Gold Cup History

by Al Myers

British All Round Champion Steve Angell (left) and Howard Prechtel (right) together at the 1994 IAWA Worlds in Burton-upon-Trent, England.

The 2013 IAWA Gold Cup is coming up this weekend.  It is one of three big IAWA promotions (the Worlds and World Postal are the other two).  I am really looking forward to attending this prestigious meet hosted by our USAWA President Denny Habecker  in Lebanon, PA.  Denny has promoted several other Gold Cups and is one of the premier meet promotors in the USAWA – so it, without a doubt, will be a well organized affair.

The Gold Cup is often a misunderstood event, especially if you have never attended it before.  I’ve had lifters question me why “go to a meet where you can only do one lift for record?”, especially considering you can  potentially set several World Records at a local record day.  Let me tell you – the Gold Cup is not like any local record day.  The Gold Cup is about the experience of competing in an international event where lifters from several countries will be represented.  The direction of the Gold Cup is overseen by the IAWA officers and technical committee to insure that the Gold Cup  gives the atmosphere of something very important (which it is!).   It allows a lifter to showcase their best lifts on a BIG STAGE for IAWA World Record in front of their IAWA peers.  Each lifter and their record lift receives the total attention of those present.  When a lifter is performing their Gold Cup lift they have the stage to themselves - and is the only thing going on at the moment. After the meet is over there is always a big banquet to enjoy a great meal, fellowship with other lifters, and have a formal awards ceremony.  The banquet is always a highlight for me at the Gold Cup. 

Now a little “history lesson” on the Gold Cup:

The first Gold Cup was held in 1991 in Lakewood, Ohio  under the direction of Howard Prechtel, IAWA President at the time and originator of the Gold Cup.  This year marks the 23rd  year of the Gold Cup.  In this span the Gold Cup has been promoted every year, without missing a single year.  The following came from a 1991 issue of Bill Clark’s  Strength Journal outlining Howard’s concepts on the Gold Cup:

On November 23, in Cleveland, Howard will be directing the First Meet Of Champions.  The concept is thus: Only people who have won IAWA titles will be invited….a list of some 25 from the USA and England.  Each lifter will be allowed to do only one lift of his choice….and he’ll get only one attempt at that lift – which must be a world record.  That means only 25 lifts and 25 lifters.  Better warm up good – for the TV cameras will take only one look at you.  Of the 25 lifters, it looks like we’ll have at least 15 different types of lifts.  Howard will be trying a record sit-up, for instance. If you’re a world record holder, but not an IAWA champion, don’t ask.  It is a record-makers meet open only to IAWA Champions. 

You can see that Howard had a lofty goal originally that this would become a televised feature of All Round Lifting.  That never really materialized.  Also, you can see that the original criteria for even entering the Gold Cup was pretty strict.  Things have evolved with the Gold Cup since then, but there still are entry criteria.  For the past few years this has been the main rules regarding entry into the Gold Cup:

1.  Lifter must open on their first attempt at an IAWA  World Record lift.  However, a lifter is given three attempts to repeat an attempt or increase the poundage.
2.  To enter the Gold Cup, the lifter must be a current holder of an IAWA World Record.
3.  The lifter must be a member of the IAWA, or a member in an affiliated organization of IAWA.

If a lifter can not accomplish a World Record in any IAWA lift, an entry can still be approved.   It is of the IAWA philosophy now that NO LIFTER be denied the opportunity to compete in this event.  The offering of a Silver Cup Award (for setting a National Record) and the Bronze Cup Award (for a lifter setting a personal record) has been added to allow for this.

You may wonder how that FIRST EVER Gold Cup turned out.  Of the 34 lifers that were invited (yes – the first year this meet was by invitation only), 31 entered.  All 31 lifters were successful setting new IAWA World Records.   As for Howard, it turned out well for him in the success of the promotion and with his quest of setting a new record.  The following report from the Strength Journal sums up Howard’s day quite nicely:

After all the effort and money Howard put into the meet, he was the final lifter.  He attempted to break an 85-year-old mark in the Travis Lift by doing 60 reps in 60 seconds with 1510 pounds.  Travis had done 56 reps in 60 seconds with 1500 pounds in 1906…when he was a young man.  Howard, at 66, hardly qualifies as young (except at heart), but he banged out 45 reps with the 1510 in 60 seconds….easily a new IAWA record.

I would truly encourage all all-rounders to try to make it to a Gold Cup.  Once you go once, you will understand why I think it is an elite type competition.  You meet the “legends” of the sport, and get to see world class all rounders perform their best lifts for World Records.

Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy

by Al Myers

Howard Prechtel competing at the 2000 Gold Cup in Burton on Trent, England. Howard performed a 120 KG 2-Bar Deadlift for his Gold Cup Lift. Steve Gardner promoted this event, and it was held at the Bass Museum.

The Gold Cup is the next major IAWA meet on the Calendar of Events.  This year it will be held in Glasgow, Scotland on November 3rd.  As most know – the Gold Cup was started by the legendary Howard Prechtel while he was the President of the IAWA.  The first Gold Cup was held in Lakewood, Ohio in 1991. 

At the World Council Meeting of the IAWA, a proposal was made by Steve Gardner to establish a Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy to be presented in Howard’s memory to the lifter who scores the highest amended total for their record lift at the Gold Cup, using the Blindt Formula to compare the different lifts.  This was passed unanimously by the members in attendance.  Steve has agreed to get a trophy made for this year’s Gold Cup.   The Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy will, “in a sense” recognize the Gold Cup’s BEST LIFTER.   Hopefully, this will become an annual award at the Gold Cup.  I will do what I can to make sure that that happens. 

