Interview with Chad Ullom

by Al Myers

The start of the Dinnie Walk, one of the events in the World Stone Challenge.

Al: Recently you participated in the World Stone Championships in Scotland. Could you tell me how you got invited to this prestigious event? Please feel free to share any other details of the event.

Chad:  Well, Francis Brebner has been planning on doing this type of challenge for many years, but circumstances caused it to fall through.  He didn’t tell me this, but I believe after the controversy involving the Dinnie stones last year, he decided that this was going to be the year to pull it off.  Given the success in lifting the stones that Al Myers, Mark Haydock and I had last year, he extended an invitation to all of us to come over and compete in this challenge.  I made it clear to Francis that I am NOT a stonelifter!  I had success with the Dinnies because I have a good hook grip and a strong enough back.  After the support he showed us on the Milo forum and in writing the Milo article, I wanted to go and support the event.  Not to mention, it involved a trip to Scotland!

Inver Stone

Al:   What were the events, and how did you do?

Chad: We started off with the Dinnie stone carry for distance.  We were allowed to use straps since the farthest walks on record were done with straps.  This caused even more of a dust up after we were done!  Now, I have rarely lifted with straps so I made a big mistake!  I didn’t wrap my right strap all the way around and after two feet my strap broke!  I was going to try again, but someone shut us down early (that is another story!).   The two feet got met 4th place, Mark finished 2nd with 9 (I need to check that) and a big Hungarian named Peter Putzer   walked 18’4”!  Going over the 5 yard mark that was our target!  It was very impressive to watch!

We then did the bare handed walk with the smaller Dinnie stone.   Mark took 1st in this event with 30ft, and I came in 3rd with 21. 

Next it was on to the Inver stone.  We were given 75 seconds to lift it as many times as we could with 1 points awarded for lapping it, 2 for bringing it to the chest and 5 for an overhead press.  I was able to bring it to my chest 4 times which again placed me 4th

Next was the inverstone carry.   I went 1st here and made a big mistake!  I brought it to my chest and squeezed, cutting off my breath so I only went 37 feet and finished 5th here.

On the final day,  we threw a 98 pound stone that the Portland stone was designed after.  This one turned out to be my best event and with some advice from Ryan Vierra, I took 2nd place with a throw of 12’2.   

Mark ended up tied for 1st, but lost on count back to Istvan Sarai.  Overall, I finished 5th, but it was a lot of fun and I was honored to participate! 

The one handed Dinnie Stone Walk.

Al:  I seen that you lifted the Inver Stone, something that you couldn’t do on the stone tour following the Gold Cup.  I bet this was exciting for you.  Could you share the details of that accomplishment?

Chad:  That was very important to me.  As I’ve said, I’m not a stone lifter, but this was something I really wanted to do.  I was disappointed after the gold cup that I wasn’t able to lift the inver, but I was totally focused on the Dinnies!  Well, before we got there, I felt the butterflies.  After all, this was being filmed and I didn’t want to fail!  I went over to warm up , I grabbed it and it came off the ground very easily!  I had some issues with balance during  the comp, but I was happy to bring it to my chest 4 times.

Hans Darrow hosted a good ole fashioned BBQ on our first night in Germany, and he welcomed us right into his home.

 Al:  I know after this Stone Championships, you went to Berlin, Germany to participate in the IHGF World Amateur Highland Game Championships.  How did that go, and what were the highlights of competing against the International Highland Gamers?

Chad:  That was a very humbling experience!  Hans Darrow and his family treated us like one of their own.  I’m happy to say that the international throwers are a great group of guys and I made some new friends!  I finished in 10th place out of 14, I was happy with how I threw.  I threw pretty close to seasons best in each event, nothing great, but I didn’t bomb anything either.  The highlight for me was definitely caber.  Going in, I wanted to surprise some people with the caber.  I ended up placing 3rd here and was very happy with that.  It was a tough stick, only 5 got a turn I believe.  I’m happy to say that I was able to turn it all 3 times. 

Setting up for the Weight for Height.

Al:  I know there has to be at least one interesting story you would like to share with us from this trip.  I don’t expect for you to share the ones you told me privately about Hamish Davidson, but I’m sure there has to be one that is fit to tell here! 

Chad:  That’s a tough one, LOL.  The best stories aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you Francis Brebner had me in tears for days after!  So the best story that is PG would be after the bar closed down!  Several of us decided to go out and celebrate.  We started at the field watching the fire show drinking beer, diesel(beer & cola mixed 1:1), and a few shots.  After a stop at a regular bar we moved to a dance club.  Had a great time,  and closed it down!  A few of us decided to walk back to the hotel, a few others took a cab to another bar.  So, 3am in Germany and everyone I was with spoke only broken English!  We weren’t 100% sure where we were so one of the guys stepped away to call a cab and left me with his brother.  Well, we waited….and waited…finally his brother laid down on the sidewalk and passed out! After a half hour, I woke him up and said we have to try to find our way!  We disagreed on where to go, but I finally convinced him to head my way.  Turns out, we were like 3 blocks from the hotel!   We must been out there a half hour!  The best part is we found his brother drinking in the hotel bar!  

Hammer Throw

Al:  What can you tell me about the organizers of these events?             

Chad:Francis Brebner and Ryan Viera make up the IHGF(international highland games federation).  I’m not sure how many countries they went through on this trip, but they are working very hard to expand highland games across the world!  I would say they are having great success, the games in Germany had 14 athletes representing 11 countries!  I believe it was the most countries in an international highland game.  They are taking some heat for reasons I don’t understand in some circles.  I can tell you after spending a week with these two, they are doing this for  the love of the sport!  They have a wealth of knowledge and a true passion for the games.  They also drug test at each of their games which makes them fit right in to our way of thinking!  I wish these men great success in what they’re doing. 

Group picture at the Highland Game Championships.

Al:  Thank you for taking the time to do this short interview.  The USAWA is very proud of you and these great accomplishments! 

Chad:  Thank you Al!

OTSM Championships

by Thom Van Vleck

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

Third Annual Old Time Strongman Championships

Chad Ullom with a successful unassisted lift with the Dinnie Stones. An OTSM Championship lift for this year!

A date has been set for the OTSM.  December 7th!  So mark your calendars! Here are the details to date:

Date: 12/7/2013

Time: 10:00am weigh in begins, warm ups with a start time of noon.

Place: Kirksville, Missouri (exact location TBD)

Events: Anderson Squat, Anderson Press, Dinnie Lift (order will depend if we have to split into flights)

Entry Fee: $25

I wanted to have a three lift meet with a squat type lift, a press type lift, and a pull type lift.  Also, all the lifts are current OTSM official lifts. Winners will be determine by weight class and age and an overall best male and female lifter will be determined using weight and age formulas.    Lifters will get a JWC club t-shirt, anvil trophy for winners, refreshments, and certificates with meet results for everyone.

Entry Information:  Send your name, entry fee and shirt size to:

Thom Van Vleck
23958 Morgan Road
GreenTop, MO 63546

ENTRY FORM (PDF):  2013 OTSM Championships Entry Form

David Webster & the Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

I was able to catch up with David Webster again (I've met him many times at prior Highland Games) at the 2013 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. Pictured left to right: Al Myers, David Webster, & Chad Ullom

If it wasn’t for David Webster, the stone lifting World might never have heard of the Dinnie Stones. David Webster  is the man who made the presence of the Dinnie Stones well known.  Without this, all the recent notoriety the Dinnie Stones have received would have never happened.  These famous lifting stones might be laying obscure at the bottom of the river bed in the River Dee instead. Today I would like to share some previous published information about David Webster’s and his tie to the Dinnie Stone’s legacy.

From the book “The Super Athletes” by David Willoughby:

Here is an example of how strong Dinnie was is a simple feat of lifting and carrying.  This information was kindly furnished to me by David Webster of Glasgow, a famous strand-pulling expert and an authority on Donald Dinnie.  Outside the hotel in Potarch, Scotland, are two large and heavy boulders which used to be used in tethering horses (while their masters went into the hotel to refresh themselves). One of the boulders weighs 340 pounds and the other 445.  In the top of each weight is fastened a ring made of 1/2-inch round iron and just large enough to grip with one hand.  The story is that Dinnie’s father was able to lift the 445 pound stone onto a wall 3 1/2 feet high and that Dinnie himself carried both stones (one in front of him and the other behind) a distance of five or six yards.

