Articles from January 2014



Year in Review

by Al Myers

Cover page for the 2013 USAWA Year in Review.

I’ve announced this in the USAWA Discussion Forum, but would like to as well in a blog so everyone is aware of the 2013 Year in Review.  I’ve compiled the entire year of 2013 in the USAWA (from all website stories) into a document for print.  I’m planning on taking it to the printers next week.  If anyone is interested in one of these “hard copies” please let me know so I can get a proper count for printing.  I only plan to do this once.  The price will be the cost of printing (I would guess around 50 dollars).  The book is over 400 pages long and contains all the website information from the past year – stories, meet results, etc.

If anyone would prefer just a digital copy of this – let me know and I’ll email it to you “free of charge”.

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers

Group picture from the 2014 Dino Gym Challenge.

I was quite surprised by the turnout at this year’s Dino Gym Challenge.  On Saturday 8 brave lifters showed up to take on some of the favorite lifts of the famous old time strongman Warren Lincoln Travis.  I decided to have this meet in tribute to WLT – as he has always been one of my favorite old time strongmen.

The teeth lift was the first lift up – and as to the best of my knowledge has never been contested before in a USAWA competition (all USAWA records have been set at record days).  All of us had really no idea of what our capabilities were in this – but ET and myself ended up with the best lifts at 175 pounds.  I felt “maxed out” but ET has much more in him.  Doug Kressly took his third attempt at 95 pounds, and then a fourth record attempt at 155 pounds which he got! Dean Ross about lost a tooth. Larry Traub had the mouthpiece in backwards and cut up his chin with the connecting bolts.  Lance Foster was the smartest by saying “no can do”.

We then moved onto the finger lift with the middle finger using a ring.  It wasn’t really anyone’s favorite – but the lifting surprised me. Eric Todd had the best lift at 200 pounds, and Doug Kressly had a solid 180.   Several pulled skin off the favorite finger – with Dave Glasgow shedding the most blood. I thought I was going to have to get my hot iron to cauterize his wound for a while.

The Kennedy Lift was next on the agenda.  This is an exhibition lift (not an official USAWA lift) which follows the rules of the Peoples Deadlift except includes a straddle stance on the bar.  It was very well received.  I had the top lift at 750 pounds, followed by Larry’s 675. Young Logan Kressly was extremely impressive with his record attempt at 500 pounds. Everyone seemed to enjoy this lift, and by the positive response I got I’m going to propose it as a new OTSM lift.

Doug Kressly Harness lifting as Lance Foster waits his turn.

Now time for the BIG STUFF.  The Harness Lift and Back Lift were a couple of Travis’s favorites.  We started with the Harness.  It took a while to get everyone to figure out how to get the harness’s on, but once they did the lifting was outstanding!  I had the top harness at 2400.  Other impressive harness lifts were Doug’s at 1800, Larry at 1750, and Dave at 1200.  Lance gave an exceptional effort at 1605 to break a 20 year plus record held the one and only Tom Ryan who had held the record at 1600 from the 91 Zercher.  I told Lance I would make sure to tell Mr. Ryan that his harness lift record was no more.

The back lift very rarely gets the chance to be in meets (mainly because it requires a specialized machine!).  I had the top at 2200, followed by Doug at 2000.  However, the youngster Logan really impressed us the most with his 1600.  I told him he may be the best junior in the USAWA right now – and I expect him to be at Nationals to prove it! Dean Ross came into the day sporting a new pair of fire resistant lifting shoes  - and used them to good use to go over 1000 pounds in both the Harness and Back.  I don’t know of anyone else who has fire resistant lifting shoes, but then again, Ross the Boss tends to burn up the platform when he lifts!

I got to thank my dad LaVerne for “sitting in the chair” as head official all day.  He did a marvelous job and no one really gave him any crap.  He judged everyone very fairly, and didn’t give me any breaks either because I’m his sonny boy.  I was very impressed by the help the lifters provided in loading and putting stuff away afterwards.  We had a nice awards ceremony with each lifter getting a Dino Gym Tshirt and a hand made award by me featuring a metal cut-out of Warren Lincoln Travis.  It will be an award that will stand out in everyone’s trophy case (or should I say stand up?).  I know I had lots of fun at this meet – and like I commented on Facebook – “Days like today make me realize how much I like my USAWA family!”

