by Al Myers
The other day on Facebook I saw this YouTube Video for the first time. Actually I was surprised I hadn’t seen it before as I like to watch YouTube Videos of any type of lifting. It featured an unlikely duo competing in a deadlifting competition - Ronnie Coleman and Roy Mason. EVERYONE knows 8-TIME Mr. Olympia (1998-2005) Ronnie Coleman, but I bet just a few have heard of the elder deadlifting machine Roy Mason. I’m going to start this story off with the video (which you MUST WATCH) as a teaser, then I’ll give a little USAWA history lesson as it applies to both of these great strength athletes.
Under the caption of this video you will notice that mention was made that this was Ronnie Coleman’s first powerlifting competition. I have no idea how many more he ever did as his future in Bodybuilding fame was about to ignite. He sure looked the part in that meet. Also, you will notice by the date of the video the meet was contested on 1/29/1994. You may ask “what’s the significance of that?” . Well, to most “not much” except if you are interested in the history of the USAWA, then it becomes a very important trivia question that you can quiz your workout partners on during an evening training session. That meet was the Fourth Annual Texas Deadlift Classic held in Alvarado, Texas directed by the famed All Rounder Joe McCoy and SANCTIONED THRU THE USAWA! I checked back through old memberships rosters and Ronnie Coleman is indeed listed as a USAWA member for that year of 1994. This was also the only USAWA meet that he competed in. His 728# deadlift from that meet is listed as the overall record in the 12″ base deadlift for the 120kg class. It is the TOP 12″ base deadlift listed in the USAWA record list. This came from the meet report published in the Strength Journal, “All lifts were done with the 12 inch maximum heel spacing and done with two hands. All were judged by USAWA officials Howard Prechtel, Noi Phumchaona, Bob Cox, Phil Anderson, and Joe McCoy.” After watching this video, I would question “how much” the 12 inch heel spacing was really adhered to – but I’ll let you make your own decisions on that!!
Now onto the story of Roy Mason and his ties to the USAWA. Credit to getting Roy involved in the USAWA goes to Joe McCoy. This was said by Bill Clark in an edition of a 1994 Strength Journal, “Roy Mason is a deadlifting wonder. At the age of 76, he beats most men 40 years younger in the regular deadlift. The Red Wing, Minnesota resident has long thrilled powerlifting crowds with his rare ability. Joe McCoy has twice brought Roy to the platform in sanctioned exhibitions to join the USAWA record list – and Roy has done so in amazing fashion. Roy not only lifts amazing poundages, but he preaches a sermon and excites the crowd as he lifts.”
Roy Mason currently holds 3 individual USAWA records: 485 lbs. in the 12″ base deadlift in the 75 age group/70 kg class from the meet in the video (this is ALSO an overall record in the 70 kilogram class - SIMPLY AMAZING!) and a record in the middle fingers deadlift of 237 lbs. in the 75 age/70 kg BWT class from a meet on 4/10/1994. He also holds one TEAM RECORD. This was done after the deadlift competition from the video in which he teamed up with Bill Decker to pull a Two-man Deadlift of 661 pounds in the 75 age group/75 KG BWT class. This was covered in a past blog I wrote ( http://www.usawa.com/summary-of-usawa-team-records/) and contains a great picture of their record setting effort, which is a record that I think will be a long while before anyone EVER BREAKS. Following that Texas Deadlift Classic, Roy also performed these finger deadlifts for exhibition: 330.5 lbs. in the two fingers deadlift (ring and middle), 381.5 lbs. in the three fingers deadlift (no thumb or little fingers), and finally 463 lbs. in the deadlift with all but the little fingers.
I first met Roy in the mid-90’s when he stopped at our gym in Salina to give an evangelistic strength performance. Roy Mason spent his life as a long haul truck driver and traveling evangelist spreading the word of Christianity. He used his God-given deadlifting skills to reinforce his testimony. Certainly he made an impact on everyone in the room while he delivered his message - and we listened in awe. He was a gifted speaker and had a high degree of modesty. I never remember him once bragging (or even mentioning) his lifting accomplishments during his testimony. As he went across the country on his truck runs, he would stop at many places along the way to spread his Christian beliefs. I bought his book, “The Life of a Truck-Driver Preacher and Weightlifter for Christ” on that day and I have read it several times since then. These are some of Roy’s words from the introduction of his book,” I am very proud to be called the truck-driver preacher. I consider it a great honor that God has called me to be a spokesman of his. Also, what a privilege to proclaim the word of God to each and everyone that I am privileged to meet.” His book contains a reflection of his life experiences, interactions he had with other people he met giving his testimonies, and how it all has affected him spiritually. He spends very little time in his book talking about his weight lifting accomplishments, and it’s only at the very end. I have no idea if this book of his is still available. It’s a simple book with no color photos and bound with a plastic binder, but a great source of Christian inspiration.
However, I already knew of Roy’s great lifting accomplishments when I heard him speak. When I started lifting in the early 80’s I remember reading his name from National Masters Powerlifting Championship meet results and other big meets and his unbelievable deadlifts at an age of over 60. I’ll never forget seeing him on the cover of the July, 1986 issue of POWERLIFTING USA. In that U.S.P.F. National Masters, he deadlifted 562 pounds at 68 years of age!! I had to do “some digging” but I found that issue of PL USA so I could include that “cover shot” in this story so you would believe me!
Take the time to watch that video again. I heard Joe McCoy several times yelling encouragement in the background for both lifters. I also think that YouTube Video clip came from a video that was taken by Joe during the meet. That meet will go down as “one of the classics” in USAWA history. Thank you Joe McCoy for making it happen.
Roy Mason died in 2005 at the age of 87 years – but he will not be forgotten.