Another great resource on Donald Dinnie and the Dinnie Stones is David Webster’s and Gordon Dinnie’s  book, “Donald Dinnie – The First Sporting Superstar”. This book is a MUST for anyone who has interest in the Dinnie Stones or stone lifting in general (YES – that’s a plug for the book!).  This is a short piece from the  book, which is written in such manner as to reflect Donald Dinnie’s own account.

In the Deeside district there are many stories told of his extraordinary feats. Just let me tell you one.

On the granite stone bridge that crosses the River Dee at Potarch there were, and still are, two large stones weighing about 8 cwt the pair, placed in a recess.  In the early 1830’s massive iron rings were placed in them, to which ropes were fixed so that scaffolds could be attached for pointing the bridge.  Now, one of those stones was somewhat heavier than the other. Very few strong men of that day could lift the heavy one with both hands, but my father could raise one in each hand with apparent ease, and could throw the heavier stone of the two on to the top of a parapet wall of the bridge.

On one occasion, I have been told, he took one stone in each hand and carried them both to the end of the bridge and back – a distance of 100 yards.  This achievement has been pronounced the greatest feat of strength ever performed in Scotland.

Those stones are still on the bridge and I myself lifted  one in each hand on many occasions and one market day, I carried them across the bridge and back, some four to five yards.  I did not, however, attempt to go to the end of the bridge, as my father had done.

If you want more information than THAT from the book, you should buy it!  I consider both of these literary accounts as the basis of the history and legend of the Dinnie Stones, which David Webster is a big part of.  You can read lots of speculations and opinions from those posting on the internet on how Donald Dinnie intended the Dinnie Stones to be lifted, whether Donald Dinnie actually carried both stones at the same time unassisted across the bridge,  and so on.  All of that is just talk and is meaningless, as I have not been aware of any ACTUAL PROOF of the feats of Donald Dinnie in regard to the Dinnie Stones.  That only actual support to the Dinnie Stone stories are the written accounts passed down in history, like the two above.

I chose to believe the above words of David Webster because I WANT to believe in the legend of Donald Dinnie and the Dinnie Stones . Let the Dinnie Stone legacy continue to  live!

Dino Gym Challenge REMINDER

by Al Myers

The Dino Gym has been issued a challenge from the Hoghton Barbell Club. Pictured left to right in front of the Dinnie Stones: Josh Haydock, Mark Haydock, Alex Rigbye

The Annual Dino Gym Challenge is now only ONE WEEK away.  I have received several commitments from lifters that plan to compete.  It is looking to be a well-attended meet.  I’m hoping for 15-20 lifters – and I think I might get that many.  The entry form is available on the website, and I’m still taking entries so it is NOT too late to attend!

A new twist has been recently added to this year’s Dino Gym Challenge.  Mark Haydock, of the Hoghton Barbell Club in Preston, England has issued the Dino Gym a “head-to-head” Challenge.  Of course I accepted!!!  We even put up “stakes” for the challenge.  The loser will have to “pay up” gym shirts to the winner.    His club has three members who are going to participate – Mark, Josh Haydock, and Alex Rigbye.   They plan to do the same lifts as us on the same day so the results will be known that same day.  This means that the “top three” placing Dino Gym members of the day will be entered in this challenge against our English counterparts.  All adjusted scores will be added together from the three participants from each club to form a final total team score.  So I’m expecting BIG THINGS out of the Dino Gym members on this one – so come ready to put up BIG LIFTS!!  Mark Haydock is promoting the IAWA World Championships next fall and I don’t want to have to be showing up with my “tail between my legs” paying up the losing bet!!!

If weather permits there may be a shooting contest immediately following the meet for anyone who is interested. I’m thinking of having four different competition categories.

1. 25 target trap shoot
2. 10 shot small bore (.223 and below)- 100 and 200 yards
3. 10 shot large bore (above .233)- 100 and 200 yards
4. 10 shot handgun 10 yards & 25 yards

You can enter one, a couple, or all of these categories depending on what gun/guns you bring. Let me know if anyone is interested in this. This way the Dino Challenge will cover two of my favorite interests – shooting and lifting!!!   I’ll provide the targets but you provide the gun/ammo for which category you plan to enter.   Handguns will be shot free hand, while rifles will be shot from a shooting bench.  Bipods will be allowed.

I am in the process of having some really special awards made for this year’s meet.  I really hope that they will be done in time.  How many times have you went to a meet with NO ENTRY FEE and received an award?   Not many I would guess – but this is the yearly Club Meet that I promote and I like to give back to our club’s membership, so I think it is only the right thing to do. I should also mention that this is a “functioning award” that I know many will like, especially guys like Dan Wagman.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next Saturday!!!

Kevin Fulton & Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

Group picture from Dinnie Stone Trip 2001.

I always like to find good pictures that supplement the history of the USAWA and the IAWA.  Recently Kevin Fulton shared this group picture with me from the day in 2001 when he lifted the Dinnie Stones in Scotland.  As most know by now, Kevin was the second American to lift both stones at the same time without the use of lifting straps.  He was 41 years old at the time. 

I can name a few lifters in this picture but I need help in identifying everyone.  If you know any of these individuals, please email me or post the names in the discussion forum and I will add it to this story.

UPDATE:  Andy Tomlin has provided some help in identifying the lifters in this picture.  There is still one lifter unidentified – so if anyone knows him please let me know!

FRONT ROW LEFT TO RIGHT:  John Monk (USA), Bill Wright (SCT)

BACK ROW LEFT TO RIGHT: Keith Murdie (ENG), Sam Hills (ENG), Dennis Mitchell (USA), Art Montini (USA), ????, Des Fenton (SCT), Andy Tomlin (SCT), Steve Angell (ENG), Neil Abery (ENG), Mike Archer (ENG), Kevin Fulton (USA)

Our Trip to the Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

The three that lifted the Dinnie Stones unassisted (without straps) - (left to right): Mark Haydock, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom

One of the most exciting experiences of my life occurred the day following the IAWA Gold Cup.  Gold Cup promoters Andy Tomlin and Matthew Finkle arranged an organized trip to visit the famous Dinnie Stones.  This trip was planned and announced many months in advance and several IAWA lifters took part.  Participants included men from Scotland, England, United States, and Finland. As we were making the road trip to the Potarch Hotel and crossing through the beautiful  Scottish Highlands and the snow covered Cairngorm Mountains, anxiety and anticipation filled the atmosphere of the car. Once we arrived it was exciting to see several locals had showed up to witness our efforts. Apparently the word had gotten out!  I would say there were 10-15 people in attendance to watch our efforts in undertaking the challenge of lifting the Dinnie Stones. 

Donald Dinnie left these stones for future generations to test their strength.  I have previously read the book, “Donald Dinnie – The First Sporting Superstar” by David Webster and Gordon Dinnie several times, and it is a tremendous account of Donald Dinnie and his achievements.  Anyone should read this book before making the trip to the Potarch Hotel to fully realize and recognize the historical significance of these stones. The latest issue of MILO (September, 2012 Volume 20, Issue 2) included an excellent Dinnie Stone article written by the legendary Scottish Highland Game athlete Francis Brebner. I have read several articles concerning the Dinnie Stones, and this article by Francis is the best one I have ever read. I have had the opportunity to “share the throwing field” with Francis in several past professional Highland Games, and I can attest firsthand what an upstanding individual Francis is in the strength community.   Another important reference should be the Dinnie Stone website http://gordondinnie.com/Stones.html , which includes many of the successful lifts by strong men in past history.  The top of the website lays out the challenges made by Donald Dinnie and his stones in his own words, which I would like to repeat here:

The stones weighing a total of 785lbs. were carried by Donald Dinnie in 1860.

Here is Donald’s own account of the event written by him in 1912.

“On the granite stone bridge that crosses the River Dee at Potarch there  were, and still are, two large stones weighing about 8cwt the pair, placed in a recess. In the early 1830’s massive iron rings were placed in them, to which ropes were fixed so that scaffolds could be attached for pointing the bridge. Now, one of these stones was somewhat heavier than the other. Very few strong men of that day could lift the heavy one withbothhands, but my father could raise one in each hand with apparent ease, and could throw the heavier stone of the two on to the top of a parapet wall of the bridge. Those stones are still on the bridge and I myself lifted one in each hand on many occasions and one market day, I carried them across the bridge and back, some four to five yards.”