MEET RESULTS:

Dino Gym Challenge
Dino Gym
Holland, Kansas
January 18th, 2014

Meet Director: Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): LaVerne Myers

Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Lifts: Teeth Lift, Finger Lift – Middle, Kennedy Lift, Harness Lift, Back Lift

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT Teeth Fing Kenn Harn Back TOT PTS
Al Myers 47 234 175 155 750 2400 2200 5680 5034.5
Larry Traub 60 206 95 170 675 1750 1300 3990 4242.3
Logan Kressly 15 166 95 95 450 1200 1500 3340 3831.4
Doug Kressly 34 286 95 180 550 1800 2000 4625 3433.6
Dave Glasgow 60 260 105 160 525 1200 950 2940 2763.7
Dean Ross 71 267 75 125 400 1010 1050 2660 2695.2
Lance Foster 48 330 0 155 500 1605 850 3110 2353.9
Eric Todd 39 260 175 200 500 1010 1050 2935 2282.8

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORD:

Logan Kressly: Teeth Lift 115#
Logan Kressly: Middle Finger Lift 105#
Logan Kressly: Kennedy Lift 500#
Logan Kressly: Harness Lift 1300#
Logan Kressly: Back Lift 1600#
Doug Kressly: Teeth Lift 155#
Lance Foster: Middle Finger Lift 170#

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in pounds. BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All Middle Finger Lifts done with right hand. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are overall adjusted points for age and bodyweight correction.

Postal Championships

by Al Myers

The results of the 2013 USAWA Postal Championships are in!!!  It’s been another good year of postal meets within the USAWA, with 11 lifters taking part in our postal meet grand finale.  The big winners in the Postal Championships are WOMEN – RUTH JACKSON and MEN – DAN WAGMAN.  Congrats to both of these exceptionally lifters for their big victories.  On top of their lifting talents, both Ruth and Dan are great representatives of the USAWA.

I want to mention some of the top lifts and other “stats”.  The biggest weight lifted in the one arm clean and jerk was 140 pounds by Chad Ullom and myself.  Chad had the heaviest dumbbell cheat curl at 210 pounds, and my 550 pound heels together deadlift was the heaviest lifted. Denny Habecker was the oldest lifter entered at 71 years of age, and Eric Todd was the youngest at 38.  Ruth was the lightest lifter entered at 107 pounds, and Lance Foster the heaviest at 330 pounds.

I especially want to thank John Wilmot in his “send off” meet as the USAWA Postal Director.  This position will be taken over by Denny Habecker for 2014.  John wrote me a short letter when sending me the results.  In it he said, “With Denny Habecker as the new Postal Meet Director the postal meets are in very good hands!”  I agree – and I am looking forward to another great year of postal meets in the USAWA.

MEET RESULTS

2013 USAWA Postal Championships
December 31st, 2013

Meet Director: John Wilmot

Lifts: Clean and Jerk – One Arm, Cheat Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Deadlift – Heels Together

Lifters with Certified Officials:
Barry Bryan – Certified Official Denny Habecker
Denny Habecker – Certified Official Barry Bryan
Al Myers – Certified Official Chad Ullom
Chad Ullom – Certified Official Al Myers
Eric Todd – Certified Official Lance Foster
Lance Foster -  Certified Official Eric Todd

Lifters with non-official judges:
Ruth Jackson – Judge Dan Wagman
Dan Wagman – Judge Ruth Jackson
Samuel Rogers – Judge Orie Barnett
John Wilmot – Judge Emile LeMoigne
Orie Barnett – Judge Samuel Rogers

WOMENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT C&J CURL DL TOT PTS
Ruth Jackson 52 107 52-L 80 195 327 506.2

