Courage Award Winners

by Al Myers

(Left Picture): Tim Piper presenting the Courage Award to Art Montini. (Right Picture): Tim Piper presenting the Courage Award to Dean Ross.

The Courage Award is described as, “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”.

Since the USAWA Award Program began, NO ONE has been the winner of this award besides Dale Friesz.  Dale was the definition of courage, competing up till his final days.  He set a standard for lifting courage that will be hard for anyone to duplicate.  I often think of this award now as the Dale Frieze Courage Award.

However, there’s another lifter in the USAWA who has plenty of courage as well, and after being last year’s runner up, repeated this year as runner up in the Courage Award by the others in the USAWA this year.  That man – who defies the myths of age and weightlifting – is ART MONTINI.

RUNNER UP - ART MONTINI

WINNER  - DEAN ROSS

Dean “Hot Foot” Ross was the Winner, and well deserving.  His input to the USAWA over these past few years exceeds what most can accomplish in a lifetime of participation in the USAWA.  You don’t attend a meet that Dean is at without getting to know him! Everyone knows Dean.

Congrats to Art and Dean for being the winners of the USAWA Courage Award!

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!!

Teeth Lifting

by Al Myers

Art Montini Teeth Lifting at the 2013 USAWA Presidential Cup in Lebanon, PA.

Since the announcement of the Teeth Lift in the Dino Challenge in January it has received some discussion in the USAWA discussion  forum.  Probably the “most talk” the Teeth Lift has ever received in the USAWA!   The inclusion of the Teeth Lift in the WLT Dino Challenge will be the first time the Teeth Lift has been  contested in a USAWA competition.  To date it has only been contested by a few lifters in Record Days.   Here’s a little “refresher” on the USAWA rules of the Teeth Lift:

USAWA Rule I19. Teeth Lift

The setup for this lift requires a mouthpiece fitted to the lifter’s bite, a connecting chain, and a Vertical Bar to load plates to. The hands may not touch the mouthpiece, chain, or Vertical Bar during the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight may accidentally touch the legs during the lift, but the connecting chain must not touch any part of the body. The hands may brace on the legs and body during the lift, but must be free from the body upon completion of the lift. The width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter must lift the weight by the jaws clenched on the mouthpiece only, by extending upward. The legs must be straight upon completion of the lift, but the body does not need to be erect. Once the weight is clear of the platform and motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The rules are pretty straight-forward, and are similar to many other official USAWA rules for other lifts.  The critical things are – hands off legs at completion, legs straight, and weight clear of the platform.  The thing that makes Teeth Lifting a challenge is finding a Teeth Bit that one can use.  It’s not like this is a piece of lifting equipment that is readily available to buy nowadays!!  However, in the “lifting days of the past” it was easy to buy a Teeth Bit.  Virtually every issue of old “Muscular Development” had ads in the back with them for sale.  I would say the popularity of Teeth Lifting really went downhill by the mid 70’s.  Now if you want a Teeth Bit you have to have it custom made for you, or make one yourself.  It’s important that it fits “your bite” – not only for teeth protection but to give you the tightest fit for lifting more weight.

This is an ad for a Teeth Bit in an old issue of Muscular Development.

I’ve been lucky to see “the best” in the USAWA teeth lifting in action.  Years ago I was at the meet in Clark’s Gym when Steve Schmidt did his “record smashing” Teeth Lift of 390 pounds, which is the highest Teeth Lift record in the USAWA record list. I witnessed Steve exceed 300 pounds SEVERAL TIMES in the Teeth Lift.   The ole ironmaster Art Montini has the most Teeth Lift records “on the books”, and has been teeth lifting for years.  In August Art used the Teeth Lift to win the USAWA Presidential Cup with a fine lift of 107 pounds at over 85 years old!!!  Art is one of the few teeth lifters that have WORN OUT teeth bits thru years of use!  Just this year Art made himself a new teeth bit.

The legendary strongman Warren Lincoln Travis was quite the Teeth Lifter, and the best of his day.  Willoughby in his book “Super Athletes” reported him lifting 311 pounds in the Teeth Lift in Brooklyn, NY in 1918.  This was considered the unofficial WORLD RECORD for over 80 years!!!! That is until Steve Schmidt exceeded it several times in the mid-2000’s!!!  I consider Steve’s Teeth Lift record of 390 lbs. (which was done with the hands behind back, as was Travis’s) as the unofficial overall World Record in the Teeth Lift now. Maybe this Dino Challenge in January will bring Steve Schmidt out of competition retirement.  Especially since it contains ALL of his best lifts!!!!! I would love to see him in action teeth lifting again.

Art’s Birthday Bash

by James Fuller

Barry Bryan (left) and Art Montini (right) performing a 2-Man Deadlift of 515 pounds at Art's Birthday Bash!

I had a great weekend getting down to lift @ Art’s Birthday Bash(86 years old)!!  It was worth the 11 hour drive down. The Ambridge VFW Hall gym is worth the trip in of itself. Lots of good old equipment. Art was his usual jovial self. I got to meet Jim Malloy, John McKean and Barry Bryan. I met up with Denny Habecker and Barry @ Denny’s and we rode to Art’s in the A.M.  Of course, Art had boxes of doughnuts waiting for us as we rolled in @ 9:30. Now seeing as Art gets to the gym @ 4:30, he was ready for his midmorning nap. Fortunately, he stayed awake long enough to do some Team Deadlifting with Barry Bryan….they got over 500lb!!!

I got a new record on my Kelly Snatch of 113lb and missed 118. Barbell Bent Pressed 130lb with my Right and Left. Did a Reeves Deadlift of 275lbs which, was odd for I thought I was going to go 300+ for certain. Finally, I smoked a 528lb Fulton Jefferson Lift. I felt each and everyone of these lifts all the way home @ 4 AM!! I can’t wait ’til next year!!

Art taking a little rest in between record lifts - but at 86 years of age he deserves it!!!

MEET RESULTS

2013 Art’s Birthday Bash
October 12th, 2013
Ambridge BBC
Pittsburgh, PA

Meet Director: Art Montini

Lifts: Record Day

Officials (3-Official Used): Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Jim Malloy, Art Montini, Barry Bryan

Lifts and Lifters:

James Fuller – Age 41  [ 40-44]   110 Kg. Class

Snatch – Kelly:   113 Lbs   / 51. 25 Kg.
Bent Press – Left : 130 Lbs.   / 58.96 Kg.
Bent Press – Right:  130 Lbs   / 58.96 Kg.
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar:  529.1 Lbs.    / 240 Kg.
Deadlift – Reeves:   275.57 Lbs. / 125 Kg.

Barry Bryan  – Age 55  [55-59]    90 Kg Class

Curl – Reverse Grip:   118 Lbs.  / 53.52 Kg.
Push Press - From Racks: 220.46 Lbs. / 100 Kg.
People’s Deadlift:   440.92 Lbs.
2- Man Deadlift  with Art Montini:   515 Lbs.   /  233.6 Kg.       

Scott  Schmidt  – Age 60  [60-64]  110 Kg. Class

Seated Press – From Rack, Behind Neck:  143.3 Lbs. / 65 Kg.

Denny Habecker  – Age 71  [70-74]   85 Kg. Class

Curl – Strict:   75 Lbs.  /  34 Kg.
Seated Press – From Rack, Behind Neck:   105 Lbs.   / 47.6 Kg.
Push Press – From Racks:  160 Lbs. /  72.57 Kg.
Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 70 Lbs.  / 31.75 Kg.
Bench Press – Feet in Air: 180 Lbs.   / 81.65 Kg.

Jim Malloy   – Age 72  [70-74]    120 Kg. Class

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand:  141 Lbs. /  64 Kg.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand:  178 Lbs. / 70.74 Kg.  
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand:  178 lbs.  / 70.74 Kg.
People’s Deadlift: 365 Lbs.

Art   Montini    Age 86 [85-89]   80 Kg. Class

Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Left Arm: 77.16 Lbs.  / 35 Kg.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Right Arm: 77.16 Lbs. / 35 Kg.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip: 165.34 Lbs.  / 75 Kg.
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Right Arm: 154.34 Lbs.  / 70 Kg.
2- Man Deadlift with Barry Bryan:  515 Lbs.   /  233.6 Kg.

Presidential Cup

by Al Myers

MEET RESULTS & REPORT

2013 USAWA PRESIDENTIAL CUP

Participants in the 2013 USAWA Presidential Cup (left to right): Al Myers, Denny Habecker, Art Montini, & LaVerne Myers

The second annual Presidential Cup only brought four lifters to the platform, but it was filled with some outstanding lifting performances in the host site, Habecker’s Gym.  This USAWA Championships crowns a Champion of the Record Days.   The basis of this honor is chosen by our USAWA President Denny Habecker on the Record lift that impressed him the most.  After all the dust had settled, our Prez made his decision, and the Champion of the Presidential Cup went to Art Montini with his unreal performance in the Teeth Lift.  I pretty much think all in attendance agreed to this choice!

Art Montini (right) and his Presidential Cup, awarded to him by USAWA President Denny Habecker (left).

The Teeth Lift is not a lift very many lifters would want to try a max lift in.  Art came to this meet with a new fabricated teeth bit all ready to set a new record.  He had worn his old one out!!!  Now that shows commitment to training the ole chompers.  He finished off with a lift of 107 pounds.  I should  remind everyone that Art is 85 years old, and soon to be 86!  I was going to say next that most people his age don’t even have their original teeth, but that applies to Art as well.  He did this with false teeth!  I guess that would build in a little safety margin – if you failed your teeth would just spit out with the bit!  Now that would be a sight to see.

There were also lots of other great lifting.  Denny performed a 176 lb. Hackenschmidt Floor Press and a 200 lb. Bentover Row.  LaVerne set a big record with a 232 lb. One Arm Deadlift record (breaking a mark held previously by Bill Clark), and did it using a Ciavattone Grip. He also did a 200 lb. Bentover Row and a one handed Thumbless Deadlift of 200 lbs.   I broke a couple of records held by my buddy Chad (since he wasn’t in attendance!) which included a 303 lb. Bentover Row and a 211# one arm Thumbless Grip Deadlift.  The highlight of my day was teaming up with my Dad in the Team One Arm Thumbless Grip Deadlift with a lift of 451 pounds.