It is easy to see from those words that three challenges were issued by Donald Dinnie regarding the Dinnie Stones, 1. Lift the stones for height (to the top of a parapet wall) 2. Lift the stones for repetitions (lifted one in each hand on many occasions) and 3. Carry them for distance (carried them across the bridge and back, some four or five yards).

The Dinnie Stones represent a different individual challenge for every person.  Lifting stones is NOT a weightlifting meet - there is no trophy for winning or being the best.  I feel anyone who meets the challenge that they set out for themselves with the Dinnie Stones is worthy of praise, as this is what stone lifting should be all about.  It’s a inner battle against the stone that lays before you which drives you to ”rise to the occasion” and give everything that you have, both mentally and physically, to accomplish the goal set forth.  If you do that, you have been successful in your quest and should  know in your heart that by doing so you have met the challenge of the Dinnie Stones.  The degree of this challenge is different for every man.

Now let me get to the details of this glorious day of those that had taken part!!  I kept very accurate records of the accounts of the day as I want this to be reported with accuracy.  Ten men took part in this memorable event. Below is a summary chart of what transpired:

Participant Age BWT Dinnie Stone Accomplishment
Alex Rigbye, ENGLAND  27 89kg 7 Repetitions with both stones assisted (WITH STRAPS)
Josh Haydock, ENGLAND 22 80kg 1 Repetition with both stones assisted (WITH STRAPS), and 3 Repetitions with small stone unassisted 
Barry Gordge, ENGLAND 51 104kg 1 Repetition with small stone unassisted
George Dick, SCOTLAND 64 123kg 1 Repetition with small stone using both hands unassisted
Mark Haydock, ENGLAND 37 115kg 25 Repetitions with both stones unassisted, walk with both stones unassisted a total of 3 feet
Chad Ullom, UNITED STATES 40 112kg 25 Repetitions with both stones unassisted
Andy Tomlin, SCOTLAND 45 92kg Lifted both small and large stone one handed unassisted
Timo Lauttemaus, FINLAND 33 98kg Lifted large stone unassisted with left hand and held for a time of 14.3 seconds
Matt Finkle, SCOTLAND 46 65kg Lifted both small and large stone with two hands unassisted
Al Myers, UNITED STATES 46 111kg 1 Repetition with both stones unassisted

(NOTES: I want to mention that these ages and bodyweights are official, as they were used in entry in the previous days’ IAWA Gold Cup Championships.  Also, I want to thank James McKenna for attending this activity, as he was the one responsible for several of the pictures that were taken.  The Dinnie Stone lifting took place over an hour and a half, from 10:30 AM to noon on November 4th., 2012)

I was so impressed with Alex Rigbye and Josh Haydock.  These two young men brimmed with enthusiasm, and gained much respect from myself and others by their tenacity.  Josh was set on trying to lift both stones unassisted, and tried numerous times to no avail.  He easily lifted the small stone unassisted, but the large stone was just slightly out of his capabilities.  It surely wasn’t because of lack of effort!  He tried and tried, and then totally exhausted resorted to using lifting straps to complete one good repetition of both stones.  It was a gallant lift, considering that he had previously “given it all”.  Alex was intent on getting as many reps as he could using straps, and “gutted out” 7 repetitions.  I told both of these young men what an outstanding effort they had given, and that they should use this day to give them the motivation to come back in future years and succeed lifting the stones unassisted.  I KNOW that they will do that  - as the challenge of the Dinnie Stones is now embedded in their soul.  

I had just met Barry Gordge for the first time this weekend.  Barry, at age 51, is one strong man.  The day before I watched Barry do a one arm Zercher of 142.5 kgs.  Barry lifted the small stone quite easily one handed unassisted.  This was his first experience taking on the Dinnies.  He did not try to use straps to lift both of  them together  - but if he would have I know that he would have had no problem lifting both of them at the same time.

George Dick and Matt Finkle came focused on lifting both stones two handed.  George handled the small Dinnie Stone several times as well as Matt.  After a few failed attempts at the big stone two handed, Matt finally succeeded!  It was one of the most impressive lifts of the day.  Matt only weighs 65 kilograms and I am sure the large stone is exceeding his max deadlift.  Holding onto the Dinnie Stone ring is WAY HARDER than gripping a bar, but due to his persistence he was successful!

This is one of the 25 reps done by Mark Haydock during the course of the day.

Mark Haydock and Chad Ullom came into the day only hoping to be successful lifting both stones unassisted (without straps).  Both had never attempted the Dinnie Stones before, and even though they knew their capabilities lifting on ring handled pin loaders, these stones offer different challenges with unknown uncertainties.  Mark has just recently (5 months ago) had bicep reattachment on his right bicep. Anyone would have to question his sanity in attempting such a thing.  Both of these guys were very “fired up” on their first attempt, and proceeded to lift the Dinnie Stones unassisted for one repetition with ease!  After doing this, they decided to go after more repetitions to fully test their capabilities.  I sat back and watched in amazement!  Once they got close to 20 repetitions, I suggested that they go for 25 total reps as that would mark the 25 year celebration of the International All Round Weightlifting Association. This challenge I issued pushed them a few reps further.  I want to emphasize that all these reps were done WITHOUT STRAPS.  I will never take away from anyone lifting the Dinnie Stones with straps, as if that was the challenge they were presented with and succeeded then success was obtained.  But lifting the Dinnie Stones  unassisted (without straps) is a challenge of a much higher level, and no one should be fooled in thinking lifting with straps is the same as lifting without.  The limit is the ability to hold the grip, and both Mark and Chad have WORLD CLASS hook grips to go along with their strong backs.  I believe that this is the most repetitions anyone has ever lifted the Dinnie Stones in one day, which is a great accomplishment.  As I’ve said earlier in this story, total repetitions have always been a part of Dinnie Stone lifting history, as recorded on the Dinnie Stone website.   Well over 50% of all  Dinnie Stone lifters on that website have pushed their body limits with repetitions. 

Chad Ullom with a successful unassisted lift with the Dinnie Stones.

Mark also took “a shot” at walking with both Dinnie Stones without straps. In Francis’s article, he talked about two other athletes walking with the stones in the past.  Calum  Morrison was one of the first to do so, walking 2 feet in 1997.  Glenn Ross was another who attempted to match Donald Dinnie’s feat of crossing the bridge carrying both stones (a distance slightly over 5 yards).  Ross gave a ferocious attempt, making it 5 feet 5 inches.  I was slightly surprised Mark was even going to give this a try, after already lifting the stones for many repetitions.  I thought his grip obviously had to be impaired from this previous lifting.  But not only did he walk a total of 3 feet - he didn’t use straps!!!  He lifted the stones “side by side” and with the stones beating on his legs with every small step, he moved slowly over the distance.  I should mention that Mark did this in the soft gravel out in front of the hotel, and chose his course slightly uphill toward the street.  This HAS to be one of the most impressive feats ever done with the Dinnie Stones.  If there is a man to match Donald Dinnies feat of carrying the stones across the bridge without sitting either one down – my money is on Mark.  I want to make another comment about Mark and Chad’s Dinnie Stone lifting efforts.  All of the lifts were done on the soft gravel out of respect of not damaging the stones.  Several times I saw Chad’s feet slip on the loose gravel as he started his pull, which caused him to abandon the attempt and reset.  This added much more challenge to their efforts.  I have watched lifters on YouTube lift the Dinnie Stones on the concrete, and you can hear the “thub” every time when the stones are set down after their attempts.  This makes me shudder and cringe.  We, as stone lifters, need to take care of these stones for future generations.  Mark and Chad are very humble guys as well, you will never hear of them “bragging” about their successes with the Dinnie Stones in the future. 

Timo Lauttemaus has to be one of the first lifters from Finland to lay hands on the Dinnie Stones.  Timo has huge hands, and the day before did a 127.5 kg Index Finger Deadlift. However, the technique of hook gripping is new to him.  Chad and I explained the process of  hook gripping in the car on the way to the Potarch Hotel.  So what does he do?  He hooks grip for the FIRST TIME ever and lifts the big Dinnie Stone with his left hand and holds it for 14.3 seconds!!  Unbelievable if you ask me. 

