Articles from December 2013



Black Angus MacAskill

by Thom Van Vleck

Angus MacAskill with a normal sized man.

I enjoyed hearing stories when I was a kid.  You know…good, old fashioned story telling.  Television was around, but with one channel the viewing was limited and since we live in a very rural area story telling in my family was a huge form of entertainment.   My grandfather was the king of story telling….he had a great voice and a knack for painting a picture in your mind of not only words being said, but sights and even smells!  He had been a fan of strongmen and wrestlers and I got to hear many stories about them.  One in particular became a favorite.  That is the story of Black Angus MacAskill.

Angus MasAskill was a giant but a special kind of giant.  The Guinness Book of Records lists him as the largest “natural” giant of all time.  He had normal proportions and no growth abnormalities.  He may have been simply the biggest human being that has ever lived that achieved that size simply through nature and not the result of a disease process.  At his peak he stood 7′9″ tall and weighed 500lbs.  His palm was 8″ wide and his feet were 16″ long and 8″ wide.  He also had a chest that measure 80″ around and shoulders that were 44″ across. Yet, if you saw him in a photo with no point of reference he looked like a “normal” sized man!

Something else made him special.  He had great strength.  He would often take on feats of strength but only if money were put on it.  Some of the feats credited to him (as with all past feats, some questions may arise as to the authenticity so I leave it to the reader to judge for themselves) are as follows:

1. Shouldering a 2,800lb ships anchor (some speculate it was set up where he simply had to do what amounts to a partial lift).

2. Carry two 350lb barrels, one under each arm.

3. Hold a hunderdweight (112lbs) with two fingers at arms length for 10 minutes.

4. Life a full grown horse over a 4ft tall fence.

5.  Set a 40ft tall mast single handed into a schooner.

6.  Carried a sick man over his shoulder for 25 miles in a blizzard to a doctor without once setting him down.

7.  Once was pulling a boat onto a beach and tore the boat in half.

Angus had many nicknames.  He was “Black Angus”, “Mount Kaskill”, the Cape Breton Giant.  He was from Cape Breton Island which was part of Nova Scotia but he was born on the Island of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides Islands of Scotland.  It is a only about 4 square miles with barely over 100 people.  It is about as barren and wind swept of an island as you could imagine.  No wonder his father took him and his family to Nova Scotia!  They settled near Englishtown in St. Ann’s Harbor which is also a very remote location.  Later, many of the group that traveled with Angus’ family moved on to settle in New Zealand.

So Angus’ family had moved from a treeless windswept island to a land that had huge trees covering nearly every square inch so they quickly became lumberjacks.  This was hard work and the MacAskill’s were all know for their strength, but not necessarily their great size.  Angus was the exception in size.  So we know he grew up doing back breaking, hard labor.

The story goes that Angus did not become exceptionally large until he was 12.  He then grew quickly and gained the nickname Gille Mor which is Gaelic for “Big Boy”.  While he was tremendously strong, he was at first clumsy.  At 14 he traveled to Sydney, the largest town in the area, about 40 miles away by boat.  He had never been to such a place and they all put in at a local tavern that had music and dancing.  A local man was dancing and seemed to step on Angus’ large foot while he was sitting watching.  Everyone laughed but Angus did nothing.  This happened a second time and as good natured as Angus was, he still did nothing.  But the third time proved the charm and Angus stood up and hit the fellow so hard he was at first thought dead!  The ship’s captain found Angus hiding on the ship praying that the man was not dead.

There was a point where Angus’ father raised the rafters in his home to allow Angus to walk around upright.  His father also built him a special, long bed.  His father made his sons all work very hard and had a saying that Angus took to heart.  ”What’s worth doing at all is worth doing well”.  While Angus grew up in a very strict Christian environment he also enjoyed making side bets on who could finish a hard job (which he often won) and getting together for a “Ceilidh” or party where bagpipes and fiddles were played and songs were sung with wine, rum, and whisky being shared!

Angus loved his home and most enjoyed fishing along in a rowboat in the bay were he could look at the wooded hills and farms.  No doubt that is the reason that he returned there after traveling all over the world later with the circus.  It is also interesting that the world may have never heard of Angus MacAskill because he loved his life and home and was reluctant to leave it.  But a hard winter led to very hard times and he succumbed to and offer to travel as a giant.  He was promised good money and it was a way to help his family.

There are many tales of him being on tour and doing feats of strength.  One of my favorites was he entered a tavern and picked up a 140 gallon “puncheon”  or barrel of scotch whiskey.  He struck the top with his fist causing the bung or cork to fly out.  He then picked up the barrel and drank from it while toasting the other patrons!  Another was he was on a train when a robbery was attempted.  When he stood up the robbers fled the train without any loot!

Angus often dressed in “Highland Costume” while on tour. He toured all over the world but often hated the heat of the warmer climates.  There is a story that he once met Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.  Upon being presented with two gold rings by the Queen, he stomped his foot on the carpet to show his strength and left permanent marks with his boot heels.  It was there that Angus supposedly held William Wallace’s sword in his hand at arms length being one of the few to accomplish this feat.

Angus made two world tours that often lasted years.  His first return was a happy one with many of the same people still living in the area.  But his final return found half the population gone.  The timber market had slumped and growing crops or livestock was tough in that climate.  But nonetheless, Angus retired to his home operating a store and mill with his friends and family close by.  The story goes he was a good business man and disliked credit, but never turned away someone in need and was very generous to the local Church.  He died at the age of 38 and was a friend and hero to all in his homeland.  A legendary giant!