LaVerne Myers pulling 232 pounds in the One Arm Deadlift, using a Ciavattone Grip.

This is a great event, and hopefully more lifters will attend next year.  Denny has agreed to keeping this as a fixture event in the USAWA.  Congratulations to all lifters who took part.

MEET RESULTS

2013 Presidential Cup
August 10th, 2013
Habeckers Gym
Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Meet Director: Denny Habecker

Scorekeeper: Judy Habecker

Officials (3 official system used on all lifts): Denny Habecker, Al Myers, Art Montini, LaVerne Myers, Judy Habecker

Al Myers – 46 years old, 235 pounds

Hackenschmidt Floor Press: 331 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm: 200 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm: 211 pounds
Bentover Row: 303 pounds

LaVerne Myers – 69 years old, 250 pounds

Deadlift – Left Arm: 232 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm: 200 pounds
Bentover Row: 200 pounds

Denny Habecker – 70 years old, 187 pounds

Hackenschmidt Floor Press: 176 pounds
Deadlift – Right Arm, Ciavattone Grip: 165 pounds
Bentover Row: 200 pounds

Art Montini – 85 years old, 177 pounds

Hack Lift: 154 pounds
Deadlift – Left Arm, Ciavattone Grip: 122 pounds
Deadlift – Right Arm, Ciavattone Grip: 122 pounds
Teeth Lift: 107 pounds

Al Myers and LaVerne Myers – 45-49 age group, 115 KG Class

Team Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm: 451 pounds

Denny Habecker and Art Montini – 70-74 age group, 85 KG Class

Team Deadlift: 303 pounds

COURAGE AWARD WINNERS

by Al Myers

Art Montini (right) receiving the Runner Up Courage from President Denny Habecker (left) at the 2013 USAWA National Championships.

The Courage Award, presented on behalf of the USAWA, 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.”

The Courage Award Winners for this year go to:

WINNER – DALE FRIESZ

RUNNER UP – ART MONTINI

Several months ago the USAWA lost one of the TRUE SUPPORTERS of the USAWA, with the death of Dale Friesz.  Dale was actively involved in the USAWA for practically the entire time since the organization began.  He was at almost EVERY National Championships, and it was obvious that his passion for all round weightlifting was beyond that of the normal USAWA member.   I miss our weekly email correspondence – Dale always had ideas on how to better our organization.

We all know Dale has been the perennial winner of the Courage Award since the program started.  His persistence to continue competition despite  battling physical hardships and barriers were like nothing I’ve ever seen before, of which I’ve covered in details in previous stories.   Last year at Nationals in Vegas Dale truly gave the grittiest effort on the platform I’ve witnessed.  However, I was somewhat surprised to see Dale gather the most votes for this years Courage Award, considering he is no longer with us on the platform. This goes to show the respect Dale had from his lifting friends and those members of the USAWA to receive an award like this posthumously.  I’ve said this before, but it would seem fitting that the Courage Award in the future take on the name “Dale Friesz Courage Award” as Dale has set “the bar” for deserving it.

Runner Up goes to Art Montini – Dale’s ole friend and competitor.  Art continues to amaze everyone with his active meet participation at the age of 85! At Nationals Art visited with me about plans to attend the IAWA Worlds in England this fall.  His enthusiasm for all round competition is more than most guys a QUARTER of his age!

My tribute to Dale “THE MIRACLE MAN” Friesz

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz made the trip to Las Vegas for the 2012 USAWA National Championships last summer. This was Dale's 20th National Meet that he has competed in. Pictured left to right: Art Montini, Al Myers, Dale Friesz

The USAWA will greatly miss Dale Friesz.   Dale’s passion for All Round Weightlifting and his love for the USAWA was “way beyond” that of  most lifters.  He was in a ”class of his own” in terms of dedication.  Several lifters “come and go” in the USAWA through the years, but Dale kept steady with his never-ending involvement.  I want to take today’s story to share my tribute to Dale with everyone.  I know lots of the newer USAWA members are not aware of the things Dale has accomplished in the USAWA.   Dale stated in his USAWA Hall of Fame biography that he got started in lifting by the encouragement of his brother Leonard.  Leonard had a stellar lifting career, and at one time was competing in Olympic Weightlifting in the Missouri Valley Region.  I remember seeing Leonard’s  name in numerous  past meet results.  Dale was influenced into becoming involved in the USAWA by two legendary USAWA lifters, John Vernacchio and Bill Clark.  This was also stated in his HOF bio.  I want to mention this footnote as well – when I was working on the project to get all USAWA Hall of Famers to have a biography on this website I set out questionnaires to each member which I based writing their bios on.  Dale was one of “the few” who wanted to write his bio himself, which he did.  He told me in an email he wanted it to be written right! (which I took as him not trusting me to get all the important facts and details in it!!!!) .  

Dale receiving the award for winning the FIRST EVER Presidential Cup in 2012. Dale is on the left, with the USAWA President Denny Habecker on the right doing the presentation.

Dales first competition in the USAWA was on November 11th, 1989, in a meet in Valley Forge, PA hosted by John Vernacchio.  Dale’s first year of USAWA membership began the very first year the USAWA began collecting dues – 1988.  Since that time Dale has had a CONTINUOUS membership in the USAWA (26 years!!!).  Dale always joined before the membership year began, and often he was the FIRST MEMBERSHIP for the year I would receive.  That’s a testament to his strong connection and support to the USAWA.  Dale is one of only four USAWA members that has maintained continuous membership in the USAWA (Bill Clark, Joe Garcia, and Art Montini are the others) since the organization formed.  This makes him one of the CHARTER MEMBERS of the USAWA.  At this past year’s Nationals, a very special award was given to Dale.  It was called the “25 Year Participation Award”, given to the lifters that have participated in the most USAWA National Championships in the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Dale had competed in 20 out of the 25 Nationals!!!  That’s an amazing track record!!  The other winners were Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dennis Mitchell.  Dale only missed the 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006, & the 2011 Nationals.  I was glad to see him involved in our 25th Nationals in Las Vegas last June.  I met him at the airport and I could tell that the flight had taken a toll on him, but he seemed very excited to be there and able to take part in this very important USAWA meet.  No matter how Dale felt physically, he always seem upbeat and glad to be taking part in the competition.

Dale performing one of his favorite lifts, the Neck Lift, at the 2009 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in Lebanon, PA. This was the day that I got Dale to reveal his "neck lifting secrets" to me. He was the master of technique in the Neck Lift!!

Dale competed in several meets in Clarks Gym through the years.  His favorite was the Zercher Classic, which he competed in for the first time in 1991.  Dale had a good meet that day – placing one placing higher than Bill Clark!  The next year Dale returned to the Zercher and moved up a few places to fourth place out of 10 lifters (behind Steve Schmidt, John Carter, and Joe Garcia).  It was a tough field and had to be one of Dale’s best meets of his USAWA career. He raised his total by 735 pounds from the previous year. Then in 1994 he placed THIRD in the Zercher (his highest Zercher placing).    I know Dale was a big fan of this meet as he has provided me a complete historical review of all past Zercher Meets.  That’s one of the many reasons why I have often referred to Dale as the HISTORIAN of the USAWA even though it was a unofficial title.  He keep a record of this type of information and was always there for me when I had “questions”.  Much of the information on this website under the “history section” was researched and documented by Dale. Another one of his favorite “Clark Meets” was the Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen.  Dale has the distinction of WINNING the first ever Goerner Deadlift in 1995.  He beat such notable lifters that day as Rex Monahan, Joe Garcia, Al Springs and others.  I say it was one of Dale’s BEST EVER USAWA days – in addition to winning overall best lifter, he set his memorable 605 pound Neck Lift in a record setting session afterwards.  He was 55 years old and weighed 183 pounds that day. 

Recently I had received an email from Dale in which he commented how 2012 was, and I’ll quote him, “I consider this to be a decent year for me – as I broke 7 or so finger lift records (all previously set by someone with2 normal legs!), winning the Presidential Cup, and being named lifter of the month for August.  This made my efforts/pain worthwhile“.   He was looking forward to the year 2013.  Dale NEVER seemed to get discouraged, and always was thinking about his next competition.  I was so glad to see him win the Inaugural Presidential Cup last August.  His winning performance included a 154 pound Ring Fingers Deadlift with a prosthetic leg!  Later in the year I included this performance of his as one of the TOP TEN performances in the USAWA for the year 2012.  Dale sent me an email after that announcement thanking me, but he EARNED IT!

Dale performing the Pullover and Push in the 2010 USAWA Championships. This was the last meet Dale competed in before his leg amputation.

Dale has dealt with more physical obstacles than anyone I have ever known, and yet continued to train and compete.  The list is enormous and so long I have lost count.  But included is hip replacement, aortic reconstruction, back surgery with laminectomy, shoulder replacement, heart surgery several times, three heart attacks, numerous leg surgeries, and then the leg amputation.  I’m sure I’m missing many other health-related issues here.  It was common for Dale to compete in a big meet shortly after a major operation.  I remember once just a few weeks after open-heart surgery he was on the platform competing.  After his hip replacement, he was in a meet 3 months later.  This quote came from the Strength Journal from Dale before his hip replacement.  Dale said, “I always wanted to be like Tommy Kono and John Grimek and on February 12th, 2001, I’ll get me wish.  I’ll get a new hip.”  Dale always had a dry sense of humor when it came to things!  When he was staying at my place for the 2009 USAWA Nationals he “instructed me” on his medications so in case something went wrong I would be aware of what medicines he was on.  This was a list no shorter than 17 different pills!!!!  Dale’s mindset was like no other, and is the main reason he was awarded the Courage Award by the USAWA EVERY YEAR since the USAWA Awards Program  began in 2010. Before this, he was awarded the Ciavattone  Courage Award in 2004 by Frank Ciavattone, who gave out the award yearly to honor someone who showed great courage in remembrance of Frank’s dad.   I once  jokingly commented to Dale  that he’s won the Courage Award so many times it should be named after him when he’s gone!  Now…… I’m serious about that.

