The Infamous Weightlifter’s Weekend 1979

by Thom Van Vleck

I was looking through a 1979 edition of Bill  Clark’s “Weightlifting Newsletter”.  There was a meet report for the 1979 Weightlifter’s Weekend.  This was an annual meet that included a wide range of competitions that spanned more than lifting.  Here’s a list of what was competed in the two day event:

Judd Lift, Miller C & J, Kelly Snatch, Zercher Lift, Steinborn, Zercher (again the second day), Seated Press, one hand deadlift, one hand snatch, Hack Lift, 12lb shot, 16lb shot, College Discus, 16lb Olympic Hammer, Javelin, 100, 220, 440, 880 and 1500 runs, Standing Long Jump, Running Long Jump, Triple jump (standing and running), back jump, one and two hand chinning, one and two hand pushups, Inman Mile (won by Jerry Inman), Tennis, 10K walk, Handwalking for distance, Axe throwing, Golf, and last but not least,  Bowling (singles and doubles).

The meet was won by Jerry Inman….by virtue of competing in the most events!   Bill Clark was second for pretty much the same reason.  Wayne Smith was given the top Master Award.  Some of the top lifts included a 120lb Kelly Snatch, 400lb Steinborn, 400lb right hand deadlift by Bob Burtzloff.  Bill Davis had a 505lb Zercher and 555lbs Hack lift.  My old lifting partner Jim Noble won the shot and discus (he was only 16, but was also the state high school champ in the discus).  Wayne Smith won the chin ups with 2 for the single arm and 27 for two arms as well as edging Clark out in the bowling.  I think that it’s interesting that while Jerry Inman won the “Inman Mile”….he did NOT go anywhere near a mile!

I know they held this event every year for some time.  The idea was guys would come and lay down challenge events and you either “manned up” or passed.  For example, I know Wayne Smith suggested the Ax throw.  I remember this because I worked for him cutting trees and he was great at throwing and ax which is why he laid down the challenge.  However, he could not get the ax to stick that day and was defeated….we didn’t let him hear the last of that for some time.

What would you think of a meet like that? Plenty of “real” lifts, but lots of unusual stuff.  Would you be a gamer?  Or call it crazy?  There’s no doubt those guys back then knew how to have fun!  Maybe the “WW” should make a comeback!!!!!

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!!!

Nice Rack! Part II

by Thom Van Vleck

My "Babies!

Some time ago I wrote a USAWA story called “Nice Rack” and it was about a rack of York “Globe Style” Dumbbells that Bill Clark has at Clark’s Championship Gym in Columbia, Missouri.  I jealously admired those Dumbbells and wished I had a set of my own.

As luck would have it, I came across a set for sale through my USAWA friends, namely Larry Traub.  Larry had these and made me an extremely generous offer on them that I couldn’t refuse.  Soon enough, I had them in my possession (after a detour from South Carolina thru Indiana and back to Missouri….a small price to pay!).

The "Crown Jewels" of my collection, the legendary 100lb Globes.

I took off a layer of rust, then laid down a few coats of paint and white lettered the raised “York” and poundage numbers.

I am not a collector, these will be used in my training and by anyone who trains at the JWC!  But if you use them and drop them, you might end up with an Olympic bar as a necktie!   If you break them….notify next of kin!  So, next time you come by the JWC Training Hall…CHECK’em out!  Oh, and once again….Thanks Larry, you made me very happy and they will take these when they pry my cold dead hands from around them!

Bob Burtzloff on Training (circa 1981)

by Thom Van Vleck

Bob Burtzloff participated in Olympic Weightlifting as well as All Round Weightlifting. He was multiple times Kansas State Champ in Olympic Lifting.

Most everyone that has been around the USAWA any amount of time knows who Bob Burtzloff is and what a great champion he has been and continues to be.  Some of the older USAWA lifters may think of Bob’s great Bent Pressing, One Arm Clean & Jerk, or his Steinborn.  Bob has some great accomplishments.  In my book, his greatest accomplishment was beating Wilbur Miller’s Clean and Jerk record.

The training information below was relayed in 1981 to Bill Clark from a man Bill described as a “23 year old 242lb Bricklayer”.   I personally think the wisdom Bob relays is timeless and what he views as most important is what most lifters miss out on in their search for the “magic routine”.

Bob wrote:

“My workout is not fancy, but it helped me.  I pick a certain number of exercises to do in a workout.  I usually do at least three differenet movements.  Sometimes more depending on time and energy.  I pick a weight and number of reps that I want to do in the exercise.  For example, if I’m doing snatches with 250, I would do 15 total reps, regardless of the number of sets it takes.  I have used this type of routine for up to 50 reps, although 15 total reps works best for me.  I once did 50 jerks with 320, but was sore for a week.  Still, the work allowed me to break Wilbur Miller’s Clean & Jerk record only 10 days after the training effort.  Here’s and example of some of my best heavy workouts:

C&J – 363 X 15, 320X 50 total
Front Squat – 385 X 15 total
Snatches – 220 X 15, 231 X 15, 241 X 15, 251 X 15, 251 X 1, 271 X 1 – all in the same workout.
Bench – 360 X 15 total
Military Press – 231 X15 total
One Hand C&J – 203 X 15 total

I believe that desire and mental attitude are more important in making gains than any particular workout routine.  One must have a strong desire to accomplish what he sets out to do or he’ll quit when things get tough.  A strong, unyielding desire to succeed is essential in maintaining a positive mental attitude.   If a person has a positive outlook on  training, he will be able to work harder and with heavier weights.  Many people allow their attitude toward training  to defeat them long before they step onto the competitive platform.  If a lifter overcomes adverse circumstances in training, the effects will carry over into competition.   A good thing to remember is that attitude is more important than circumstances.  Circumstances give you neither defeat nor victory.  They merely provide you with the opportunity to see what your thoughts and convictions really are and what you intend to do with them.

Everyone encounters obstacles between them and their goals, but a positive attitude will allow a dedicated lifter to eventually break thru these barriers and achieve his goals.   The key to success is hard work followed by ample rest.  I’m not saying that I always have a positive attitude or that I always work hard, for if I did, I would be a much better lifter for it.”

Blasts from the Past

by Thom Van Vleck

Ed Zercher, the original "keeper of the odd lift records" doing an exhibition unsupported Leg Press with over 600lbs circa 1962.

Recently, Wayne Gardner visited me.  He is a Jackson Weightlifting Club member from way back and a frequent lifter in the midwest and early USAWA member.  Wayne provided me with some old newsletters of Clark’s and I made copies for me and Al.

Al’s recent announcement of the 2012 USAWA Team Championships made some interesting information pop out at me.  In the April 1, 1981 Region 8 Weightlifting Newsletter put out by Ol’ Clark himself there is a list of some “Odd Lift” records and one of the lifts is the “Two Man Team Curl”.  Two records are listed:

Two Man Team Curl

198lb Class – Glen Schwachter & Ed Zercher, Jr – 225lbs (1980)

Hvy Class – Robert Wilson & Ron Webster – 275lbs (1980)

There are also some records that go back to the early 1960’s.  Here are some of the more notable records:

Pullover and Prone Press

198lb Class – Homer Lewellen – 260lbs (1963)

Right Hand Hack Lift

Hvy Class – Bill Clark & Bill Fellows- 275lbs (1962)

Jerk Behind Neck with Snatch Grip Then a Full Squat with Weight Overhead (maybe the record for longest name, too!)

198lb Class – George Winkler – 240lbs (1962)

Now we start to go WAAAAY back.  Clark stated that the below records were Missouri Valley AAU marks prior to 1941.  So, while we don’t know the exact year these were set, they were set prior to or in 1941.

Right Hand Continental Press

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 126.5lbs

Right Hand Clean and Bent Press

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 174lbs

Right Hand Clean and Side Press

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 142lbs

Two Hands Anyhow

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 217lbs

Hvy Class – Ed Zercher, Sr. – 271lbs

Repetition Leg Presses (Unsupported)

Hvy class – Ed Zercher, Jr. – 200reps with 250lbs in 7 minutes 30 seconds – (set in 1952)

Hvy Class – Ed Zercher, Sr – 10 reps with 605lbs (set in 1962)

The oldest record listed that has a verified date is a Harness Lift done by Ed Zercher, Sr with 2150lbs in 1940.

Clark goes on to state that there were currently 59 lifts that records were being kept in at that time!  The latest of which was the Reverse Grip Clean and Press that was first done by my Uncle Wayne Jackson and in 2011 the Reverse Grip Press out of the rack was added to the modern list of USAWA records in his honor.

It’s interesting to me that we have some many lifts we keep records on and yet there are several of these lifts listed in the old record book that aren’t “modern” USAWA lifts!  We might have to look at some of these old time lifts and bring them back.  At any rate, here’s some old time records to test yourself against!  Have fun!

Deanna Springs Meet

by Al Myers

MEET RESULTS
DEANNA SPRINGS MEMORIAL MEET

Group picture from the 2012 Deanna (left to right): Dean Ross, Rudy Bletscher, Al Myers, Joe Garcia, and Mike Murdock.

This was another great year for the Deanna Meet.  The “same crew” of lifters made their appearance  that have been attending the past few years – Joe, Rudy, Mike, Dean and myself.  Several times throughout the day I felt de-ja vu (a feeling that I’ve experienced this before), which TURNS OUT to be the case.  Same group of lifters, performing the same lifts in the Clark’s Gym, and getting beat rather handily by Joe Garcia!  This makes FOUR YEARS in a row that I have placed second to Joe G in this meet.  I should research this farther back, but it would be depressing as I know there have been many other “seconds” for me in prior years!

Bill Clark - meet director of the Deanna Springs Meet.

This was a BIG DAY for Joe.  This win marks his 11th victory at the Deanna Springs Meet.  The amazing thing is that he scored an adjusted point total of 4196 points, which is the BEST OF ALL TIME.  Congrats Joe!!!!  Joe’s new record erased the previous top point total by Abe Smith in 2005.  I would like to believe that the Daily News Story that I wrote last week on the “top performances at the Deanna Meet” might have inspired Joe to this new record.  After all, my main goal at this meet is to push Joe to lift hard.  If I can make him a little nervous at any point throughout the day, I feel like I have accomplished something.  He is just TOO GOOD at these lifts for me to give him any serious competition once the age and bodyweight corrections are made.   I did put up a 4146 total, which is the 5th best total of ALL TIME in this meet.  Joe tried to top me in this as well with his final Hip Lift, but it was just too much for him.  I thanked him for letting me take home a “moral victory”!  But by the look on his face when I said this to him, it was obvious to me that he wasn’t “letting me” take home anything. If he could have totalled more – he WOULD HAVE regardless of my feelings! 

As Joe and I were having our battle, the “senior lifters” of Rudy, Dean and Mike were having theirs.  Rudy came out on top again this year over his two amigos (I’ve impressed myself here – a little Spanish and French in the SAME story!).  Rudy’s big Hip Lift of 785# sealed the win.  I’ve said this before – I really enjoy watching these guys compete against each other.  They do it for the RIGHT REASONS – as you can tell they are enjoying every minute of it.  

