The Makings of an Olympic Champion

by Al Myers

A picture of Dr. Wright (left) and Olympic coach Bob Hoffman (right) that was included in his book.

NOW that’s a book title that will grab your attention!!  I have a huge bookshelf in my office, full of all kinds of books.  Some I’ve read several times, and some I have never even opened a page of.   I love these early summer nights in Kansas this time of the year.  The temperature stays in the low 70s, and the bugs aren’t in quantities that they are trying to devour you yet.  There’s nothing better than to grab a good book and relax in a comfortable chair on the deck for the evening.  I usually  have the BIG GREEN EGG smoking some delicious piece of redmeat in the background as I just sit back, smell the mouth watering aroma,  and relax! Now that’s the good life – especially if you had got a good workout in beforehand.

The book, "The Makings of an Olympic Champion", by Russell Wright D.O.

Well, this book on my bookshelf caught my attention the other night.  I had never read it before, but for some reason, it looked right for the reading.  What caught my attention was that the book, “The Makings of an Olympic Champion”, was written by Russell Wright, DO.  His name “rang a bell” inside my ole noggin.  I must have received this book at some point from Thom, because I had remembered Thom writing a website story about Dr. Wright some time back.  I had to do some website research (YES THAT CAN BE DONE WITH THE SEARCH FUNCTION AT THE TOP RIGHT CORNER!), and sure enough, Thom had written a lengthy blog covering the life of Dr. Russell Wright. I would recommend you reread Thom’s story: http://www.usawa.com/dr-russell-wright/ I won’t go into detail on Dr. Wright’s life history, as Thom covered that quite well in his story.

Dr. Wright was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He is regarded as one of the early sports-specific doctors.  He also had a special interest in weightlifting.  In his book, he talks in detail about his involvement with such notable weightlifters such as Tommy Kono, Norbert Schemansky, Bob Bednarski,  Bob Hoffman, and others.  “The Making of an Olympic Champion” was published in 1976.  My copy is even signed by Dr. Wright on the front page!  Lots of the information in the book is “dated”, and several of the ideas that he discussed have since been disproved by science. But none the less,  it contains a wealth of insight into the mind of a brilliant medical professional who’s main goal was to improve athletic ability through the use of Osteopathic Medicine.  I especially liked his chapter centered around the importance of stretching and flexibility as it applied to a trained weightlifter.   He was also very much against the use of anabolic steroids in strength sports, which I applaud.  He spent much time demeaning their use, and summed up his feelings with this paragraph that gets right to the point, which I think is worthy to repeat here in closing.

You get an athlete who destroys himself with anabolic steroids.  He may become a great champion with the use of the drugs, and then he wears a peanut shell and a rubber band for a jockstrap the rest of his life because his testicles are atrophied.  I don’t consider it worth it.  You’re an athlete only a few years, but you’ve got to be a man a long time. – from Dr. Wright’s book  “The Makings of an Olympic Champion”

Meeting Bob Hoffman

by Dale Friesz

"This picture is of myself, the one and only Bob Hoffman, and my youngest daughter, Pam age 4. This picture was taken in 1972 at the Junior Nationals Olympic Lifting Competition, just outside of Washington D.C." - Dale Friesz

My trip to the York Barbell Museum

by Al Myers

A Bronze Bust of the founder of York Barbell - Bob Hoffman

Following the IAWA World Championships last month, I got to do something I have always wanted to do – go see the famous York Barbell Museum in York, Pennsylvania.  It only took Chad and I a hour or two to make the trip from Lebanon – and it was worth it!  The museum contains the entire history of York Barbell, photos and equipment of Old Time Strongmen, and the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.  We met up with Mike Locondro, who is the retail manager of York Barbell, and got insight into York Barbell beyond that normally seen by a normal museum tour.  As some of you know, Mike has competed in USAWA competitions in the past and was very good, placing 10th Overall in the 1993 & 1995 World Championships.  He was very gracious to us and gave us a tour of the York Gym, which is off-limits to the general public.  He spent over two hours visiting with us.  Chad and I thought we must have been receiving special treatment because we were All-Rounders, but the truth is Mike is just an outstanding salesman and treats all customers that way.

Chad posing with the full-size sculpture of Eugen Sandow

Now back to the York Museum – I can’t even start to describe everything that we seen.  A highlight for me was seeing the Travis Dumbbell, which Warren Lincoln Travis used in many of his strength shows.  It weighs 1500 pounds empty!! It seemed much bigger to me than the prior impression I had of it from pictures.  The York Museum contains the Challenge Barbells of Eugen Sandow and G.W. Rolandow.  Just getting to put your hands on a barbell with so much history is an amazing feeling.  The museum has the Challenge Dumbbell of Louis Cyr.  It weighs empty 202 pounds and fully loaded with lead shot weighs 270 pounds.  Cyr could easily take it one handed and Side Press it.  These are just a few of the museum items – there is much more!! The museum details  the complete history of York Barbell, and tells the story of how Bob Hoffman built York Barbell into a weightlifting empire. If you ever get the chance to go to the York Barbell Museum – make sure to give yourself at least a half day to see it all!

But give Mike a call first – and tell him you’re an All-Rounder.