In 2009, the USAWA Nationals were held at the Dino Gym in Abilene, KS. Dale stayed at my house during that time and I will forever remember the stories that were told by Dale. This picture is from the meet of him performing a Cheat Curl.

Dale was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame in 2002.  His induction happened at the 2002 Nationals, held in Ambridge, PA.  I would like to share this story about Dale and his entering into the HOF by Bill Clark, someone who Dale had great respect and admiration for. “ When Dale Friesz showed up to lift at the USAWA Nationals in June in Ambridge, PA., USAWA President Howard Prechtel was prepared.  Dale needed to medal at the Nationals to be eligible for the Hall of Fame and Howard figured correctly that Dale would do that.  So much to Dale’s surprise, he was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame on the spot with the plaque already engraved in his name.  That Dale was even lifting in Ambridge was Hall of Fame material in itself.  In February, he spent 15 days in the hospital (six days in intensive care) and lost 21 pounds in 21 days from an already slender frame.  In a few weeks, he seemed on the road to recovery from what had been diagnosed as advanced vascular disease.  But, in May, along came what Dale called “Scary Story No. 2″ , viral heart infection, bronchial shutdown, pneumonia, liquid retention around the heart – back to the hospital for nine days.  And a matter of six weeks later, he was back on the platform earning his spot in the Hall of Fame.  I can assure you – no one was happier to be in Ambridge than Dale Friesz.”  – by Bill Clark in the Strength Journal Vol. XIII No. 3

Dale "in action" performing another one of his favorite lifts - the finger lift!

In 2006 at the USAWA National Meeting, the USAWA passed a rule requiring that all officials pass a Open Book Rules Test to be certified as an USAWA official.  Dale was the FIRST ONE to take and pass this exam.  He was one of the few LEVEL TWO officials in the USAWA.  He had a keen sense of the Rule Book, and kept up on it as things evolved.  Often he would “question” things in the Rulebook, and due to this, several discrepancies were found and corrected. Dale was never an officer in the USAWA, but his presence as a member exerted as much influence as any officer.  In my opinion, he was one of the TOP TEN most influential people ever involved in the USAWA.  He often served on committees, and provided valuable input.  His input on the HOF committee was instrumental in developing new guidelines for entry.  He also served on the Rulebook Review committee and was very helpful to me in the big Rulebook revision of 2009. In 2011 at my encouraging Dale registered his club with the USAWA.   He named it M&D Triceratops, and he was the only member.  Often at meets he would be wearing a ball cap or tshirt sporting his clubs logo.  I could tell this was something Dale was proud of, and it showed his commitment to the USAWA.

Dale’s favorite all round lifts were the finger lifts, the finger deadlifts, the Neck Lift, and the one arm deadlift.  I just did a USAWA record count of the number of current USAWA records Dale holds, and his count is at 160.  He holds records in 64 different USAWA lifts!  Dale was one of the original members of the CENTURY CLUB, a designation I gave to lifters who currently hold over 100 USAWA records.  The records he was most proud of were; 215# Ring Fingers Deadlift done at the 2001 Gold Cup, 354# Right Arm Deadlift done at the 1992 Gold Cup, and his 605# Neck Lift done at the 1995 Goerner. 

Dale’s National and World Meet Accomplishments:

2012 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 70-74
2010 Nationals 9th Place Overall
2008 Nationals 8th Place Overall
2005 Worlds Best Lifter Mens Master 65-69
1999 Nationals 6th Place Overall
1997 Nationals 7th Place Overall
1996 Nationals 10th Place Overall
1996 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 55-59
1995 Nationals 4th Place Overall
1992 Nationals 8th Place Overall

*plus numerous class/bodyweight National & World Championship awards*

Dale would often sign off his emails with these words, “Don’t let the USAWA die!!” That’s a promise that I will not let him down on. I owe Dale alot- he really helped me understand the historical importance of the USAWA and the philosophy of the organization. I will never forget Dale and his love for the USAWA and all round weightlifting. Often when I’m having a “rough day” in the gym, I think of Dale and the hardships he overcame with his lifting and it motivates me to keep positive and work harder. Afterall, my physical problems are NOTHING compared to what he endured when training!! I gave Dale the nickname “MIRACLE MAN” in several past blog stories. I know he appreciated that (he told me so) as it was given as a sign of respect to him in his ability to overcome serious physical  barriers miraculously.

Dale – YOU WILL BE MISSED! But I promise everyone this – I will keep Dale’s memory alive in the USAWA for as long as I’m involved.

Lifter of the Month: Art Montini

by Al Myers

The Lifter of the Month for the first month of 2013 goes to ART MONTINI!

Art Montini (right) receiving his meet award at the 2013 Dino Gym Challenge from meet promoter Al Myers (left).

In the January, only one USAWA event was contested – The Dino Gym Challenge.  This meet featured a selection of Old Time Strongman lifts (Anderson Squat, Hackenschmidt Floor Press, and the Peoples Deadlift).  It was definitely a heavy-weight challenging competition of events.  I was surprised to even see our “senior member” of the USAWA Art Montini show up to take on this type of meet.  And not only did he complete all these joint-shearing lifts, he excelled in them!  He put up great lifts: Anderson Squat 209 pounds, Hackenschmidt Floor Press 120 pounds, and Peoples Deadlift 306 pounds.  Art at age 85, lifts like a man much younger and certainly was an inspiration to anyone who was fortunate to watch him on this day.   That earned him the Lifter of the Month against a field of very strong younger lifters.  Art also was one of the lifters who traveled the farthest for this meet (from Pittsburgh), which shows his dedication to the USAWA.  Congrats Art – you earned it.

The Dinnie Trip at the Gold Cup

by Al Myers

Art Montini lifting one of the Dinnie Stones in 2001, as part of the group of lifters that made the trip following the World Championships.

One of the exciting things that will happen at the Gold Cup is a day trip the following day to visit the Dinnie Stones.   Andy Tomlin has made arrangements for this to happen as a group activity.  It is something I’m really looking forward to.  I have only seen the Dinnie Stones once, and that was in 2005 when I was in Scotland competing in the Highland Games.  It looks like there will be at least 10 people making the trip.  

I won’t go into details of the Dinnie Stones – there are several blogs on this website that have done that previously.  I’m more interested right now in who will be able to pick them up on this trip.  I have a couple of lifters in mind that I think have an excellent shot at it.  I won’t mention names here as I don’t want to hex them beforehand.

This isn’t the first time that the Scots have combined a Dinnie Trip with a major meet.  The first trip was planned in 1996 after Worlds to go see the Dinnie Stones.  It was on that occassion that Frank Ciavattone lifted them, and became the first American to do so. Franks experience lifting them was told in this blog on the website: http://www.usawa.com/hall-of-fame-biography-frank-ciavattone-class-of-1996/   Then in 2001, again following the World Championships, a group of several lifters made the trek to the Bridge of Potarch, the “holding grounds” of the Dinnie Stones.  This was the day that Kevin Fulton lifted the Dinnie Stones, and became the second American to lift them (without straps and at the same time).    Kevin was quoted by Bill Clark in an old Strength Journal and this is what he had to say about it, ” The day after the competition we took a van full of lifters into the highlands to the Dinnie Stones.  Steve Angell and I both lifted them – all 775 pounds of them.  I was told Frank Ciavattone and I are the only Americans to ever lift them.  Steve also lifted the smaller stone – 330 pounds – to his chest. Not to be outdone, I deadlifted the small stone with only two fingers.  It was alot of fun lifting them, but very difficult for me. They are heavy and very awkward.  I was stiff and sore from the competition.  It has been a goal of mine for several years to lift them and now I’ve had the opportunity.”

It appears All Rounders have had a pretty good history of lifting the Dinnies.  The limiting factor is the grip – and most All Rounders have a much stronger hook grip than other lifters.  Gordon Dinnie has a comprehensive website devoted to those that have lifted these fabled stones – http://gordondinnie.com/Stones.html   To date, there have been only 4 Americans that have lifted them unassisted (without straps,  which is the ONLY WAY they should count as being lifted).   This is that short list:

1.  Frank Ciavattone,  Walpole, Massachusetts - September 24th, 1996
Frank’s lift was officiated by several IAWA officials and a certificate of completion was given to Frank by Frank Allen.

2.  Keven Fulton, Litchfield, Nebraska – October 8th, 2001
Kevin’s lift was also officiated by several IAWA officials.

3.  Bill Crawford, New Hampshire – October 3rd, 2005

4.  Travis Willingham, Blue Springs, Missouri – September 7th, 2009

As you notice, two of these four have been very active USAWA members.  Will this list be expanded by another all-rounder after the 2012 Gold Cup?  I predict it will.

4 Generations Of Montini’s

by Al Myers

Four generations of Montini's performed a TEAM FAMILY DEADLIFT at Art's Birthday Bash - (left to right): Christopher Montini (grandson), Benson Montini (great-grandson), Art, and Rob Montini (son). Photo courtesy of Karen Ward.

Last weekend at Art’s 85th Birthday Bash, it was indeed a special occassion.  And NOT because Art’s still lifting record poundages – but because it was the first time to my knowledge that FOUR GENERATIONS of lifters competed in the same meet.  That’s simply amazing!  John McKean tells me that this lift (that the picture is taken of) was actually judged and a down command was given, and it recieved 3 WHITE LIGHTS!!!

World Entries

by Al Myers

Art Montini, the oldest active lifter in the USAWA, was the first person to send his entry in for the IAWA World Championships!

The deadline has passed (September 15th) for entry into the IAWA World Championships to be held on October 6th & 7th in Salina, Kansas.   A total of 25 lifters have entered, which looks to be a good field of competition!  I am excited that there are 6 overseas lifters registered – from England, Scotland and Australia.  This will make this years meet a TRUE World Competition.  In the past there have been people who have not liked to refer to this big IAWA meet as a “World Meet” because of the limited number of countries in attendance.  I will say this – the invite is open to ANYONE IN THE WORLD to attend, so why is it not a World Meet?   Just because most countries elect not to attend?  No one is being excluded from participating in this one, so I would say that qualifies it as a World Competition.  I will always refer to this competition as the World Meet. 

