International “Tough Guy” Finger Lift Challenge
by John McKean
On a gorgeous Pennsylvania Fall day, IAWA president Steve Gardner and his always charming wife Karen convinced their American hosts, the equally charming USAWA first couple, Denny and Judy Habecker, to travel to Ambridge to challenge a not-so-charming pair, Art Montini and John McKean, to an impromptu finger lift team meet. Steve had the great idea that a friendly visit to the VFW “cave” would prove more sociable if we actually lifted something while amidst our usual spirited conversation (it’s rumored that Art only speaks in grunts if something heavy is not in his hands!). We were honored that Steve and Karen would spend some of their three-week American vacation with us at the Ambridge gym!
Steve set up three teams – the two ladies were the female team, Steve & Denny were the “presidential” reps, and Art & I were the Ambridge grunge boys! (Well, Steve had nicer team names!). So we agreed to do the index finger, ring finger, and middle finger ring lifts. We had a lot of laughs and some very sore fingers!! Karen and Judy did some very impressive pulls, with their efforts threatening to make the rest of us look bad at the onset! But in the final tally, ole 82 year old Art Montini was the star of the show, with quick effortless pulls of very heavy, record weights; the guy seems to feel no pain!
After the lifting and Steve’s meticulous tallies of scores, Art showed us an amazing little home cooking restaurant on one of the side streets of downtown Ambridge. The food was as amazing as the lifting and the magical day we shared as all-round “brothers (and sisters) of Iron”! With the sun just retreating over the hills of the Steel Valley, Steve, Karen, Denny, and Judy headed back to Lebanon, content with a good day’s work!