Steve Gardner summed up this memorial trophy excellently by saying, “I felt it would nice to remember Howard in this way, as the Gold Cup was Howard’s baby, and it was Howard who proposed the idea of the Gold Cup.  It will be great to see who is the first winner of the Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy!”

Roman Chair

by Al Myers

The Dino Gym's homemade Roman Chair, complete with an adjustable upper back safety pad.

Recently on the USAWA Discussion Forum, there was talk about the Roman Chair.   A Roman Chair has an almost mystical name that shrouds confusion.   I have seen (and read) about lifters referring to something as a Roman Chair, and when in fact, it is not a Roman Chair at all, but rather some type of Hyperextension Bench or a Glute-Ham Developer (that’s another story!).  A few of the lifts that we do in the USAWA require the use of a Roman Chair to perform them so understanding what a Roman Chair is REALLY IS  important.  That is why I’m going to try to properly describe a Roman Chair and it’s description to the use of All Round Lifts.  Like I said, some Official USAWA lifts require the use of a Roman Chair – i.e., the Roman Chair Situp, the Roman Chair Bench Press, and the Abdominal Raise on a Roman Chair. 

This is an ancient medieval Roman Chair. But instead of using this chair for exercise, it was used to torture prisoners!

You will read on the internet that Roman Chair exercises (namely Roman Chair Situps) are inherently dangerous amongst the general consensus of the cross fit lifting crowd.  You will read some bad things about this exercise and ALL of the reasons why you shouldn’t do it.  I’m not going to get into that debate here (but aren’t MOST of the All Round Lifts dangerous???, and we love them anyways!), but rather provide an accurate description, and a little history of the Roman Chair.  Professor Attila is often credited with the invention of this device, as well as the Roman Column and the Roman Board (made famous by pictures of Sig Klein performing layouts using them).  And speaking of Sig Klein, I have also read in his writings that he said the Professor didn’t actually invent the Roman Chair, but rather popularize the Roman Chair by it’s use in his gym.  Klein had mentioned once that a Roman lifter who was visiting the Professors gym actually demonstrated exercises using a device similar to a Roman Chair, which gave the Professor the inspiration to build a Roman Chair and give it it’s name after this Roman lifter. In doing my research for this piece, I found that there actually WAS a Roman Chair in the Middle Ages.  It was a chair of torture that was used up till the late 1800’s in Europe.  I found this very symbolic – and could make for a good story on how the Roman Chair we use today got it’s name.  Afterall, most Roman Chair All Round lifts are VERY PAINFUL and could constitute torture to some individuals!  Just try doing a Roman Chair Bench Press and you will get my drift.  On our USAWA YouTube account there is a video of Dave Beversdorf doing a HUGE Roman Chair Bench Press of 250 pounds (YouTube Video of Dave’s RC Bench Press), which is the top All-Time Roman Chair Bench Press in the USAWA Record List.   Read some of the goofy comments regarding his video.  It is obvious that these critics giving these comments have NO IDEA what is required and the back-splitting pain that is involved in doing a heavy lift like this!  (the comments are so absurd that I didn’t even delete them because I found them funny, and I know ANYONE who has done this exercise would agree with me!).

Past USAWA lifting legend Howard Prechtel excelled at the Roman Chair Situp. He held the All-Time USAWA record at 738 pounds for many years. Amazingly, he did this in 1990 at the age of over 60 years!

The only description of a Roman Chair in our USAWA Rule Book falls under the rule for the Roman Chair Situp.  It says, “This lift is done on a Roman Chair or similar device.  The toes must be secured at floor level.  The seat of the Roman Chair must be level and parallel to the platform and must not extend above the top of the buttocks when the lifter is fully laid back on the Roman Chair.  A second bench of lesser height than the seat of the Roman Chair may be used for safety purposes under the lifter’s shoulders when laid back”.   Not all commercial Roman Chairs would fall under this description. I have seen some where the foot pad is level with the seat, some with “rounded” seats, and some with even inclined/declined seats.  These types of Roman Chairs would not be legal for use in the execution of the USAWA lifts.   The Roman Chair I have in the Dino Gym is one that I made.  It works very well, and is of a very simple design.  The seat is 12″ by 24″, the seat sits 20″ high, the Chair is 4 feet long,  and it contains an adjustable safety back support. The feet can be braced on a bar positioned at floor level.   

There is nothing more “old school” than training on a Roman Chair.   And if it was good enough for the Professor – it is good enough for me!

Year in Review -2010

by Al Myers

2010 USAWA Year in Review

I have finished the 2010 USAWA Year in Review, compiling all the information that has been placed on the USAWA Website throughout the year of 2010.  I do this for a couple of reasons:  1) to allow all information to be saved for prosperity in one location, and 2) to allow individuals who do not have internet access to stay informed with USAWA news.  I know it is, at this time, pretty “old news” but at least it provides an opportunity for staying abreast of the USAWA nowadays, especially since the USAWA does not provide a written publication any longer.

This is a long book.  You will not be able to finish it in one night.  It contains all 308 blogs that were placed in the USAWA Daily News for 2010.   The book is 441 pages long, and contains 164,875 words.   It has over 250 pictures.  This review book also contains the full meet reports and results for the 22 competitions that the USAWA sanctioned in 2010.

Due to the length, I have decided to forgo the color printing this year which helps lower the cost.  I plan to do another printing by the first of March – so THAT is the deadline for purchasing this Review Book.  Please make payment of $40 to the USAWA for purchase, and send to me.  I will ONLY print Review Books for those that I have payment for in hand.