I want to thank everyone who has entered.  Chad and I are “in the middle” of making the final plans to insure that this will be  a TOP NOTCH Championship.  Part of this plan-making process involves getting the final count of awards for the lifters, which was done first thing this morning.  That is one of the many reasons we needed to get a good “head-count” by enforcing a deadline for entry.  The awards we are giving out are VERY NICE and we want our order to be exact on this as to not leave any “left overs”.  So the order went out for 25 this morning for those 25 lifters which got entered in time -  and which was the final date deadline the trophy shop gave me.

Now onto “my soapbox” for a spell.  Promoting these type of big competitions cost money.  Anyone who thinks meet directors “get rich” are clueless – and these people should promote a competition themselves firsthand to find out how much it costs to put on a good show.  The entry fees never cover all expenses. I’m just lucky Chad agreed to “share the losses” with me on this one.   We made it pretty clear that there was a entry deadline with penalties for late entries (if they were going to be accepted).  Chad and I have decided we MAY take late entries with this stipulation – entry fee is now $100 and the late entrant will receive no award (since this order has already been placed), and you have asked us and received permission before the day of the competition  if there is still “room” for you to enter.  Another thing – an entry is not complete until the entry form AND ENTRY FEE is in hand.  I’m not interested in good will gestures of taking the word that a lifter will show and making plans for that, only to be stiffed.  It’s happened too many times to me in the past. 

Again – I want to thank all lifters who have entered.  Chad and I will do our best to insure that you will have a very enjoyable time!   And special thanks goes to Art Montini for getting the first entry in!!!

REGISTERED ENTRIES FOR WORLDS
Art Montini USA
George Dick Scotland
Frank Allen England
Sam Trews Australia
John Mahon Australia
Chad Ullom USA
Lance Foster USA
Paula De La Mata England
Graham Saxton England
Tim Piper USA
Dawn Piper USA
Dennis Mitchell USA
Ruth Jackson USA
Al Springs USA
Denny Habecker USA
LaVerne Myers USA
Rudy Bletscher USA
Frank Ciavattone USA
Dan Wagman USA
Bob Geib USA
Susan Sees USA
Dave Glasgow USA
Doug Kressly USA
Jera Kressly USA
Randy Smith USA

25 Year Performance Award

by Al Myers

Award winners for the 25 Year Performance Award - Al Myers (left) & Art Montini (middle). Denny Habecker (right) presented this award during the USAWA Awards Ceremony.

It was a great honor to “share the stage” with Art Montini in receiving the 25 Year Performance Award.  This award went to the 2  lifters who have won the most Overall Best Lifter Awards at the National Championships over the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Art and I have 4 apiece.  My years – 2010, 2009, 2008, & 2006.  Art’s years were – 1995, 1993, 1992, & 1991.

I have a long ways to go to “fill Art’s shoes”.   Art’s last Overall Best Lifter Award in 1995 occurred when he was 67 years of age!  His first was when he was 63.  I have to do some checking to verify this fact, but I’m pretty sure that that he is the oldest lifter to ever win this prestigious title.  It is simply amazing everything Art has accomplished in the USAWA over the last 25 years, and when you realize that all of this lifting success happened after the age of 60 it even makes it more unbelievable!

25 Year Promotion Award

by Al Myers

USAWA President Denny Habecker and the "first Lady of the USAWA" Judy Habecker receiving the 25 Year Promotion Award.

Another “special award” presented at Nationals was the 25 Year Promotion Award.  This award went to the 4 Meet Promoters who have promoted the most National Championships over the 25 year history of the USAWA.  These 4 promoters each have promoted 3 Championship events.  They are:  Denny and Judy Habecker (2010, 2007, & 2000), John Vernacchio (2004, 1989, & 1988), Bill Clark and Joe Garcia (2001, 1997, & 1995), and Art Montini and John McKean (2002, 1999, & 1991). 

So to sum it up – these 4 promoters together have promoted about HALF of the National Champinships to date!  That’s worthy of a special award in my book!  Congratulations!!!

25 Year Participation Award

by Al Myers

Winners of the 25 Year Participation Award: Denny Habecker (left), Art Montini (middle), and Dennis Mitchell (right). Missing from this picture is Dale Friesz.

As part of our yearly USAWA Awards Ceremony, this year it included several “special awards”.  These were awards that were presented by the USAWA for accomplishments over the entire 25 history of the USAWA.  That’s quite a hard award to win – it is the result of years and years of effort and contributions!  The lifters that won these awards are the TRUE LEADERS of the USAWA, and it is only the right thing to do to thank them by recognizing them with these special awards.  The first 25 YEAR AWARD given out was the participation award.  This award went to 4 individuals – Dennis Mitchell, Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dale Friesz.  These guys have competed in over 80% of the USAWA Nationals in the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Dennis leads the pack with an amazing 24 of 25 (only missing the first year in 1988).   Denny has been in 23 of 25 (only missing the first two years, 1988 & 1989).  Art is third in this race with competing in 21 of 25 (missing 1997, 2004, 2006, & 2011).  Dale rounds out this field of “superstars” with a record of 20 of 25 (missing only 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006, & 2011).  I would have to say that these lifters have had “amazing runs” of National Championship entries and will be a “tough act” to follow for future USAWA lifters.   Congrats!!!!

Sportsmanship Award

by Al Myers

Art Montini receiving the Runner Up Sportsmanship Award (center). The award was presented by Al Myers (left) and Denny Habecker (right). The Sportsmanship Award Winner Mike Murdock was not in attendance.

The Sportsmanship Award goes to individuals who have showed exceptional sportsmanship throughout the year.  It may be for overall conduct at all events, or by a specific example of exceptional sportsmanship.  This years winners are definitely worthy of this title!  Both of these lifters exhibit great sportsmanship at every competition, and are fine examples of the way lifters should conduct themselves at competitions. The winners are:

WINNER – MIKE MURDOCK

RUNNER UP – ART MONTINI

Mike was unable to make it to Nationals this year to accept his award, but Art was present to accept his.  I want to say a few words about both of these guys because these two lifters I have the greatest respect for.  I can’t count the number of meets that Mike has sacrificed his own days lifting to “help out” to insure the meet is ran well.  At my Dino Record Days this past spring Mike spent the day officiating the new lifters instead of doing the record lifts that he wanted to do.  I couldn’t have done it without him there!  Mike is one of those lifters that gives to the organization more than he takes.  That’s true sportsmanship.  Art, at age 84, has given as much to the USAWA as anyone.  How many lifters his age would have made the trip to the IAWA World Championships in Australia by themselves??  I’ll answer it – NONE besides him.  Art is always part of any “big event” in the USAWA or the IAWA, and this has been going on for many, many years now.  Both of these guys are very worthy winners of this award.  CONGRATS!!!

Art’s Birthday Bash

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

2012 ART’S BIRTHDAY BASH

Art Montini, age 84, at the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia. Next year at his Birthday Bash he will turn 85 and be eligible for a whole new set of masters records in the 85-89 age group.

Art Montini will again be celebrating his birthday by hosting a record breaker meet at Ambridge BBC in Pittsburgh.  This competition is a long-standing event which Art has promoted for many years.  The Ambridge Gym is a place of beauty, and is stocked with gym equipment that should be in a Weightlifters Museum.  If you have not been there for a competition – this is your chance!  There is NO entry fee (but donations are taken to pay for the meet insurance).  Art does set a limit of 5 records per lifter to insure that the record day finishes in good time. Last year this event was well attended and I expect this year will be the same.  Art does request that you send it your entry form so that he knows how many lifters to expect.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14TH, 2012
AMBRIDGE V.F.W. BBC GYM
1098 DUSS AVENUE
AMBRIDGE, PA 15003

ENTRY FORM (PDF) – Art’s Birthday Bash Entry Form

Zercher’s Zercher Lift Record Broken!

by Al Myers

Art Montini breaking Ed Zercher's USAWA record in the Zercher Lift.

Often when someone’s record is broken, it just “disappears into obscurity” and no one really cares or thinks about it anymore.  All the attention goes to the one who BROKE the record.  But something historic happened recently when it comes to “broken records” that I think needs pointed out to everyone. At the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Australia, Art Montini broke Ed Zercher’s record in the Zercher Lift.  I mention this because this was the LAST USAWA RECORD held by Ed Zercher in the Zercher Lift, the lift named after him. In 1988 at the Zercher Strength Classic, Zercher did a 160 pound Zercher lift in the 80 plus age group, 90 kilogram weight class.  Art broke his record with a fine lift of 176 pounds.  This act removed an All-Round lifting legend from the USAWA Record List!  Lately, Art has broken several of Ed’s records which have been “on the books” for over 20 years, but none as meaningful as this one.  Art now owns 10 age group/wt class records in the Zercher Lift, which is a record in itself.

I still have not seen a picture of Ed Zercher performing his signature lift. But at least now I have a picture of THE MAN who broke Ed’s Zercher Lift record.   I predict someday Art Montini will have legendary All-Round lifting status equal to or above that of Ed Zercher, and this picture will be worth BIG BUCKS!

Oldest USAWA Members

by Al Myers

Jack Lano performing a Snatch. Is he the oldest current or past USAWA member?

After last weeks quiz, Tom Ryan presented some  additional questions on the USAWA Discussion Forum.  Tom’s questions were quite a bit harder than mine, and after much discussion on the forum, the group has came to a unified conclusion on the answers.  I think these should be shared in the USAWA Daily News because I know not everyone follows the discussion forum.  The answers to these two questions are a very important part of USAWA history.  These were Tom’s questions:

I’ve got another quiz question for you regarding USAWA members. Actually it is a two-part question:

(a) What deceased USAWA member was born before every other person who has at any time been a member of USAWA?

(b) Among current and past USAWA members who are still alive, which one has the earliest birthdate?