Andy Tomlin successful with the large stone one handed unassisted. Andy and Matt Finkle were responsible for organizing this trip to the Dinnie Stones.

This was the third trip to the Dinnies for Andy Tomlin.  He had previously lifted the small stone with one hand, but never the big one.  He had the goal to lift the big one unassisted, and that is JUST WHAT HE DID.  It took a few attempts, but Andy “reached down deep” and gave one of the greatest efforts of the day.  After overcoming the many years disappointment with this big Dinnie Stone – he was finally successful! 

I can’t end this story without giving my account with my Dinnie Stone battle.  The first time I gave a shot at lifting the Dinnie Stones was in 2005.  At that time I was much stronger having around a 750 pound deadlift, but lacked the hook grip strength to lift the big stone.  I tried and tried on that occasion.  I told myself that I would come back at a latter date and succeed with this quest.  At that time I elected not to use straps as I knew I could lift them easily that way and I felt that that wasn’t my Dinnie Stone Challenge.  I wanted my first time to lift them to be unassisted.   However, I didn’t think that this trip would be that time yet.  I just recently had shoulder surgery (2 months ago), and haven’t been able to train with my left arm at all, and was concerned that attempting them may injure myself as I’m still recovering.  I didn’t even take my lifting belt with me on the trip to the Dinnies.  However, once there and watching everyone else push themselves with their challenges, I had a change of mind as I felt the draw of the Dinnie Stone mystic overtake me. I borrowed Chad’s belt for my attempt.  My first try I set my hook too deep and tore a huge chunk of flesh from my palm.  As I looked down I could see the blood trickling from my hand onto the large stone.  It took 10 minutes to get the bleeding to stop.  For a split second I thought “its got to be another day for me now”, but then I lost all rational thought and gave them another shot.  With no negative thoughts in my head, I gave it all I had and they came up!!  A goal I set for myself 7 years prior was now realized.  I told Mark and Chad afterwards that my one rep meant just as much to me as their 25 reps did to them!  That’s what the Dinnie Stones should be all about – taking on a challenge and being successful with great effort and determination.

Al Myers making a successful unassisted lift with the Dinnie Stones in front of a crowd on spectators.

This was a day that those of us involved will never forget in our lives.  I am proud of the fact that all of us are DRUG FREE, and have the negative tests to back up that statement.  Lots of blood and sweat were left on the Dinnie Stones (luckily no tears), but we left them in the same state as when we arrived for the next stone lifter to test his fortitude against the mighty challenge of the Dinnie Stones.  I am glad that I was able to be part of this day as it will forever tie all of us to the legacy of the Stones. Talks are already underway for our next organized trip to the Dinnie Stones – where new challenges will be set and higher achievements will be made.

The Dinnie Trip at the Gold Cup

by Al Myers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAN PIKE – “I WAS BORN TO WORK”

BY DAVE GLASGOW

STAN PIKE LIFTING THE INVER STONE.

IN 2006, I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO FINALLY VISIT SCOTLAND, THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF MY PATERNAL GREAT-GRANDFATHER, JOHN GLASGOW. THIS HAD BEEN ON MY ‘TO DO’ LIST FOR SOME TIME AND WHEN IT DID COME TO FRUITION, I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED IN ANYWAY OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT I RAN OUT OF TIME MUCH TOO QUICKLY.

THE THING THAT STRUCK ME THE MOST DURING THIS TRIP WAS THE RUGGEDNESS OF THE LAND, THE TOUGHNESS AND ENDURANCE OF THE FOLKS THAT INHABITED IT AND THE ADMIRATION OF THESE PEOPLE FOR STRONG INDIVIDUALS. IT WAS AT THE WORLD MASTERS HIGHLAND GAMES, IN INVERNESS, THAT I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO RUN ACROSS AND VISIT WITH ONE OF SCOTLAND’S STRONGMEN. STAN PIKE.

WHAT IMMEDIATELY GETS YOUR ATTENTION ABOUT STAN, WHEN YOU FIRST MEET AND SHAKE HANDS WITH HIM, IS THAT TO DO SO IS AS IF YOU ARE SHAKING HANDS WITH A GRIZZLY BEAR!! I HAVE MET ONLY ONE OTHER PERSON IN MY LIFE THAT HAD SUCH HANDS AS HIS!! THESE HANDS, I FOUND OUT MORE RECENTLY, COME FROM A LIFE OF HARD WORK AND HARDER PLAY.

STAN WAS BORN IN NORTHEAST ENGLAND. HIS LINEAGE IS IRISH, NORSE AND AUSTRIAN. FROM A VERY YOUNG AGE, HE BECAME ACQUAINTED WITH BACKBREAKING, TEDIOUS WORK. THE SON OF A COAL MINER, HE WAS REQUIRED, EVERY DAY, TO PROVE HIMSELF.

“You wanted to be a man, especially in a mining community. You proved yourself being a man by being strong and tough. That was the way I was brought up. The lads that I used to work with were also strong, and part of the joy of the day was getting hold of each other and beating each other up”. – Stan Pike

THE LIST OF JOBS HE HAS DONE IN HIS LIFE WOULD TAKE FAR TO LONG TO PUT TO PAPER, HOWEVER, JUST SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT STAN HAS HAD TO WORK FOR A LIVING HIS WHOLE EXISTENCE. THE OCCUPATION HE HAS REMAINED AT FOR THE LAST 30+ YEARS IS BLACKSMITHING!! JUDGING BY THE QUALITY OF HIS WORK, ONE WOULD BE TEMPTED TO SAY THAT BLACKSMITHING IS NOT WORK TO HIM, BUT RATHER A CALLING. HIS WORKS ARE, TRULY, REMARKABLE! HE ALSO HAS THE PRIVILEGE OF HAVING A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY FORGE FROM WHICH TO CRAFT HIS WORKS!

HOWEVER, THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT STAN’S WORK, BUT HIS PLAY!! STAN HAS HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN BOTH STRENGTH AND AEROBIC ENDURANCE INVOLVING KETTLEBELLS, BICYCLING, WEIGHTLIFTING, MARTIAL ARTS AND THE SO-CALLED ‘MANHOOD’ STONES OF SCOTLAND; NAMELY THE DINNIE STONES AND THE INVER STONE.

STAN PIKE LIFTING THE DINNIE STONES.

ACCORDING TO WRITTEN RECORDS, STAN IS THE OLDEST PERSON TO LIFT THE ‘DINNIE STONES’ UNASSISTED (WITHOUT STRAPS). AT THE AGE OF 58!! THIS IS A COMBINED WEIGHT OF 785lbs.!!

FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE DINNIE STONES, THEY ARE TWO LARGE, IRREGULAR SHAPED STONES THAT, IN ORDER TO LIFT THEM, ONE MUST STRADDLE THEM AND LIFT THEM BY WAY OF RINGS PERMANENTLY AFFIXED TO THE STONES. THE COMBINATION OF STRADDLE, RINGS, WEIGHT AND THE AWKWARDNESS OF THE POSITION ONE HAS TO GET IN, MAKES THIS A VERY IMPRESSIVE FEAT OF HAND AND LIFTING STRENGTH, INDEED!

BY STAN’S OWN ADMISSION, HE STATES THAT SOME MAY QUESTION HIS RIGHT TO CLAIM HE “TRULY” LIFTED THE STONES, AS HE DID NOT COME TO A COMPLETE LOCK OUT AT THE TOP OF THE LIFT. I WILL LEAVE THIS ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS. AS ONE CAN SEE BY THE PICTURE, THERE IS PLENTY OF AIR BETWEEN THE STONES AND THE GROUND. I, FOR ONE, HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THE VALIDITY OF THE LIFT.

AS A SIDE BAR, STAN HAS LIFTED THE FAMED “INVER STONE” (AN EGG SHAPED, RATHER SMOOTH STONE OF 265#) SO MANY TIMES THAT HE IS ON A FIRST NAME BASIS WITH THE STONE!!