Perfect Powerful Pulls

by John McKean

Little known Pennsylvania lifter Jim Dorn of the 1963 era pressing 300 pounds!

Audience chanting called a halt to the proceedings at the 1963 Senior National Weightlifting Championships. No, not due to a poor judging decision, nor a new record lift. Rather the mere appearance of a little known 181 pound wonder named Jim Dorn created this immediate stir. The uninformed in the crowd assumed him to be a bodybuilder, rather than the dedicated olympic lifting stylist that he was, yet everyone demanded to see him flex his wing like lats! Heck, even the normally gruff, stoic John Terpak later wrote that Dorn had “unquestionably the broadest back in the world for his height and weight”! Fortunately the MC of the evening was Bob Hoffman, who was more than happy to promote one of his York team members, and to plug his top selling power racks (on which Dorn trained exclusively)! Of course the packed auditorium went berserk when the 5′7″ phenomenon flexed those lats, seeming wider than he was tall.

What an all-rounder Jim would have made! In addition to a 315 pound press, 285 pound snatch, and a North American Championship title (among others), Dorn performed a 275 pound cheat curl (205 strict), a 670 pound parallel squat (with hands on thighs), and a 405 pound jerk off the rack. And when pushed into it by Coach Hoffman, later took the Mr. Pennsylvania crown. Hard to believe that this type of power and physique were built primarily with mostly single holds inside a power rack, using 8 key partial lifts!

As indicated in an early 60s Strength & Health story, Jim’s usual home training featured only these power rack holds and ONE SET OF ONE format: top press 520 X 1, eye level press 360 X 1, chin level press 520 X 1,quarter squat 1000 X 6, middle pull 420 X1, front squat (from bottom up) 390 X 3, deadlift (just off floor for the start) with shrug 670 X 1, and bench press (starting from a rack pin 4″ above chest) 470 X1. On each of the single rack holds, he held either just off starting pins, into a slightly higher rack pin, or maintaining a support (as in the top press and quarter squat) for 10 SECONDS. Oh yeah, he finished each session with a set of 6 in a slow stretching type of chin behind the neck. However, I’m convinced that it was his pulling HOLDS over that TIME, that created his awesome pulling power and super wide upper back!

I’ve written previously, of course, of the value of slightly moving isometrics & holds, but wish to put forth some pulling experiments I’ve been doing for a while that just may make this treacherous exercise a bit more user friendly! After all, none of us in the all-round bunch are getting any younger, and these heavy duty holds are nasty to one’s blood pressure! But, though mostly forgotten, we should strive to discover how to make such miraculous, short & concentrated rack routines work for us. We may never get the world record pulls and back structure of Bill March, Lou Riecke, or Serge Redding. In case you don’t know Serge, he used mostly standard olympic lift training, tho included one special pull iso — musta worked because at 5′8″ and up to 308# bwt, he did an official 502 pound WR press, a 401 snatch, and measured 65″ around the shoulders!! More on him in another story!! However, using TIME in holding a row, continental from thigh level, snatch grip pulls, etc., could mean a whole bunch of ‘Rounder records!

Now, what I’ve found, old gomer that I’m becoming (68 last Sunday! and his wife who is proofing this reminded him that he’s well into full bloom gomerhood!), is that I don’t need to explode head veins from a 10 to 12 second hold as twenty-something Dorn & March were doing. Instead, I separate my rack lifts into 2 sets of 2, with each hold into a slightly higher rack pin, lasting only 3 seconds. I still get in the all-important HOLD of 12 seconds, but have not come even close to passing out as I did in the old days (so that’s what happened to him y’all are saying!)! For instance, I’ll get a pretty hefty poundage on the strict row, pull to a pin 4″ above and hold for 3 seconds, lower and pull/hold for another 3 seconds, then rest for a few minutes and do the second set. By the way, if you don’t have access to a power rack, this same performance can be achieved with chains & “S” hooks over the bar to secure various pull positions, or even rig up a thick rubber bungee around one’s barbell!

It must be working – my poundages are going up, even at an age where gains should NOT be achieved, and the all-round pulling lifts are feeling much easier! I’m even noting a big increase in wideness these days – though I expect this is mostly from Marilyn’s fresh stacks of Christmas cookies, rather than extra muscle on the upper back!

Wayne Jackson: Chasing Strength

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Jackson is my Uncle.  But he has been much more than that.  He inspired me to lift weights, he was a father figure to me, a training partner, and most of all, a friend.  Wayne, along with his brother Phil, revived the Jackson Weightlifting Club in 1957.  While the club grew to over two dozen members and fielded teams that won the Missouri State team title in Olympic lifting two times and several Missouri State Champions…Wayne was our most successful lifter.  Wayne won the Teenage Nationals and 4 Missouri State Championships in Olympic Lifting and one title in Powerlifting.  He was simultaneously the Missouri State Champ in Olympic lifting and Powerlifting in 1971!  Wayne also has the claim to fame of holding the Missouri State record in the Clean and Press.  That event was dropped in 1972 and as a result it can never be broken!  His best was 365lbs.