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT C&J CURL DL TOT PTS
Dan Wagman 50 183 115-L 180 505 800 833.3
Al Myers 47 236 140-R 170 550 860 758.9
Barry Bryan 55 196 121-R 150 402 673 706.1
Chad Ullom 42 257 140-R 210 500 850 685.1
Orie Barnett 52 236 85 160 425 670 618.6
Samuel Rogers 51 210 85 140 397 622 605.7
Eric Todd 38 256 131 180 400 711 557.6
John Wilmot 66 214 55-R 100 345 500 546.5
Denny Habecker 71 193 72-R 92 286 450 541.7
Lance Foster 48 330 75 150 350 575 445.6

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. R & L stand for right and left. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are overall points adjusted for age and bodyweight.

OTSM Wrap Up for 2013

by Thom Van Vleck

Mike McIntyre, of the Jackson Weightlifting Club, lifts 315 pounds in the Anderson Press at the 2013 USAWA Old Time Strong Man Championships.

2013 was a great year for Old Time Strong Man (OTSM) in the USAWA.  We saw four meets and 38 total lifters.  Here are some highlights:

Eric Todd won two of the meets while Chad Ullom and Dan Wagman won one apiece.

Two of the meets included women lifters with Ruth Jackson and Whitney Piper being crowned as Champs.

As we look to grow in 2013 I hope that we can expand on the lifts we have.  It’s not as easy as you might think to come up with a lift for the OTSM.  First, it must be a lift or variation of a lift done by a great lifter of the past.  Second, it must not duplicate a lift already in the USAWA.  Finally, it must be a “loadable weight” event (you must be able to increase or decrease the weight so that attempts can be increased).  So, do some research and submit a lift to me or Al Myers and maybe you can lay claim to adding an event to OTSM someday.

Please consider hosting, competing in or attending an event.  If you like lifting, and like Strongman….then OTSM combines the best of both worlds.  The rules are flexible, making events easier to judge and easier for spectators to follow.  It is also easier for newcomers to catch on to the events and not find themselves losing a lift to a technicality.

Da Rules

by Thom Van Vleck

Let’s start off the new year right with some controversy!  I don’t think it’s controversial but I imagine some will.

When my kids were younger they liked to watch a kids’ show called the “Fairly Odd Parents” which was a play off of “Fairy God Parents”.  In the show a boy had two fairy god parents that would help him out in various situations.  The show often centered around him getting himself into trouble then wishing his way out of it.  However, if he could simply wish his way out, then that wouldn’t be much of a show.  There were rules he had to follow.  In the show there was a book called “Da Rules” and it would inevitable appear whenever he would try and make a wish that would easily end the whole show in the first couple of minutes, but then having to follow the rules would lead to a full half hour of hilarity.  The rules were enforced by the leader of the god parents.  Namely, Jorgen von Strangle who was built like Arnold Swarzenegger and suspiciously had an Austrian accent.  Jorgen enforced the rules like a German SS storm trooper and because of this was often the primary protagonist in most every episode due to his inability to bend the rules to any given situation.

Let me set up my “street cred” (what qualifies me as an “expert”….I know…BIG DEAL.  But I do what people to understand my history and that this is based on decades of experience and observations.  My family has lifted in Bill Clark run “odd lift meets” since the 50’s and I lifted in my first odd lift meet in 1979.  I am also a Level 2 Lifetime certified official in the USAWA.  I passed my test on the first try (and that’s a HARD test!).  I have judged in the required 25 competitions to achieve the Level 2 status.  I got Clark’s newsletter for decades and even had a bunch for the 60’s that I gave to Al to complete his collection.  I have followed this for a LONG TIME.

So, get to the point, you may ask!  Well, here’s my thoughts.  There have been times where I have sat around with guys and discussed the membership of the USAWA.  You would think it would be a big deal!  It seems perfect for many lifters that don’t have the leverages to be a great Olympic lifter or pure strength to be a great Powerlifter.  I know over the years it has amazed me how you can take a guy that is mediocre in lifting but he (or she) will have this one lift (or two) that they are flat out AMAZING at.  So why don’t we have people flocking to the sport.  I think I know why.