Afterwards, we made our traditional visit to the Golden Corral to fill our rumens.  But unlike prior years where I’m hitting the road right after eating, this year I spent the night in Columbia because of Eric Todd’s meet in Cameron on Sunday.  This was a BIG WEEKEND for the USAWA in Missouri – two meets 150 miles apart!  In closing,  I want to thank Bill for opening his gym up to us again this year by hosting this meet.

Meet Results:

Deanna Springs Meet
Clark’s Gym
Columbia, MO
March 24th, 2012

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Officials (1 official system used): Bill Clark

Lifts: Crucifix, Curl – Cheat, Deanna Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift

LIFTER AGE BWT Cruc Curl Dean H&T Hip Total Points
Joe Garcia 58 210 70 151 535 1400 1900 4056 4196.76
Al Myers 45 247 60 191 805 1285 1805 4146 3507.90
Rudy Bletscher 76 223 50 96 405 485 785 1821 2100.10
Dean Ross 69 264 60 111 405 535 785 1896 1902.83
Mike Murdock 72 234 60 121 285 405 0 871 950.72

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are adjusted points for lynch and age correction.

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORD:

Mike Murdock: Squat – Front 165#

Zercher Meet

by Joe Garcia

Group picture from the 2012 Zercher Meet. (left to right): Eric Todd, Dean Ross, Mike Murdock, Chris Anderson, Lance Foster, and Joe Garcia.

Saturday was a great day at Clarks Gym.  The Zercher meet, the longest running event through USAWA’s history, was contested once again.  This year we had a total of six lifters, Bill Clark as the head official, Tom Powell and James Foster for loading and even two spectators.  Eric Todd showed up with Lance Foster and Chris Anderson.  Dean Ross and Mike Murdock were there and I rounded out the crew.  Richard Coder and his wife, members of the gym, were the spectators.  I mention Richard because he at one time worked out with some of the old time greats like John Grimek, etc out at York.  They both stayed for the entire contest and even joined us at Golden Corral. 

Once everyone was weighed in, we got started.  As usual, the leg press was first.  This particular model is the version where the weights go straight up and down, none of the angled stuff.  Chris had the top lift as Eric tried a little too big of a jump for his last attempt.  Mike Murdock started putting the pressure on Dean with a 500 to 450 lift.  In the Military Press, Eric came out on top even though he was nursing a bad right elbow.  Same thing happened in the Clean and Jerk, with Eric topping Chris by twenty pounds.  We had a three way tie in the one hand deadlift with Eric, Chris and me all getting 275 though I have to admit that my lift was a lot slower than theirs.  In the Heels Together Deadlift it was no contest with Eric out lifting everyone by 100 lbs.  We got a little rest for our backs and went to the other side of the gym to do the Bench – Feet in the Air.  Again Eric had the top lift with 350 lbs. 

After the bench, it was time to troop to the back of the gym for the rest of the meet, starting with the Hack lift.  Eric topped Chris 365 to 355 to earn top lift in this event also.  Next up was the lift the meet is named after, the Zercher lift.  Eric had the top lift with 385, but probably would have done more if he hadn’t missed 385 on his second attempt.  The problem wasn’t that the weight was too heavy, it was that he pulled it up too fast.  It looked about like he was cleaning the weight and when it hit his thighs he lost his balance and fell backwards on the floor.  So for the third attempt he just stayed at the same weight.   In everyone’s favorite, the Steinborn, Eric again came out first with 375. 

Bill Clark directing another Zercher Meet - the longest running meet in the USAWA.

After finishing with the regular bar lifts, it was time for the big bar to make an appearance.  To make things easy on our loaders, we decide to contest the lifts together, simply increasing the weight and the lifters would perform their lifts.  So what you would have seen is the Hand and Thigh, Hip and Harness being attempted one after another, just by different lifters.  In the Neck lift, Eric again had the top lift of 525 with both Chris and I getting 425.  Even though I did better this year in the Hand and Thigh than last year, I couldn’t duplicate my efforts at the Heavy Lift Nationals and Eric had the top lift with a 1305.  Chris did very well with a 1055 and in fact was great in all the big bar lifts despite never having done them before.  I’m not sure that he had even seen some of them.  In the Hip lift, we finally got someone else with the top lift where I was able get 1875 to Eric’s 1675.  Each year I also try to beat my old record of 2049 but once again was unsuccessful.  The final lift of the day was the Harness and I was again able to top Eric with 2445 to his 2225.  The end result of the day was Eric having the most poundage lifted, but with the magic of age, weight and a calculator, I won the event with Eric second and Chris third.  Full results are shown below.

During the morning, Dave Beversdorf also came in and set a couple bench records in the One Hand Bench.  Dave loves the bench and all variations of it and holds a number of USAWA records.

It was wonderful day at the gym, and tremendous to see everyone that showed up.  Eric and company needed to get on the road, but the rest of us ended up at Golden Corral for our normal post competition fest.  The only thing that was forgotten by both Bill and me were the Vanilla Wafers, a Zercher meet fixture for many years.

MEET RESULTS:

Zercher Strength Classic
Clarks Gym, Columbia, MO
January 28th, 2012

Meet Director: Bill Clark

Official: Bill Clark

Lifts: Leg Press, Deadlift – one arm, Hack Lift, Continental to Chest and Jerk, Clean and Press – Heels Together, Zercher Lift, Steinborn Lift, Neck Lift, Hip Lift, Harness Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Bench Press – Feet in Air

LIFT Joe Garcia Eric Todd Chris Anderson Mike Murdock Dean Ross Lance Foster
AGE 58 37  23  71  69  46
BWT 95.2 115.2  136.1  107.1  125.2  142.9
Leg P 400 750  800  500  450  400
DL-1 275R 275R  275R  185R  185L  185R
DL-HT 315 550  450  245  275  375
Hack 265 365  355  165  165  185
C&J 175 285  265  95  0  135
C&P 155 245  225  120  120  145
Zerch 225 385  365  205  205  135
Stein 195 375  325  145  145  0
Neck 425 525  425  125  125  305
Hip 1875 1675  1205  655  755  805
Harn 2445 2225  1505  955  1005  1005
H&T     1205 1305  1055  505  550  655
BP-FIA 225 350  315  175  175  175
Total 8180 9310  7565  4075  4155  4505
Points 8463.9 7326.0  5491.4  4395.2  4080.8  3426.8
Place 1st 2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th

NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in kilograms.  All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are adjusted points for the lynch correction and age adjustment.

EXTRA RECORDS:

Dave Beversdorf (46 years old, 299# BWT)
Bench Press – Right Arm: 170 pounds
Bench Press – Left Arm: 165 pounds

Bill Clark – Part 2

by Joe Garcia

Bill Clark performing his favorite lift, the Zercher Lift, at a meet in Leavenworth Prison in the early 1960's. There is 405 pounds on the bar.

Having looked at his role in the USAWA, and it is pretty easy to say there would not be a USAWA without his involvement; it’s time to delve into Bill’s life in general.  As we will see, Bill has been immersed in all sorts of sports, but the one in particular which has occupied the majority of his life is baseball. 

 His professional career as a scout began in 1956 when he became a ‘bird dog’, a person who finds talent for the scouts, for the Milwaukee Braves for $50 per year.  He performed at this level until 1962, meanwhile holding other jobs to support his family.  The Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966 where they are still today.  For a very short period of time he dabbled as an umpire in the Pioneer league, but stated that six weeks in the league cost him 3 years to recover.  In 1963 he became the Recreational Director for the city of Columbia and was also called by the Pirates who wanted him to run tryouts.  While doing tryouts, he first became a bird dog in their system, later becoming a part time scout and in 1967 was offered and accepted a full time position as scout.

The Seattle Pilots started up as a franchise in 1969 and took Bill on as one of their scouts.  The following year they went bankrupt, were purchased and moved to became the Milwaukee Brewers with Bill still on the team.  He stayed with them through the 1970 season and in 1971 got on with the Cincinnati Reds, again as a full time scout.  In 1984 Marge Schott took over as owner of the Reds.  Well known for both her cheapness and her dogs, she had the scouts in for a meeting, charged them 25 cents for leftover donuts from an event the previous day and had them all troupe down to meet her dogs.  Needless to say, Bill neither paid for the donuts nor met the dogs.

Probably due to his distain for her dogs, in 1989 Marge fired Bill who then went to work for the Atlanta and stayed with them for ten years.  After two years, in 1991, he was promoted to International Director of Scouting, a position he held till 1999 when he was relieved by new management.  In 2000, he joined with the San Diego Padres at the same position, where he finished out his scouting career in 2003, again being let go when new management took over the franchise.

During the course of his 36 year tenure in scouting, Bill signed 18 players into the league including Rafael Furcal (Atlanta – $8000) now with the Cardinals (6M), Andruw Jones (Atlanta) now with the Yankees and Bruce Chen (Atlanta) now with the Royals and past Pitcher of the Year.  As a member of the teams, he also received World Series rings, and has a total of eight rings, three for the champions; Cincinnati twice and Atlanta once.  These are kept in a bank vault, but hopefully he can be persuaded to bring them out sometime to gaze upon.

Way before his scouting and before the Pioneer league, Bill was a Semi-Pro official.  In 1949, at the age of 16, he officiated his first ball game for the Kansas City Monarchs, with the immortal Buck O’Neil playing First Base.  They kept a friendship going over the years until Buck’s death in 2006.  In 1950 he went to officiating school while still a teenager.  The last game Bill officiated was in 2009, between the Columbia Firemen and the media All-Stars for an Honor Flight fund raiser.  That last game put him behind the plate for a total of 7 decades.

He has worked in twenty two different sports from the local level through international, including an exhibition season in the NBA, National Junior College Wrestling, and State High School basketball.  As an athlete, he has competed in 6 decades, with the seventh just around the corner as he turns 80.  He was also co-owner of a trotting horse stables for a few years.

Bill received a Writing degree in Journalism in 1958 from the University of Missouri and has been at it ever since.  That same year he became the president of the MO State Sportswriters Association, and also accepted a position with the Lexington Kentucky Leader, whom he worked for briefly.  For over twenty years, he was on the staff as part time writer for both the Columbia Tribune and the Missourian, writing bowling columns, sports columns and general high school coverage.  Currently, he started writing in 2004 for the Columbia Tribune as their lead columnist, and to date has written approximately 1400 articles.  During his traveling years, he visited over 50 countries, logged more than 2000 international birds and has written numerous birding articles.

Over the years, Bill has started, created or revamped numerous organizations and events.  Here is a list he was able to think of during our interview:

  • In 1960 he wrote his first lifting news letter for the Missouri Valley AAU, expanded to write for the Region 8, and finally the USAWA finishing up in 2009.
  • Reorganized and revitalized the dormant Missouri Valley AAU.
  • Organized prison weightlifting.
  • Ran the prison postal championships for 20 years in Weightlifting, Powerlifting and track.
  • Created and wrote the constitution for the National Corrections Recreation Association.
  • Held the first sanctioned prison meet at Fort Leavenworth Prison city.
  • Along with Jim Witt, Homer Brannum and a couple of other ‘goons’; organized Powerlifting into a separate sport from weightlifting.  The ‘goons’ is a reference to comments made at the AAU meetings during the discussions.
  • Got prisoners full AAU Membership with 100% approval in 1966.
  • Responsible for the creation of the National Masters Weightlifting program.
  • In 1976 held the first all women’s sanctioned lifting competition.  Judy Glenney, a pioneer in women’s weightlifting and many time National champion, got her start at this meet.
  • Started up the USAWA and the IAWA.
  • Founder of the Heart of America Marathon – at 52 years the fourth oldest continuous Marathon in the country.
  • Originator of the Columbia Diamond Council, the largest youth baseball org in the county.
  • Creator of the Columbia Track Club, originally for kids now an adult league.
  • Organized the Hawthorne Native Plant Society.
  • Organized the Columbia Bowling Hall of Fame.
  • Help organize Society for American Baseball Research Scouts committee.
  • Organized the Columbia Basketball Officials Association.
  • Organized the Columbia Baseball Officials Association.
  • Tried and failed to organize the professional baseball scouts into a union.