Wayne is a jovial, gentle giant.   I have called him “Staggo” for over 30 years in reference to Dutch World’s Strongest Man competitor Staggo Piszko who was  one of the biggest WSM competitors ever.  My dad always referred to Wayne as “Big’un”.  His arms were well over 20 inches and his chest was over 60 inches at around 5′10″ in height.  He made an impression with just his size.  But if you were ever around him much you would soon realize that he would never hurt a fly.  He was always interested in what you were lifting and you almost had to pry out of him his best lifts.  He was always very modest and often would even minimize his best lifts….I’ve not met many lifters that do that!

Wayne had a long time lifting rivalry with Wilbur Miller.  Now I specify “lifting” because otherwise they were the best of friends.  As a matter of fact I traveled with Wayne to an “Odd lift” meet held at Sailor’s Gym in Wichita in 1984 so that Wayne could reunite with Wilbur.  I would point out that Wayne never lost to Wilbur in the Clean and Press even though Wayne was never able to beat Wilbur in the total.  A couple years back Wilbur told me that he always wanted to beat Wayne on the press but that Wayne was “just too good at it”.

I have many stories I could tell about Wayne and I have written about him before in MILO.  But here is one that gives some insight into Wayne’s attitude about lifting.  I was a teenager and not showing much prospect at winning any gold medals.  I was thinking about giving up on lifting.  I had read a story where the author had stated you needed talent to be a truly great lifter.  I asked Wayne about it and matter of factly he said, “I just always figured a guy could be as strong as he wanted to be if he were willing to work hard enough”.  While some could challenge how true that statement is, it’s more of an attitude.  After that, I didn’t worry about what I didn’t have, I just kept working hard and didn’t worry about what talent I had or didn’t have.  All I could really control was how hard I worked.

Wayne loved lifting.  Some guys lift as a means to an end.  Wayne just loved lifting.  He lifted often and he trained very hard….often with no contest as a goal.  He would set lifting goals then break them and move on to the next goal.  He “chased strength” his entire life!  We lifted in a couple early odd lift meets that Bill Clark held and I had to almost beg him to compete.  But when he did he made some great lifts.  He did a super strict 280lb seated press (his training best was 330 but he had trouble adjusting to keeping his feet flat on the floor….I once saw him seated press 300lbs for 8 sets of 3 reps!), a heels together 300 pound press, a 300 pound reverse grip clean and press to name a few).  I saw him hang clean 400lbs (with straps) and on another occasion jerk 400lbs.  This was in his mid 30’s.

I could write volumes on Wayne, but wanted to give him some of the recognition I felt he deserved.  He lifted with Bill Clark and in Clark’s meets more times than I could count and was friends with many of the early USAWA members.  I had always hoped he would make a comeback but so far that has not come to pass.  He still trains and still loves to talk training and lifting.  It was his way of life!

Shoulder Drop Continued…..

by Al Myers

Last month when Thom wrote that “controversial” story on the Shoulder Drop I thought maybe there would be some hotly discussed forum debate on it – but there wasn’t!!!  I guess that goes to show that the Shoulder Drop is not an All Round Lift that warrants attention, and most lifters really don’t care “one way or the other” what the rules dictate on it.  I was not really surprised by this.  The Shoulder Drop is one of those Official Lifts of the USAWA and the IAWA that is rarely performed, and only at a handful of record days.  There has been only a handful of records ever set in it.

I was intrigued by Thom’s history of the Shoulder Drop, as it was an old lift he learned from his Grandfather Dalton Jackson.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching old time all round  lifts – and there is very little information of the Shoulder Drop being a lift performed by lifters 100 plus years ago.  It does not have the rich historical significance  of lifts like the Steinborn Lift, Jefferson Lift, the One Arm Deadlift, and others. In fact, important old time strength writers like George Jowett and WA Pullom didn’t discuss it in their writings, which included many rules and regulations of the many lifts at the time. The Shoulder Drop appears to have originated as an USAWA/IAWA lift.

I did “some digging’ in my USAWA archives and found just a little as to the origins of the Shoulder Drop in the USAWA. This following is from the February 1st, 1990 issue of the Strength Journal (Vol. 1, No. 3) written by journal editor Bill Clark.

Two new lifts were approved by the board on January 20. They were the Travis Lift and the Shoulder Drop. The rules for each:

Shoulder Drop

The bar must be cleaned either to the chest and then to the shoulders or may be cleaned directly to the shoulders. Once the bar is motionless and held by both hands at the shoulders, the official will give the command to drop.  The hands are removed and the bar either dropped or shrugged from the shoulders at the moment of hand release. The bar then must be caught at arm’s length behind the body.  Once it is held motionless at arm’s length behind the body, the referee will give the command, “down”, thus completing the lift.  The weight may not be rolled down the back, but must be dropped.  Balancing the bar on the shoulders while placing the hands in position prior to the drop is not allowed.  Also – the body must be erect before the command to stop.

Bill then went on to state that the Shoulder Drop was nominated by Dr. Jim Clark of Houston, Texas.  This was a specialty lift of Dr. Clark, who was reported to be capable of big poundages in the Shoulder Drop. However, looking over the record list I see no mention of his name which tells me that he never did complete an official Shoulder Drop in the USAWA.