Howard Prechtel – The Supreme All-Rounder

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE: The following was written about Howard Prechtel by Bill Clark in the February, 1990 issue of the Strength Journal.  It is  the BEST STORY I have ever read concerning the life and lifting career of Howard Prechtel.  It is worth sharing again for those who missed it the first time.)

by Bill Clark

Howard and Noi - an uplifting couple.

An All-Rounder is a person who gets a thrill out of lifting anything that isn’t attached – and some things which are.  Possibly no individual in the USAWA more truly personifies the all-round mentality than Howard Prechtel. The 64-year old Cleveland native has been picking up iron for 45 years and seems to be enjoying it more now than ever before.  Training is even made easier by coaching Noi Phumchaona, his wife and fellow all-rounder.  That’s them in the picture.

When Howard lifted at John Vernacchio’s Valley Forge open last November 11th and finished off the day with his exhibition of the Travis Lift, it was simply another chapter in the rather amazing saga of Howard Prechtel and the iron pile.  Howard was born in Cleveland and grew up there, dropping out of school to join the service when he was 17.  He fought at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima and was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds that eventually were the reason he’s still lifting iron at the age of 64.  After war service, Howard returned to Cleveland, bounced from job to job for a decade, went thru a marriage, and wound up in a hospital with shrapnel from an old war wound threatening his future.

Along the way, Howard had become intrigued by strongmen, such as Warren Lincoln Travis and Louis Cyr.  At age 31, Howard started to work on the things the old-time strongmen did.  Now, 33 years later, he’s still at it.  At the Valley Forge meet, Howard banged out 108 reps in the Travis Lift with 1027 pounds in 75 seconds.  When Travis was at the top of his game, he did 100 reps with 1000 pounds in 75 seconds.  And he was far short of being 64 years old.  That effort, which was done under careful scrutiny headed by USAWA President John Vernacchio, currently is not an approved USAWA record – but the effort is on the table – not dead.

It also is the extension of a remarkable lifting career.  Howard’s efforts have been aimed at three Travis specialties – the Roman Chair Sit-Up, the Hip Lift, and the Back Lift.  He also has returned to Olympic lifting and has captured national and international honors.  He’s lifted in two world masters meets and numerous national competitions. Howard’s record surge goes back to 1961 – not long after his stay in the hospital.  He came up with a one-hand effort of 1020 pounds in the Hand and Thigh.  That was on January 12th, 1961 – more than 29 years ago.  In November, 1963, he broke the mark of Travis which had defied those who tried… he hip lifted 1025 for 105 reps in 75 seconds.  It was 16 years before Howard would beat the mark again.  In May, 1979, he did 108 reps with 1109 in 75 seconds. That effort remains his personal record.

In the Roman Chair Sit-Up, he started in 1973 with 713 pounds and today has raised the mark by over 200 pounds to 932.  His efforts in the Back Lift border on the frightening.  Travis had done 1000 pounds for 3000 reps in 101 minutes, and a total of 5,000,000 pounds in three hours, nine minutes.  In 1980, Howard did 3547 reps with 1070 pounds in 85 minutes to erase Travis from the books with 3,795,290 pounds.  Then, in June, 1982, he made 5460 reps with 1111 pounds in three hours, nine minutes to obliterate Travis’ mark with 6,066,060 pounds.  Travis had done 1000 pounds for 5000 reps in the same time period.

Who knows what Howard will do next.  He still keeps an active schedule as an Olympic lifter.  After all, he was third in the 198-lb class Olympic Trials back in 1956 and loves the overhead lifts.  Plus – he has Noi to train in those lifts as well. He’s become a leader in the USAWA, both on the platform and in the meeting room.  He’s the chairman of the Ohio chapter of the USAWA and a member of the USAWA board of directors.  he holds 60-64 age group records in the bench press feet in the air (90 kg), RH C&J (45 kg), Continental Clean (100 kg), RH deadlift (100 kg), Hack lift (127.5 kg), Hip Lift with traditional bar (648 kg), Jerk from Racks (90 kg), Neck Lift (115 kg), Two-hand DB press (62.5 kg), Two-hand Military Press with BB, heels together (72.5 kg), Pullover and Pushup (82.5 kg), RH Snatch (45 kg), Front Squat (127.5 kg), Steinborn Lift (92.5 kg), and Zercher Lift (137.5 kg).

Howard’s sincerest hopes for 1990 are that repetition records will be approved by the USAWA and that his mark set at Valley Forge will be accepted by the USAWA as a true record.  If the rep records become a reality, look for Howard to load up the back lift again and see if he can get 7,000,000 pounds next time.  If he does, you’d best bet on Howard.  The barrel-chested, short-haired military determination of the 17-year-old fighting a man’s war on Guadalcanal has not diminished one bit.

Gold Cup One

by John McKean

Howard Prechtel as a young man, sitting and relaxing as he poses for a picture with over 1000 pounds on his back!

Howard Prechtel phoned me to describe, in his typical factual but low key manner, his idea for a meet where IAWA World Champions would strive to set individual world records in their favorite lifts. He was most pleased to inform that the Wide World of Sports was VERY interested in TV coverage! Of course a large Gold Cup would be awarded to each successful contestant in this “World Champions Record Breakers” meet (in later years , Gold Cup meet was easier to say & inscribe on trophies!).