Da Rules.

I know we need rules.  There needs to be structure.  But when does the structure become a road block?  We try and create a system that is objective, but because humans are involved it’s doomed to always be subjective no matter what we do.

Some years ago I took my brother to watch his first Olympic lifting meet.  Art Tarwater was the head judge.  He’s been Olympic lifting and judging meets for over 50 years.   A great friend of lifting and a great lifter.  He’s also a stickler for  the rules.  If you get a lift when he’s judging, you did it according to the rules and that’s no joke.  He KNOWS every infraction.  So, my brother is watching this meet and about 50% of the lifts that were completed were turned down.  Press outs, catching the clean below the clavicals, elbow touch to the knee….on and on.  My brother kept asking what was wrong with this lift or that.  At one point Tarwater told the lifter to put the weight down as he has made an infraction on the clean and not to bother on the jerk.  My brother (who is almost a dozen years younger than me and this is important as I think he represents the mind set of a younger generation) finally made the comment “THIS IS STUPID…..THOSE ARE GOOD LIFTS”.

Now, let’s get into the meat of my point.  There are times when rules are enforced properly and then times when they are NOT.  There are many reasons for this but here is one I’ve seen repeatedly in the USAWA (and might get me in trouble with some guys).  First, let me say I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket in over 20 years (more than I can say for Al Myers).  Is it because I don’t speed?  Heck no!  I speed all the time.  I get pulled over, too.  But I get warnings.  My daughter, who is 16, got pulled over the other day….she got a ticket.  I bet you dollars to doughnuts (pun intended) that cops give younger people less warnings and more tickets than older guys.  Why?  Because they want them to learn a lesson.  I see that same thing with judges in our sport….in all lifting sports and event he Highland Games.  Heck, even in the Pro sports the old veteran gets the calls against the rookie every time!

I think we, as judges, have good intentions when we red light certain infractions.  But what I think has happened is younger guys come in and do a meet or two and leave with a bad taste in their mouth and that stop coming.  Then we are left with this core group that never grows and we are slowly aging ourselves out of existence.  I would also say there has been a time or two I have wondered if the intentions WEREN’T good and the judge WANTED to run off the lifter.  Yes, I said it and I stand by that statement.  We are all human.

So let me end with this.  I would challenge the members of the USAWA to encourage some young lifters to get into the sport and I would ask you to challenge yourself as a judge to look at these guys and know that they are learning and if an infraction did not help them in completing the lift then warn them before red lighting them (and I understand that’s not “Da Rules”….but a judge by definition forms an opinion or conclusion about “if” something fits the law…..otherwise we would be called “Police” who ENFORCE the law).  An example would be dropping the weight after the conclusion of the lift.  For many lifters this is part of lifting.  They just don’t know and need to learn.  Police officers give a ticket for the infraction, a judge forms an opinion and comes to a conclusion as to what the intent of the law was and if the event fit that intent or if the event intended to subvert the law.

Otherwise, we appear rigid and controlling and who wants to be a part of that.  I can tell you the younger generation does not.  They see Jorgen von Strangle as the enemy.

Top Lifts of 2013

by Al Myers

Art proudly displaying his homemade Teeth Bit!

Today welcomes in a New Year, and  with it comes the excitement of another very promising year in the USAWA.   2013 had to be one of the best EVER in the history of the USAWA.  There were many great competitions and great individual performances.  Of the 22 official competitions that occurred in 2013 in the USAWA, I was a participant or attended 18 of them!

