "Father of Physical Culture"

by Thom Van Vleck

If you know who Bernarr MacFadden is then you truly are a student of Iron History.  MacFadden was born in 1868 and died in 1955.  He became internationally famous and a millionaire (when a million meant something!) promoting Physical Culture.  I have heard that  Bob Hoffman was called “The Father of American Weightlifting”, but before Bob, Bernarr was the “Father of Physical Culture”.  MacFadden not only promoted exercise, he promoted all around physical fitness, all natural foods (he disliked processed foods) , natural treatment of disease (he hated “pill pusher Doctors”), and inspired people to live healthy lives.  Vim, Vigor, and Virility are terms you often heard him say. He directly influence many greats that you will know like Charles Atlas.

He was also at times branded a charlatan and was arrested on obscenity charges (his books were often very frank in there subject matter, but he was NOT arrested for what we would call pornography today).  He often rubbed the medical establishment the wrong way, at least the M.D.’s but not the D.O.’s…..I’ll explain more later.  He made his millions promoting his books and developed properties that had schools, resorts, and all things that in some way related to physical culture and health.  His empire rose and fell and rose and fell.  Personally, I think had he died or retired at a younger age his legacy would likely be more secure in the weightlifting world.  But some of his later dealings, eccentric tendencies, a damaging book by and ex-wife perhaps unfairly tarnished his early work and unfortunately what you do last is often remembered most.

McFadden’s long and colorful life could fill many volumes and I would encourage anyone interested in Iron History to ready up on him.  There is a website dedicated to his life at

My connection to MacFadden is as a boy my grandfather, who was born in 1913 and grew up when McFadden was truly at his peak, often quoted and spoke of McFadden and taught me many of his valuable principles and in that way had a major influence on the JWC.   I learned later he also filtered out many of McFadden’s teachings that were probably built on faulty logic and social norms of the day….but you wonder how people will someday look back on us!  I also work at A.T. Still University, founded in 1892 by Andrew Taylor Still and the founding school of Osteopathic Medicine.  A Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) has the same medical training and credentialing of a Medical Doctor (M.D.) PLUS they have to learn Still’s Osteopathic teachings.  Again, volumes could be written on Osteopathy but I will just point out that Still believed in natural cures, healthy living, was against “pill pushing” as a doctor, thought exercise was essential to health (back when many M.D’s thought exercise was actually bad for you!!!!) and finally was a pioneer in whole person health.   Dr. Still was probably the kind of doctor Bernarr MacFadden would have liked!  I’m researching that right now!

At any rate, our library has a huge collection of rare books.  They often surplus out extra copies and sell them.  When they go unsold, they are given away.  I was checking through a bin of “free” books and when I came across a first edition copy of Bernarr MacFadden’s “Manhood and Marriage” published in 1916.  It had an old style library card in the back and the last time it was checked out was 1963!  Previous to that, 1957!  Kind of hard to believe this book has been on a shelf here my whole life (I was born in 1964) and now I have it.  It is not surprising to me this book was here as the type of people attracted to being a D.O. are the types that believe in whole person health, exercise, healthy living and natural cures.  Don’t get me wrong, they prescribe medication, do surgery and EVERYTHING an M.D. would do but if you see a D.O. you can expect a lecture on healthy living along with your antibiotics!

I am enjoying reading the book.  It is really outdated in many ways, but there is no doubt MacFadden really believed in the healthy lifestyle even if the basis of many of his tenants of healthy living have since been proven otherwise by research.  At least he set a standard which others could then prove right or wrong and if I had to guess, he was more “right”!   Check his story out some time….he’s a real character of the Iron Game!

Gold Cup

by Steve Gardner






Rules of the Gold Cup Competition

1.  All Lifters MUST be Current IAWA Members

2.  Lifters who are current World Record Holders can attempt a new World Record for the ‘GOLD CUP’ (The first attempt on the platform has to be for the new World Record!)

3.  Lifters who are not current World Record Holders are eligible to lift for the ‘Silver Cup’ for a National or Club Record or a new Personal Best

Gold Cup Promoter: Steve Gardner – 18 Holly Road, Barton under Needwood, Staffs. DE13 8LP England Tel: 01283 713464 or 07960960509 E Mail:

Lifting Venue: Powerhouse Gym, The Pakistani Community Centre, 228 – 231 Uxbridge Street, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire DE14 3LA England

Banquet Venue: The St. Andrews Suite, Branston Golf & Country Club, Branston, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire DE14 3DP, England


Any lifter from home or abroad that will be looking for accommodation, please contact the promoter as soon as possible and he will deal with your accommodation needs, finding the best lodgings at the best price to suit you!