Soon, all lifters were wildy excited about this concept, and planned to travel to Cleveland( Lakewood), where the meet venue was a large High school, famous for its legendary football teams, and other athletics. However, as Howard later told me, with a bit of mirth in his normally somber tone, one prominent US lifter wasn’t too thrilled. Seems this specialty lifter had not ever entered or won a World Championship, but, in his own ,rather unhumble opinion, was very worthy of competing ( a legend in his own mind !) in this unique record day event. He phoned, more than once I believe, and pleaded, begged, and implored Howard to let him appear before the TV cameras! But Howard was always very principled, and held his ground – ONLY legitimate world champs would grace the stage!

Another famous lifter was quite excited to demo his skills to a televised international audience. But, though “sparse” of hair,had a bit of vanity to him and often wore an absurdly thick , wavy brown wig when out on the town. So, in preparation for his network debut, he had his wife, a professional hairdresser, dye his sidehair to yield a perfect, flowing brown tone to exactly match the shade of the 6″ muffet that was to be pasted to the top of his bare skull.Only problem was, our boy fall asleep during the dying process, the extra time converting his remaining real hair to jet black!! The hair piece had to remain at home, and fellow contestants had to bite their lips to suppress chuckles when they saw their newly done old pal, the darkest haired chrome-dome in history!

During the meet, everyone marveled at Howard’s organizing skills -the weight set up & appearance of the large auditorium was spectacular! The Gold Cups on display lit up the room to create added excitement & atmosphere of a truly important, historic event. The only disappointment, and it really seemed minor at the time due to everyone’s enthusiasm with the lifting, was that the filming crews never showed.

Spectator involvement may have been the largest ever -as mentioned this was a Saturday at an athletic based high school and most student athletes were there for Saturday training. These kids didn’t even mind sharing their spacious weight lifting room with competitors; they were thrilled to see real competition style lifters warming up beside them. One of the bigger football players , a nice,polite young man, couldn’t help himself but ask my (then) 12 year old son,Rob, what he could possibly be lifting in what was deemed by them a virtual “professional” weightlifting contest. When Rob described his intent to do a hand and thigh with 800 pounds, the senior linebacker almost fainted! And when Rob went off to lift, EVERY athlete crowded in to watch a grade school child pull a hard fought 800 ! In fact, Rob was so intent on this performance that he apparently broke tiny blood vessels in his cheeks and was red faced for a week!!

In this, and following Prechtel meets, lifters were supplied every comfort and convenience by Howard. He was, indeed, a Bob Hoffman of all-round lifting, and even looked like the ole “Father of Modern Weightlifting”, with a similar beneficial demeanor! We’ll miss ya, Howie, your meets and your character were pure quality, and your hard work & dedication to promoting them will forever remain as “golden” as your cups!

Other Tributes to Howard

by Al Myers

I was truly impressed with all the comments made about Howard.  It shows what a great man he was and the  positive influence he had on so many people.


Howard Prechtel passed away 9/11/10 Those who had the privalege to compete on the same platform would know he was a great guy, a true lifter of iron, wounded badly in WW2 he had shrapnel in him his whole life. An early mover in USA all round w/tlifting, he invented the Gold Cup World Record Breakers, he was IAWA Int…. Pres. before myself, I was proud to have known him and followed in his footsteps! Steve Gardner

A Great man and friend.Frank Ciavattone

Makes me sad to hear he passed! He was a great guy and teacher! Howie you will be missed greatly! RIP!Cara Ciavattone Collins

True gentleman.always there to help you rip howardAndy Tomlins

I was saddend to hear of Howard passing away..He was an outstanding lifter and a wonderful mentor to all in the IAWA, he will truly be missed and never forgotten..a kind and gentle soulLori Ciavattone

I am very sad to hear the news. He was a star, gentleman and friend. I will not forget him.Graham Saxton

This really made me sad. I always referred to him as ‘Uncle Howie’ as he seemed like that favorite uncle that everyone has. Even though he wasn’t a chiro, how many of us did he adjust over the years at the meets with good results? He also reminded me of Jimmy Stewart, with his gentle, polite manner, and kind of deliberate thoughtful way of talking with you. I’ll always remember him and his clodhopper shoes when he went out on the lifting platform. You always felt good after being around him. Rest in Peace, Howard. Joe Garcia

I first met Howard at the 1993 IAWA World Championships in Boston. He came up to me after my first continental snatch and gave me some pointers, and went on to help me throughout the meet. He came over to England for the Gold Cup that year in Burton England. He used to have a disabled girl come and watch him train her name was Becky Summers. He said she had more grit and determination than anyone he had ever met. Sadly she passed away, and Howard created an award in her honour “The Becky Summers true grit award” I remember him telling everyone about her at the awards ceremony, then to my utter surprise awarded me the Becky Summers true grit award. That meant SO much to me. This great man, a war hero, a world champion weightlifter and founder of the IAWA Gold Cup, thought me worthy of this award. This trophy to this day is one on my most prized possessions. I went on to meet up with Howard at every World Championships and Gold cup For around the next ten years, and he was always one of the first lifters i looked for when i arrived at the venue, to both greet him, and also have him adjust my neck. To this day no one has ever crunched my neck as good as Howard. I have been deeply saddened all day today at the news of Howard’s Passing. He was a mentor, father figure, hero, and out and out great man in my mind. - Steve Angell

I met Howard back in 1991 at the worlds and was very impressed with him.At every meet I attended he always helped me out with any adjustments it would take in a 10 lift meet if you know what I mean.Well my story that holds allot of value to me is in 1999 I had knee surgery from a falling off a piece of Heavy Equipment in November and with extensive physical therapy I was able to lift in the 2000 Nationals in May, well my knee was still bothering me and I went anyway I could only go about 80% out a 90% bend.When I got to the meet I had told Howard how nothing was working and he said no problem come over here and stand in front of the wall and put your hands to the wall and push your knees back to stretch out my hamstrings and repeat a few times well I’ll tell you the pain was gone and in a few weeks I was felling great.I straddle deadlifted 501lbs and allot more great lifts and it ended up being one of my best meets for personal records.I use his method all the time and have past it on to other people with knee problems with great results.He was a great mentor and friend and will be missed by all.He was always great to me and my family and the USAWA and appreciate everything did for all of us in the organization.  – Joe Ciavattone Sr.