 When someone puts as much into sports as Bill has done, over time they have a tendency to be recognized for their efforts.  Below is a list of some of the honors bestowed onto Bill.

  • Inducted into the Midwest Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame.
  • Received the Roland Hemond Award – from SABR for contributions to scouting and research.
  • Inducted into the Columbia Bowling Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the National Powerlifting Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the National Weightlifting Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the National Masters Weightlifting Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the Pan American Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame.
  • Received the USAWA Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Inducted into the Missouri Valley AAU Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into Association of Oldetime Barbell and Strongmen (AOBS) Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the Narcy Trass Volunteer Hall of Fame from the Show-Me State Games.
  • Won Joe Paul award.
  • Name Top Zebra by the Central Missouri Basketball Association.
  • In January will be awarded with the Legends in Scouting award out in Los Angeles.
  • Won numerous other awards.

There is no question that the world of sports has benefited from Bill Clark and his participation in it.  The two columns I have written about him have only touched upon the knowledge, trivia and stories from his years of involvement.  He has, in old terminology, ‘seen the elephant’.  I like to kid him that when he was born, they broke the mold, then beat the hell out of the mold maker, but all joking aside, there is no doubt that Bill is one of a kind man, the likes of we will never see again.  Thanks Bill.

Bill Clark, USAWA, and the rest of the story.

by Joe Garcia

Part One:  Our beginning.

Bill Clark (left) receiving the USAWA Lifetime Achievement Award from Joe Garcia (right).

Most of you probably know that Bill is the founder and creator of the USAWA.  Recently the organization decided to honor Bill, and a letter of appreciation and a Lifetime Achievement Award were presented to him at the Goerner Deadlift Dozen Plus One a few weeks ago.  I also thought it would be both fun and instructive to go over the history of the USAWA and some of Bill’s story.  We sat down the other day for a lunch and I interviewed him about both subjects.  Keep in mind that this is bare bones as it would take a book or two or more to get the whole picture.  We’ll start this story with a chronological line from the beginning as he tells it.

The whole entity that was to become known as the USAWA basically started in 1959 with the local boxing team that Bill coached.  The boxers wanted to lift weights, so an Olympic weightlifting team was created.  In November their first state meet was held at the Armory in Columbia. A common theme for most of the meets is that odd lifts were almost always performed whenever meets were held.

The next year 1960, Bill was appointed as Chairman of the Missouri Valley AAU.  They had eleven lifters including Wilbur Miller, Art Tarwater, and Bill Fellows.  At the same time, the prison system became a hotbed of odd lifting.  Bill worked the ‘home’ games of baseball in the prisons from 1956 through 1967, and so was very familiar to the recreation directors in the system.  He was contacted by the Feds to start a federal program of lifting which he agreed to do.  Two stories from this era:  First, at one of the prisons, they cut metal decking for the weight plates.  These weighed between 10 and 25 pounds and the lifters used a short steel bar that limited how much weight could be loaded, so for the lifters like Joe Bradford, they would load the bar with about 400 lbs, then attach another 100 or so with wire, which wouldn’t come off the ground until the bar was just under the knees. This same concept was used in later years when performing lifts like the Hip lift. The second story concerns the Federal pen at Leavenworth.  Bill had been told they made almost all of their equipment, but when he went there, they had 22 platforms with commercial looking bars.  It turns out that they bought one bar, then had the shop fabricate 21 more for the lifters.

Coming into 1961, Powerlifting and Odd lift competitions were being held in Missouri Valley. These competitions were sanctioned under the Weightlifting umbrella as there was no official Powerlifting or Odd lifting at that time.  If anyone has access to old Ironman magazines, they would be able to find results listed there from some of the meets.  Rules for the odd lifts were first created about that time and records were kept as Missouri Valley Odd Lifts.

One of the key years was 1962. This was the year that the foundation was laid to make Powerlifting a separate event from Weightlifting. Lifters like Jim Witt, Homer Brannum, and Bill were some of the main forces to achieve this goal and they journeyed to the AAU Convention in Detroit, where they asked to make PL a subcommittee under Weightlifting.  At that time there still were no sanctions for either Powerlifting nor Odd lifting.  1962 was also the year of the first National Prison Postal Meet.  This first meet was an Olympic meet with subsequent years also having Powerlifting meets.  By 1968, they dropped the Olympic meets.  Typically the regular competition would be held, and afterwards the lifters would perform the Odd lifts. 

The first National Powerlifting Championships was held in 1963 by Bill at Jeff Junior High in Columbia even though it was an unofficial one as there was no sport of Powerlifting at the time.  One of the officials sitting in a chair was Bob Hoffman of York Barbell fame.  Another event that helped further our sport was Bill got the AAU to form a new committee – Correctional Sports and by 1966, convicts were granted full AAU memberships.  The following February one of the convicts won the National Flyweight Boxing Championship.  In 1968, Jenkins Hudson of the Maryland State prison defeated Bill March in Olympic lifting, Bill being a 5 time Senior National Champion.  That same year Otis Harrison won the North American title in body building.  By the time the correctional sports program ended, there were about 1000 participant lifters nationwide.

In 1964, at the National AAU convention at the Shamrock Hotel in Houston, Texas, a vote was held to allow Powerlifting to be a separate part of the Olympic Sport.  This motion was carried in a very close vote.  Later at the same meeting, Bill put in a bid to hold the National Championships which he won, beating Bob Hoffman by one vote.  Hoffman was able to get the AAU chairman to hold another vote on the bid, this time beating out Bill’s bid by one vote.  Due to this, Hoffman went into the history books as holding the first National Championships.

During the next decade, numerous Powerlifting and Odd lifting competitions were held in the Missouri Valley area and elsewhere.  Bill started having the Double Decathlon, a forerunner to the Zercher meet.  Twenty lifts were contested, with the Zercher lift and the Steinborn always being anchor lifts.  The Steinborn was originally known as the “Rocking Squat” but Bill renamed it to the Steinborn, in honor of ‘Milo’ and let him know that they had done so.  Years later, just before his passing, Henry sent $50 for a trophy.

In 1973 Bill brought forth another proposal to the AAU membership, that of having a Masters Program.  This was quite a contentious motion but did pass on a close vote.  The following year, Bill tried to host the first Masters Powerlifting and Olympic Championships. With only 4 entrants, Bill Fellows, Bill Clark, Jack Lano and Wilbur Miller, the meet was called off.  However, in 1975 the meet was held at Columbia College with a total of 15 lifters.  They also had a track meet afterwards where they ran the 880 and threw.  Today, the National championships have over 200 contestants and the Masters program exists in over 70 countries.

Around 1981, Tony Cook from England contacted Bill about holding a Postal Odd meet between English lifters and American lifters.  This meet was held in the US at Sailors Gym over in Kansas.  Twenty five lifts where performed in one day on three platforms and a single lifter might actually have been ‘up’ on multiple platforms at the same time.  Numerous meets have been held at Sailors Gym, and in the early years of the USAWA, the Missouri Valley records were held as the standard for the USAWA, with most of them having been set at Sailors.  Sailors was owned by Bobby Fulgroat who himself was a master powerlifter and bicyclist.  He would ride everywhere including to Columbia for meets.

Bill and Tony started making plans for an international organization in 1985, and Bill flew over to England in October, 1986 to meet with Tony and Frank Allen, where the IAWA was organized.  In 1987, the USAWA was formed and the first IAWA meet was held, albeit it was a postal meet.  In 1988 the first USAWA Nationals was held with John Vernacchio as the host and also the first IAWA Worlds were held at Leicester, England with Frank Allen hosting.  As a side story, at the same time Bill was over in England in 1986, Bill Buckner committed his infamous fielding error during Game 6 of the World Series, allowing the Mets to tie the series and go on to win over the Red Sox.

From the beginning of the USAWA until 2009, Bill served as Secretary/Treasurer and starting with his first Journal on Sept 10, 1989 until his last one on October 19, 2009 wrote just under 150 Strength Journals, keeping the membership informed about meets, events and any other odds and ends that he saw as interesting.  He was also President of the IAWA for the first couple of years.  While his travels today are limited, he still hosts a few USAWA meets at the gym, notably the Zercher, Deanna Springs Memorial and the Goerner Deadlift Dozen Plus One.

Part II will continue with background information about events Bill has held plus accomplishments and achievements over the years.

Goerner Deadlift

by Joe Garcia

MEET RESULTS

GOERNER DEADLIFT DOZEN PLUS ONE

Bill Clark, at 79 years young, pulling a 2-Bar Deadlift of 270 pounds at the 2011 Goerner Deadlift.

It is amazing the lengths that some people will go to in order to miss this event.  Al ran off to some little contest in Australia, dragging Chad with him,  Eric was chowing down on turkey, and from the looks of the website, Thom was writing more ‘fluff’ pieces. Everyone not here missed out on a fun day at Clark’s gym.  When I drove up in the morning, Dean Ross and Mike Murdock were already there as was Bill Clark.  Evidently, Dean and Mike had arrived in town around 3:30 AM, not wanting miss out on one of the coveted parking spots in front.  We all weighed in, including Bill, who was on the platform for the first time in over a year.  Even though his right shoulder would give him painful problems all day, he managed at least one successful in each of the thirteen lifts and sometimes a second and a third attempt.  There were no fourth attempts taken during the day.

The day started out with the Thumbless Deadlifts.  That is definitely a lift that you can go from greatness to humility in 5 lbs.  One thing we elected to do during the day was to allow the lifter to do any of the lifts that he wanted in the order he wanted with the exception that the finger lifts were contested last.  This way, the loading was kept to a minimum by the lifters-loaders-officials.  That’s right, more multi-tasking at Clark’s gym.  Next up was standard One-Hand Deadlifts, if any lift in the USAWA could be called standard.  After finishing up with the one hand stuff, attention was turned to the two hand lifts.  Dean pulled the biggest Reeves lift with a 275, could have done a bit more but took a little too big of a jump and was unsuccessful in his next attempt.  I was happy with my 225 as I don’t remember the last time I did a Reeves deadlift.  Not only did Dean do a great job of lifting, he also kept us entertained with his stories and jokes.  Problem is that I think he believes most of them.  After the Reeves, the 2 Barbell, Hack, Heels Together and Jefferson lifts followed.  Finally, the dreaded finger lifts commenced.  Everyone began with the Little Fingers Deadlift, then the Ring, Index, and Middle Finger, except for Mike, who had to go back and finish with an Index Fingers Lift.  Everyone was grateful that Mary wasn’t around to show us up.

Dean Ross had the top Reeves Deadlift of the day, with this 275 pound lift.

