by Al Myers
“Adios” was the lead story headline for the latest Strength Journal, which I received yesterday. And with this – I mean the last Strength Journal. Bill Clark has published the Strength Journal for over 20 years covering news from the USAWA, but over 50 years including other strength news. I read this last Journal with great sadness, as I’m sure most others did as well. But as Bill said in this last Journal, “All things must have a finish. That’s this letter.” I owe Bill Clark a great deal of gratitude for getting me started in the All-Rounds. I clearly remember my first time meeting him several years ago. I was winding down my powerlifting career and just wanted to see “what this all-round lifting was all about”. So myself and several of my training partners headed to Clark’s Gym in Columbia on a cold December day to try out a record day on Saturday, followed by the Goerner Deadlift Dozen on Sunday. Bill knew we were coming and greeted us at the door (he also knew we were Powerlifters) and one of the first things he said was for us to look at the sign by the door. It had the Gym Rules which spelled out NO WRAPS and NO DRUGS ALLOWED. Bill is one to get right to the point. I knew right away that this was my type of gym and that I was welcome!! Immediately I found out what all-round weightlifting was all about – and I was very intrigued. Steve Schmidt was there that day and was going for a repetition Back Lift record. I had no idea at the time the importance of the record he was breaking. I do now – it was the greatest Back Lift repetition record of All-Time. I also met Tom Ryan that weekend. Tom helped us tremendously – and showed us the proper way to do these strange new lifts that we were trying for the first time.
Bill immediately put us to work breaking USAWA records. Of course we were just focusing on bench press type lifts at first, until Bill said, “I have never seen that much bench pressing in Clark’s Gym before.” I soon found out that All-Round Weightlifting was much more – when Bill brought out the ring and challenged us to Finger Lifting. I thought later that this must have been his way to test us – to see if we really had what it takes to become All-Round Weightlifters. We maxed on every finger of each hand and Bill made us go all out. After all – He WAS!!! I left that weekend with several sore fingers but knowing that this sport was for me – thanks to Bill Clark. I would like to know how many lifters Bill has introduced to All-Round Weightlifting – I’m sure it is more than I could count.
The Strength Journal has been the backbone of the USAWA since the start. It will not be the same not receiving any more of them in the future. In the past when I found a Strength Journal in the mail – I would open it up right away – even before looking at any of my other mail. I would like to think that I could maybe talk Bill into writing a few stories for the USAWA Daily News in the future. But I know Bill has said in the past that he would never put anything on the internet – and Bill is a man of conviction so I believe I probably won’t be successful in this endeavor. But I will keep trying to change his mind on this so hopefully we can read the words of Bill Clark again.
Bill, I know you probably will never see this, but THANK YOU for everything you have done for the USAWA. THANKS for the many years of publishing the Strength Journal. THANKS for the leadership you have given to our organization. And most importantly – THANKS for getting me started in this great sport of All-Round Weightlifting.