I first met Howard in 1948, and my first impression of him was “The gentle giant”.  I’ve always thought of him in this way. - Dennis Mitchell

I will always remember Howard’s friendly smile, and how he helped me and many other lifters feel better by giving them those miraculous adjustments before they lifted. It was great to see him last year at the world’s. He was truly at great lifter and a great man. -  Denny Habecker

Howard at the 2009 Worlds

by Al Myers

At the 2009 IAWA World Championships, Howard couldn't "resist the urge" to go to the lifting platform one more time!

One of the BIGGEST SURPRISES of the 2009 IAWA World Championships in Lebanon, PA was NOT any of the lifting, but the unexpected appearance and attendance of Howard Prechtel.   Most of us had not seen Howard in several years, and we were not aware ahead of time that he was even going to be at this meet.  But in WALKS the PIONEER of the USAWA, Howard Prechtel, which took all of us by surprise!  It was a joyful reunion!  Special thanks HAS to go to Bob Geib for bringing Howard to this meet and making it all possible.  For several of us, that was the last time we got to visit with Howard.  I spent alot of time watching him throughout the day – and the ENTIRE TIME he had the biggest smile on his face.  It was obvious to me that he was enjoying himself immensely, as I’m sure it brought back many great memories to him from his days on the lifting platform.   His Grandson Melvin Cooler commented in the latest Daily News story about a quote Howard made to him, and it ringed so true at this time, ““I have forgot about alot of things in life, but I never forgot how to lift weights.”

Howard is one of three men (in my opinion) that shaped the early days and foundation of the USAWA.  Howard’s influence on our organization will ALWAYS be there – and without a doubt he will go down as LEGEND in our organization.

Thoughts from Howard’s Grandson

Dear USAWA community,

I am Howard’s grandson and I would like to thank all of you that have recognized Howard’s achievements throughout the years.  His life was weightlifting.  A man on a mission with 110% dedication.  It was very difficult to talk to Howard without mentioning something about lifting.  Howard was injured in WWII on the island of Iwo Jima and started exercising while in the hospital recovering doing repetitions with a broom stick.  As you can see he went from lifting a broom stick to breaking many world records. When I was 15 years old, he said, “son if you want to be the best, you have to believe that you’re the best and work harder than every other sob out there. No one is going to give you anything. You’re going to have to sweat for it.”  I am 49 years old now, and while visiting him in the nursing home in Cleveland in 2008 he told me the same thing again.  He also added, “How is your lifting going”?  I said, “Granddaddy, all you ever talk about is weightlifting.” He said, “I have forgot about alot of things in life, but I never forgot how to lift weights.”

At 85, he was determined to get back into competition and back into heavy lifting.  He said, “I have to get the hell out of here.  I have to get to the gym, gotta grab some heavy stuff.”  I said, “you really need to slow down.” He said, “that’s the problem, I don’t have time to slow down.”  He was still trying to exercise in the nursing home although the staff was not too happy about him bringing weights into the home for obvious reasons.

Again, thank you all so much for your support. I know that Howard was so proud of this organization and what you have achieved.  When you think about winning competitions, breaking records, or just being the very best at your skill, you better think about Howard. He gave everything he had to the very end!!

Very Sincerely,

Melvin Lynn Cooler

Tribute to Howard

by Scott Schmidt

Greetings, All

You may have just read the sad news on our Website that one of the Icons of the USAWA, Howard Prechtel passed away November 9th, 2010. Al Myers asked that we share our experiences with Howard. This is my response.


Scott Schmidt

Tribute to Howard

As a tribute to Howard Prechtel, I would like to offer a few words to describe his accomplishments, and his influence on my weightlifting career.

I knew Howard personally for over 20 years. I knew of his presence for over 30. He was a legendary Cleveland, Ohio strongman. Another fellow athlete and good friend, George Yanoscik always would speak of Howard’s’ fantastic feats in the all round type events as we trained on the Olympic style lifts. To hear some of his feats, such as 900 pound Roman Chair sit ups, or repetition Travis Lifts for multi-million pound results was incredible.

After years of hearing these great stories about Howard’s abilities, as good fortune would have it, George was finally able to introduce me in person to Howard. From that moment on, I could clearly see what a genuine hero Howard was. He gave me so much help in so many areas of training to get strong, and also how to avoid and recuperate from injury.

Howard had learned the “secrets” of the chiropractic techniques that could get you back to normal as soon as possible. Over the years, he ‘adjusted” thousands of patients, including medical doctors from the Cleveland Clinic! If that isn’t a testimony to his ability to heal folks, I don’t know what better endorsement there is!

In addition to his enormous influence on the sport of All Round Weightlifting, putting on countless meets, instituting the Gold Cup, and setting countless World Records, Howard was also a World Class Master Olympic Weightlifter. During his years of competing, he was only 1 title short of being elected into the US Masters Weightlifting Hall of Fame with 9 victories. He could have easily achieved ten and more, but his ability to travel to compete became limited primarily due to financial concerns. In my opinion, he certainly deserves the recognition.