TRAINING FOR THE MONUMENTAL TASK OF THE LIFTING OF THE STONES WAS BY WAY OF A BASIC PROGRAM OF CONVENTIONAL WEIGHT LIFTING AND KETTLEBELL WORKOUTS. HIS WORKOUTS ARE TO THE POINT, WITH NOTHING FANCY ABOUT THEM. HE TRAINS AS HE WORKS. HARD AND STRAIGHT FORWARD. BELOW IS A SAMPLE OF HIS SYSTEM:

WEEK ONE

MONDAY

KETTLEBELL WARM UP

CONVENTIONAL DEAD LIFTS 5 X5

HACK LIFT

STIFF LEG DEADLIFT

DINNIE RING DEADLIFTS (BEING A BLACKSMITH, HE MADE HIS OWN RINGS THAT HE USES ON A REGULAR OLY BAR.)

GRIP WORK

WEDNESDAY

KETTLEBELL WARM UP

INCLINE PRESS 5 X 5 TO MAX

SEATED SHOULDER PRESS/OLY BAR 5X 5 TO MAX

SEATED DUMBBELL PRESS 10 X 10 WITH MODERATE WEIGHT

GRIP WORK

FRIDAY

REPEAT MONDAY’S WORKOUT

WEEK TWO

MONDAY

REPEAT THE SHOULDER WORK OUT

WEDNESDAY

REPEAT THE DEADLIFT WORKOUT

FRIDAY

REPEAT SHOULDER WORKOUT

STAN PIKE LIFTING THE DINNIE STONES AGAIN!

WITH THIS SYSEM, HE IS HITTING THE DEADLIFT WORKOUT TWICE A WEEK ONE WEEK AND ONCE THE NEXT, ALTERNATING WITH THE SHOULDER WORKOUT. HIS GRIP WORKOUT IS DONE AT EACH SESSION WITH “HOLDS” AND WRIST ROLLER BEING THE BULK OF THE WORKOUT.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO USE KETTLEBELLS, STAN IS AN AVID ADVOCATE OF THE KETTLEBELLS. HE AND HIS GOOD FRIEND, BOB BEAUCHAMP, WROTE A MOST EXCELLENT BOOK ON THE HISTORY AND PROPER USE OF THE KETTLEBELL. HE IS RECOGNIZED AS THE PERSON WHO “RETURNED” KETTLEBELL USAGE TO THE U.K. AND GIVES CLINICS AND DIRECTS COMPETITIONS ALL OVER BRITAIN.

FINALLY, I ASKED STAN WHAT HE CONSIDERED TO BE HIS FINEST ACHIEVEMENT. I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY HIS REPLY!!

“I don’t consider anything I have personally done to be of any significance at all, I am only pleased to be still here doing what I do.  I have plans for some other stuff as I get older.”  – Stan Pike

WHAT A FANTASTIC, REFRESHING ATTITUDE!! I SEE STAN AS A GUY WHO IS NOT AT ALL SATISFIED WITH HIS ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND, IN HIS OWN MIND, HAS ONLY BEGUN TO SEARCH HIS OWN BOUNDARIES AND LIMITATIONS.

“I believe if you lie back and let life take you over, it will and you’re not going to get anywhere. I’ve always pushed myself to the limit but now I’m approaching 60, it’s starting to hurt a little bit.” – Stan Pike

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT, STAN! GO GET IT!

SLAINTE!!

Davis lifts Dinnie Stones!

by Al Myers

On December 7th, 2010, Roger Davis made a strapless lift of the Dinnie Stones.

Congratulations to Roger Davis for successfully lifting the Dinnie Stones!!  On a cold, snowy day on December 7th, 2010 Roger made another trek to the Potarch Hotel, the home of the Dinnie Stones.  Roger has lifted the stones before, but this time he achieved a STRAPLESS LIFT of the Dinnie Stones.  The Dinnie Stones weigh 321 pounds and 413 pounds apiece.  Both stones have ring handles attached which makes the grip on them a hard one to handle!  It takes someone with a very strong grip to be able to hold onto them – let alone a strong back to lift the total weight of 734 pounds in a modified-Jefferson style.

Roger has been a big contributor to the IAWA, having competed in the last 3 IAWA World Championships.  He is an outstanding spokesman for All-Round Weightlifting.  He has had numerous articles published in MILO related to All-Round lifting.  Roger is a CLASS INDIVIDUAL and I’m so glad to see him accomplish this long-standing goal of his.  Way to go Roger!!!!

Dinnie Lift

by Al Myers

Al Myers demonstrating the Dinnie Lift.

This feat of strength is based on Donald Dinnie and the Dinnie Stones.  The Dinnie Stones have received much publicity over these past few years, and most definitely, qualifies as an Old-Time Strongman Event.  However, some modifications had to be made to make this feasible as a event.  First of all, we will not be lifting stones but instead weight loadable Vertical Bars that mimic the pick-height of the Dinnie Stones.  Ring handles will be attached to the top of the Vertical Bars.  To keep to the standard of the Dinnie Stones which weigh 321 pounds and 413 pounds each, one Vertical Bar must  be loaded to not  more than 75% of the other. Again, the rules for this lift will not be very “technical” as the end result of actually picking them up is the desired outcome.

The Rules for the Dinnie Lift:

Two weight loadable Vertical Bars with ring handles attached are used in this lift. The maximum height from the  floor to the top of the lifting rings is 21 inches.  One Vertical Bar’s weight MUST not exceed 75% of the other.  Any style of lifting may be used.  The lift ends when the lifter is upright and motionless. The lifter may have the Vertical Bars at the side, or may straddle them.  A time limit of 1 minute is given to accomplish a legal lift. The weights may be dropped within this time limit, and the lifter may reset and try again.  An official will give a command to end the lift. Lifting straps of any kind are NOT allowed!

Dinnie Stones: Who Was Really First?

Jack Shanks, second (or third) to lift the stones without straps

by Thom Van Vleck

I have to admit, I don’t have the patience to do pure research.  The long hours required make my eyes glaze over.  When I read, it goes like this:  I pull a book off a shelf, thumb through it, find something interesting, read it until I get bored, then move on.  As a result, I gather information in bits and pieces and it kind of becomes like a puzzle to me.  Waiting for the next piece to make the overall picture more clear.  I have a lot of “puzzles” going on at once and I kind of like it that way.

As of late, one of these puzzles has been focused on Dave Webster and the Dinnie Stones.  I had wrote most recently about “Darth Vader” lifting the stones and that the article in Ironman was not really clear if Dave Prowse (Darth) lifted the stones with straps or without.  That article was written in the 70’s.  Last night I was reading Webster’s book ” Scottish Highland Games” that was printed in 1973.  In it, he makes the statement on page 131 of Prowse’s feat, “A good feat, but Dave wore hand straps which make a great difference”.

Dave then goes on and details what was certainly the second lifting (if not the third….I’ll explain that later) of the stones without straps.  Now, I realize that Gordon Dinnie, a descendent of Donald, has a website (www.gordondinnie.com) that details lifts, but if you read Webster’s book you find some details that don’t match up….making for an interesting “puzzle”.  These are the details I’m going to focus on.  My intention is not to point out mistakes, because these aren’t mistakes.  My intention is to provide information where I have found it and let you decide.

In Webster’s book he credits Jack Shanks, from Ireland, with lifting the Dinnie Stones “correctly”.  Which Webster explains as lifting both stones with no straps.  What I find funny is that in my mind “correctly” would be to lift the stones and carry them the width (not the length) of the bridge.  However, “correctly” seems to have come to mean simply lifting the stones….or carrying them the prescribed distance!  Gordon Dinnie’s website seems to confirm Shanks feat, but gives him credit with carrying the stones the equivalent distance, which Webster makes no mention of.  Gordon Dinnie also credits Imlach Shearer with lifting the stone assisted two years earlier and unassisted the same year as Shanks (1973).  What Gordon Dinnie does not make explicitly clear is if Shearer did the unassisted lift before or after Shanks.  I say this because Gordon may not have considered Shearer’s feat the same if he simply lifted them while Shanks carried them!

Now,  earlier I mention Jack Shanks being possibly the third man to lift the stones “correctly”.  Webster states in his book that in 1955 in Aberdeen at the “Highland Fling” a 78 year old man named James Law came forward and stated he lifted both stones in 1911, but did not carry them.  So, perhaps he was the second, after Dinnie, to life the stones “correctly”….or perhaps some other man, after a hard days work and a few brews in the Potarch Inn, lifted those stones on a bet or whim and their feat and name is lost to history.  Not to much of a stretch to believe that could have happened!