The organization had elected to present Bill with both a letter of appreciation and a Lifetime Achievement Award.  I was honored to read the letter to Bill and to present him with his well deserved plaque for everything he has done for the USAWA over the years.  Bill also wanted everyone to know how much he appreciated the honor.

Results of the meet are listed below.  Amazingly, I won the Goerner, a deadlift contest.  I suppose that means I will have to defend it next year.

MEET RESULTS

2011 Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One
November 26, 2011
Clarks Gym
Columbia, Missouri

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Lifts: Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm (left and right), Deadlift – One Arm (left and right), Deadlift – Reeves, Deadlift -2 Bars, Hack Lift, Deadlift -Heels Together, Jefferson Lift, Deadlift – Fingers, Little, Deadlift – Fingers,Index, Deadlift – Fingers, Ring, Deadlift – Fingers, Middle

Officials: Joseph Garcia, Bill Clark, Mike Murdock

 

Lifter Age Bwt DL Heels 2 Bar Hack Jefferson
Mike Murdock 71 234 225 270 135 185
Dean Ross 69 266 315 300 185 315
Bill Clark 79 235 225 270 185 185
Joe Garcia 58 203 315 300 275 275
      1 Arm R 1 Arm L 1 Arm NT R 1 Arm NT L
Mike Murdock     135 135 115 115
Dean Ross     185 185 160 160
Bill Clark     160 160 115 115
Joe Garcia     275 275 205 205
      Index Middle Ring Little
Mike Murdock     75 135 65 55
Dean Ross     120 170 120 95
Bill Clark     135 135 105 65
Joe Garcia     185 205 135 120
      Reeves   Total Points
Mike Murdock     205   1850 2004.1
Dean Ross     275   2585 2584.9
Bill Clark     135   1990 2282.0
Joe Garcia     225   2995 3158.1

NOTES:  Bodyweights listed in pounds.  All lifting poundages listed in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age amendment.

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

by Al Myers

Bill Clark (left) and Rudy Bletscher (right). This picture was taken a couple of years ago, at the Deanna Springs Meet. Notice that Bill is tallying the scores using a hand calculator and pen and pad. No fancy computer, or even a printed scoresheet is needed for Bill to figure the day's results!

The Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule is now available.  USAWA events hosted in Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri have been some of the longest running meets in the history of the USAWA.  Meets like the Zercher Strength Classic and the Backbreaker Pentathlon have been signature meets in the USAWA, and have the historic significance of defining the All Rounds in the United States.  As per custom in meets hosted by Bill Clark, there are no entry fees or entry forms to send in.  There are no awards given.  I have asked Bill in the past why he doesn’t give out awards, and his reply to me was “if you want one buy your own!”.   That sounded like a good reason to me!  After all, there are not very many events you can go to now a days that are free like Clark’s Gym Meets.  You get to enjoy a great day of lifting, along with all the free wisdom you want  from the Father of  All-Round Weightlifting himself Bill Clark, and it won’t cost you a dime! 

It is important that you contact Bill at least 3 days in advance that you plan on attending.  If not, you might show up on meet day and the meet has been cancelled (if no one has pre-entered).  

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

November 6th, 2011 – Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon

November 26th, 2011 – Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One

January 28th, 2012 – Zercher Strength Classic

March 24th, 2012 – Deanna Springs Memorial Meet

Continental to Chest: It’s not a Clean!

 by Thom Van Vleck

The mid point of the Continental to Chest.

The Continental to Chest (Fulton bar) will be contested at the 2011 USAWA Nationals hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  Let’s get familiar with the rules:

A23.  Continental to Chest

The lifter starts with the bar on the platform in front of the lifter and raises it by any method of the lifter’s choosing onto the lifter’s chest above the pectoral muscle. The bar may be raised in one or a series of movements and may come to rest, be lowered, or make contact with any part of the legs and body during the lift. However, the bar must not be upended into any position on the body. Hand spacing and grip are of the lifter’s choosing and may be altered on the bar during the lift. The hands may be removed from the bar during the lift. The bar may come to rest on the lifter’s belt. A towel may be placed in the belt for the bar to rest on.  Touching the platform with a knee or the buttocks is permissible.  It is a disqualification for the bar or plates to touch the platform before the finish of the lift.   Once the lifter’s legs are straightened, the lifter’s body erect, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, the bar motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is placed on the platform under
control by the lifter.

F.  Fulton Bar (2” Bar) Lifts
Fulton Bar Lifts are approved for all bar lifts using a Fulton Bar and the rules of the individual lifts. 

 

We wanted to have one Fulton bar (or thick bar) lift and the Continental to Chest happens to be it.

In the past, this lift has often been referred to as the “Continental Clean”.  This was a pet peeve of  former USAWA secretary Bill Clark.  He would point out that the “Clean” refers to lifting the bar “cleanly” from the floor to the chest.  So, saying “Continental Clean” is an oxymoron……kind of like “near miss” or “alone together”.   Everyone knows what you mean but it really doesn’t make sense!

There’s a deeper story on how the Continental got it’s name.  In the early days of lifting, the British were often in competition with the French and German lifters (or Continental Europe, which did not include the British Isles).  The British took pride in how strictly they would lift the bar “cleanly” to the chest and would make fun of how the French and German would bounce the bar up anyway they could and the would refer to that method as the “Continental Style” in a negative fashion.  Later, the British were instrumental in the early lifting rules and the continental style was phased out and the clean style was accepted for major lifting competitions.  But the USAWA keeps the style alive and well!

So study the rules and get ready for some Continental action!

Heart of America Festival – Day 2

(Webmasters note: This is a reprint of the meet report covering the Heart of America Festival that occurred in August 1963 as published by the oldtime lifting magazine, the Lifting News. Dale Friesz passed this along to me to share, which characterizes one of the early-days All-Round Weightlifting Meets. Dale’s brother, Leonard, is included in the results as he was a member of the Columbia Athletic Club at the time. Our very own Bill Clark served as Meet Director, Head Judge, and Meet Reporter. He also competed! Past meets such as these are the reason why Bill organized All-Round Weightlifting into the USAWA. You will recognize several of the “meet stars” as they are legends in All-Round Weightlifting today. The meet was a two day affair, so I will divide the story into two parts, one covering each day. Enjoy!)

by Bill Clark

On the second day the squat and dead lift marks of Saturday are used and four other events are added to test a man’s back, endurance and will power.  The front squat opens the second day and Miller was very unhappy with his 390 front squat.  Wachholz made 385 and Friesz 380.  The Jefferson lift was next and Wachholz almost caught the lanky Kansas wheat farmer.  Miller did a straddle with 650, but Wachholz surpassed him on bodyweight with a 640 and moved within range with two lifts remaining.  Paul was able to make “only” 600 in the hack lift, but Miller endured with a 650 effort.  In the Zercher lift, Miller made 425 while Wachholz was good for only 365.   The meet was Miller’s once again.  This time with a total of 3320 and 2148 points.  Wachholz was close behind with 3020 pounds and 2072 points.  Your writer was third and felt happy with a mediocre performance after not working out more than five times since February.  He squatted 470 cold, made a 530 dead lift, front squatted 320, straddled up 560, hacked only 500 (has done 600) and Zerchered just 420 – 40 pounds under tops.  This was the meet he had planned to make a 600 squat, but baseball took care of that boast.  Maybe next year.  Too much umpiring this year and not enough time in the gym.

Lifter Squat Front Sq Deadlift Hack Zerch Strad Total Points
Miller 530 390 675 650 425 650 3320 2148
Wachholz 455 385 585 600 365 640 3020 2072
Clark 470 320 530 500 420 560 2800 1817
Friesz 445 380 490 450 385 475 2625 1790
Hahn 400 320 475 475 385 475 2530 1771
Hamilton 280 205 420 420 315 440 2080 1714
Witt 470 295 525 315 335 500 2400 1596
McPheeters 375 475 500
Lewellen 385 500 500
B. Fellows 420 315

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Officials:  Bill Clark, Don Wickell, Ed Zercher

The question here, then, is how these two great lifters rank with strong men of the past.  Surely, in two days, few men of this size have ever lifted more.  To dead lift 675, hack 650 and straddle 650 along with the others is a phenomenal performance, and Wachholz was superb.  His 640 straddle must rank with the best.

These men are not goons, as power lifters have often been called.  Wachholz has done over 800 as a mid-heavy in the Olympic lifts and won the 100 yard dash, final event of the meet, in an amazing time of 11.3 seconds, running on asphalt in tennis shoes after a hard day on the platform.  Wachholz also throws the discus well over 160 feet and has a beautiful frame, placing high in every physique contest he enters.  He’s married and has two children.  He works in a bank and travels thousands of miles a year to meets. (No relation between his work and his ability to travel).  The marks he set at the Power Festival were all personal records.  In addition, he entered several of the side contests and won them.  He was best in the bench press with 315 pounds and did a stiffarm pullover with 110.

Miller was impressive as always.  He stands 6′3″, and weighs 235.  In high school he was a top miler and turned down a track scholarship at Kansas University after finishing his senior year at Ensign (Kansas) High School.  In his final high school race, he covered the mile in 4:33.6 and wound up third behind two great runners – Wes Santee, who later ran the mile in 4:00.2 and was America’s greatest miler until barred by the AAU for excessive expense money – and Billy Tidwell, a half-miler who represented the U.S. on many international fields.  Miller has done 930 in the Olympic Lifts and was second in the Junior Nationals this year.  He won one other event in the Power Festival, doing an abdominal raise with 105 pounds.  When the meet was over, a side bet came to pass concerning Wilbur’s ability to lift cars.  He promptly picked up the rear end of a Volkswagon, engine and all, and held it a foot off the ground.  He made the lift from the normal deadlift position.

Ed Zercher Sr., an old-timer who has moved enough weight to kill an elephant in his forty years on the platform, refereed all the lifts and branded Miller and Wachholz as two mighty strong youngsters.  He pointed out that their lifting was different from that in the old days when bars were not machined, but allowed the pair could have held their own with many of the greats.  Zercher, at 56, proved to be a horse even yet.  He took 600 pounds on his feet, and without any supporting devices, made 10 reps and held his balance perfectly in the leg press.  He then built a Roman Chair all by himself with 235 pounds balanced on his feet: 145 pounds in his hands and 130 pound Art Tarwater sitting astride the chair doing presses with 100 pounds.  When Tarwater lost his balance, Zercher held the chair steady – much to the amazement of the onlookers.

This meet was held in a shelter house the first evening and on the grass under a large shade tree the second day.  People driving through the park would stop and watch the lifting until they grew tired.  The crowd changed many times and townspeople still talk about the show they say in the park – for no charge.  It seems until someone comes up with a better performance, this must go down as one of the greatest ever.