Immediately, I thought I knew the answer to the first question without looking anything up.  How could it be anyone other than the St. Louis Strongman Ed Zercher I ??  Ed competed in the first years of the USAWA and was in his early 80’s at the time.  I couldn’t imagine anyone who was a member born before Ed Zercher.  Ed Zercher I was born on 8-19-07.   But  I was wrong on this, and Tom pointed it out to me.  The legendary, ageless powerlifter Henri Soudieres actually has the oldest birthdate among any past USAWA members. He was born on 8-5-06.   There was some discussion that another lifter, the longtime well-known AAU Weightlifting official Jim Messer may have been the correct answer because he  had an older birthdate ( he was born on  10-19-05),  but his past membership in the USAWA could not be confirmed.  He competed once but it must have been just exhibition.

The second part of Tom’s question was even more difficult.  Everyone knows that the current active member who is the oldest is none other than Art Montini (Art was born on 10-11-27).   But surely there is a PAST USAWA member who is older?  Lots of names where proposed, and many lifters with older birthdays than Art were mentioned.  But are they still alive?  That is when the difficulty in answering this question comes into play.   My guess was none other than the man of many talents – Jack Lano.  Jack was born on 4-17-22.   No one came forth on the forum to prove me wrong on this – so that is the answer I’m going with.  However, Tom is still skeptical.  That is just how he is about confirming the facts (he will have to visit all past lifters gravesites before he is convinced),  but it is a good thing because he keeps me in check from giving out wrong information.   He is right in that several lifters were mentioned that had older birthdates, but confirming they were STILL ALIVE was the question.  I will gladly print a retraction of this story if someone proves things differently.  Please check out the discussion forum if you want more details concerning the discussions that led up to these answers.

And finally – thank you Tom for asking this question!  It was very thought provoking and brought up many names of lifters  that I have heard about.

Coming tomorrow

Since we are in the discussion mode of talking about old lifters, I want to mention a past USAWA member who was the oldest lifter to EVER compete at a USAWA National Championship.  He was 90 years old at the time.  This is a question that I have personal first hand information on, since this lifter was very close to me.  But that’s tomorrow’s story!!

Art’s Big Hook

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrates a band hookup for the 2-Bar Deadlift using a big S hook that attaches to his belt.

“SPROOOONG! SPLAT!!”  Those two sounds had Art Montini and the rest of the gym in stitches -complete howling laughter throughout the Ambridge VFW Barbell cavern!  The object of their mirth was this ever experimental author proving once again that some flex band set ups don’t adapt too well to certain all-round lifts!

You see, I’d looped each end of a band around the bar (braced from around my upper back) and attempted to do a pullover and push with the set up.  Overestimating the combined resistance, the push went halfway up then ROCKETED back down, the barbell being vigorously propelled by the stretched flex band!  Looking back, I think it must have appeared pretty darn funny, but at the time I felt like one of Al’s shotgunned ducks!

A close-up view of Art's Big Hook.

After that awkward episode, I became a bit more cautious toward THINKING how to best apply the advantages of bands to the individual mechanics of lifts!  And I determined that some moves can be done with a SECTIONED approach (not actually involving a wrap around the bar) to applying extra resistance.  For instance, in certain balanced moves such as one arm deadlifts, Zerchers, and two bar deadlifts the regular grips and positions can be taken, but the band pressure -sometimes considerable extra band pressure- can be simultaneously applied to just the thighs and hips. All that is necessary is a BIG “S” hook to attach the middle of a band to one’s lifting belt, leaving both ends of the band to wrap securely around the feet.  So, in a constant vigil to keep me from killing myself on our gym platform, good ole Art ,the man of steel, made one for me!

Recently I’ve been using this approach toward training the two bar deadlift.  As the above photo shows, I am free to grab the bars in a normal manner, with the bars’ delicate balance unimpeded by extra forces.  The band pressure goes just to the thighs and hips, not adding a lot of extra work, but certainly adding to the chore without necessity of hitting max poundage or leading to burn out.  Really , it’s like doing two exercises at once.  All the usual band advantages are there -this set up thwarts acceleration,yet encourages speed & finishing strong; concentration on the extra stress actually TEACHES proper form and channels power for two bar deadlifts.

OK, get yourself a big hook and add this” harnessed leg lift” into some of your pulling movements & deadlift types! Remember, you don’t want to ever shoot for an overburdening extra resistance, just enough to make the combined exercise “interesting”!

Club Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – THE 2011 USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW BBC are the hosts for the 2011 USAWA Club Challenge.

After the overwhelming success of the USAWA Club Challenge last year, John McKean has announced plans to host this unique team competition again this year.  The date has been set – March 12th.  The Club Challenge will follow  along the same guidelines as last year.   This competition is a “team” competition – with each club bringing three members whose adjusted points will be added together to form a “team score”.  No awards will be given for individual performance.  The Challenge will occur at the famous Ambridge Barbell Club in Ambridge, PA.  John has set an afternoon start time to allow for lifters to fly in the morning of the meet.  This is a great opportunity for all USAWA Member Clubs to show their “team spirit” by pitting themselves against other clubs in the USAWA.  Even though I would like to see teams composed of USAWA members who list their club as their affiliated club on the membership roster, this is not required.  So if you are the only one from your club that wants to attend and you can find two other team members, that is allowed. If a club wants to bring more than one team – that is ok as well.  The Ambridge BBC is a very interesting gym, and contains equipment that you will not see anyplace else!  Plus after the meet, John knows the best places to eat in town and you will not be disappointed in the post-meet celebration!

2011 USAWA Club Challenge

Date:  Saturday, March 12th

Venue:  Ambridge BBC

Meet Director:  John McKean

Entry Fee:  None

Start Time:  2:30 PM

Sanction:  USAWA

Lifts:

Bentover Row

Deadlift – 2 Bars

Neck Lift

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John.

Habecker’s Gym is Leading USAWA Club

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker (left), leader of Habecker's Gym and Art Montini (right), leader of Ambridge BBC relax together prior to this past year's National Championship. From the looks of this friendly picture, it's hard to tell that their clubs are in a heated battle for the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year.

As most of you know, one of the new programs I developed last year was the USAWA Club Award Program.  I did this for the main reason of encouraging club participation in the USAWA, with the hope that clubs will become more actively involved.  I really believe the future success of the USAWA lies with clubs.  The many lifts we do are difficult to learn and it takes someone who is experienced in All-Round Weightlifting to be able to mentor and teach others, which happens in a club environment.  It also takes a clubs support to be able to host and promote competitions.  I know I couldn’t put on the meets I do at the Dino Gym if it wasn’t for the support of the gym’s membership.  These guys provide “the muscle” needed to make a meet setup successful.  Often all the work they do is “behind the scenes” – but they know how much I appreciate them!!

I am VERY PROUD to say that this year MORE CLUBS are registered as “member clubs” of the USAWA than ever before in the history of the USAWA.  We have 10 clubs registered!  This makes me extremely happy – because I feel that the promotion of club involvement is working.  So I created a Club Award Program to recognize the clubs that are the most involved.  It is a very straight-forward points program and the points can be calculated directly from information available on the website. The previous year’s winner is not eligible the following year, but is responsible for giving out the award to the next year’s winner at the Annual General Meeting in conjunction with the National Championship.

Club Awards are determined by adding up club points using this 4-Step System:

1. One point awarded to the club for EACH USAWA registered member that lists the club as their affiliated club on their membership application. This designation is also listed beside the members name on the membership roster.

2. Two points awarded to the club for EACH club member that participates in the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup. Points are awarded for each competition, so if one club athlete competes in all three of these big meets it would generate 6 points for the club.

3. Three points awarded to the club for EACH USAWA sanctioned event or competition the club promotes.

4. Four bonus points awarded to the club for promotion of the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup.

Club Award Points to Date (TOP FIVE)

1.  Habecker’s Gym – 26 points

2.  Ambridge BBC – 19 points

3.  Frank’s Barbell Club – 17 points

4.  Clark’s Gym – 16 points

5.  JWC – 12 points

The TIME is not up yet!  Clubs STILL have till the end of the year to add points to their total.

A Week of Broken Records

by Al Myers

Between the time span of less than 10 days, 150 new records were established in the USAWA.  This has to be a record in itself – I never remember this many new records in such a short time span.  Pity poor Joe Garcia as the Official USAWA Record Keeper!  He will be “burning the midnight oil” updating our USAWA Record List.  It all started with Thom Van Vleck’s JWC Record Breaker on October 29th, where a goal was established of setting over 100 records.  They achieved this with ease, and then on November 6th, where two USAWA meets were contested on the same day – the Backbreaker and the Gold Cup – more records fell by the wayside.

I was hoping 2010 would be the YEAR OF RECORDS – where the most USAWA Records were established in one year.  So far – and I have been counting – we are at 561 records for 2010.  As I stated in a previous Daily News story, the most in a year is 702 (which occurred in 2005).  We are not out of time yet – so maybe there’s a chance??  All it would take is for Thom to host another record day and he could do it ALL by himself!!

But the real question is this – who’s leading in the RECORD RACE between Denny “the Prez” Habecker and Art “the Man of Steel” Montini?  Denny pulled a “fast one” on Art at the Gold Cup by breaking one of Art’s records.  Art even commented to Denny at the meet about this “trick” – by not just adding to his total, but taking away from Art’s!  I can’t stand the suspense – so here it is!!

#1. Denny Habecker – 378 USAWA Records

#2. Art Montini – 369 USAWA Records

Denny Habecker used a little brains, along with brawn, to stay ahead of Art Montini in the USAWA Records Race. At the 2010 Gold Cup, Denny broke Art's record of 143 pounds in the Arthur lift with a lift himself of 154 pounds.

On the last count, Denny was at 369 records compared to Art’s 362 records. So he’s stretched his lead.   That was a couple of month’s ago.  It is a good thing Denny is not “just taking it easy on the coach” or Art would have passed him!!  I will keep everyone informed of this ongoing saga between these two old IRON-SLINGERS who are both showing no signs of slowing down!!

RECORDS THAT HAVE FALLEN – Records in last three events

Art Montini is presented the IAWA Award of Merit

by Al Myers

Art Montini (center picture) receiving the IAWA Award of Merit. To left is the 2010 IAWA World Championships Meet Promoter George Dick, and to the right is IAWA President Steve Gardner.