Then there is the story of when Louis Cyr came to visit Dinnie and they visited the stones.  Dinnie picked up the smaller stone and then carried it a distance.  Cyr did the same and beat Dinnie’s distance.  Webster points out that Dinnie was 63 years old at the time and Cyr was much younger and in his prime, but Webster seems to be clear that Cyr did not lift both.  Webster also tells of a man named William McCombie Smith would regularly lift the bigger stone unassisted and was the only man to do this.  Webster then states that after that, Henry Gray and John Gallagher also lifted the big stone unassisted before Prowse came along.

Another story involved Bill Bangert.  A man from Missouri often credited with bringing Scottish athletics to America and beginning the modern “wave ” of success it has had the past 40 years.  Bangert made a ring and harness to carry the stones that undoubtedly made the feat much easier…..and he received a little grief then and since then for this “cheat lift”.  But he did carry the stones across the road and back and I don’t think he tried to claim he did any more than that!

On another “final” note (at least until I read some more!).  I also read that at one time one of the rings broke and a different ring was attached.  It was not clear which one (the smaller or the larger one) but if it were the smaller ring….that changed the dynamics dramatically.  I lifted each stone individually with straps and that small ring was considerably more difficult.  Then there is the concern that the stones are being slowly chipped away and who knows how much weight they have lost, being dropped over and over.   Maybe they will soon be place in protected custody like the original Apollon’s Railroad Car Wheels, where nobody will ever lift them again!  In which case, we may not ever know  who was first, but we may know who was LAST!

Donald Dinnie: Scotland’s Jim Thorpe

by Thom Van Vleck

A classic photo of Donald Dinnie with a few of his awards.

In 2006 I visited Scotland and while there made a visit to the “Dinnie Stones” to take a crack at lifting them.  The stones have a become part of the legend of Donald Dinnie.  A legend that is long and complicated and not unlike the American sports legend, Jim Thorpe.  Both men seemed gifted to do just about anything they wanted to athletically.  They were strong, fast, and agile and could seemingly adapt to any sport in a quick manner.  In other words, they were ATHLETES!

Dinnie was born at Balnacraig, Birse, near Aboyne, Aberdeenshire in Scotland in 1837.  He competed in over 11,000 athletic competitions in a 50 year span.  Thorpe was born near Prague, Oklahoma in 1888 very near where my father was born and he and I share a birthday of May 28th and Thorpe likely competed in 1000’s of different athletic events in a career that lasted over two decades.  A strict comparison of these two athletes would be difficult.  I do know that Jim Thorpe and Donald Dinnie both threw many of the same implements, such as the 56lb Weight for Distance, the hammer, the shot, the javelin, and ran in many of the same types of distance events.  But in many ways it’s like comparing Muhammed Ali with Joe Louis….they weren’t at their best at the same time.

I like Dinnie because he’s a legendary figure, but was a real man that may have actually been able to live up to that legend.  Fittingly, he was born the son of a stone mason.  He won his first event when he was 16 and beat a strongman in a wrestling meet and won 1 pound sterling.  He had a reign as Scottish Champion from 1856 to 1876 and when his best track and field performances  are compared with the 1896  Athens Olympics (the first modern Olympics) he could possibly have won 7 Gold medals, a Silver, and a Bronze.  This would have indeed put him in a class with Thorpe!

Thorpe had a lengthy list of amazing wins and feats in basketball, football, track & field and baseball.  Dinnie won over 2000 hammer throwing contests, over 2000 wrestling matches, 200 weightlifting meets, and some 500  running and hurdling events.  I read that in 40 years he was undefeated in the caber toss in 1000’s of contests.

Another area they have in common is their images endure today and sell products!  Dinnie, while still alive, endorsed a soft drink in the United Kingdom called Iron Brew or today is know as Iron Bru.  His image is still regularly seen as is Thorpe’s.

Dinnie, like Thorpe, did barnstorming to earn money while displaying his athletic prowess.   Dinnie first toured the United States in 1897 and earned a small fortune doing it and was still touring New Zealand and Australia at age 60….and winning!  William Wallace is a legendary patriot, maybe the greatest patriot, of Scotland and when a statue was done of him, they used Dinnie as the body model as he was considered the perfect man.  Thorpe was studied extensively by Doctors at one point who were trying to figure out just why he was such a great athlete.

Finally, these two great athletes share a similar end.  During their day, they were often hates as much as they were loved.  Other athletes hated them because they often made them look bad and took all the prize money.  Thorpe earned a fortune in his lifetime but died broke.  Dinnie, it is said, earned what would be equal to 2.5 million dollars in today’s money, but also had to rely on charity at the end of his life.  I don’t think this takes away from the luster of their careers, indeed, to me it only adds to it.  These men lived big and stayed that way.  I read of a famous person who was suffering from Parkinson’s and was still working as hard as ever.  A reporter asked them, “Shouldn’t you rest more in your condition”?  The man looked at her and said, “Rest for what…..so I can die well rested”.  I think these men lived with that same sentiment, and I can respect that.

Darth Vader and the Dinnie Stones

By Thom Van Vleck

David Prowse, who became famous portraying Darth Vader, lifts the Dinnie Stones in 1962.

I was perusing my June-July 1964 issue of Iron Man magazine when I came across an article by Dave Webster.  It was titled “The Stones of Strength are Conquered” and it gives a short history of the Dinnie Stones and then talks about Dave Prowse lifting them.  At that time Dave Prowse was “only” the British heavy weight lifting champion….but later he would become famous for a role he played in was was hoped to be a “moderately” successful Sci-Fi movie.  That role was Darth Vader, the movie was “Star Wars” and unless you have lived in a hole the past 35 years….you know the rest!

Dave is listed in the article as 6′7″ (I had heard 6′6″ in other articles) and weighing 273lbs.  He was on a tour with George Eiferman at the time doing lifting feats across Scotland.  Webster states in the article at that time only “John Gallagher, the Scottish dead lift champion” had been successful in lifting the stones since Dinnie had done it all those years earlier.

In the story, Prowse was taken there by a local promoter and there was a television crew and newspaper men there with cameras.  It said that Prowse lifted the stones 6 times, but after that, the article is less clear.  What I mean is that in the photo it is obvious that Prowse is using STRAPS!  The article admits as much, but a line in it makes it seem that Prowse lifted them without straps then used straps for photos.  Here’s the line, “He did – not once, but six times. Using hand straps he repeated a straddle lift with the two stones time after time for photographs and film.”

It is NOT my intention to take away from a great athlete like Prowse or call into question Dave Webster, a man I have met personally several times and was kind enough to compliment me on my own writing (how could a guy like that be bad! haha).  I just want to report the story and note the simple fact that in the photo used, there were straps being used.   As I have stated before in my stories on the Dinnie Stones, It appears that there have been others that have claimed to have lifted the stones…..using straps…..and that little detail is omitted.  Perhaps Dinnie himself used straps and this was not seen as a big deal back then….nobody will ever know for sure.  I have just stated before that lifting the stones with straps is a feat, but lifting them without straps is a WORLD CLASS feat.

It is also interesting to note how Webster reports Dinnie’s feat.  For years there has been a question of whether Dinnie simply deadlifted them, or walked with them, or even carried them across the bridge near the Potarch Inn!  I have been there and that Bridge in at least a couple hundred feat and arches up in the air…..a feat I would have to say would be impossible to carry both stones at once across that bridge.  But Webster states it as such:  ”…Donald Dinnie…lived in this area before touring the world as a professional sportsman.  His father was a builder and one day was repairing the Potarch Bridge.  He used the stones as an anchor in suspending a roped plank over the side of the bridge and when that side was finished Donald was said to have carried the two boulders across the bridge to the other wall-a distance of some five yards!”  So, I take it the stones were on one side (not one end) of the bridge and were carried across to the other side of the bridge (and not to the other end).  This, to me, seems very plausible!

If you ever make the trip to Scotland, the Dinnie Stones are a must see.  The country side around it is beautiful and peaceful, the bridge is a work of art, the river nearby pristine, and go in and have a scotch in the Potarch Inn….and I recommend the mixed grill plate….you will get your fill after tugging on the Dinnie Stones!

James Splaine: Lightest to ever Lift the Dinnie Stones?

by Thom Van Vleck

At 144 pounds, is James Splaine the lightest man to ever lift the Dinnie Stones?

