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”

Dale Harder’s Latest Book

by Al Myers

Dale Harder's Latest Book

I just received the news from Dale Harder that he has a new book available – Strong  Stronger Strongest.  I have greatly enjoyed all of Dale’s books to date, and plan to buy this new one to add to my collection.  In this book he covers biographies of over 150 of the strongest men in history.  A couple of his previous books that are my favorites are: Strength,  and Strength and Speed.   Dale covers EVERYTHING strength related and doesn’t pick favorites. You get it all!!  In his books Dale has references to All-Round Weightlifting in several areas.  You may even see YOUR name in one of his books. Order instructions are listed in the promo above.

USAWA in Print: Book Review

by Thom Van Vleck

Steve Scott and John Saylor's latest book promotes USAWA members and USAWA lifts.

I recently got an issue of Steve Scott’s latest book.  He wrote it with John Saylor, a well respected martial arts instructor and Champion.  Steve sent me an autographed copy because of what was inside.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  First, let me tell you about Steve.

Steve is one of my best friends and someone I admire greatly.  When I first met Steve he was a top master’s thrower in Scottish Highland Games and was running Highland Games in KC.  Because of Steve, I became friends with Al Myers and Chad Ullom and was introduced to the sport that I’ve enjoyed my greatest athletic success.  For that, I’m very grateful.  Steve’s wife, Becky, also was a top thrower and always at his side in any project he took on.  I then found out that Highland Games were just the tip of the iceberg as far as Steve & Becky were concerned.

Steve was, and still is, a top Judo coach.  He has a widely respected club in Kansas City called the Welcome Mat that has been in operation since 1969.  It has produced National, Pan American,  and World Champs as well as some of the elite men and women in our fighting forces and a Secret Service Agent that was on George W. Bush’s personal detail.  Becky was a National, Pan Am, and World Champ and Steve once told me that Becky could have been an Olympic Champion but back then women did not compete in Judo in the Olympics!

Over the years, Steve has written over a dozen books on martial arts, training, coaching and this one is his best to date in my opinion.  It has a very broad appeal.  My Uncle, Phil Jackson, who is, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable person I ever met in regards to weight training, once told me that the hardest sport all the way around was boxing.  It was mentally, physically, and emotionally draining.  I would say the same applies to all combat sports.  You have to be tough and that comes from how you train.  Steve, with John Saylor, has (in my opinion) created the ultimate resource on Combat training.

This book is HUGE and full of all types of training.   There are over 300 pages of illustrated exercises.  There are detailed explanations of not only how to do the lift, but how to properly train and utilized the lift to fix a weakness. There are workout routines and tons of advice.   I would say that if you wanted to do some off season conditioning for USAWA lifting or Highland Games, this book would be a valuable resource.

Now, I’ll tell you why mine was autographed.  Inside were pictures of me, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom demonstrating some lifts.  Appropriately, it was in the “OLD SCHOOL” training section.  Steve  talks about training wisdom that came from Bill Clark,  and his book even contains an exercise that is a variation of the “Inman Mile”!  I knew Steve had requested the photos, but I had no idea what a first class product he was producing.

Legacy of Iron – a Novel by Brooks Kubik

Book Review by Al Myers

Legacy of Iron

I just finished reading what I consider one of the most informative, entertaining books regarding weightlifting that I have ever read!! It has been over ten years since Brooks Kubik wrote the classic training book Dinosaur Training. I read Dinosaur Training at least once per year and find new information in it each time. In fact, the book Dinosaur Training inspired me to name my gym the Dino Gym. Dinosaur Training outlined my training approach exactly – and when I was reading it for the first time I would constantly nod my head and say, “Yes – I agree – That’s how I train!!” Brooks Kubik did me a big favor – now there is no need for me to ever write a book describing my training – Brooks Kubik already did it!!!

Back to Review of the Legacy of Iron..

Brooks Kubik does a great job of combining a fictional novel and factual information regarding training and famous weightlifters from the 1930’s. The story centers around the life of a young lifter, by the name of Jim Miller, who was beaten up as a young kid by the local bully, and in response, started weightlifting. The time frame the novel occurs in, as Kubik refers to, as the Golden Era of Weightlifting. This was the time Bob Hoffman and the York Barbell Club was producing weightlifting Champions like John Grimek, Steve Stanko, Gord Venables and many others. The Legacy of Iron mixes weightlifting history and a suspenseful story line that keeps your attention throughout the entire book.

I HIGHLY recommend that you order a copy of the Legacy of Iron – I promise you will not be disappointed!! I admit that I was slightly let down when I finished the book and on the last page it said, To Be Continued. I wanted to read more!! But then I found out that Brooks Kubik already had the sequel out, Legacy of Iron – Clouds of War!! I immediately ordered his second book (yesterday) and can’t hardly wait until I get it. My advice for you is to order both of them at the same time so you can immediately start reading the second book after the first book and not have to deal with the frustration of waiting for it like me!!