Competition Entry Fee: £35                                           Banquet Fee: £17.50

The Banquet will also be the venue for the 2011 Induction to the IAWA(UK) Hall of Fame

For Entry Form – 2011 IAWA GOLD CUP

Watch Your Back!

by Jarrod Fobes

Amber Glasgow, of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club, performs a Turkish Get Up with 35 pounds. The Turkish Get Up is a great exercise to strengthen muscle imbalances in the back.

Injuries have shaped a lot of my training, and there is nothing that will get you thinking more about how you train than an injured back. Bum knee? Work your upper body for a while. Injured shoulder? Train around it. Hurt your back? You won’t be in the gym for at least a few weeks. After my last back injury I got busy researching back health and learning what I could do to prevent any future relapses. From what I’ve learned, spinal “prehab” can be distilled down to two major factors. Here’s what they are and what you can do about them.

Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalance refers to any break in the symmetry of the muscular system. You don’t want your right side stronger than your left, or your front stronger than your back. Most of you have heard that to protect your back, you should strengthen your abdominals. Strong abdominals are important to provide a counter to the powerful muscles of the lower back, but they are only part of the equation. Is your left hip flexor stronger than the right? Then your hip may be pulled down on the left side, and your back will struggle to compensate for it. Are your hamstrings disproportionately stronger than your quads? That may have an effect on the stability of your knee. If your knee goes out, your hips may start compensating for your injured knee. From there the chain of compensation can easily reach your back.

Fortunately there are two exercises that are terrific for correcting major muscle imbalances. One is the Turkish Get-up, already and official USAWA lift. The other is the One Legged, One Armed Deadlift.

If you are balancing on your right leg, you will grab the weight with your left hand. Put a slight bend in the knee of your support leg. As you lean forward to grasp the weight, your non-support leg should rise up, keeping in as straight a line as possible with your back. Maintain that alignment as you stand up with the weight. As with any deadlift, don’t let your head droop forward.

Both lifts should be trained heavy, but not to failure. Within a month or two diligently giving each side of your body equal work with these lifts, you should have corrected the major imbalances in your body. But stay on guard against overworking one side or the other in day-to-day life too: if you ride a bike, don’t always push off with your dominate leg. If you carry a kid around, make sure you use both sides of your body for roughly equal time. You get the idea.

Muscle Endurance

Muscle endurance is the ability of a muscle to work for a prolonged period of time. It is related to, but separate from muscle strength, which most of us focus on in the gym. Many of us have strong backs, but inexplicably still have back problems. That’s because while we may be able to lift enormous loads with our backs, we haven’t conditioned them to handling sustained, symmetrical loads. Just as being able to do 100 push-ups may not translate into a huge bench press, heavy deadlifts do little to condition our backs to prolonged work. That is why kettlebell swings are so important.

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. You should have about a 90-degree bend in your knees, as well as at your waist. Do not let your back round, and keep your head up. The kettlebell (or whatever implement you decide to you use) will be in both hands tucked under your behind. Your wrists should rest on your inner thighs.

From this position, explode forward with your hips, extending the legs and back. The weight should stop at 12-o’clock, directly over head with your arms straight. A common mistake is to initiate the movement with the arms. The explosive hip extension should provide the momentum to get the weight moving. Guide the weight back down to the starting position, and repeat.

Since we’re focusing on muscle endurance, execute a high number of reps, at least 75. Focus on maintaining a high rep speed, too. This will mean starting with a lighter weight than most of us like to be seen with in the gym, but do it anyway. If 75 is too daunting, start with 3×25, and “steal” reps from the last set and give them to the first in following workouts. So following rep schemes might look like 35×25x15, 50×25, etc until you reach 75 reps. Once you can handle 75 you have the option of increasing weight or increasing reps. Besides muscle endurance, my posture has improved greatly since adding kettlebell swings to my routine. I recommend them to anyone whose shoulders roll forward. Another benefit of this exercise is the tremendous cardiovascular work it provides. If done with speed, explosiveness, and adequate weight, your heart will really be pumping by the end!