In reading these initial rules, do you see something missing???  I  sure do – there is no mention that the legs must be straight throughout, only that the body must be “erect” before the official’s down command, or as worded, “command to stop”.  Now that is interesting to me!  So it appears that Thom is not left lost out in the right field  bleachers eating popcorn by himself here with his argument of allowing knee bend.   This initial Shoulder Drop rule supports Thom’s cause!

When did the Shoulder Drop rule change to require straight legs throughout????  Who knows.  There is no mention of it is subsequent meeting minutes that a vote was ever taken.  However, the “straight leg requirement” was put into the initial 2002 USAWA Rulebook, as well as the IAWA(UK) Rulebook.   Maybe a vote was taken at a meeting sometime and due to sloppy minute taking, was never recorded. Or maybe the “straight leg requirement” was just added as an afterthought by the rulebook editor  with no vote approval???

It is obvious that the Shoulder Drop was not in the initial list of official USAWA/IAWA lifts since it was added in 1990 (3 years after the formation of the USAWA/IAWA).    I have performed the Shoulder Drop on a few occasions and I do agree with Thom that allowing leg bend with the lift would make it much safer (and more enjoyable to practice).   Maybe if the Shoulder Drop rule was changed to allow knee bend it would become a more popular All Round lift?

Let your “voice be heard” on this controversial (haha, said tongue-in-cheek) topic in the USAWA Discussion Forum.  If enough support is gathered – it may be time to make a change in the rules of the Shoulder Drop.

All-Round Peak Contraction

by John McKean

Maxick - the famous muscle control artist.

Each thigh was bigger in circumference than the lifter’s entire inseam measured. And those legs were CUT ! My good friend Santos Martinez was famed for his olympic lifting and physique wins here in Pittsburgh during the early 1960s, and later for powerlifting. Usually weighing 198 pounds at about 5′7″ in height, Santos always impressed with his rugged, deeply etched all-over body massiveness, yet I NEVER saw him perform a single bodybuilding exercise during the years I knew him ; he was strictly a LIFTER ! So it was a surprise to many of us when an upstart local physique competitor, an arrogant kid just out of his teens,named Bernie, challenged Santos to return to the posing dias. The gym conversation went something like “Hey,old man, you USED to win some of those dreary, ancient muscle shows, but you’d have no chance against a modern bodybuilder like me! I’ve been winning everything throughout the area for 3 years now, and these days they want MY definition, symmetry, and washboard abs. How about letting yourself get embarrassed and enter the Mr. Allegheny contest next month -it’s following the weightlifting meet , and I know you’ll be there!” Always up for a good laugh, a relaxed Santos agreed.

I just had to ask Santos what strategy he possibly hoped to use to have any chance whatsoever in this challenge. After all, young Bernie had almost taken the Mr. Pennsylvania title a few months earlier. Of course, an always philosophic Martinez wasn’t taking the whole thing seriously, so in his usual laidback fashion, he quipped ” Ah heck, I’ll just flex my fat in front of a mirror every day for the rest of the month, and hope the judges will enjoy the shape of my lard over the kid’s well tuned muscle!” (it might be mentioned that none of us in the area’s iron game ever saw a trace of fat on Santos’ body, but he apparently liked to imagine it was creeping up on him as he aged!). You can guess the rest – getting whatever “pump” he needed from the weightlifting meet earlier in the evening, Santos strode out under the physique lights,did a few early poses, then completely dominated obnoxious little Bernie with his trademark “most muscular” pose! Heck, Martinez’ trapezius itself looked bigger than Bern’s whole body! (Santos actually scared my girlfriend of the time , who thought a gorilla had escaped from the zoo!). I don’t recall that our loudmouthed young bodybuilder, sniffling home with his 2nd place trophy, ever competed again !

It’s interesting to observe that Mr. Martinez obviously had terrific genetics toward his strength and physique , but that he relied on seemingly simple “flexing”, or what some would term “muscle control” exercise to enhance both.Especially since many of our REALLY early all-rounders used a similar method during their build-up years. The phenomenal Maxick,back in the initial part of the 1900s, developed what may be argued as the best natural body ever built, with youthful reliance on self developed muscle control exercises. The 145 pound Max claimed this provided the base strength to almost effortlessly perform tremendous one arm swings,snatches, and jerks, and among the very first lifters to do over a double bodyweight continental and jerk. During the same time frame, Otto Arco utilized his own form of isometric muscle posing to develop a superbly dense muscle structure which served him well as a champion wrestler, gymnast, bodybuilder, and lifter -Arco actually was witnessed doing a Turkish Get-up(one arm,of course) ,his favorite All-Round lift, with nearly 200 pounds! (Arco usually weighed a mere 138 pounds!). From that time on, some very celebrated lifters got into muscle control (and all LOOKED it!) – Edward Aston, Monte Saldo, Sig Klein, John Grimek, etc. Often makes me wonder why or how “modern” bodybuilding ever became such a big event (oh yeah, hours upon hours in a gym daily “pumping up” with tiny weights gave a temporary illusion, followed by anorexia for definition, then later, drugs really enhanced the BLOAT !), when heavy lifting along with a small bit of muscle control exercise produced virtual human anatomy charts, with strength to match.