One of the HIGHLIGHTS of the 2010 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland was when Art Montini was presented the IAWA Award of Merit, a Presidential Award  presented to Art  by our IAWA President Steve Gardner.  This is the FIRST EVER such award ever given on behalf of the IAWA, and it went to the best eligible candidate in the organization.  Art has been to MOST of the IAWA World Championships since the IAWA was formed, and he ALWAYS represents himself in a dignified, professional manner that epitomizes the character of a CHAMPIONSHIP ATHLETE.  Art competes like he is working a job, always focused and performing picture-perfect lifts like they’re just another “task at hand”.  Don’t let his casual demeanor mislead you when he’s lifting – internally he’s as fired up as anyone else!!!

Another thing that impresses me immensely about Art is the passion he still has for lifting.  Art is now 82 years old, but when you are around him it becomes obvious that he “feels” like a much younger man.  I hope that I will have the same zeal for lifting that he has when I’m his age.  He is a great inspiration to me and I’m sure to many others.  He had no idea that he was going to be presented this award, and even when Steve was giving his intro, Art still didn’t think it was about him.  I was sitting right across from him at the banquet and the look of amazement and acknowledgment upon hearing his name called was PRICELESS!!

This is for Art – every0ne in the USAWA and IAWA consider you our  “father figure” in our organization who we look up to.  We are EXTREMELY PROUD that you have received this AWARD OF MERIT!!!! Congratulations!!

USAWA Records Fall at Worlds

by Al Myers

82 year old Art Montini broke a USAWA Record in the Steinborn Lift with a lift of 143 pounds. This record was previously held at 105 pounds by the legendary lifter and Stongman Ed Zercher I, which was set at the 1988 Zercher Strength Classic.

Only five USAWA lifters attended the IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, but SEVERAL USAWA Records were set by this elite group.  Twenty one new USAWA Records were added to the USAWA Record List along with several new IAWA World Records.   Dennis Mitchell and Art Montini lead the way with 6 new USAWA records each.

USAWA RECORDS SET AT WORLDS

Lift Lifter Age Wt Cls Record
Clean and Push Press Dennis Mitchell 75 75 55#
Snatch, One Arm, Left Art Montini 80 85 33#
Snatch, One Arm, Right Denny Habecker 65 85 77#
Snatch, One Arm, Right Dennis Mitchell 75 75 33#
Continental to Belt Denny Habecker 65 85 275#
Continental to Belt Art Montini 80 85 165#
Steinborn Lift Denny Habecker 65 85 244#
Steinborn Lift Dennis Mitchell 75 75 93#
Steinborn Lift Art Montini 80 85 143#
Steinborn Lift Chad Ullom ALL 110 440#
Curl, Cheat Dennis Mitchell 75 75 84#
Curl, Cheat Art, Montini 80 85 77#
Press, Dumbbell, Left Al Myers 40 115 88#
Press, Dumbbell, Left Denny Habecker 65 85 66#
Press, Dumbbell, Left Denny Habecker ALL 85 66#
Press, Dumbbell, Left Chad Ullom ALL 110 110#
Press, Dumbbell, Left Al Myers ALL 115 88#
Press, Dumbbell, Right Dennis Mitchell 75 75 27#
Press, Dumbbell, Right Art Montini 80 85 38#
Deadlift, Trap Bar Dennis Mitchell 75 75 225#
Deadlift, Trap Bar Art Montini 80 85 248#

Several record-breaking highlights occurred which deserve mentioning.  Chad Ullom established the USAWA ALL-TIME best lift in the Steinborn Lift with a lift of 440# (200 kilograms).  This also TIED the best Steinborn Lift in the IAWA Record List, which is held by our IAWA President Steve Gardner when he performed a 200 kilogram Steinborn Lift in 1998.  Art Montini broke two USAWA Records held by the legendary Missouri Strongman Ed Zercher.  Art broke Ed’s records in the Steinborn Lift and the Cheat Curl.  Ed Zercher had set these records in 1988.  It seems only fitting that one legend replaces another legend in the Record List.

The USAWA Record Race between Denny and Art is still going strong.  Denny is now at 369 USAWA Records (compared to 365 in July) while Art is still in second with 362 USAWA Records (compared to 358 in July).  Denny did help himself by breaking a record of Art’s in the Steinborn Lift by 1 Kilo in this meet!!  Art’s Birthday Bash and Record Day is coming up, but Art sets a limit of a maximum 5 records set, so if  Denny and Art both do this, Denny should maintain his lead.

Time to Revisit the Records Race

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker added another USAWA record to the record list with a Clean and Press of 154 pounds at the 2010 USAWA National Championships

It was exactly 1 year ago that I instigated the USAWA Records Race.  Last year at this time it was a “nip and tuck” battle between our “Prez” Denny Habecker and the “Man of Steel” Art Montini.  Denny had the slight lead of 341 records to Art’s 337 records.  While not much has changed one year later, except the two of them have widened their margin from the rest of the pack. As of now (National records included) Denny still has the slightest of leads over Art  365 to 358.  Last December Denny had “stretched” his lead over Art by 11, but the Man of Steel at an age of 82 is relentless as he is still taking the records down at a rapid pace, as demonstrated by his 4 USAWA records he set last weekend at the National Championships.  But Denny is a born leader and not only leads our organization but the record list as well, and has added over 20 USAWA records himself this past year.

The are still 20 members in the “Century Club” – a designation I gave to those lifters that hold over 100 USAWA records. I last ran this listing last December, and no one new has been added to this list.  However, there has been some changes in how the list “sorts out”. I want to point out that this is CURRENT RECORDS held. If you haven’t been competing there is only one direction you will go, and that is down.  This past weekend’s lifting put more numbers in the Record List (which before long will top 10, 000 records).  It is interesting to note that the 20 lifters in the list below hold 40% of the records in the USAWA Records List.  At the 2010 National Championships 52 new USAWA records were set. For a complete listing of the records set at Nationals click on this – 2010NationalMeetRecords.

Current Records Ranking in the USAWA

1.   365  Denny Habecker

2.   358  Art Montini

3.   227  Al Myers

4.   226   John McKean

5.   214   Bill Clark

5.  214   Noi Phumchona

7.   213   Dennis Mitchell

8.    212   Frank Ciavattone

9.    204   Joe Garcia

10. 201   Bob Hirsh

11.  171  Howard Prechtel

12.  142  Dale Friesz

13.  137  Jim Malloy

14.  134  Ed Schock

15.  123  John Monk

16.  118  Mary McConnaughey

17.  115  Scott Schmidt

18.  114  Chris Waterman

19.  110  Joshua Monk

20.  105  John Vernacchio

Art Montini

by John McKean

This is Art from his "younger days'. This picture is prominently displayed in the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club.

” I LOVE the aches and pains every morning! They tell me that I didn’t die in my sleep!!” Then, to assert this positive life-force, eighty four year old Art Montini heads to the gym every morning at 5 AM to lift weights. HEAVY ones!

You see, Art Montini of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania is perhaps the premiere Master (over age of 40) weightlifter in the world! He has been a competitor in olympic style weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round lifting for 64 years and a master lifter for 44 of those years.He currently holds around 250 US national records in All-Round weightlifting for the USAWA which places him as first or second on the list for most records ever ( Art laughs at his good friend and record-numbers competitor, Denny Habecker, the USAWA national president. “He’s just a “kid” of 67!”,crows Montini.).But Art has proven that heavy training, rather than lightweight “over 50″ programs is the fountain of youth & vitality.

With no sign of letting up (Art has been known to leave a hospital from minor surgery and typical age related procedures to drive straight to the gym for a workout!),  Montini plans to compete in this year’s All-Round National Championships in Lebanon,PA , set a few more records in the World’s Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, and finish the year by lifting in his own , annual birthday meet in Ambridge,PA.These days in his age group division of 80+ , ole Art doesn’t have a lot of head-on competition, but is quick to reveal his current secret of success -”If at first ya can’t outlift ‘em, OUTLIVE ‘em!”

The Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

by John McKean

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

Earlier this year the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club celebrated its 50th anniversary ! It was jointly founded by the USAWA’s own Art Montini and his long time friend, Harry McCoy, who went on to serve many terms as Western Pennsylvania’s Chairman of Olympic weightlifting. It was neat to see both men in attendance at the recent USAWA 3 man challenge meet!

Since the early 1960s the Ambridge club has been a hotbed of weightlifting competition. At one time or another, most of the top dogs in the Eastern US in olympic and power lifting, and physique competitors attended these exciting contests. Remember Phil Grippaldi, Tony Fratto, Hugh Cassidy, Frank Remschell, Mr America past 40 Jim Karas, Bob Weaver, George Crawford, Cal Shake, Roger Estep,etc,etc? -all attended VFW meets! Later, with Art, Bill DiCioccio, and me getting into the initial USAWA meets, it was just a natural to host annual all-round contests along with several nationals. Heck, Art’s birthday meet alone has gone on longer than most clubs last these days!

Part of the charm of the Ambridge gym is its old style “hardcore” decor -mostly older olympic sets and pegs chock full of plates, solid iron dumbbells, sturdy racks & benches, and multiple lifting platforms. Yes, there are a few heavy duty machines in the lower part of the gym, but even these “bodybuilding devises” only got in by heated screaming matches during rather wild club meetings!! Training here has always been geared to huge strength and lifting competition, so the well used barbells show more wear and tear than do lat machines seen in most health spas!

A key feature of many of the racks, supports, and odd gear seen in the gym is that they were mostly homemade, and one-of-a-kind. That is, during the 60s the local steel mills were thriving and most of the members were steelworkers – these guys were terrific at welding together all manner of heavy duty structures that would withstand an A-bomb! No one ever asked about the limits of a stairladder squat rack, for instance, because one look at it would quickly convince any user that its support limits would outdo even Paul Anderson’s top weights! If a member feels a piece of steel looks damaged or somehow unsturdy, or just needs modification, almost as his concern is expressed, ole Art Montini has his welding mask on and torch aflame! Believe me, it can make for a unique training session when sparks and superheated metal are flying around -even the rats run for cover (just kiddin’ , never saw a rat during my 43 year membership ,tho Art early in the morning and unshaven is close!).