Heart of America Festival – Day 1

(Webmasters note:  This is a reprint of the meet report covering the  Heart of America Festival that occurred in  August 1963 as published by the oldtime lifting magazine, the Lifting News.  Dale Friesz passed this along to me to share, which characterizes one of the early-days All-Round Weightlifting Meets.  Dale’s brother, Leonard, is included in the results as he was a member of the Columbia Athletic Club at the time.  Our very own Bill Clark served as Meet Director, Head Judge, and Meet Reporter.  He also competed!   Past meets such as these are the reason why Bill organized All-Round Weightlifting into the USAWA.  You will recognize several of the “meet stars” as they are legends in All-Round Weightlifting today.  The meet was a two day affair, so I will divide the story into two parts, one covering each day. Enjoy!)

by Bill Clark

Wilbur Miller, the Cimarron Strongman, and Paul Wachholz, an outstanding athlete from Englewood, Colorado, waged a duel in the Heart of America Power Festival, August 3-4 in Columbia, Missouri, which brought nostalgia to the hearts of the old timers in the crowd and may have established an all-time record for weight hoisted in a two-day period.  The Power Festival, in its third year, is sponsored by the Columbia Athletic Club, Inc., and is a fun meet all the way.  Many lifts, pets of various lifters, are contested and except for eight established events, the meet follows only a vague pattern.  Often more than one contest is under way at the same time.  Last year Homer Lewellen, a mid-heavy from the host club, lifted in 34 different events and totaled well over 15,000 pounds during the two-day session.

This year, however, the number of events was cut down by the tremendous interest in the Miller-Wachholz battle.  There are two sets of trophy lifts in the meet.  On the first day, a Saturday, the contest is the jerk from the rack, squat, and dead lift.  The entire meet is on a bodyweight formula basis because never more than 15 hardy souls enter.  Medals are given for each lift and trophies back five places overall.  Leonard Friesz won the jerk from the rack with a 350 jerk at a bodyweight of 198.  Miller was close behind with 370 and Wachholz was third with 320.

Lifter BWT Jerk Squat Dead Lift Total Points
Miller 235 370 530 675 1575 1014.30
Wachholz 195 320 455 585 1360 932.96
Friesz 198 350 445 490 1285 876.37
Witt 214 225 470 525 1225 807.98
Hahn 187 275 400 475 1150 805.00
Tarwater 130 230 260 410 900 801.00
Fellows 160 265 345 400 1010 776.69
Hamilton 145 230 280 420 930 766.32
Skinner 129 230 280 340 850 760.75
McPheeters 232 260 375 475 1080 698.76
Lewellen 190 280 385
B. Fellows 238 305 420

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Officials:  Bill Clark, Don Wickell,  Ed Zercher

Friesz, an army captain stationed in Columbia, stayed in the running with a 445 squat, but Miller made 530 to grab the lead and Wachholz came up with 455.  In the dead lift, Wachholz shot ahead of Friesz with a great 585 effort and a near miss with 600.   Miller opened with 600, a weight he does five reps with, then jumped to 675.  He held the listed world amateur heavyweight record at 672 1/2 and made the 675 so easily that 700 or more seemed quite possible.  Miller is a perfect deadlifter.  The weight never touches his thighs as it goes up.  His shoulders are back before weight and thighs get together.  The 700 broke loose twice and went easily to the knees but Wilbur couldn’t get his shoulders back after such a fine effort and the lifts were no good.  He vowed that he would make 700 in Leavenworth in September.

Miller thus won the first day’s trophy event with a 1575 total and 1014.3 points.  His dead lift was a world mark and his lifts and total were all Missouri Valley records.  Wachholz made a 1360 total and established himself as a strong young man. He strengthened this fact considerably the following day.

COMING TOMORROW – DAY 2 OF THE HEART OF AMERICA FESTIVAL

Uncle Phil

by Thom Van Vleck

Phil Jackson (R) arm wrestling in the old JWC gym

A lot of you guys hear me mention my “Uncle Phil” and a few of you have asked me to tell you more about him (some of the old timers still around like Bill Clark, Charles Scott, and Wilbur Miller will remember him personally) .  He is Phil Jackson and he’s the one really responsible for the Jackson Weightlifting Club today.  He is also the source of most of my training knowledge.  He has been a father figure, a friend, an mentor, a coach, and sometimes agitator!  The photo above was when Phil was just a teen.  He was a fantastic arm wrestler and says he was NEVER beaten and I can find no one who says they did!   Phil’s main passion was Olympic lifting and Bodybuilding.  He had a disdain for powerlifters calling them “Olympic lifting rejects”, but that was mostly good natured (at least I think it was!).

My grandfather initially started the JWC in 1928 with his brother in law, Coda Baugher, and some friends.  But to be honest, this was just some neighborhood friends hanging out and lifting weights and it quickly broke up as they grew up and left home.  However, my grandfather would tell the stories to my Uncles and they started lifting in 1957.  Initially, it was my Uncle’s Leroy and Wayne.  Phil was the “baby” of the family and started a couple years later.

Leroy was a star athlete and interested in weights only to benefit his other interests in football, basketball, baseball, and track and he was very successful in those sports.  But Wayne took an interest in Olympic lifting and entered his first contest in April of 1962 (run by Bill Clark) and out of that, the modern JWC was born!  Phil was always the “go getter”, the guy that would pull everyone together to train, compete, and put up money for contests.  He soon rounded up over 30 members to the newly named JWC and fielded teams that traveled to dozens of meets across the Midwest during the 60’s.  During that time, the JWC won two team state championships in Olympic lifting against teams from St. Louis and Kansas City.  Phil lifted on those teams but he was always the “coach” and main motivator. Phil has always been an “old school” type coach.  If he thinks making you mad will make you better….prepare to be madder than you’ve ever been.  Phil knows how motivate people, one way or the other!!!!  He used his coaching lessons later in life to win 42 out of 42 consecutive sales awards during his career as a sales manager for a large insurance company.

In 1965 Phil earned a unusual distinction.  That year he entered the Missouri High School State Championships in Olympic Lifting, held in Kansas City that year.  At that time Phil was around 17 years of age and he lifted either 165lbs or 181lbs.  He became adept at making weight when he had to.  He had an ongoing battle with another lifter and Phil was going to make a point of beating him at this meet.  He thought this fella was going to lift in the 165lb class so Phil (already with a qualifying total in another meet at 165) cut weight and showed up to lift on the first day.  That day, the 114lb, 123lb, 145lb, and 165lb classes were due to lift on Saturday.  The other guy found out about this and gained up to lift 181lbs obviously trying to avoid the confrontation.  Phil lifted 165lbs and won, but the other guy started talking some trash about how he was “lucky” Phil had avoided certain defeat had he entered that class.  So Phil showed up on Sunday to weigh in, having hit the buffet and downing a gallon of milk to make the 181lb class.

Phil had a qualifying total at 181 and stated he wanted to lift.  The officials told he he couldn’t and Phil said, “Show me in the rules where it says I can’t”!! The officials couldn’t find any rule so decide to let him lift….much the the chagrin of his “rival”.  Phil hit the exact same total as the previous day and won!  Two state titles in two weight classes…..the same YEAR!  The following year, the AAU made a rule explicitly forbidding anyone from doing that again.  While no one named Phil as the reason for the rule….it always seemed there had to be a connection.  Later, all other lifting organizations, as they developed, lifted that rule from the AAU rule book and today it’s standard in all lifting organizations.

In March of 1966, Phil was going to be drafted so he joined the Air Force.  He was soon after sent to Vietnam for a year where he poured himself into his training as an escape and got into the best shape of his life.  When he came back from Vietnam he was stationed in Alabama where he met and trained with greats such as Joe Dube, Frank Zane (although Phil always called him “chicken legs Zane”), Boyer Coe, Casey Viator, and Karo Whitfield to name a few.  He also met and had a long personal conversation with Paul Anderson during this time.

In 1969 Phil came back to Kirksville to attend Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) and during that time him and my Uncle Wayne achieved some of their greatest strength lifts.  In 1971 Wayne won the Missouri State title in Powerlifting AND Olympic Lifting with Phil at his side pushing him the whole way.  During that time he became best friends with Lenvil Elliot, a friendship that lasted until Lenny’s passing a few years ago. Lenny was a JWC member and later played 8 years in the NFL and was the MVP of the 1982 NFC Championship Game (the game where Joe Montana threw the famous pass to Dwight Clark) and Lenny won a Super Bowl ring.  So, a JWC member has a Super Bowl ring!

In 1973, Phil graduated and the rigors of a family and job, plus moving away, led to him giving up heavy lifting.  During that time he would always challenge himself.  One time he made a goal of being able to do 100 pushups without stopping and trained for that.  I often visited him and we often went hunting and fishing together and he made a point of always “showing me up” with some feat of strength or endurance.  At the same time, he always let me know that if I wanted to beat him, it was as simple as being willing to “pay the price” and get stronger.  Phil often reminded me, “The only time Success comes before Work is in the Dictionary”.  I was always impressed with his exploits and feats of strength and it fired me up to be strong!

In 1977 I took an interest in weight training and soon Phil was my coach.  Since he was my mother’s younger brother people thought we were brothers and I suppose we acted like it, cutting up all the time.  Phil guided me in my early training and often stated, in his old school coach way, “I’ve forgotten more about training that you’ll ever know”.  This has, to date, been a 33 year relationship that continues to this day.  While he lives in Colorado and has since 1984, we talk a couple times a week.  Often about many things, but weight training is a constant.  I lived with him in 1988 and he trained me into the best all around shape of my life.  We often debate heatedly on training, but in that process, I know he’s pushing me to become better.   Over the years I’ve been out at least two dozen times for visits and he comes back almost yearly and during that time we have intense meetings on training, politics, and life.

Then, in 2000, after a 27 year absence from serious weight training, Phil made his “comeback”.  Since that time he trains about 3 hours a day, usually a split routine, and often almost daily.  He trains old school, long, hard hours in the gym and he has had some amazing results.  I am hoping that someday I can coax him into a USAWA meet!  I am confident he could break many records.  But that doesn’t seem to interest him as much as just communing with the iron and using his lifting as a way of life rather than a path to glory.  I can honestly say that at 60 he was in the best shape I’ve ever seen for a 60 year old man

Phil has had some bad luck as of late.  Severely injuring his shoulder in a fall that required surgery and some health issues that appear to be related to his exposure to agent orange and DDT in Vietnam (he worked in a warehouse that ordered, stored, and dispersed the product and he said the area around the base was sprayed constantly).  But Phil never stops, he never gives up and that’s what I’ve come to expect from him.  I am currently working with him on a book about the JWC that will involve life stories along with real, hardcore, training philosophy.  Even if it never gets published, I know I’m already better off from the knowledge and lessons learned in the process.

In closing, I’ll just say that what I admire most about Phil was he had the mind of a champion.  Once he locked on a goal, he was unbeatable.  He may not have been gifted genetically, but he would get 100% out of what he had and often beat others stronger, faster, and more athletic than he was…simply with determination!

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

by Al Myers

Bill Clark has promoted over 100 USAWA competitions. This is a record no other USAWA Meet Director is even remotely close to approaching. (photo credit: National Masters Weightlifting Newsletter, 1989)

Bill Clark has just revealed the dates for the five sanctioned USAWA Events during the upcoming lifting season in Clark’s Gym.  All of this will begin with a gym record day on October 24th, and ending with the annual Deanna Springs Memorial Meet on March 27th.  In between these two events will be the long standing Zercher Strength Classic (January 29th) and the prestigious Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One ( December 4th).  Bill Clark has received the 2010 sanction from the USAWA Executive Board to host this year’s Heavy Lift National Championships, which will be held in conjunction with the Steve Schmidt’s Backbreaker on November 6th.