I also have to note that Dr. John Ziegler ,while working with York lifters on his famed isometric rack methods, also developed a machine to offer electric stimulas to obtain near maximum contraction of his lifter’s muscles. Dr. Ziegler apparently achieved some measure of success with this “artificial muscle tensing” toward increased strength , yet never recorded or published results. Indeed, even the famed Max Planck Insitute in Germany did research that proved “self willed, purposefull muscle contraction” (isometric posing) would yield tremendous, almost unbelievable gains if done with consistancy over time. I just have to consider that with many of the old muscle control books being reproduced lately -courses by Maxick, Arco, Saldo, Jubinville – many of us all-rounders can possibly instill this 10 minutes extra exercise to add a bit of hope and excitement for the long winter of training ahead.

However, I do foresee one very horrific downside. You see, the lower portion of the Ambridge VFW gym is lined with mirrors. If old Art Montini happens to read this information, we’re likely to face the gruesome prospect of him down there, shirt off, posing away. And we’ve long had a saying at the VFW – “If one is unlucky enough to see Art even partially naked, that person will instantly turn to stone!”

Lifter of the Month: Eric Todd

by Al Myers

Eric Todd lifting 710 pounds in the Dinnie Lift at the 2013 OTSM Championships, enroute to winning Overall Best Lifter.

The lifter of the month for December goes to Eric Todd, overall champion at this month’s Old Time Strongman Championships.  Eric has had a great year in the USAWA, and is one of the promising all rounders for future years. Eric has been involved as a meet promoter as well, and is founder of the registered USAWA club, KC STRONGMAN.

Congrats to Eric for being LIFTER OF THE MONTH for December!!!!

NE Record Breakers

By James Fuller

James Fuller doing a 504 pound dumbbell deadlift at the New England Record Breakers.

2013 in East Walpole Mass at Frank’s Barbell Club gravity got told to, “Go take a hike!” Two brothers, Frank and Joe Ciavattone graciously gave of their time and resources so seven of us could show our dominance over the iron. Faces familiar and new pulled, pushed and squeezed to fight for a place in the record books. So much lifting defiance, it seemed like a revolt!

First up in our war on the weights were new lifters Jessica Hopps, 29,  and James Delaney, also 29 and new protégé of Frank Ciavattone.  Jess did some fine lifting with a smile. Her most impressive lift is her 100lb Bent Row. Jess must have some strong back muscles to be able to hold this in position until the down command. Also worth mentioning: she did a Left Arm Ciavattone Deadlift with 110lb!! I’m curious to see what she does next!!

Other new lifter(and Jessica’s fiancée) James Delaney had a superb day!! He was dying to bury a record!! James wasted no time and put a 150lb One Legged Deadlift on the books! After a short tutorial, James then went after a 37lb Turkish Get Up for a good lift. James is just getting his feet wet in the iron pool and with Frank Ciavattone the man himself in his training corner, how can James go wrong? Watch for James to put up some substantial numbers soon. It was great to have a new ‘lifting couple’ here today. I hope everyone gets a chance to meet them!

Third new lifter(isn’t that great….THREE!) is Steve Freides 58 and ready to lift anything not nailed down!!! Previews of Steve’s intent were shown on the USAWA Facebook page. Someone was actually going to do a Van Dam Lift?!?! No, not the Volvo truck commercial with Jean Claude Van Damme . Steve was going to be crazier than that; Let’s do a split between two benches AND then pick up some weight! And pick up some weight he did. Steve got over HALF BODYWEIGHT with 81lb. His lifting dominance on this lift was so contagious I had to give it a try. Yes folks, we had TWO lifters do the Van Dam Lift!! Steve went animal on eight other lifts. I was afraid we were going to have to make up some new lifts for him to try for a record. Folks, think about it, how do you challenge a guy who has done the Van Dam Lift?

Jessica Hopps doing a 110 pound Ciavattone One Arm Deadlift at the New England Record Breakers.

Next up was Colleen Lane. She was phenomenal today! This was the best lifting I’d seen from her. Inside story, this morning she said to Frank,”I don’t know if I can lift today…my back hurts.” How badly did her back hurt? Well, she only got 200lbs on the Ciavattone Deadlift!?! I teased her,”Hey Colleen, I wish MY back hurt that much!!” I think she was doing the ‘work my aching back ‘til it feels better’ therapy. She followed up with a 100lb Bent Row AND One Arm Ciavattone Deadlifts that kept going up. Each time I turned around, she was attempting more weight. She kept going until she felt like the iron had been punished enough. Colleen wound up with a Left and Right Hand lift of 110lbs….WOW! How could she NOT feel better ?!?!

Long time USAWA member and judge Joe Ciavattone 45 got out of the judge’s chair and showed us what a Deadlift that bears the family name looks like done with One Arm!! 225lbs with the Right and 235lbs with the Left. He has such a smooth setup. He doesn’t waste a bit of energy on these lifts. Almost seems like he finds a bar path that we do NOT!!

Speaking of great One Arm Deadlifts with the Ciavattone name attached, Frank Ciavattone 58 also took off time from coaching, directing, and judging to put up some ridiculously easy lifts of Right 285lb and Left 255lb. Frank’s grip is only limited by his mind. If he believes he can grip it, its as good as done!!

Ready for more Ciavattone greatness?? Joe Jr. stepped up to the bar and Bent Over Rowed 186lb…225lb..305lb and finally 325lb!! For me this was the ‘lift of the meet’ plain and simple. Seeing him row 325lb and hold it still for the down command blew my mind. Maybe it’s the training he and his dad do for football…I don’t know. Folks, go to a bar loaded with weight, row it to your gut and hold it there for a down command. IT IS HARD!!