In closing, I will share one quick demonstration of how Howard enabled me to win when I was injured. Back at the 1991 Masters Pan American Weightlifting Championships, I came prepared to compete, but an old back injury flared up upon arrival at the venue. I tried with no avail to sleep it off, but the morning of the meet, I had decided to tell the meet director, USAWA Hall of Famer John Vernacchio, I had to withdraw. But before I did, I ran into Howard and explained my problem. In a Milli-second, he said “Lie Down” . I did. And you know what? He fixed me to almost 100% in a few moments. I was able to succeed with about 90% of what I came to pick up, and was able to take home my first Pan Am Title. That story along with many others is why I want to pay tribute to the memory of a Great Hero, and I will be forever grateful to my personal friend, Howard Prechtel.

May he rest in peace.

The Amazing Howard Prechtel

by Al Myers

One of Howard Prechtel's favorite lifts was the Hip Lift. This picture will forever grace the page for the rule of the Hip Lift in the USAWA Rule Book.

This week is a sad week amongst the USAWA – with the news of the death of Howard Prechtel.   I have invited the membership (especially those who knew Howard personally) to share some stories about Howard.  I think this is the best way to deal with the loss of one of the true pioneers of the USAWA – by sharing stories that reflect how Howard influenced our organization and us as individuals.

I will go first (and I’m expecting MANY MORE to follow). I have only been involved in the USAWA for 10 years, and have met Howard only a few times, but each visit was memorable.  When I became involved, Howard was winding down his days of active competition.  I will say this – Howard has made a big of impact in our organization!!  Besides being a great lifter (who often would do things other lifters would not even think of attempting), he was our leader.  Howard served as President of the USAWA from 1993 to 2007. That’s 14 years out of our 24 year history!!  Howard also served as President of the IAWA.  He promoted countless meets – including big meets like the 1994 USAWA National Championships and the 1995 World Championships in East Lake, Ohio.  Howard was the originator of the Gold Cup, and had the vision of developing this competition into a WORLD CLASS event that would allow lifters to “showcase” their best lifts in the spotlight of a prestigious World competition.   Howard was a “lifter’s lifter” as I’ve heard the many stories about him utilizing his ability and understanding  of anatomy and the human body  by “providing adjustments” on meet days to lots of lifters, which undoubtedly helped many lifters achieve the lifts they wanted that day.  Everyone liked Howard.  I have corresponded with Howard though letters and he ALWAYS answered the questions I had.  One of Howard’s favorite lifts was the Travis Lift.  He not only established the the maximum record in it at the time (1815# at a record day in Ambridge in 1990), but he established many repetition records in it.  His letter advice helped me my design setup for the Travis Lift.  Now, in his honor, I plan to make the Travis Lift a big part of my training this coming year.

Howard STILL has many records in our USAWA Record List.  I just did a quick count and he still holds 171 USAWA Records.  Some of his BEST USAWA RECORDS are:

Lift Record Age BWT Location
Clean & Jerk, Right Arm 99 60 105 88 IAWA – Lecester
Clean & Press, DBs, HT 150 70 100 95 Art’s Birthday Bash
Clean & Press, Heels Together 182 65 110 90 Nationals – Akron
Continental to Belt 314 70 95 97 IAWA – Collegeville
Curl, Cheat 154 65 105 91 IAWA – Collegeville
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells 344 70 105 96 Buckeye RB
Hand & Thigh 1050 65 105 91 U.S. Inlands
Harness Lift 2218 65 105 93 Gold Cup
Hip Lift 1550 65 110 Ambridge, PA
Neck Lift 408 70 100 98 Nationals – Mansfield
Pullover & Push 243 65 105 91 Nationals – Ambridge
Roman Chair Situp 738 65 110 Valley Forge, PA
Snatch, Right Arm 99 65 105 91 IAWA – Collegeville
Steinborn 259 65 105 92 Nationals – Walpole
Travis Lift 1815 65 105 Record Day – Ambridge
Zercher 331 65 105 91 Nationals – Ambridge
Zercher, Left Arm 220 70 100 96 Gold Cup

All of these records were established when Howard was OVER 60 years of age!  Can you imagine what his lifts would have been in these lifts if he had done them in his 20’s and 30’s??  Truly remarkable records – many of which will NEVER be broken!  The USAWA is a much better organization because of Howard Prechtel! He will not be forgotten.

Howard Prechtel has Passed

by Al Myers

Howard Prechtel's Obituary

I just received the sad news that longtime USAWA leader and All-Round weightlifter Howard Prechtel has died.  Howard was known by everyone in our organization and was greatly respected by all that knew him.  His funeral will be tomorrow, November 23rd, at 11:30 AM.  I know several of us have memories and stories about Howard and how he has impacted our lifting careers.  Please send me these stories,  as I would like to dedicate this week  to Howard by features about him in the website’s Daily News.

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 2 – A Lesson in Abbreviation

by John McKean

A good friend of mine – our past U.S. National All-Round President, Howard Prechtel – relates how he once specialized for a one-year period on the dumbbell clean & press as his only upper-body exercise. His only other exercise was the half-squat in a power rack. He stayed away from his regular gym at the time to increase his concentration on these two movements (and to avoid unnecessary “advice” from training partners who would have chided him for such limited training). When the year was up, a muscularly massive Howard Prechtel confidently strode into the training hall to easily clean and strict press over 300 pounds on a barbell – at least 50 pounds more than he had ever done before. Teammates were literally flabbergasted – this was absolutely without steroids, and they couldn’t figure out how this gym drop-out pulled it off. You can bet, tho’, that ole Howie didn’t wave around lightweight bells during his escape time from conventional stale routines.