As per tradition of events directed by Bill Clark, no entry fee is charged to enter, and all competitions will be held in Clark’s Gym in Columbia, Missouri.  What a deal!  There is not many things you get for free in today’s World,  so plan on making at least one of the competitions on the Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule.  You will get your money’s worth!!  Bill has put on more events than any other meet director in the history of the USAWA, and Clark’s Gym has been a USAWA Club Member since the inception of the USAWA.

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

October 24th, 2010 – Record Day.

November 6th, 2010 – USAWA Heavy Lift National Championships and Schmidt’s Backbreaker.

December 4th, 2010 – Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One.

January 29th, 2011 – Zercher Strength Classic.

March 27th, 2011 – Deanna Springs Memorial Meet.

No entry forms are available for these competitions, but YOU MUST send a confirmation to Bill Clark prior to attendance. The deadline is the Tuesday before the event.  Bill may be reached by telephone: 573-474-4510, Fax: 573-474-1449, or mail: Bill Clark, 3906 Grace Ellen Drive, Columbia, Missouri, 65202.  It is very important to contact  Bill prior to attending so he can adequately plan for the competition day-  and it is the LEAST you can do for a meet director that is promoting a meet without charge.

All of these events are listed in the USAWA Future  Events Calendar on the website, where more detailed information about each meet can be found.

Bill Clark and the Zercher Lift

by Al Myers

The founding father of the USAWA, Bill Clark, making a 405 pound Zercher Lift.

I recently found this picture of our USAWA  founder, Bill Clark, performing one of his favorite lifts, the Zercher Lift.  The Zercher Lift was named after the famous old time Missouri strongman Ed Zercher. This picture was taken in the early 1960’s at a meet at the Leavenworth Prison, which Bill was promoting.  Bill’s best lifetime Zercher Lift was 455 pounds – which would still be the best at most USAWA meets today. In a true Zercher Lift, the bar is taken from the platform, and not from a rack or stands. Notice that Bill is not even wearing a belt!

First All-Round Meet Memories

by Thom Van Vleck

My first All-Round meet was when I traveled with my Uncle Wayne Jackson to the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. It was called “The Wall” because a very imposing stone wall surrounded the facility almost looking like that was all that was there. It was, I thought 1979, but my Uncle said he thought it was ‘80.

I was 15 or 16 at the time and we arrived in time to meet up with Bill Clark. After some greetings we headed inside. I considered myself a pretty tough kid, but I’ll be honest, being inside that place was like being “scared straight”. We went through a double cell door system and we had the backs for our hands marked with ultraviolent ink. The mark had to be there or you didn’t get back out later! A funny note, after the meet, some of the guys that were showering held their hand out of the shower for fear they would wash it off even though it was “permenant ink”. I was afraid to shower at all!

As we filtered into the yard we were escorted by a guard. I noted that he didn’t have a gun or weapon of any kind and when I asked why he said, “The prisoners would just jump me and take it away”. It was then I realized this was the real deal! This was the days before signing waivers….you were just warned and there you go!

A group of the lifting prisoners greeted us. I recall Lou Greenlaw being one of them. He noticed me being a little nervous and he said to stick close to him, anyone that went after me would have to go through him first. Lou was a big guy and I recall him doing a very strict 315lb Good Morning that meet for a record. He was pretty nice to me all day and encouraged me. I wondered later what he was in there for!

After awhile, I came to realize that all the prisoners were pretty nice. Most of them were men that had made bad choices, but weren’t necessarily evil men. At one point I recall the prison cross dressers coming in to watch the lifting. They got kinda rowdy at one point making cat calls at the guys lifting….and they were kicked out as I recall. I thought it was pretty funny, and being a farm kid….I’d never seen anything like those guys before!

We ate lunch in the cafeteria. It was a loud and busy place. The food was like school food, not bad, but not that great. There were a lot of the general population in there and they were pretty rough looking. I sat with Lou!

My Uncle Wayne had a great day. I recall him breaking about a dozen records. The one that stuck out in my mind the most was a 300lb Reverse Grip Clean and press. He did 250 with ease and went to 300. He got it but Bill turned it down. I can’t recall why, but it looked good to me! Wayne had been recovering from a devastating back injury so his lifts were all the more impressive to me. He did an easy 280lbs seated press. Wayne had done 300lbs for 8 sets of 2 at one point in training, but he braced his feet behind him while the rules of the lift required him to have his feet flat which really threw him off. I also recall him power cleaning and pressing 300lbs with power to spare. Wayne was always an explosive presser and it always made him look like he had plenty more in the tank.

I recall doing a 120lb seated press weighing about 165lbs and then deadlifting something like 365lbs. I don’t think they counted it with the other lifts, but at least I got on the platform for the first time in my life.

That prison was legendary, some pretty bad people (like Lee Harvey Oswald) were sentenced there and many of them died there, either by natural causes or otherwise! But all in all, the men I met that day were pretty good guys. Bill used to do a lot for the prisoners with his lifting events and I’m sure it helped put more than one of the straight and narrow. Prison lifting is a thing of the past as many of states have limited this for lots of reasons which are debateable. But that day stands out to me. A kid learned more than just how to lift in a meet that day. He learned a lot about life.

Five Decades

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Jackson & Bill Clark in front of "Clark's Championship Gym" in Columbia, Missouri.

Recently, Al and I went to Clark’s Gym to compete in the Deanna Meet with Joe Garcia. My Uncle Wayne Jackson came along. It has been some time since he had seen Bill and along the way we talked about him and Bill’s relationship.

It was in 1962 Wayne told me they first met, it was hard for him to believe that it had been nearly 50 years! It was a 3 hour round trip for us and during that time Wayne shared many stories of taking trips with Bill back in the day. Some were pretty long and believe me, I’m going to write these down. But a couple of short one’s:

One time Bill gave Wayne, Phil Jackson, and Bill Fellows a ride to a meet in Kansas. Bill had an old hearse that he used as his personal vehicle. On the way back, the lights went out and they stopped at a truck stop but could not get them to work again. So Bill talked a trucker in to letting them tailgate him all the way from Kansas City to Columbia. As they left and the next 100 miles revolved around Bill staying glued to the back bumper of this truck…..Wayne said him and Phil got to laughing as they contemplated the irony of being killed in a HEARSE.

Another time, Wayne shared a the story of a write up that Clark did on him in the forerunner of the USAWA newsletter, the MO Valley Lifting News. Wayne had broke the state record in the clean and press and the age of 18 and Bill wrote, “Look out Russians, here comes Wayne Jackson”. Wayne’s brother Phil was excited about the headline, Wayne has always been a modest person and said he was actually embarrassed by it!

Wayne and Bill go way back, and Wayne got Bill’s newsletter from 1962 until the last one and read it religiously. In a way, it almost seemed like a chance to say goodbye for Wayne as his health has not been the best and if that is the case, I’m glad he came…..but I don’t think guys as tough as Bill and Wayne ever give up the ghost quite so easily!!!!!

Deanna Springs Meet

Garcia Wins Deanna Springs Memorial  Meet

by Al Myers

Deanna Meet Participants (left to right) in front of the Heavy Bar Al Myers, Joe Garcia and Thom Van Vleck

A slimmed down Joe Garcia still shows he has the mastery of the Heavy Lifts, and won this year’s Deanna Springs Memorial Meet. Joe has won this meet hosted annually by Bill Clark numerous times in the past. He had two challengers – Thom Van Vleck of the JWC and myself of the Dino Gym. The meet was about canceled this year due to lack of entries, but when Bill found out there were interested participants he graciously opened his gym up to another year of the challenging lifts contested in the “Deanna Meet”. Missing this year was Al Springs, who often attends in memory of Deanna.

Joe has been busy with starting his new business, but it was obvious he hasn’t let his training slack and looked in great shape. This was Thom’s first exposure to the Chain Lifts and did quite well his first time out – and with time no doubt will become very proficient in them. The meet started out with the Crucifix and I had the top lift, matching my personal best of 90 pounds. The next event was the Cheat Curl and Thom ended up with the top Cheat Curl at 195 pounds. I usually consider these first two events as warmups because at this point the Heavy Lifts start – and it’s time to get serious. The next event is the Deanna Lift – which was invented and named after Deanna Springs. It is the meet’s signature event – and has never been contested outside of this meet. It combines two of Deanna’s favorite lifts – the Zercher Lift and the Hand and Thigh Lift. This lift is very painful as it involves the Hand and Thigh bar positioned on the arms like a Zercher Lift, but with MUCH more weight involved. I had the top lift at 775 pounds.

The fourth event was the Hand and Thigh Lift. It is always a great privilege to compete in this event against the ALL-TIME record holder Joe Garcia. Everything I know about the Hand and Thigh Lift I have learned from Joe. Well, the years of tutelage finally paid off for me as I put it all together in this lift and broke 1500 pounds for the first time. My final lift was 1505 pounds, which broke Joe’s overall record in the 115K class. Joe was a class act about me breaking one of his Hand and Thigh records (not that he doesn’t have many others!!!) and sincerely congratulated me on my efforts. This meant a lot to me, and even more when Joe said, “this is the first time in 20 years that I have been beaten in a meet in the Hand and Thigh and I am glad that it is by you”. He then reminded me that he was at his Hand and Thigh peak when he was 43 years old (the same age I am now)! I’m still trying to figure out what he meant by that – but regardless, thanks Joe for all the help you have been to me in this lift!!

The meet ended with the Hip Lift. Thom got an easy 1205# lift (and had MUCH more in him) and Joe and I both ended at 1685 pounds. We were both capable of much more, but I made a huge jump on my last attempt as a strategic move to put the pressure on Joe for the overall. He made the jump with me but this big jump was just too much for both of us on this day. When it comes to a meet like this, that includes an assortment of Heavy Lifts, Joe is about impossible to beat. I was just glad to be able to push him a little on this day – something I haven’t done in previous Deanna Meets.

We concluded the day by filling up on the buffet at the Golden Corral – a Clark’s Gym post meet tradition. I also want to mention the All-Round celebrity guest we had in attendance – Wayne Jackson. Wayne is Thom’s Uncle, and one of the founders of the Jackson Weightlifting Club. Wayne told me that he first met Bill in 1962 while attending a meet hosted by Bill. They both enjoyed “reminiscing about the old days”. I want thank Bill for putting this meet on – EVERYONE had a great time!!

Below is the full meet results:

Deanna Springs Memorial Meet
Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri
March 28th, 2010

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Official (one used):  Bill Clark

Lifts:  Crucifix, Cheat Curl, Deanna Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, and Hip Lift

Results:

Lifter Age BWT Crucifix Curl Deanna H&T Hip Total Adj. Points
Joe Garcia
56 215 70 155 575 1285 1685 3770 3611.64
Al Myers
43 251 90 175 775 1505 1685 4230 3487.68
Thom Van Vleck
45 299 80 195 485 885 1205 2850 2196.57


BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Adj. Points is adjusted Lynch Points for age and bodyweight.

What happened 10 years ago in the USAWA?


by Al Myers

Garcia wins Zercher

On February 5-6, 2000, Joe Garcia wins his first Zercher Strength Classic at Clark’s Gym.  Fellow gym members Mike McBride  took second place while James Foster came in third.  Seven lifters participated in this 13 lift meet which occurred over two days. Garcia dominated the Chain Lifts – with lifts of 1600# in the Hand and Thigh, 2300# in the Harness Lift, and 1805# in the Hip Lift.  This meet also included the comeback of John Carter, who had been sidelined for two years with two knee surgeries.