James Fuller 42 decided that Steve Freides shouldn’t have all the fun on the Van Dam Lift. Having never done this before, it took a couple of lifts before he found his groove. He eventually lifted 150lb. James did a 2 Dumbbell Deadlift with 501lb last winter in his driveway. No longer wanting to be a driveway hero, James decided to make it official. He did the Art Montini ,”My first attempt IS my warmup” with a 424lb lift followed by 504lb for a record.

Colleen quit lifting early to make sure we were fed after the meet. We were fed well. Its amazing how well she always takes care of us before(muffins), during(bottled water) and after(pizzas AND home made food) the meet THANK YOU COLLEEN!!

Without the Ciavattone brothers, All-Round Lifting in New England would be dead. Three new lifters this time around. If this keeps up, we’re going to have to move the meet to somewhere bigger!! Thank you Joe and thank you Frank for this meet!

Why you wished you were at this meet: Two lifters doing the Van Dam Lift, Joe Jr. hitting 325lb on the Bent Over Row, Joe Jr., James Fuller and Steve Friedes taking turns doing Dumbbell Bent Presses, Chance to see Colleen’s ‘oh my aching back’ record breaking routine. The New England Record Breakers is a necessary meet to help grow All-Round Lifting in New England. Once Joe Jr and James Fuller pass their judge’s test, All-Round Lifting will have more two more judges to help run more meets in New England.

MEET RESULTS:

New England Record Breakers
Frank’s Barbell Club
Walpole, Massachusetts
November 30th, 2013

Meet Director:  Frank Ciavattone

Officials (1 official system used): Frank Ciavattone, Joe Ciavattone

Lifts: Record Day Lifts

Jessica Hopps 29, 197lb

Bench Press-Reverse Grip 70lb
Bent Over Row 100lb
Deadlift-Ciavattone Grip, One Arm L 110lb
Pinch Clean & Press L 10lb R 10lb

Colleen Lane 57, 210lb

Deadlift-Ciavattone Grip 200lb
Bench Press-Reverse Grip 65lb
Bent Over Row 100lb
Deadlift-Ciavattone Grip, One Arm L 110lb R 110lb
Pinch Clean & Press L 20lb R 20lb

Joe Ciavattone Jr. 20, 222lb

Bent Over Row 325lb
Bent Press-Dumbbell R 100lb
Pinch Grip Clean& Press L 50lb R 50lb

James Delaney 29, 178.75lb

Deadlift-One Leg 150lb
Turkish Get-Up 37lb
Pinch Clean & Press L 31lb R 31 lb

James Fuller 42, 235.25lb

Van Dam Lift 150lb
Bent Press-Dumbbell L 120lb R 120lb
Deadlift-2 Dumbbells 504lb
Pinch Clean & Press L 50lb R 50lb

Joe Ciavattone Sr. 45, 222.5lb

Deadlift-Ciavattone Grip, One Arm L 235lb R 225lb
Pinch Clean & Press L 44lb R 44lb

Steve Freides 58, 152.25lb

Van dam Lift 81lb
Deadlift-Fingers, Middle 155lb
Turkish Get –Up 42lb
Gardner-Full 45lb
Bent Press-Dumbbell L 56lb R 56lb
Curl-Strict 65lb
Pinch Clean & Press L 20lb R 20lb

Frank Ciavattone 58, 294lb

Deadlift-Ciavattone Grip,One Arm 255lb R 285lb

OTSM Championships

by Thom Van Vleck

2013 USAWA OLD TIME STRONGMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2013 OTSM Championships.

The 3rd annual Old Time Strong Man (OTSM) Championship capped off a great year for OTSM in the USAWA. This year saw FOUR OTSM meets with 38 total competitors. I will try and do around up of the four meets at a later time, but for now here’s the lowdown for the OTSM Championships at the JWC Training Hall.

Let’s do something different and lead off with those that make the meet happen. John O’Brien and Laverne Myers were my loaders and this is no easy task at an OTSM meet, especially when it comes to the Dinnie lift where you have to load one implement at 75% of the other…John O’Brien manned the calculator and I think he needed his Ph.D to figure that out! Not a single mistake! Al Myers was on hand as the scorekeeper and supplied the lifters with information on the current records for the lifts. I acted as the head judge and I think I did a good job as almost every lift was passed and I got no dirty looks!

We had 7 lifters brave the bad weather to come to meet. I had a few cancellations due to the weather but I totally understand. The Dino Gym was well represented with Scott Tully and Mark Mitchell. Al Springs came up for the meet. Mike McIntyre was there to represent the JWC for me while Lance Foster and Eric Todd represented KC Strongman while Denny Habecker was there representing his own “Habecker’s Gym”.

We started with the Anderson Squat and it became apparent that Eric Todd was going to be the man to beat as he topped all the lifters by a wide margin going over 800lbs. It also became clear there was going to be a fight for 2nd and 3rd.

Eric Todd used a 355 pound Anderson Press help him to Overall Best Lifter at the 2013 OTSM Championships.

The second lift was the Anderson Press. Again, Eric Todd was the top lifter. But Mike McIntyre put up a great effort and after the results were entered Mike was in 2nd overall and Denny was 3rd. Mark Mitchell was a very close 4th. Eric was going to have to bomb the last event to lose but it was turning into a very exciting finish with the Dinnie lift coming up.