Hall of Fame Biography – Howard Prechtel class of 1993

The Life of Howard Prechtel

by Dennis Mitchell

Howard Prechtel and one of his favorite lifts - the Hip Lift

Back in the late 1940’s Howard Prechtel was competing in Olympic Lifting. At that time it was the only way to compete. However, his real love in lifting was the odd lifts. That was what the All-Round lifts where called then. As power lifting became more popular he competed in that also. With the organizing of All-Round lifting Howard was in his true element. He still competed in both Olympic and Power lifting, while competing in All-Round meets, setting many National and World records. Besides competing he was active as a referee and meet promoter for both National and World meets. He organized the Gold Cup Record Day, which has become an annual event. For many years he held the Buckeye Record Day every February. He has been both the National and World President. Howard is also known for his ability as a “Bone Setter”. Though he had no formal training, he learned his skills from a fellow lifter who was a medical professor, and taught him the art of manipulation.

Howard Prechtel in his earlier days competing in Olympic Weightlifting

Here are some of Howard’s lifting accomplishments. At age 52, he did a Harness lift of 1,910 pounds for 22 reps in 30 seconds. At age 57, he broke Warren Travis’ record set in 1927, by lifting 1,111 pounds 5,460 times in 3 hours and nine minutes. What lift? The Travis lift! At age 62, he did a Roman Chair sit up with 908 pounds. At age 70, he did 105 reps in 75 seconds with 1,102 pounds, in the Travis lift. Other than his lifting accomplishments Howard was a decorated Marine in the second world war, where he served for four years in the Pacific. He took part in several invasions and was wounded twice. He seldom talked about this except that it was very horrible and it was best left in the past.

World Championships

by Al Myers

Overall IAWA World Champion Mark Haydock 230 Kilogram Zercher Lift

“What we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality”, said IAWA President Steve Gardner at the World Council Meeting Saturday night. This quote really summed up this year’s World Championships. There may not have been alot of lifters present – but the competition was intense. Mark “Haystack” Haydock captured the 2009 Championship’s Overall Best Lifter on his last successful lift of the competition, by doing a monstrous 230 kilogram Zercher Lift!! This puts him in a small group of lifters who have exceeded over 500 pounds in the Zercher Lift throughout the history of the IAWA. The top four places were really close and decided by under 30 adjusted points. This competition had lifters of all age groups – from 15 year old Kohl Hess to 81 year old Art Montini. Denny and Judy Habecker did an outstanding job of making this event a special occasion for everyone. They even invited the lifters to their house Saturday and Sunday nights after the competition for food and refreshments. We were entertained by George “the Magician” Dick with his many card tricks. I am still scratching my head on the one where the card passed through Chad and ended up stuck on the glass on the shelf behind him. Denny and Judy know how to run a smooth meet. Everything went according to plan and both days finished in good time. The banquet was fantastic with a wide selection of food. Everyone left on a full stomach!! Steve Gardner worked the microphone and score table, and like always, kept the meet running efficiently. John Horn spent 2 full days loading and spotting and definitely deserves a big pat on the back. It takes people like John, who do the work behind the scenes, to make a meet successful.

Frank Ciavattone pulling a Ciavattone Grip Deadlift

It was a real pleasure getting to see Frank Ciavattone again. Frank has just recently had a hip replacement and wasn’t fully ready to compete in a meet yet. But Frank is a great Champion and made it to this meet to show support to the IAWA!! When he pulled his last Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, a lift named after Frank because of his amazing gripping power, he dedicated it to Karen Gardner in her battle in overcoming cancer – it was an emotional moving moment. Karen is the “First Lady” of All-Round Weightlifting and everyone has the utmost respect for her. It has now been 30 years since Frank has been cancer free himself.

Howard Prechtel and Bob Geib

Another great surprise this weekend was the return of Howard Prechtel. The meet about stopped when in walks Howard and Bob Geib!!! Howard spent many years as the IAWA President and has done as much through the years for the USAWA as anyone. Howard seemed to really enjoy himself at the meet, and even picked up a loaded barbell a couple of times. A person may forget a lot of things in life – but you never forget how to lift weights!!! Welcome back Howard!! Also – thanks to Bob for bringing Howard to this meet.

Group Photo of the IAWA World Championships

I had a great time – got to see alot of old friends, and even made a couple of lifts that I had to push myself on. Thanks again to Denny and Judy for hosting this Championship and I’m already looking forward to Scotland in 2010!!

Top Three Individuals at the 2009 IAWA World Championships Left to Right: Chad Ullom, Mark Haydock, Al Myers


2009 IAWA World Championships
Lebanon, Pennsylvania
October 3rd & 4th, 2009

Meet Directors:   Denny and Judy Habecker

Lifts on Day 1: Hack Lift – One Arm, Clean and Press Behind Neck, Straight Arm Pullover, Deadlift                         -Ciavattone Grip
Lifts on Day 2: Snatch – One Arm, Pullover and Press, Zercher Lift

Officials (3 official system used):  Karen Gardner, Frank Ciavattone, Al Myers, Dennis Mitchell, George Dick, Art Montini