As I’m sitting here sipping a cup of coffee in the early morning hours of 2014 (my internal clock would not allow me to sleep in!), I’m reflecting on some of the fantastic lifts I was able to witness “first hand” in the USAWA in 2013.  It didn’t take me long to come up with a list of over 20, but I’m gonna narrow the list today to the TOP TEN lifts that impressed me the most. I want to reiterate  that this is MY LIST of the lifts that I was able to watch, and only reflects my viewpoints.  Many, many others were extremely impressive that did not make the list. A few individual lifters had multiple lifts that impressed me, but I’m only including THE ONE that impressed me the most by an individual lifter.  It took me three times as long to come up with my list as it did to write this blog!  Here it goes – counting down from number ten:

10. Lance Foster and his 575# Dinnie Lift at the OTSM Championships

This had to be one of the most tenacious lifts of the year.  Lance struggled at the Battle of the Barn with the Dinnie Lift, but came back a month or so later to up his performance by 75 pounds! If the USAWA offered a TRUE GRIT AWARD Lance would win it.

9.  Jera Kressly and Logan Kressly 600# heels together deadlift at the Team Championships.

Jera and Logan did this mixed pair (man/woman) lift quite easily at the Team Champs.  I should mention that Logan was only 15 at the time!  That’s a big deadlift for any mixed pair with a normal stance – let alone having the heels together!

8.  James Fuller and his 60 KG Bent Press at the Gold Cup.

James has been on a mission to mastering the Bent Press this year.  The Bent Press is one of the MOST old and obscure lifts of all round lifting.  Very few even know how to go about doing one.  I first saw James bent pressing Frank’s axle at the Heavies, with was extremely cumbersome to handle.  I was going to include that effort instead of this one for James, but his Gold Cup lift really deserves it more as it was done in a big competition.  It won’t be long before James puts up the highest Bent Press record of All Time in the USAWA.

7.  Joe Ciavattone Sr. and his 805# Neck Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

This HAD to make my list.  Joe is one of the best neck lifters in USAWA history, and held the overall record for many years.  To come back and hit a personal record now several years later shows true ability.  I was glad to be able to witness his lift (as I had not seen his previous record lift).

6.  Troy Goetsch and his 260# one handed Vertical Bar Lift at the Grip Championships.

I’ve seen many great VB lifts in the past, but Troy’s is one of the best.  Troy won the overall lifter at the Grip Champs, and his VB was the lift that I will remember from him on that day.

5.  Frank Ciavattone and his 202.5 KG Ciavattone Grip Deadlift at Nationals.

Frank still has some great lifting in him, as shown with this big lift at our National Championships which is named after him.  I never get tired of watching Frank do Ciavattone Grip Deadlifts – and this is one I’ll never forget.

4.  Dan Wagman and his 120# Pullup at the Dino Gym Record Day.

YES – that’s 120 pounds strapped to the waist and then performing a pullup with the chin OVER the bar with no kipping!!! And hold for a down command!  Not too many around could even come close to this performance of Dan’s.  I’ve seen a lot of great lifting out of Dan and often what he does does not surprise me – but this pullup did!

3.  Joe Ciavattone Jr. and the 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

Junior doesn’t realize yet that he will be a future superstar of the USAWA, but I see it.  His untapped strength is unreal, and this big H&T proves it.  He just finished with a 1200 at the meet,  I gave him a couple of tips between lifts, and then he adds 200 pounds and gets it easily!  Impressive to say the least…

2.  Eric Todd and this 1000# Neck Lift at the Battle of the Barn II.

ET has put up 1000 pound Neck Lifts before several times – but this one was done with rules beyond those of the USAWA.   He cleared the floor substantially, and then HELD the lift for over 2 full seconds recorded on a stop watch.  I’m still shaking my head after seeing that effort!

1.  Art Montini and his 107# Teeth Lift at the Presidential Cup.

All I can say is that I still don’t know how he did this!  Art is 85 years old and has FALSE TEETH.  This lift won him the Presidential Cup of the USAWA for the year, and I would say deserving of the lift that impressed me the most!  Art has been one of the most active lifters in the USAWA this year – attending most of the championship events, attending the “Big Three” (Nationals, Worlds, and the Gold Cup), and still involved with promoting his annual Birthday Bash.  He has a deeper resume than anyone in the history of the USAWA, and I’m glad to name Art’s lift as the most impressive lift of 2013.  Congrats Art!!