In the Dinnie Lift Al Springs opened at 185 and did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen. He jumped 200lbs for his 2nd attempt…and MADE IT! He also went on to make 405 for his third. Lance Foster his several PR’s and the Dinnie lift was a big one as he jumped over 50lbs from his last meet. Mark Mitchell lost his grip on his last attempt and then struggled through several attempts and with the clock ticking down finally found the groove. It’s always impressive to me when a lifter struggles mightily and then comes through in the end. Denny went three for three which ended up being important to him as he barely ended up edging Mike McIntyre in points….it was a fraction of a point in the end. Mike did all he could to hang onto 2nd including pulling a 710lb lift…impressive because he had NEVER done the lift before. Eric pulled the 710 for his second and wanted to try a PR….the only problem was we couldn’t fit enough weight on the bar! Eric had easily won the meed so it was inconsequential to the meet but I still felt bad that Eric couldn’t take a crack at his own USAWA record.

All the lifters got the “famous” JWC anvil trophies and also a long sleeve JWC Club shirt. Everyone seemed to have a good time and it seemed to be one of the most friendly meets I’ve been to as the lifters seemed to be joking and laughing a lot and there was a lot of encouragement when it was time to lift. It is times like those that I am proud to belong to the USAWA! I am already thinking about next year and I hope we can continue to grow. If you have any ideas for lifts, let me or Al Myers know. See you next year!

MEET RESULTS

2013 USAWA OTSM Championships
December 7th, 2013
JWC Training Hall, Kirksville, Missouri

Meet Director:  Thom Van Vleck

Announcer and Scorekeeper:  Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Loaders: LaVerne Myers and John O’Brien

Lifts: Anderson Squat, Anderson Press, Dinnie Lift

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT SQ PR DINN TOT PTS
Eric Todd 38 261 810 355 710 1875 1455.9
Denny Habecker 71 194 365 180 440 985 1182.0
Mike McIntyre 29 308 630 305 710 1645 1179.6
Mark Mitchell 53 307 550 250 600 1400 1146.1
Scott Tully 37 328 500 280 630 1410 981.8
Lance Foster 48 328 450 160 550 1160 880.4
Al Springs 71 196 190 100 405 695 828.7

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Denny Habecker: Anderson Squat 410 lbs.
Mike McIntyre: Anderson Press 315 lbs.
Lance Foster: Anderson Press 170 lbs.
Lance Foster: Dinnie Lift 575 lbs.

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS is adjusted points for age and bodyweight correction.

Lifter of the Month: Al Myers

by Chad Ullom

Lifter of the month for November is Al Myers, here doing a 182.5 KG thumbless grip DL at the Gold Cup.

November lifter of the month goes to Al Myers.   Al was succesful with a 145kg (319lb) Power Row at the Gold Cup. Not only was this a new world record, but also earned Al The Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy! This trophy is presented to the highest amended total lift using Age, weight, and Blindt formulas.  Al also did a thumbless DL of 182.5KG (401lb) for his second world record. The contributions Al makes the USAWA and IAWA cannot be overstated. I’m not sure where we would be as an organization without Al’s committment, time and effort he puts into it every day! Congratulations Al!

Accepting New Memberships!!!

by Al Myers

It’s now past the first of December and it’s TIME to send in your membership dues for 2014!!

This process is pretty simple, 1. print off the membership application from this website, under “forms and applications”, 2. fill out completely and sign, 3. enclose application with the $25 membership dues  in an envelop and send to me for processing.

I want to remind everyone that membership in the USAWA is for the calendar year, so it is in your best interest to join before the year starts to be able to enjoy the full year benefits in our organization.    I’ve already received a few memberships for 2014 – and they have already been included in the NEW  2014 Membership Roster.   Any membership applications received before Jan 1st will be identified as “January 1st” on the roster list to show that these individuals sent their applications in ahead of time.  Last year we had 20 lifters do this – lets beat that number this year!!!

Lifter of the Month: Barry Bryan

Barry Bryan at the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup (left) with USAWA President Denny Habecker (right).

by Al Myers

The Lifter of the Month for October goes to BARRY BRYAN for his outstanding performances in Art’s Birthday Bash.   I am so glad to see Barry “back in action” in the USAWA.   Barry is a joy to be around at meets – always helping out lifters, the meet promoter, or just assisting in any way he can.   He is a LEVEL 2 certified USAWA official, and has been involved in many National Championships.

Congratulations to Barry Bryan for being Lifter of the Month for October!!!!

Lifter of the Month: John Wilmot

by Al Myers

As Tom Ryan performs a big Hip Lift in an All Round Meet in the late 80’s, John Wilmot looks on in the background.

The lifter of the month for September goes to our long-term USAWA Postal Meet Director John Wilmot.  The only USAWA competition held in the month of September was our 3rd quarter postal, the Delaware Valley Open Postal Meet.   Amazingly, since the USAWA Postal Series began - John has competed in EVERY postal meet.  That’s showing quite a commitment to the organization!!!

Congratulations to John Wilmot for being awarded USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH for September!!!

Mike Jenkins: A Real Giant

by Thom Van Vleck

An autographed Photo Mike sent me being presented his Award for winning the Arnold Pro Strongman Contest by none other than Arnold himself.