Postal League

Four registered clubs (Clark’s Gym, Prechtel Athletic Club, Ambridge VFW Barbell Club and Frystown Power Zone) have entered the Postal League.  The first leg of this year long competition was completed.

Nebraskaland Strength Classic

Meet director Kevin Fulton won the Nebraskaland Strength Classic, barely edging out Elijah Kucera.  Fulton put up big lifts in the Jerk-Behind Neck (305 pounds) and the Deadlift – Fulton Bar (505 pounds) to secure the win over 17 year old Kucera.

Deanna Springs Memorial

Josh Pemberton won the Deanna Springs Meet, beating Abe Smith and Al Springs.  The meet was very close, with Josh slipping past Abe by only 13 points!  A highlight of the meet was having two old JWC lifters in attendance – Wayne Smith and Wayne Jackson.  Smith had developed a reputation by being a one arm pullup champion, and on this day he performed a record in the Pinch Grip with a lift of 90 pounds.

Buckeye Record Breaker

This record day was promoted by USAWA President Howard Prechtel on March 4th. An amazing 16 lifters took part!  The list of those competing: Noi Phumchaona, Anna Holter, Jim Loewer, Dennis Stahnke, Chris Waterman, Bob McKenzie, Lee Gesbeck, Dennis Mitchell, Bob Cox, John McKean, Art Montini, Bob Hirsh, Walter Moss, Bill Crozier, Bob Geib, and Scott Schmidt.

Courtesy of The Strength Journal published by Bill Clark.

Guinness Record Set by Steve Schmidt


by Al Myers

Last weekend at the Zercher Meet in Columbia, Missouri, Teeth Lifting Superstar Steve Schmidt found ANOTHER Teeth Lifting record to break.  This one was a Guinness World Record for repetition Teeth Lifting.  Steve did 50 reps with 100 kilograms (220 pounds) in one minute. His record performance was judged by Bill Clark.  The previous record was 24 reps, set on August 22nd, 2005 by Georges Christen of Benodet, France. Every repetition was lifted a minimum of six inches, which was confirmed by the weight touching a rope positioned at this height.

Steve holds all the best Teeth Lifting records in the USAWA – both with his hands supported on his legs and with his hands behind his back.  He uses a leather bit attached to a chain that attaches to the weights.  Steve also has pulled heavy trucks and trains with his teeth.  Bill Clark wrote a column about Steve’s amazing record yesterday in the Columbia Tribune.  Bill summarized this event way better than I can – so Click Here to read it.

Below are links to a couple of other newspaper articles covering this momentous occasion. And by the way Steve, the USAWA is very proud of you!

KOMU Article Columbia Tribune

Bill and Dolores Clark Awarded the Columbia Value Diversity Award

by Al Myers

Bill Clark

Recently, Bill and Dolores Clark were awarded by the city of Columbia the Columbia Values Diversity Award.  This is a great honor for Bill and Dolores, and a well earned award.  In a recent column in the Columbia Daily Tribune by Janese Heavin, in which she writes about this prestigious award she said, “Bill Clark doesn’t necessarily set out to promote diversity when he writes his columns for the Tribune.  No, Ol’ Clark just tells it like it is, even if that ruffles some feathers.” Her column can be read here. Mayor Darwin Hindman used Bill’s own words from his acceptance of the Peacemaker Award in 2004 to make the Values Diversity Award, “I have long followed the personal philosophy that conflict resolution must begin with communication. Once communication is achieved, only then can there be understanding. With understanding comes compromise and peaceful resolution. It works in sports officiating, in politics, in government, in business, in marriage, and in life.”

If there was a Values Diversity Award for weightlifting, Bill would be the first one to receive it. Bill broke the gender barrier when he first introduced women’s weightlifting.  This was at a time when weightlifting was a MAN’S sport and the public opinion was that women shouldn’t be lifting weights. Bill was also very integral in bringing Masters weightlifting to the forefront. He promoted some of the first Master’s Weightlifting Meets at a time when most lifters thought the old guys should just give it up, as weightlifting should only be for the young, strong lifters.  Bill Clark went against the grain, and in return, has given thousands of athletes lifting opportunities they might not have had.  Bill Clark has always been ahead of the pack as a humanitarian, and is greatly deserving of this award.

Bill’s Columbia Daily Tribune Column in recognition of this award

Hall of Fame Biography – Bill Clark class of 1999

Bill Clark

William Merle Clark was born in Clinton, Missouri on August 18th, 1932.  He graduated from Clinton High School in 1949, and then spent three years in the U.S. Army (1951-1954), including a year in Korea.  Bill graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1958, and worked briefly on the sports desk of the Lexington Kentucky Leader.  He returned to Columbia Missouri in 1958, where he has lived since.  Bill married Dolores Denny on August 11th, 1955 and they have five children and five grandchildren. He was a full-time major league baseball scout for 36 years (1968-2003).  He retired from baseball at the end of the 2003 season and has been a columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune since March of 2004.  Bill has written for numerous baseball publications through the years and even worked as a sports reporter in the baseball off-season.  He has officiated over 20 sports from the junior high school level to the international level from 1949 until today.  He wrote the original Powerlifting and All-Round Weightlifting rule books and is currently writing a book about the fun of officiating more than 10,000 athletic contests.  As a member of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) weightlifting committee (1959-1990), he was responsible for the origin of the following:

- Powerlifting as a separate sport (1964)
- Masters lifting, both Olympic Lifting and Powerlifting (1973)
- Held the first womens only Powerlifting and Olympic meets which gave the   start to women’s competitive lifting (1976)
- Introduced prison weightlifting and the acceptance of inmates as full AAU members (1966). Held the first prison weightlifting postal competition (1962)
- Created the odd lifting record book (1961)
- Formation of the USAWA and the IAWA (began in 1983, finalized in 1986)
- Wrote the first USAWA and IAWA Rule Book (1986)

Bill started weightlifting in 1959 when his boxing team was looking for an off-season sport.  There was not a state meet at the time, so he held the very first one in Columbia in 1959.  He held the Junior Nationals and the National Teenage Championships in Columbia from 1962-1964, including the “Mr.” contests for each, along with numerous state and regional meets both in Columbia and in many prisons throughout the Midwest.  He has directed over 100 meets under USAWA sanction at his gym, Clark’s Championship Gym, including the USAWA National Championships in 1995, 1997, and 2001.  Bill has been the sole sponsor of the Showme State Games Powerlifting Meet since 1988.  Both Bill and Dolores are in the Missouri State Games Volunteer Hall of Fame.  He has had a commercial gym in Columbia since 1987, which is one of very few commercial gyms in the country that specializes in All-Round Weightlifting.   Bill was the first President of the IAWA and has been the Secretary of the USAWA since the beginning. He is responsible for starting the drug testing program and the certification of officials in the USAWA.  Bill has published a weightlifting newsletter since 1960, and is now nearing his 50th year!  The past 19 years have been devoted to the all-rounds, with his publication “The Strength Journal” being the sole source of information regarding All-Round Weightlifting in the US.   Bill’s main contribution to weightlifting  was the origin of the masters program.  The idea came to the table in 1973 at the AAU convention, and was approved by a laugh with the mention of old people wanting  to lift and compete.  In 1974, only four lifters  entered the National Masters Meet – Jim Witt, Jack Lano, Wilbur Miller, and Bill Clark.  The Meet was cancelled that year.  In 1975, the meet was held in Columbia with 15 entries.  Today, the masters program is found in 70 nations and accepted without question.  Master lifters outnumber open lifters in the US today.  Bill was one of a half-dozen people who brought Powerlifting to the committee floor of the AAU in 1962, and saw it approved two years later as a sport by the AAU.  Today, Powerlifting has expanded far beyond Olympic Lifting as a sport.  In 1976, Bill violated the IWF rules which limited lifting to males only, and worded a sanction which made a combined Power/Olympic lifting competition into an all-female meet.  It broke the gender barrier and women’s weightlifting was off and running.  Bill commented, “In retrospect, I take pride in being the driving force to establish Powerlifting, women’s lifting, prison lifting, master’s lifting, odd lifting – and seeing them all grow and prosper.”  Bill holds over 200 records in the USAWA, with most of them occurring after multiple joint replacements. Bill said, “I do take pride in my hip and harness lifts that were done after four joints – both knees and both hips – were totally replaced and being able to remain competitive with the youngsters in the finger lifts. Age and replacements have slowed the competitive urge today, particularly with the loss of cartilage in both the upper and lower spine.”  In his earlier years, Bill was best known and seldom beaten in the Zercher and Steinborn lifts, once doing 460# in the Zercher and 455# in the Steinborn on the same day.  There has not been an USAWA member since capable of doing this.  When asked if he had any special memories of a competition, Bill replied, ” The one I most remember was in 1994 in Middletown  Pennsylvania when I made a hip lift with 1400 pounds, less than five months after I had a double joint replacement – the right knee and the right hip on the the same day – a double only a few have tried!”  Bill Clark will always be known as the “Founder of All-Round Weightlifting”, and his influences and contributions to the iron game will forever be felt.  His last comment was this, “It has been a good 50 year run in the weight game. I’m now looking for time to go through voluminous files and to do a book I’ve promised myself for years, titled, An Irreverent History of Weightlifting.”

Clark’s Gym Record Day

The Missouri All-Round Double-Header

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards performing a 235# 2" Vertical Bar Deadlift

I had one of the most fun weekends of weightlifting I have ever had this past weekend. It is not very often that I get the chance to do TWO different meets in the same weekend. On Saturday, Thom Van Vleck hosted his first ever All-Round event at the JWC Training Hall, which is Thom’s private gym. I have been to Thom’s gym several times before so I know the history of his gym – but this time was extra special since I actually got to compete there! Representing the Dino Gym was Chad Ullom and myself, and representing the JWC was Thom and Josh Hettinger. Thom’s brother Tedd was there to help load and to provide comic relief. Thanks Tedd for everything you did to help us – but next time I am going to talk you into lifting! I’m not going to go into everything Thom has in his gym except to say that the JWC Training Hall is filled with about anything an all-rounder would want, and has more autographed pictures on the walls than any gym I have ever been in!! The “environment” of the JWC Training Hall inspires you – you feel like the great lifters and throwers in the pictures are watching over you while you lift as you try to perform up to their expectations!! Chad Ullom came ready to go – and started this record day off with some UNBELIEVABLE lifting. Chad went up to the 110K class and set several very impressive records including a 475# Continental to Belt (the top ALL-TIME in the USAWA), a 510# Hack lift, a 375# One Arm Deadlift – Left, a 410# One Arm Deadlift – Right, and a 410# Steinborn Lift (breaking Bob Burtzloff’s 20 year old record). I also should note that Chad had another commitment on this day and had to leave early – so he did all this in a little over 1 hour!! After Chad left, the rest of us just looked at each other and wondered how we could top that! Next, Thom got two of his kids involved – Morgan and Dalton. They each did a few records. I was very impressed with their efforts. Josh Hettinger isn’t a newcomer to the USAWA. He lifted in one of my Dino Challenges a few years ago and it was great to see him back in action. I made Thom a Circus Dumbbell (it has a 3″ diameter handle and is very big, with 12″ diameter ends). When I brought it into the JWC Training Hall I announced that the Dino Gym Record with this DB was 165 pounds (taken to chest with two hands and then taken overhead with one hand). Josh is a pressing machine and said, “then load it to 170#”, which he made it easily. So for the time being , the JWC has a record better than the Dino Gym (but THAT won’t last long haha). Thom’s Uncle Wayne Jackson was there to watch – and after Josh pressed this massive Circus DB – Uncle Wayne said, “seeing that made coming worthwhile”. This was quite a compliment to Josh as Uncle Wayne was a great presser in his day, having done over 300# in the Olympic Press. Josh did several other impressive records as well. Thom was “a man on a mission” when he started breaking records. He must have broke or set over 50 USAWA records! Finally, I was getting worn out judging him and hinted that he didn’t have to do ALL the lifts in the record list today and maybe it would be better if he “saved” a few for another day! I could tell Thom was disappointed hearing this as I think he had planned on doing 100! (Plus I knew he promised to grill me a BIG steak for supper and it was getting late and I was getting hungry!). This record day was a first rate event – and Thom even had medals for everyone who broke records. Thom and the JWC are a great addition to the USAWA and this was a great kickoff for them!