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT -

DINO GYM CHALLENGE
“Presenting a Challenge Left by Warren Lincoln Travis”

The Coney Island Strongman, Warren Lincoln Travis.

Warren Lincoln Travis has always been one of my favorite Old Time Strongmen. WLT was the consummate circus Old Time Strongman, performing strength shows at the World’s Circus Side Show in Coney Island for over 25 years. He was one of the few strongmen of that era to keep his strength exhibitions in the United States.  In an interview with Sig Klein, Travis told him that he had many opportunities to travel abroad and perform, but had made a promise to his mother that he would not travel overseas to Europe!  Showdowns with other famous strongmen of that era, like Sandow and Saxon, never materialized for Travis.  At one time a match between Saxon and Travis about happened when Saxon was in New York performing for the Ringling Brothers Circus. WLT trained hard for that encounter.  WLT declared that he knew he could never beat Arthur Saxon in the Bent Press or the Foot Press, but was confidant he could out do him in the Harness Lift, Back Lift, and the Finger Lifts. 

WLT was also a strongman who excelled in competitive all round lifting.  He loved the one arm lifts, and was truly an all round weightlifter in addition to a strongman.  Some of his best all round lifts were: Pullover and Press 290 pounds, Bent Press 270 pounds, Clean and Jerk with Dumbbells 229 pounds, Dumbbell Curl 170 pounds, and two dumbbells Continental Jerk 260 pounds.

Travis was most known for his endurance lifting.  He set several records for repetition-lifting in the Back Lift and Harness Lift.  Part of WLT’s legacy is that he left a 10 lift “Challenge to the World” that he completed.  This challenge was left in his will, with the first person to accomplish it after his death receiving his prized jewel-studded belt!  No one has accomplished this “challenge” yet!  It has some hard stipulations – in addition to performing the 10 challenge lifts one must do the entire challenge in under 30 minutes and succeed with it for 10 straight years!!!  The basis of  the lifts for this year’s Dino Challenge comes from WLT’s “10 Lift  Challenge to the World”.

Warren Lincoln Travis – Challenge to the World

1. Take a 100 pound barbell from the floor with both hands, and press it overhead 10 times while seated (must be done in 30 seconds)
2. Take a pair of 90 pound dumbbells from the side of the body to the shoulders, and press it to arms length overhead.
3. Teeth lift from the floor, hands behind neck, 350 pounds.
4. Finger Lift from the floor 350 pounds with one finger, eight times in five seconds.
5. Finger lift from the floor 560 pounds with one finger once.
6. Two hand grip lift, straddling the weight, 700 pounds twenty times in ten seconds.
7. Hand and Thigh Lift 1600 pounds once.
8. Back Lift 3660 pounds once.
9. Harness Lift 3580 pounds once.
10. Back Lift 2000 pounds, 250 times in seven minutes.

Warren Lincoln Travis was born as Roland Morgan in Brooklyn (he was adopted), New York on February 21st, 1875.  He died July 13th, 1941.

MEET DETAILS:

Meet Director:  Al Myers, phone #785-479-2264
Meet Date:  Saturday, January 18th, 2014, 10 AM – 4 PM
Location: Dino Gym, 1126 Eden Road, Abilene, Kansas, 67410
Sanction: USAWA, must be a member to compete
Weigh-ins: 9-10 AM day of the meet
Divisions: Mens and Womens
Awards: None
Entry: There is no entry form and no entry fee, but I must be told a week in advance if you plan to attend. I will have a teeth bit available for use – but it will shared by all and may not be to your mouth size. I recommend you bring your own to use if this is an issue to you.

Lifts:

Teeth Lift
Finger Lift – Middle Finger
Kennedy Lift
Harness Lift
Back Lift

These were 5 of Warren Lincoln Travis’s favorite lifts.  This meet will allow you to see how you “stack up” against one of the best U.S. Old Time Strongmen in history.  If anyone wants to attempt to duplicate the “10 Lift Challenge” that WLT left as his legacy – please let me know and I’ll make arrangements for it.