In 2006 I got a chance to lift the Inver Stone.  I’m a descent stone lifter and just took it for granted that as long as I was injury free, I could lift the Inver Stone, which I did.  After that (and a beer and a shot of scotch at the Inver Inn) we headed to the Potarch Inn, home of the Dinnie Stones just a few miles down the road near Kincardine O’Neil.

Recently, there was a story  in the USAWA Daily News on Steve Angell lifting those stones 20 reps in one day.  An amazing feat.  I am not a grip master, but I have a good grip, and the Dinnie Stones were not within my capabilities.  Partly due to the fact that I’m a “palm” gripper.  Which means I grip things like that, such as the  Highland Games implements in my palm. To be able to get your hands in the round rings, especially the smaller ring, you have to be a good “finger” gripper, or have the ability to get that ring down in your fingers and hang on.  I simply could not do it.  Even with straps, they felt like a real load!!!

Recently, I was reading through an old Iron Man magazine (back when Peary Rader published it and it was the best magazine out there for strength training and news….even if he did have a lot of bodybuilders on the covers…at least back then they were strong!).  I have tons of them and even though I’ve read through them many times, you will find things that catch your eye that you didn’t notice before.  It was issue # and I came across a David Willoughby article.  I really enjoy the old Willoughby articles on old time strongman feats.  I had recalled reading this one before as it talked about lifting block scale weights (a favorite of my granddad Dalton Jackson).  It was all about different types of  grip strength and while it was ALL great reading, the Dinnie Stones were fresh on my mind after Angell’s fantastic feat.  It was then I noticed a picture of a small man lifting the Dinnie Stones.

I have to admit, there’s probably a reason I don’t remember this picture.  The guy in it was listed at 144lbs and he looked like it!  His name was James Splaine and he was listed as being from Aberdeen and it’s his son, Jim, on his shoulders.   Being a big guy,  I have a bad habit of ignoring anyone that’s not a heavy weight.  But this guy was doing a “heavy weight” feat of strength and it was only after I had lifted these stones did I now appreciate  the feat of strength in the picture.

Now, I need to mention a couple things.  I have seen claims of lifting the Dinnie Stones….with STRAPS!  Inside the Potarch Inn, where the stones reside, is a hallway with photos of Donald Dinnie and stories on the stones.  There’s a photo of a local guy lifting them with scale weights strapped on for a combined with, I think, over 900lbs.  But if you look at the photo, the guy is using straps!  I use straps a lot in my training, but I never compare a strapped lift to one that is just grip.  They are two different things.  Another thing, you will notice in the photo of James Splaine, how he’s got the rings down in his fingers.

Willoughby claims in the caption that Splaine was the lightest man ever to lift the Dinnie Stones. I’m not sure if anyone lighter has done it since (let alone with his son on his shoulders!).

Steve Angell – Master of the Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

Steve Angell lifted the Dinnie Stones for 20 repetitions in one day.

Steve Angell, of  Milton Keynes England,  made history on the last weekend of June (June 26th) when he lifted the Dinnie Stones for 20 repetitions in one day.  This is the MOST repetitions EVER PERFORMED with the Dinnie Stones in one day.  Steve has been training for this day for a few months, and had hoped to do 40 reps to mark his 40th birthday this year.  He had the back strength to lift the stones that many times, but his hands couldn’t take the abuse and became torn and started bleeding.  Afterall, he was lifting the stones UNASSISTED, which means he wasn’t using straps, gloves, or any other assistance device which would make them easier to lift.  He relied on the good ole-fashioned HOOK GRIP that helped make Steve superb in the All-Rounds with the One Arm Deadlift.

The Dinnie Stones of Scotland were made famous when Donnie Dinnie picked both of them up at the same time around 1860, and carried them across the Potarch Bridge over the River Dee.   Together they weigh 734 pounds with one stone heavier than the other.  Each stone has a ring handle attached to it. It is said they were used as anchors in the construction of the bridge, and where just “left there” because they were too heavy for anyone to carry away!

Steve is not a newcomer to the Dinnie Stones – he has already been successful with lifting them unassisted in 2001 and 2006. Both of those times he just showed up and lifted them, without any specific training ahead of time.  However, this time Steve spent some time preparing, and obviously it paid off.  He had a couple of setbacks in his training which he had to overcome.  When I asked him about these setbacks, this is what he said, “Keeping my hands healthy was my main concern, as I knew they would tear up on the day.  I had one callous tear about 8 weeks out that healed ok, and I nearly put the whole thing in jeopardy when I put a screwdriver into my hand whilst working around the house.  Apart from a slight infection, fortunately, it did not affect things too much.”

Steve and his "brothers in pain", who also got to enjoy the experience of lifting the Dinnie Stones. Pictured left to right: Stan Pike, Barry Gibson, and Steve Angell

What’s NEXT for the All-Round Weightlifting Legend from England??  It seems Steve Angell has accomplished so much, what more can he do?  Well, I had to ask him this question, and this is what Steve had to say, “As for what’s next? For this year, it’s to drop 30 pounds and work on my conditioning and Tai Chi.   My body can only cope with one big event a year now, as I have beat myself up a bit too much over the years on the All-Round lifts.  Not too sure what my big goal for next year will be.  Maybe to press the Inver Stone!”.

I have full confidence that Steve will accomplish anything he sets his mind to. Steve is very much against drug use amongst strength athletes, and doesn’t mind voicing his feelings on this issue, even if it offends someone.  I really admire him for that.  He is the perfect role model for an up and coming All-Rounder.  Steve is living proof that you can be strong and accomplish your goals, all without the use of steroids.  He makes me proud to be an All-Rounder!!

Hall of Fame Biography – Frank Ciavattone class of 1996

Frank Ciavattone performing a One Arm Hack Lift at the 2005 USAWA National Championships. Frank has the top USAWA lift of All-Time in this lift at 402 pounds.

Frank Ciavattone lives in Walpole, Massachusetts. He is a self-employed Excavator Contractor two-thirds of the season and a Heavy Snow Remover the remaining time. He started to lift weights after he received a 75lb. weight set for Christmas in 1966. Frank’s uncle Ralph was a bodybuilder in the early 1950’s who placed 5th in the 1951 Mr. Boston Contest. Frank’s dad was a Marine during the Korean War and was a Power Shovel operator (steam shovel). These two men were Frank’s early inspiration to take up weight training.

Frank trained for many years (1971 to 1988) with his coach Joe Mills of The Central Falls Weightlifting Club in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Frank started out doing some Olympic lifting but soon found out that he had tremendous potential with All-Round Weightlifting. It was at this time that he got help from Bill Clark, John Vernacchio, and Howard Prechtel – all of which were very accomplished and experienced All-Round Weightlifters. Frank was a charter member of the USAWA, and competed in the organization from the start. Frank is a very sincere and honest person who always gives thanks to those who help him. He commented, ” John & Howard gave me endless phone time on educating me how to do a lot of the lifts before upcoming contests. I can not leave without mentioning Frank Gancarz and Ed Jubinville (both deceased) who played a big part in making me feel Allround lifting was just as important as life itself! To these MEN I truly admire and respect and I thank them from the bottom of my HEART! ”

Frank Ciavattone was the first American to ever lift the Dinnie stones unassisted. He performed this amazing feat in 1995.

Frank was also involved in meet promotions. He was the Meet Director for several National Championships (1996 and 1998) and World Championships (1993 and 2000) in both All-Round Weightlifting and The Heavy Lifts. His most memorable All-Round meet was definitely the 1st one in 1993, in his home town of Norwood/Walpole, Massachusetts. Frank had his family, friends, the towns people, and lifters from other countries all together in one meet. Frank said, “With that combination it was a week of comradeship, competitiveness, and support. The rest was a true celebration of what this sport is by bringing a half dozen countries together as human beings. This is a time I will always cherish in my heart.” One of his most cherish meet wins was winning the Outstanding Lifter Title at the 2005 World Heavy Lift Championships in front of his home town Norwood/Walpole. Regarding this, Frank said, “I was in the 275lb. class. I gave the award to my daughter Domenique. That was a Hallmark moment for me.”