All members dues,always quite reasonable, have been continually invested in new equipment. It may have been rather Spartan in 1960 when Art and Harry first pooled their own barbells and plates, but quickly evolved into a barbell club that would easily satisfy a healthy roomful of dedicated iron men. Regular clean-up and maintenance crews keep things tidy yet rugged looking. I well remember attending my first power meet at the VFW -it was the most impressive, well equipped “dungeon” I’d ever been in ; even the extensive solid dumbbells on the long rack had been freshly painted a neat shade of dark blue just for that contest! I immediately promised myself that right after graduating from college I was gonna join this group who took such pride in their facility!

I have to fondly recall the many big olympic, power, all-round, and physique meets held upstairs from the gym. This was in the large “dance hall” and stage behind the VFW’s bar on the main floor. Meets would begin at 9 am in the good old days, and last well past midnight! The place was packed with spectators, and even was often stacked 3 deep in the surrounding overhead balcony, and had all the noisy atmosphere that a big sporting event SHOULD have! Great food was sold (and sold OUT!) by the ladies auxillary upstairs, and the “occasional” lifter or official would sometimes sneak out to the front bar for a quick beer! The only problem was dressing downstairs in the locker room just below the lifting platform -when the olympic lifters dropped a big one the lights& rafters always threatened to bury those down below (never actually happened,though!)!

Nowadays, some of the old time trainees have departed, but current competitors, new barbell buffs, and student athletes still frequent this friendly old pit ! If you haven’t visited already, be sure to attend one of the upcoming USAWA meets that we’re planning!

Hall of Fame Biography – Art Montini class of 1993

Art Montini performing an One Arm Deadlift.

Art Montini was in the inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees – and rightfully so. Art is the most decorated all-rounder in USAWA history, having won overall best lifter at four National Championships (1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995). He was born October 11th, 1927 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. After graduating from High School, Art joined the Navy in 1945 and served our country in WWII aboard a naval ship. After his military service, he went to work in a steel mill in which he continued until retirement. Art’s early sport activities included playing “sandlot” baseball, and even some semi-pro football. Art started lifting weights when he was 20 years old. At first, he competed in Oylmpic lifting. But once he got started competing in all-round weightlifting that was his focus from then on. Art’s favorite lifts are the Steinborn and all of the chain lifts. However, he trains all of the all-round lifts at different times in his workouts. Art is one of only two lifters that has over 300 USAWA records!! Art is a member of the Ambridge V.F.W. Barbell Club and does all of his training there. He has competed in over 100 all-round weightlifting meets!!!! You can always count on Art being at the National Championships. He has even been involved in the promotion of the National Championships, being the Co-Meet Director of the Nationals in 1991 and 1999 in Ambridge. Art is an outstanding official as well, both at the National level and at the World level.

Art is a master of the Heavy Lifts. In this picture he is performing a Hip Lift.

When asked what he enjoys about the USAWA, he replied, “I really enjoy competing with other lifters. I’ve made many great friends at all of the meets.” In 1988, Art was selected to the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Art lives in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and still competes in all-round weightlifting meets even though he is over 80 years of age!! He even celebrates his birthday every year by hosting Art’s Birthday Bash, an all-round weightlifting meet, on his birthday.

Records Race

by Al Myers


After the recent activity of several record days and meets, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the USAWA Records Race between Denny “Prez” Habecker and Art “Man of Steel” Montini.  After Worlds, Denny was holding a slight lead over Art for most current records held in the USAWA (4 records).  It is still very close, but Denny has increased his lead over Art.  These two are WAY AHEAD of the rest of the field, and I have a feeling the battle between the two of them will continue for quite some time.  I have expanded the list from the TOP TEN to the lifters who hold over 100 USAWA current records. I’m going to call it the CENTURY CLUB, which seems appropriate since most lifters in it are approaching that age!  To date, there are 20 lifters who hold over 100  USAWA records. Special recognition goes to Scott Schmidt – the most recent addition to this elite group of lifters.

Century Club


1.   361  Denny Habecker
2.   350  Art Montini
3.   225  John McKean
4.   216  Bill Clark
5.   214  Noi Phumchona
6.   207  Dennis Mitchell
6.   207  Frank Ciavattone
8.   204  Joe Garcia
9.   201  Bob Hirsh
10.  195  Al Myers
11.  171  Howard Prechtel
12.  138  Dale Friesz
13.  137  Jim Malloy
14.  134  Ed Schock
15.  123  John Monk
16.  118  Mary McConnaughey
17.  114  Chris Waterman
18.  110  Joshua Monk
19.  106  John Vernacchio
20.  106  Scott Schmidt

Congratulations to JIM MALLOY – who just recently passed the USAWA Rules Test. Jim has now joined the ranks of a LEVEL 2 Official – which includes passing the Rules Test and having the experience of officiating in over 25 USAWA/IAWA competitions.  I want to point out that all certified officials (both level 1 and level 2) have the same authority as officials. “Level 2″ just distinguishes those who have completed both avenues in becoming an USAWA official.  I know there probably are individuals who have met the “experience requirement” to be on the list (as a Level 1 Official) and are not listed there. I have no way of knowing who these are if I am not told, especially if these individual’s involvement happened many years ago, before I got involved in the USAWA. Most old result sheets didn’t list who the Officials were even.  If this is YOU , and you have officiated in over 25 USAWA All-Round Competitions in the past,  and want to get involved again in the USAWA as an Official – PLEASE let me know and I’ll gladly put you on the list. The USAWA would LOVE to get you back into the fold!!  The “experience” route was developed in the Rule Book as a “Grandfather Clause” so those very qualified and experienced officials would not have to “start over” in getting certified as an USAWA Official. After all, these individuals have already “earned” their official status the hard way – by sitting in the judges chair for many, many hours.  The purpose of the Rules Test is about certifying NEW officials.

Art’s Birthday Bash is Tomorrow!!!

by Al Myers

Art Montini doing a Clean and Press - Behind Neck at the 2009 IAWA World Championships

Art Montini, who is turning 82 this weekend, always celebrates his birthday by hosting a weightlifting meet. This is the 19th year for Art’s Birthday Bash! What a great birthday present Art gives himself – he gets to lift weights and set a few records in the process.  The meet is tomorrow  so it’s still not too late to make it.  This meet is a record day – which means you pick the lifts and records you want to break!!  It’s YOU against the USAWA Record List!!! Art puts a maximum limit of 5 records per lifter.

Art’s Birthday Bash is held at the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club.

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

I did not receive a correct answer for this week’s Quiz of the Week.  The USAWA lifter who currently has the most USAWA records is our one and only USAWA President Denny Habecker. Denny has been setting records since the USAWA Record List started and is still going strong!!! Denny currently has 341 records, but is followed very closely by Art Montini who has 337 records. They both lead the rest of the pack by over 100 records!!!

Denny Habecker added more records to the Record List at this year's National Championships

Top Ten ALL-TIME USAWA Record Holders

(number of current records listed first)


1.    341   Denny Habecker
2.    337   Art Montini
3.    221   John McKean
4.    217   Bill Clark
5.    214   Noi Phumchona
6.    208   Joe Garcia
7.    204   Dennis Mitchell
8.    201   Bob Hirsch
9.    199   Frank Ciavattone
10.   171   Howard Prechtel

The Entry Deadline has PASSED for this year’s IAWA World Championships hosted by Denny Habecker in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  Any entries at this point require special permission from the Meet Director – so contact Denny and hope that space still exists!!

Strength Through Variety (Part 2)

(Webmaster comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrating the Jefferson Lift, which is also known as the Straddle Deadlift.

A brief look at weightlifting’s history will quickly show that many of the above-mentioned lifts were the basis of meets during the 1900-1930 era. Rare was it when an early contest didn’t feature a one-arm snatch, dumbell swing, or the amazing bent-press (yes, it’s once again being given its due – number 48 on our all-round list). Extensive record lists on about 50 events were kept in the US and Great Britain prior to 1940, with other informal local listings recorded in both countries during the sixties and seventies.

When serious interest once again picked up, officials from the two lands met in 1987 to write a constitution and promote the new-to-many concept of all-round competition. When these modern day founding fathers established the up to date rules and regulations, they insisted on pure body dynamics to do the lifting – no super suits or supportive gear, no wraps, and absolutely no drugs.

About now, I’m certain many will question the feasibility of training limit poundages on 10-20 big lifts at a time. Doesn’t this go against the grain of current advice to avoid long routines? No. In fact, the real beauty of our all-round sessions is that we’re actually forced to restrict quality training time on each individual lift to an absolute minimum. The necessity of these ultra-abbreviated strength routines has taught us how to reach maximum intensity for handling true top weights more often than ever before.

Although there’s a wide range of effective schedules used by our present crop of all-rounders, and highly specialized methods for handling some of our more unique lifts, here’s a sample training procedure used by 12 of us at the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Essentially, we’ve achieved phenomenal progress over the past five years by doing single repetitions on each of about 6 exercises per workout. We switch lifts every day of our three weekly sessions so that a total of 18 moves are given a short, high-intensity burst once a week. After a special non-weight warmup (more on this later) we do just 3 singles per exercise, best characterized as heavy, heavier, and heaviest. The last attempt is usually fairly close to a limit. And, because this quick, brutal style of training seems to fuel our mental competitive aggression, we always feel motivated to try to up that poundage each week.

Sure, this is heavy stuff. Yet in all our collective time with all-round training, none of us has ever felt even slightly burned out, suffered serious injury, or even felt overly tired from a workout (contests are something else, however). It seems when gains keep coming as rapidly as they have, lifts are always being rotated, and workouts are over before we have a chance of even getting mentally fatigued, our sport always stays fresh, exciting, and ever challenging. After all, how hard can it be to perform a workout of only 18 reps? (Better wait to answer till you actually experience this unique form of intensity and variety).

Most all-round movements are complex by nature and work the entire body at once. Each exercise serves as a supplement to the others, so there’s absolutely no need to waste extra time on assistance exercises. This is also a big reason why we get away with training any particular lift but once a week; all muscle groups are pushed totally each training day, no matter what combination of exercises is employed. After all, why should we bother with, say, the highly overrated and widely overused bench press – very one dimensional when compared to the whole-body functioning of all-round’s dynamic pullover and push.