Al Myers performing a 370# One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift

The next day (Sunday) Thom and I made our way south to Columbia, to participate in Bill Clark’s Record Day. I always enjoy going to Bill’s gym – it takes you back in time. Most of Bill’s equipment and weights have been in his gym for years – and would be “collector’s items” on ebay. There are not very many gyms nowadays where you can train on York Globe Dumbbells and then load your bar with Milo plates!! His platform is made out of solid oak planks that have withstood the years of dropped overheads. There is no shiny chrome equipment around – just rustic equipment with names like “Hospital Harry”. The gym has no A/C and minimal heating. Any thing that needs lubrication is rubbed down with axle grease. Truly a Hard Core All-Rounders paradise! I was glad to see Ben Edwards already there when I walked in the door. Ben was polishing off the record list in one of his favorite lifts – the Vertical Bar Deadlift – both 1″ and 2″. Bill was judging him hard – there were no quick down commands!! Ben finished off with a 235# 2″ One hand VB deadlift – the best of ALL-TIME. Ben next took on another one of his favorites – the thumbless grip deadlift. He came into this record day with a best of 250#, set in 2003, which had him at the number 3 spot ALL-TIME. I decided to join him on this lift, mainly to “push him a little” as he was gunning for the top spot held by Mike McBride at 266#, set in 2005. We both started at 235#, which we both got easily, and kept adding 10# until we both hit our MAX at 275# – tying the two of us for the BEST ALL-TIME. This was the highlight lift of my weekend – and I hadn’t even planned to do it. This is by far more than I have ever done in this lift and it was done under the strict judging of Bill Clark. Ben is a great competitor and friend and “friendly competitions” like this bring out the best you. We concluded the day by gorging ourselves at the bunk of the Golden Corral – A Clark’s Gym Post Meet Tradition!!

Bill Clark stepped up to the bar to pull this 135# Index Finger Deadlift after a couple of record day participants (names withheld) missed this lift.

FULL MEET RESULTS:

Clark’s Gym Record Day
November 22nd, 2009
Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Official (1 Official System Used):  Bill Clark

Loader:  Tom Powell

Records:

Ben Edwards -  215 lbs, 34 years old

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Left Hand = 315 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Right Hand  = 255 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 1″ = 410 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Left Hand = 235 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Right Hand = 210 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 2″ = 366 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells = 310 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm = 275 lbs.

Al Myers – 255 lbs, 43 years old

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm = 370 lbs.
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm = 330 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells = 480 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm = 170 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbell, Left Arm = 170 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells = 310 lbs.
Hack Lift – Left Arm = 235 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm = 275 lbs.

Thom Van Vleck – 288 lbs, 45 years old

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm = 240 lbs.
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm = 240 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells = 300 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm = 115 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbells = 230 lbs.
Hack Lift – Left Arm = 145 lbs.
Hack Lift – Right Arm = 145 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – Fingers, Middle = 145 lbs.
Deadlift – Fingers, Ring = 145 lbs.

A Big Thank You to Bill Clark

by Scott Schmidt

I spoke to Bill Clark in early September to confirm his receipt of my membership check. At the end of our conversation, when I said “See you in Lebanon” and he replied “No you won’t, I’m done”, I felt the air go out of the balloon, because one of the Icons of the Strength Sports was stepping down. I’m certain Bill will receive many tributes and accolades for all the effort he has put in to keeping the games strong people play alive. But I wanted to send my own recognition, so the folks out there who have relied on Bill to keep things going, will realize, it’s time to step up, and bring their leadership qualities to the table, so our whole organization can continue to thrive and prosper.

Bill Clark had a vision to promote the competitions of Olympic Weightlifting and All Around Weightlifting for many years. If it wasn’t for Bill Clark introducing the Masters program to Olympic Weightlifting back in the 70’s, and bringing the All Around’s in by the late 80’s, I’m certain many of us would have missed a lot of fun memories and achievements in our lives.Being able to succeed at the tough sport of moving iron brings a lot of good qualities to your life style. When you consider all the people who have been influenced by the good things Bill has promoted, I think the man deserves a whole lot of credit for his efforts.

So, in summary, thanks a ton, Bill

ADIOS to the Strength Journal

by Al Myers

“Adios” was the lead story headline for the latest Strength Journal, which I received yesterday. And with this – I mean the last Strength Journal. Bill Clark has published the Strength Journal for over 20 years covering news from the USAWA, but over 50 years including other strength news. I read this last Journal with great sadness, as I’m sure most others did as well. But as Bill said in this last Journal, “All things must have a finish. That’s this letter.” I owe Bill Clark a great deal of gratitude for getting me started in the All-Rounds. I clearly remember my first time meeting him several years ago. I was winding down my powerlifting career and just wanted to see “what this all-round lifting was all about”. So myself and several of my training partners headed to Clark’s Gym in Columbia on a cold December day to try out a record day on Saturday, followed by the Goerner Deadlift Dozen on Sunday. Bill knew we were coming and greeted us at the door (he also knew we were Powerlifters) and one of the first things he said was for us to look at the sign by the door. It had the Gym Rules which spelled out NO WRAPS and NO DRUGS ALLOWED. Bill is one to get right to the point. I knew right away that this was my type of gym and that I was welcome!! Immediately I found out what all-round weightlifting was all about – and I was very intrigued. Steve Schmidt was there that day and was going for a repetition Back Lift record. I had no idea at the time the importance of the record he was breaking. I do now – it was the greatest Back Lift repetition record of All-Time. I also met Tom Ryan that weekend. Tom helped us tremendously – and showed us the proper way to do these strange new lifts that we were trying for the first time.

Bill immediately put us to work breaking USAWA records. Of course we were just focusing on bench press type lifts at first, until Bill said, “I have never seen that much bench pressing in Clark’s Gym before.” I soon found out that All-Round Weightlifting was much more – when Bill brought out the ring and challenged us to Finger Lifting. I thought later that this must have been his way to test us – to see if we really had what it takes to become All-Round Weightlifters. We maxed on every finger of each hand and Bill made us go all out. After all – He WAS!!! I left that weekend with several sore fingers but knowing that this sport was for me – thanks to Bill Clark. I would like to know how many lifters Bill has introduced to All-Round Weightlifting – I’m sure it is more than I could count.

The Strength Journal has been the backbone of the USAWA since the start. It will not be the same not receiving any more of them in the future. In the past when I found a Strength Journal in the mail – I would open it up right away – even before looking at any of my other mail. I would like to think that I could maybe talk Bill into writing a few stories for the USAWA Daily News in the future. But I know Bill has said in the past that he would never put anything on the internet – and Bill is a man of conviction so I believe I probably won’t be successful in this endeavor. But I will keep trying to change his mind on this so hopefully we can read the words of Bill Clark again.

Bill, I know you probably will never see this, but THANK YOU for everything you have done for the USAWA. THANKS for the many years of publishing the Strength Journal. THANKS for the leadership you have given to our organization. And most importantly – THANKS for getting me started in this great sport of All-Round Weightlifting.

What’s the most painful lift in the USAWA?

by Al Myers

I have done most of the lifts in the USAWA by now (out of a list of close to 200) and after a tough workout last night doing the Zercher Lift and waking up today with several new bruises – I was thinking – What lift is more painful than Zerchers?? Well, I have got to put my vote in for a lift that seems innocent enough but will leave you shaking your hand in pain – the Little Fingers Deadlift!!! I think my problem with this lift is that all the pain is focused on one little body part and not spread out over a larger area!! The Little Fingers Deadlift is always the last event in the Goerner Deadlift – but I always wish it was the first event so I could get it over with! It doesn’t matter what weight is on the bar – it always HURTS!!

I even think Bill Clark might agree with me on this -especially when the bar "pops out" and immediately you feel the burning sensation of your little finger's flexor tendons snapping back into place!!

So – email me your vote and I’ll keep a tally.

By the way, I don’t think Ben Edwards will be voting for the Little Fingers Deadlift. Watch him in this YouTube Video doing a Little Fingers Deadlift of 160 pounds with ease. I can’t believe anyone actually trains this lift! But that is the beauty of all-round weightlifting – there’s a lift for everyone.

Discussion of the Age Adjustment

by Al Myers

At the recent USAWA National Meeting, a topic was brought up that created a lot of discussion. It was not brought up by anyone as a motion, only as a point of discussion. No official action was taken and no vote was taken by the membership. It involved the IAWA study into the age allowance, or as what the USAWA refers to – the age adjustment. Last year at the IAWA Meeting, this topic was brought up and a committee was formed to investigate it. The committee has done a study of three lifts and the decrease in performance of these three lifts with age. The summary of this can be viewed here – Study of Age Percentage Allowance. As of now, IAWA uses the same age adjustment percentages as the USAWA which is one percent per year starting at 40 years of age.

IAWA(UK) uses a somewhat different age correction where a lifter gains one percent per year starting at 36 years of age, until the age of 66 years where it increase to 2 percent. This 2 percent is only for the years of age over 66, not all the years. So you can see, the IAWA(UK) system favors older lifters slightly more than the USAWA system.

The big question is – What is fair? The majority amongst those present at the USAWA Meeting involved in the discussion felt that the current system is fine as it is – but that only applies to the USAWA. What is decided at the IAWA Meeting may be completely different as lifters from other countries will be involved in the discussion, and the vote on it if there is one.

Bill Clark made these comments in the last Strength Journal stating his viewpoint on this, “As a 77 year old, I get 38 percent and can come close to winning if I have a good day. I don’t expect to beat anyone simply by raising the percentage. For all purposes, we weren’t meant to beat up on a strong 30 year old by a formula. I’m very happy with my 38 percent and often feel guilty taking it. There’s no way I deserve 54 percent at age 77. Next thing, I’ll be taking steroids to enhance my 54 percent. Come on, get serious.”

If anyone wants their viewpoints on this stated, please send them to me and I will make them known. I will also try to obtain the graphs of this study so you can evaluate them yourself.