Frank has lifted overseas in 6 World Championships and 1 Millennium Gold Cup for a total of 7 trips. When in Scotland at the 1995 IAWA World Championships Frank achieved something no other American had ever done previously. This story is best told in his own words, “The Dinnie Stones story got started by Willie Wright and his team wanting me to go north and give them a try! They offered to take time off from work and take me. For this I said yes and would give it my best shot. Well after lifting in 2 day competition with 10 lifts at the 1996 World Championships, and the 9th lift being a 507lb. right hand- 1 arm deadlift, I was beat. After the meet we all got ready for the banquet, which anyone who’s ever lifted in Scotland know their banquets are right up there with the best of them. Well around midnight Willie informed me that the mini-bus was leaving at 5 a.m. sharp, tomorrow morning with about a 4 or 5 hour drive. The next day everything goes on schedule and we arrive there with a full mini-bus. I never saw the stones in person before but have to say I was overwhelmed at them. They were both chained to the wall, and it was drizzling out. Everything had a film of water over it, and the marble size piece of chalk I brought was disintegrated. So I found an area not so wet and dug my hands through the dirt to dry them up and it helped. At this point I picked up the little stone right and left, then I did the same to the big stone. Well now I thought I did it. They all yelled NO – do the 2 stones together. Since they were chained to the wall I decided to keep my 2 feet together since the stones were close to the wall. It was hard for me to straddle them and definitely too tight to have one on each side. So finally on my 1st. attempt I reached down and slowly stood up, and stood there while Willie Wright gave his down signal. I was in another world as I felt like I could not put them down. I got an IAWA World record certificate and the honors of being the 1st. US citizen to lift up the stones without straps or other assistance. Also to be one of few to lift them feet together. I am not sure who the others are. The truth to all this is I lifted them fatigued, never seen them before, and never trained to lift them. No excuses – just got of the bus and within 5 minutes lifted both of the ground. I did it my way!!!!!!”

Frank Ciavattone and his All-Time Record in the One Arm Deadlift, with a lift of 562 pounds.

Franks favorite lifts are the three Ciavattone lifts, the One Arm Deadlift and the Neck Lift. He also excelled at these lift and set many USAWA records in them. His records are One Arm Hack Lift -right hand 402 1/5 pounds, One Arm Deadlift – right hand 562 1/5 pounds, One Arm Ciavattone Lift – right hand 331 pounds, Neck Lift 808 pounds, Hand and Thigh 1610 pounds, and a Hip Lift of 2515 pounds. Frank has won 15 IAWA World Championships, 14 USAWA National Championships, 3 Heavy Lift World Championships, and 5 USAWA Heavy Lift National Championships. Frank was the Overall Best Master lifter at the 1998 National Championships. He has placed in the top 10 Overall at 9 National Championships.

There is more to Frank than just being one of the best All-Round Weightlifters of All-Time. He is a man of integrity and outstanding character. He always is willing to help those who need it, and is the perfect role model for the young generation of lifters. When asked what advice he would have for a new lifer, this is what Frank said, “Stay away from any artificial way of getting ahead. Hard, hard, hard work is what got me to do the best I could without jeopardizing my number one thing in my life, FAMILY. Keep your priorities in the right order. This formula keeps everyone happy and supportive.” I would say this sums up Frank Ciavattone.

Frank is a true Pioneer in the Sport of All-Round Weightlifting. He is the ultimate sportsman by demonstrating that a big man can be very strong without the use of drugs, showing that strength comes from within, and displays the unselfish attitude of always helping out his fellow competitors.

Frank has done 808 pounds in the Neck Lift!

My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 2

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone was the first American to ever lift the Dinnie stones unassisted. He performed this amazing feat in 1995.

Al: I know you have promoted several All-Round meets throughout the years. Could you tell me about some of the most memorable meets you have promoted?

Frank: I have run National and World competitions in both Allrounds and Heavy Lifts. The most memorable Allround meet was definitely the 1st one in 1993, in my home towns of Norwood/Walpole, Mass. All in one meet I had my family, friends, the towns people, and all the lifters from other countries. They were also like friends and family. With that combination it was a week of comradeship, competitiveness, and support. The rest was a true celebration of what this sport is by bringing a half dozen countries together as human beings. This is a time I will always cherish in my heart. As the Heavy Lifts go, I would have to say Winning the Outstanding Lifter Title at the 2005 World Heavy Lift Championships in front of my home towns Norwood/Walpole, Mass. I was in the 275lb. class. I gave the award to my daughter Domenique. That was a Hallmark moment for me.

Al: How many times have you competed overseas at World Meets? I know when you where in Scotland you became the first American to ever lift the Dinnie Stones without straps. Could you tell me the story about your success in lifting the Dinnie Stones?

Frank: I have lifted overseas in 6 World Championships and 1 Millennium Gold Cup for a total of 7 trips. The Dinnie Stones story got started by Willie Wright and his team wanting me to go north and give them a try! They offered to take time off from work and take me. For this I said yes and would give it my best shot. Well after lifting in 2 day competition with 10 lifts at the 1996 World Championships, and the 9th lift being a 507lb. right hand- 1 arm deadlift, I was beat. After the meet we all got ready for the banquet, which anyone who’s ever lifted in Scotland know their banquets are right up there with the best of them. Well around midnight Willie informed me that the mini-bus was leaving at 5 a.m. sharp, tomorrow morning with about a 4 or 5 hour drive. The next day everything goes on schedule and we arrive there with a full mini-bus. I never saw the stones in person before but have to say I was overwhelmed at them. They were both chained to the wall, and it was drizzling out. Everything had a film of water over it, and the marble size piece of chalk I brought was disintegrated. So I found an area not so wet and dug my hands through the dirt to dry them up and it helped. At this point I picked up the little stone right and left, then I did the same to the big stone. Well now I thought I did it. They all yelled NO – do the 2 stones together. Since they were chained to the wall I decided to keep my 2 feet together since the stones were close to the wall. It was hard for me to straddle them and definitely too tight to have one on each side. So finally on my 1st. attempt I reached down and slowly stood up, and stood there while Willie Wright gave his down signal. I was in another world as I felt like I could not put them down. I got an IAWA World record certificate and the honors of being the 1st. US citizen to lift up the stones without straps or other assistance. Also to be one of few to lift them feet together. I am not sure who the others are. The truth to all this is I lifted them fatigued, never seen them before, and never trained to lift them. No excuses – just got of the bus and within 5 minutes lifted both of the ground. I did it my way!!!!!!

Ben Edward’s wins Quiz of Week

by Al Myers

The winner of this week’s quiz is  Ben Edwards, of Lawrence, Kansas.  He correctly identified the two USAWA lifters that have  lifted the Dinnie Stones as Frank Ciavattone, of Walpole Massachusetts,  and Kevin Fulton of Litchfield, Nebraska.

Frank Ciavattone lifting both Dinnie Stones in September, 1996

The Dinnie Stones are still located near their original place in front of the Potarch Hotel -  which is next to the Potarch Bridge that the River Dee runs under. They are located close to Aberdeen, Scotland.  They were originally weighed at 435 pounds and 340 pounds (for a total weight of 775#), but since have been reweighed by Gordon Dinnie in 1998 at 413 pounds and 321 pounds (a total weight of 734 pounds).

Kevin Fulton lifting both Dinnie Stones in October, 2001.

Donald Dinnie is said to have picked up both of these stones (at the same time) and walked the width of the Potarch Bridge – a distance close to 17 feet!!!

For a complete listing of those of have lifted the Dinnie Stones – Click Here

Roger Davis Lifts the Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

Roger Davis lifting both Dinnie Stones at the same time!!

Congratulations to Roger Davis for finally reaching his longtime goal of lifting the Dinnie Stones. Roger is an all-round weight lifter from England who has competed in several IAWA World Championships, and has won many Championships. He is 39 years old and weighs only around 80 kilograms – which makes this feat all the more impressive!!

The Dinnie Stones are located just outside of Aberdeen, Scotland at the Bridge of Potarch. They were originally used as anchors for the bridge during the construction of the bridge. While helping his father repair the bridge in 1860, Donald Dinnie lifted both of these stones and carried them across the bridge, a distance of over 15 feet.

Roger commented, “It was a great feeling when I finally lifted the stones, especially as clan Chieftain David Webster as well as a large crowd of spectators witnessed it.” He added, “The lifting of the Dinnie Stones really has filled me with a positive attitude.”

I’m looking forward to seeing Roger this coming October in Lebanon at this year’s IAWA World Championships so I can hear first-hand his story about his amazing accomplishment of lifting the Dinnie Stones – a claim not many can make.