How well does all-round training serve the average person? Let me offer two rather extreme examples. On a novice level would be my 13-year old son Robbie. Beginning when he was 10, Robbie found immediate pleasure over his rapid strength gains. Thanks to the wide variety of moves and abbreviated training (yes, I put him on heavy singles immediately, despite dire warnings I’ve read by “experts”), he never experienced much muscle soreness nor ever any boredom with his quick workouts. In three years he has gained fifty pounds of muscle (puberty helped), tripled his strength, and has established fifty world records in the pre-teen division.

Recently, while on the way to winning his third consecutive title at 1992’s national championship in Boston, this 165-pound “little boy” performed a show-stopping hand and thigh (short range deadlift). I’ve never seen another youngster of this age who could match Rob’s grip strength to do a 250-pound one-arm deadlift, or the neck power to equal his 300-pound head harness lift. But early in his training, Robbie perceptively put me straight on what this sport is all about. Telling him to follow me downstairs to begin “exercising” one day, he firmly replied, “Dad, I don’t exercise, I lift.”

On the other end of the spectrum is longtime powerlifting and weightlifting competitor, 65-year old Art Montini. As is the case with all of us master lifters, Art discovered that no form of training or competition is as much fun as all-round lifting. Montini never misses one of these exciting workouts and seems to heft new personal bests each time he sets foot in a gym. Who says you stop gaining beyond 35? Art’s name is all over the current record book and he’s never failed to win the outstanding master award at any of our national meets. Seeing the agile oldster deftly upend a 300-pound barbell, twist and stoop to shoulder it then easily squat in the complicated Steinborn lift, or perform his mind-boggling 1,800-pound hip lift would convince anyone that Art drinks gallons daily from the fountain of youth.

Powerlifting Saved This Man’s Life!

by John McKean

This is a reprint of an article by John McKean in the February 1979 issue of Muscular Development. It is a very well written story about Art Montini and how weightlifting helped him overcome severe burns and disability. Art was the oldest competitor at the 2009 USAWA National Championships, and after doing a Back Lift with 1000 pounds at 81 years of age is showing no signs of slowing down!! Read and enjoy.

Arthur Montini - his speedy recovery from a near fatality is an amazing testament to the benefits of powerlifting, and weight training exercises.

The 250 pound squat was a slow teeth-gnashing struggle toward completion even though the trembling lifter hadn’t quite hit the parallel mark. It was the most beautiful lift I can ever remember seeing!! Let me explain my excitement over such a mediocre performance. The lifter was 50-year old Arthur Montini, a very popular powerlifting competitor, official, and meet director in Western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountain Association. Certainly nowhere near his best, Art ground out the light squat in defiance of a severe accident three months earlier which threatened him with total physical debilitation.

A Steelworker from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Montini was caught in a disastrous furnace explosion at the mill, leaving him as little more than a burnt, barely alive, mass of human flesh. Doctors at the Western Pennsylvania Burn Unit confirmed that he received burns covering over 65% of his body. His chances of survival were practically nil. Although punished with pain almost beyond comprehension, Montini’s amazing body, toughened by over 30 years of heavy barbell training, proved to be the winning factor in the life or death struggle. Certain that this man’s age would be a negative factor, doctors were astonished when tests confirmed Art’s physical condition to be that of a very healthy 21 year old!! And, matching a fighting body, the old iron slinger had an unyielding desire and determination not only to live but to completely heal – and quickly!!! Showing unbelievably rapid progress from the start, Art was soon allowed visitors. The place looked like a major lifting meet after a while! Testament to the esteem held for this local iron game celebrity was the large influx of lifters and officials who kept pouring in. The nurses were most pleased to see so many good looking, muscular young men in the hospital corridors!

Although still bandaged from his recent, very serious accident, Art Montini performs a favorite strength building movement - incline sit-ups with a pair of York 110 pounders! Talk about abs -wow!

Art cheerfully greeted all his visitors, maintaining good spirits despite the pain and extreme discomfort he was constantly experiencing. Except for the “mummy” bandages which covered him head to toe, he remained the same old talkative, personable Art Montini. Naturally, conversation with his weightlifting buddies always revolved around training. Refusing to acknowledge his condition, Art claimed the worst part of his hospitalization was the inactivity – he desperately wanted to get back to his barbells!! All of us who visited, to the man, were left with absolutely no doubt that the old master would return to the lifting platform once more!!

Recovery from severe burns is a very slow and agonizing process. Daily removal of dead skin as well as constant medication and extensive bandaging are the necessary horrors burn patients must face. Body heat loss, due to the lack of outer skin, causes almost constant shivering, and chances of acquiring an infection are extremely high. But Art Montini is not the type of guy to lie around feeling sorry for himself, and he refused to merely endure a long, drawn out healing process. His three decades of training had convinced him that he could force cell growth if only he could exercise and acquire the necessary nutrients. He knew that his body would not let him down now, having been well versed in making speedy recuperation from constant heavy workouts over the years!

Shortly after his admission into the hospital, Art decided to make good use of a bar hanging across his bed, normally used to help patients pull themselves up to a sitting position. Not only did he sit up, but he proceeded to do set after set of chin-ups on the bar! Considering his blistered skin and total body bandaging, this movement was not exactly easy. But Art liked the feel of the exercise and welcomed the opportunity to get his blood circulating more rapidly and his muscles working again. Soon other improvisations, such as isometric contractions, were incorporated into his makeshift workout. The pain involved was inconsequential compared to this chance to make productive use of his excessive spare time. Now I’ve heard of training under adverse conditions, but this was almost incomprehensible – here was a man who was beginning his comeback while still on the critical list!!

Concentration with heavy attempts is the key to Montini's routine. Here he sinks his teeth into a heavy deadlift.

Supplements were next. Art had his friends sneak in boxes of his favorite Hoffman Hi-Protein Candy Bars, Massive doses of Vitamin C and E, and a few other vitamin and mineral aids. The hospital had already placed him on a high calorie, high protein, balanced diet in order to fulfill the massive needs of replacing dead and dying cells of the burnt skin. However, Montini knew that even huge quantities of today’s rather devitalized , processed foods would not do the job. Certainly the hospital food was not quite good enough for a weightlifter! The self-prescribed, highly supplemented diet quickly worked its magic. In light of Art’s ever accelerating recovery rate, even the skeptical doctors were forced to encourage him to continue his intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Fantastic physical condition and tremendous recuperative abilities are not normal characteristics of a 50-year old man. Of course, Art Montini has been very stubborn to acknowledge either physical or mental aging, having found his personal “fountain of youth” through powerlifting. By thinking and training like a young athlete, he has maintained the body of a young athlete – perhaps the saving grace from his terrible accident. Art has always ignored so-called “conditioning” programs – or “suggested” exercises for middle-aged men. In fact, I sincerely doubt that he has ever performed a truly light workout in his career. No calisthenics, 10-pound dumbbells, or high rep-low weight movements for this iron man!! Art goes to the gym to be challenged and loves to load those heavy plates on the Olympic bar! He is a competitor, always will be, and never plans to change the enjoyment he derives from powerlift training. Even after his relatively short hospital stay, though still healing and bandaged to some degree, Art was in the gym squatting, benching, and deadlifting!!

Montini has competed in area power meets since their inception in the 60’s, but has diligently performed the heavy movements since his earliest barbell training during the late 1940’s. Over the years he has acquired a vast knowledge of training methods and lifting techniques, determining those which work best for him. His body and mental attitude seem to prefer a very basic system of heavy weights and low reps. Depending on the nearness of a meet, he will perform maximum attempts for sets of five, three or single reps on the powerlifts. Also, with fondness for his Olympic lifting days, the “old man” likes to work up in singles to a heavy press, snatch, and clean and jerk as supplemental exercises.

Progress, not maintenance, is his constant goal. “When I can’t increase my poundages on the lifts, I’ll quit – and those days are a long way off!” claims the hardened veteran. Indeed, his best gains have been made in recent years as the iron “bug” has bitten harder than ever. Displaying the exuberance and energy of a teenager, Montini takes almost masochistic delight in forcing out reps with maximum or near-maximum weight. He loves to put himself to the test at a contest and is in his glory competing, officiating, coaching or just being with his fellow lifters.

When asked which bodybuilding exercises he performs to supplement his heavy lifting and for general physical fitness, Art just laughs. He very pointedly comments that max poundage powerlifting is bodybuilding! However, the old boy has often been observed doing sets of high incline sit-ups – while holding two 110-pound dumbells! Just can’t keep the guy away from those heavy weights! As far as a physique is concerned, that 50-year-old tank of a torso speaks for itself!

Montini is perhaps one of the premiere teachers of powerlifting in the country, based on his experience and the number of students he has reached. Over 20 years ago he and Harry McCoy founded the highly popular Ambridge V.F.W. Barbell Club. Devoting much of his spare time toward working for the betterment of this non-profit gym, Art has developed many fine Olympic and power lifters. He leads his teams into practically every area competition, and personally conducts several large meets at the V.F.W. each year. No matter how experienced or prestigious the trainee, this old wizard of weights is always sought for help and advice. Currently, the president of the club, Montini remains the head guru of power at the Ambridge V.F.W.

Presently Art chooses to ignore the wounds, scars, and bandaging remaining from his all too recent accident and has plunged knee deep into a competitive powerlifting routine. He is still upset that the untimely explosion ruined his plans to compete in the 1978 Masters’ Age National Championships, but vows to be ready for 1979! The body may still be a bit wracked up right now, but the competitive spirit has reached an all-time high!

Art has been grinding out heavy squats like this for over 30 years!

Art Montini has shown us all how our beloved sport can condition both body and mind to handle even the most severe stress. Some current fitness “experts” find it fashionable to dismiss heavy weight training as a viable source of exercise for health and longevity. However, Art’s punishing ordeal points out that in addition to providing stimulus for the muscles, powerlifting can create development of tremendous recuperative powers, strong resistance to physical damage, and a mental “toughness” not tolerant of defeat. And just ask Art about longevity. He’ll cheerfully tell you that not only has weightlifting given him so much health and happiness during his lifetime, its benefits have granted him life itself!!