Loader: John Horn plus others

Scorekeeper:  Steve Gardner and Judy Habecker

Emcee:  Steve Gardner


Name BWT Class Age Division Hack C&P Pullover Deadlift Snatch
P&P Zercher Points
Mark Haydock ENG
122.9 125 34 Open 145 R
105 57.5 227.5 80 R
157.5 230 764.3
Al Myers USA
114.7 115 43 M40+ 150 R
90 60 210 70 R
160 190 763.1
Chad Ullom USA
104.3 105 37 Open 140 R
90 55 205 70 R
145 200 749.7
Roger Davis ENG
81.6 85 39 Open 117.5 R
80 45 185 60 R
120 170 738.4
Denny Habecker USA
86.1 90 67 M65+ 90 R
65 32.5 140 35 R
95 95 661.1
John Monk USA
79.8 80 43 M40+ 100 R
75 47.5 122.5 50 R
125 137.5 658.2
Bill Spayd USA
107.9 110 35 Open 110 R
90 55 200 60 R
120 170 655.2
Scott Schmidt USA
119.7 120 56 M55+ 100 R
92.5 40 182.5 40 L
92.5 115 598.5
Art Montini USA
78.2 80 81 M80+ 60 R
32.5 27.5 105 20 R
60 77.5 588.9
Josh Haydock ENG
66.9 70 19 J18/19 72.5 R
55 25 132.5 37.5 R
70 137.5 582.1
John Kavanagh ENG
94.3 95 21 Open 80 R
82.5 30 170 52.5 R
105 140 577.1
George Dick SCT
127.4 125+ 60 M60+ 102.5 R
60 30 175 40 R
90 120 559.7
Dennis Mitchell USA
72.1 75 77 M75+ 50 L
20 20 90 15 L
35 85 484.4
Dennis Vandermark USA
92.5 95 56 M55+ 75 L
30 130 22.5 R
60 110 442.0
Kohl Hess USA
118.8 120 15 J14/15 82.5 R
42.5 27.5 120 30 R
60 80 394.4
Frank Ciavattone USA
127.0 125+ 54 M50+ 90 R
20 15 182.5 20 R
25 20 321.3

BWT are bodyweights on day 1. All lifts are in kilograms. Points are age and bodyweight adjusted.
All lifters except Bill Spayd weighed in the second day for records. All lifters were in the same bodyweight class as Day 1.

Extra Attempts for Records:
Dennis Mitchell -  Hack – One Arm 50 R, Straight Arm Pullover 22.5, Deadlift Ciavattone Grip 98
John Monk – Snatch – One Arm 55 R, Straight Arm Pullover 50
Kohl Hess – Clean & Press Behind Neck 45, Straight Arm Pullover 28.5, Zercher Lift 92.5
Denny Habecker – Pullover and Press 98
Mark Haydock – Straight Arm Pullover 61

Best Lifter Awards:

Josh Haydock – Junior 18/19 70 kg Champion and Best Junior 18/19
Kohl Hess – Junior 14/15 120 kg Champion and Best Junior 14/15
Dennis Mitchell – Masters 75+ 75 kg Champion and Best Master 75+
Art Montini – Masters 80+  80 kg Champion and Best Master 80+
John Monk – Masters 40+ 80 kg Champion
Roger Davis – Open 85 kg Champion
Denny Habecker – Masters 65+ 90 kg Champion and Best Master 65+
Dennis Vandermark – Masters 55+ 95 kg Champion
John Kavanagh – Open 95 kg Champion
Chad Ullom – Open 105 kg Champion
Bill Spayd – Open 110 kg Champion
Al Myers – Masters 40+ 115 kg Champion and Best Master 40+
Scott Schmidt – Masters 55+ and Open 120 kg Champion and Best Master 55+
Mark Haydock – Open 125 kg Champion
Frank Ciavattone – Masters 50+ and Open 125+ kg Champion and Best Master 50+
George Dick – Masters 60+ 125 kg Champion and Best Master 60+

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

In the USAWA, lifts done for repetitions may be contested in competition and for records. The ultimate record for repetitions is the TOTAL POUNDAGE, where the lifter may choose any lift and rep/set scheme, to lift the most weight within a given time frame.  The standard for this record was initially set by the great Warren Lincoln Travis in 1927 when he Back Lifted 5.5 million pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. This was done by doing 5500 reps with 1000 pounds.

Name the TWO USAWA LIFTERS who have exceeded this, along with their TOTAL POUNDAGE.

Steve Schmidt setting the all-time record for TOTAL POUNDAGE on December 14th, 2002

Congratulations to the Winner of this week’s quiz -  Tom Ryan of Acworth, Georgia – who correctly identified the two USAWA lifters as Steve Schmidt and Howard Prechtel. Tom had an advantage in this quiz, as he was a witness and assisted in the counting of repetitions during Steve Schmidt’s record. Howard Prechtel initially broke Travis’s record in 1982 by Back Lifting 6,066,060 pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. It was accomplished by doing 5460 reps with 1111 pounds. This was then upped by Steve Schmidt, on December 14th, 2002 at Clark’s Gym, in which he lifted 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours 50 minutes. Steve was 48 years old at the time and weighed only 209 pounds. He accomplished this by lifting 1,115 pounds a total of 7253 times, using the Back Lift. Bill Clark was the official judge and counter of this Herculean effort. I was fortunate to also have witnessed this event and can attest to the stamina Steve exhibited in accomplishing this feat.  He was performing 45 reps per minute, which gave him only about 30 seconds rest per minute.  He maintained this pace for two hours!!!!  Steve broke Howard’s record in 1 hour, 57 minutes.   The conditioning required for something like this must be much the same as that of a marathon runner. I was amazed how quickly Steve recovered following this endurance record, as he did not seem out of breath at all afterwards and even joined in with us on some other record lifts.  Will this TOTAL POUNDAGE record be broken in the next 100 years?   Only time will tell…..

Quiz of the Week – Name this Mystery Lifter

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt, of Cleveland Ohio, correctly identified this lifter as Howard Prechtel.

Howard Prechtel performing a Clean and Jerk in his younger days.