When I was a kid I was fascinated by giants.  Fictional ones like the Irish Giant Finn MacCool and the Scottish Giand Benandonner (The Red Man) and real ones like my favorite Angus MacAskill.  I’ll have to admit, I wanted to be a Giant myself and if anyone could “will” themselves to be taller (actually, John Grimek claimed to have done just that using stretching exercises) then I did it.

I recently had the privilege to do a story in another real, modern day giant.  His name was Mike Jenkins (MILO September 2012 Vol 20 No 2).  Mike was 6′6″ tall and weighed over 400lbs at his competitive best.  He did not carry much fat, he was relatively lean.  He was just a big human being!  Mike had told me he was 225lbs when he was 10 years old and by the time he was 15 he was 300lbs!

Mike had been a football player at James Madison University where he won a National Championship.  He briefly played Pro football but soon found himself in Strongman.  He won the inaugural Amateur Arnold Strongman Classic in 2010 and quickly turned pro.  He shocked many in his first 2011 World’s Strongest Man when he made it to the finals and then won the first two events!  However, a back injury took him out and we were left to wonder “what it”.  He came back in 2012 to get 5th dealing with injuries.  He won the “Giant’s Live” in 2012 in Australia against top competition and he also won the Arnold Pro Strongman Classic in 2012.  I have always thought the Arnold Strongman contest was a much better measure of strength than the WSM as many of the events were more static, pure strength events in my opinion.  At that time I knew it was only a matter of time before Mike was the World’s Strongest Man officially!

Alas, it was not to be.  Thanksgiving morning he was found dead.  His wife said he died in his sleep and while I’m sure there will be much said about it but today I just want to honor the man and a friend taken much too soon.   When I did the article on him I interviewed him by phone and email.  Since then, I had kept in touch but I had never got to meet him face to face.  I try not to have regrets but I have to admit, I have a few. One I have was that I missed my chance to meet him in person earlier this year I was at the Arnold Fit Expo where Mike was acting as the color commentator as he was recovering from an injury.  At the time, I thought, “Well, there will be another chance”.

I know that often people will say nice things about someone after they have died.  Here’s the thing, when I say Mike was a good man, a good husband, son, brother, and friend…..a truly nice guy….it’s TRUE.  He always answered my emails,  he always asked about my training and how my competitions were going.  He was always posting on his facebook page the accomplishments of others, especially those he trained in his gym and his wife Keri.  He treated everyone as an equal when clearly, most of us were not his equal in the strength world!   I once asked him who he respected most in the strength world and his reply was “EVERYONE” because to him you deserved respect if you had the guts to get out there and put yourself on the line!

Mike will be missed greatly and I know his wife Keri is heartbroken.  I hope you will join me in sending a prayer their way and remembering Mike Jenkins….a true giant of a man.

Lifter of the Month: Denny Habecker

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker competing in the 2013 Presidential Cup, here performing a 165 pound Right Arm Ciavattone Grip Deadlift. Denny also promoted this meet in his gym, Habeckers Gym.

I know I’ve got a little behind on the Lifters of the Month – so I’m gonna take this week to catch up!  The Lifter of the Month for August was a pretty easy choice, and it goes to our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  Denny was the ONLY lifter to compete in ALL of the USAWA competitions in the month of August (World Postal Champs, Presidential Cup, Team Championships, and the Dino Days Record Day).   That’s a very busy month of competing!!  Denny is one of the most persistent competitors I have ever met – he doesn’t EVER take any “down time” from competition. 

We are very fortunate to have Denny as our President.  I regard him as the best President the USAWA has ever had, and that says a lot as there have been some excellent men in this position in the past.  A President should be someone who is very involved in the organization, and attends a wide range of events to interact with the membership and support USAWA promotions.  Denny goes beyond  the call of duty with this!!!

Congratulations to Denny for winning the USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH for the month of August!!!!!

OTSM Championships

by Thom Van Vleck

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

Third Annual Old Time Strongman Championships

Chad Ullom with a successful unassisted lift with the Dinnie Stones. An OTSM Championship lift for this year!

A date has been set for the OTSM.  December 7th!  So mark your calendars! Here are the details to date:

Date: 12/7/2013

Time: 10:00am weigh in begins, warm ups with a start time of noon.

Place: Kirksville, Missouri (exact location TBD)

Events: Anderson Squat, Anderson Press, Dinnie Lift (order will depend if we have to split into flights)

Entry Fee: $25

I wanted to have a three lift meet with a squat type lift, a press type lift, and a pull type lift.  Also, all the lifts are current OTSM official lifts. Winners will be determine by weight class and age and an overall best male and female lifter will be determined using weight and age formulas.    Lifters will get a JWC club t-shirt, anvil trophy for winners, refreshments, and certificates with meet results for everyone.

Entry Information:  Send your name, entry fee and shirt size to:

Thom Van Vleck
23958 Morgan Road
GreenTop, MO 63546

ENTRY FORM (PDF):  2013 OTSM Championships Entry Form

Postal Championships

by Al Myers

USAWA National Postal Championships

Dates: Between December 1st and December 31st, 2013

Entry form must be postmarked by January 5th, 2014

Must be a current USAWA member to be eligible for competition

Entry Fee: None

Official USAWA rules apply as outlined in the Rule Book

Lifts:

Clean and Jerk – One Arm

Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat

Deadlift – Heels Together

ENTRY FORM (PDF) – 2013 National Postal Championships Entry Form