Top Lifts of 2013

by Al Myers

Art proudly displaying his homemade Teeth Bit!

Today welcomes in a New Year, and  with it comes the excitement of another very promising year in the USAWA.   2013 had to be one of the best EVER in the history of the USAWA.  There were many great competitions and great individual performances.  Of the 22 official competitions that occurred in 2013 in the USAWA, I was a participant or attended 18 of them!

As I’m sitting here sipping a cup of coffee in the early morning hours of 2014 (my internal clock would not allow me to sleep in!), I’m reflecting on some of the fantastic lifts I was able to witness “first hand” in the USAWA in 2013.  It didn’t take me long to come up with a list of over 20, but I’m gonna narrow the list today to the TOP TEN lifts that impressed me the most. I want to reiterate  that this is MY LIST of the lifts that I was able to watch, and only reflects my viewpoints.  Many, many others were extremely impressive that did not make the list. A few individual lifters had multiple lifts that impressed me, but I’m only including THE ONE that impressed me the most by an individual lifter.  It took me three times as long to come up with my list as it did to write this blog!  Here it goes – counting down from number ten:

10. Lance Foster and his 575# Dinnie Lift at the OTSM Championships

This had to be one of the most tenacious lifts of the year.  Lance struggled at the Battle of the Barn with the Dinnie Lift, but came back a month or so later to up his performance by 75 pounds! If the USAWA offered a TRUE GRIT AWARD Lance would win it.

9.  Jera Kressly and Logan Kressly 600# heels together deadlift at the Team Championships.

Jera and Logan did this mixed pair (man/woman) lift quite easily at the Team Champs.  I should mention that Logan was only 15 at the time!  That’s a big deadlift for any mixed pair with a normal stance – let alone having the heels together!

8.  James Fuller and his 60 KG Bent Press at the Gold Cup.

James has been on a mission to mastering the Bent Press this year.  The Bent Press is one of the MOST old and obscure lifts of all round lifting.  Very few even know how to go about doing one.  I first saw James bent pressing Frank’s axle at the Heavies, with was extremely cumbersome to handle.  I was going to include that effort instead of this one for James, but his Gold Cup lift really deserves it more as it was done in a big competition.  It won’t be long before James puts up the highest Bent Press record of All Time in the USAWA.

7.  Joe Ciavattone Sr. and his 805# Neck Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

This HAD to make my list.  Joe is one of the best neck lifters in USAWA history, and held the overall record for many years.  To come back and hit a personal record now several years later shows true ability.  I was glad to be able to witness his lift (as I had not seen his previous record lift).

6.  Troy Goetsch and his 260# one handed Vertical Bar Lift at the Grip Championships.

I’ve seen many great VB lifts in the past, but Troy’s is one of the best.  Troy won the overall lifter at the Grip Champs, and his VB was the lift that I will remember from him on that day.

5.  Frank Ciavattone and his 202.5 KG Ciavattone Grip Deadlift at Nationals.

Frank still has some great lifting in him, as shown with this big lift at our National Championships which is named after him.  I never get tired of watching Frank do Ciavattone Grip Deadlifts – and this is one I’ll never forget.

4.  Dan Wagman and his 120# Pullup at the Dino Gym Record Day.

YES – that’s 120 pounds strapped to the waist and then performing a pullup with the chin OVER the bar with no kipping!!! And hold for a down command!  Not too many around could even come close to this performance of Dan’s.  I’ve seen a lot of great lifting out of Dan and often what he does does not surprise me – but this pullup did!

3.  Joe Ciavattone Jr. and the 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

Junior doesn’t realize yet that he will be a future superstar of the USAWA, but I see it.  His untapped strength is unreal, and this big H&T proves it.  He just finished with a 1200 at the meet,  I gave him a couple of tips between lifts, and then he adds 200 pounds and gets it easily!  Impressive to say the least…

2.  Eric Todd and this 1000# Neck Lift at the Battle of the Barn II.

ET has put up 1000 pound Neck Lifts before several times – but this one was done with rules beyond those of the USAWA.   He cleared the floor substantially, and then HELD the lift for over 2 full seconds recorded on a stop watch.  I’m still shaking my head after seeing that effort!

1.  Art Montini and his 107# Teeth Lift at the Presidential Cup.

All I can say is that I still don’t know how he did this!  Art is 85 years old and has FALSE TEETH.  This lift won him the Presidential Cup of the USAWA for the year, and I would say deserving of the lift that impressed me the most!  Art has been one of the most active lifters in the USAWA this year – attending most of the championship events, attending the “Big Three” (Nationals, Worlds, and the Gold Cup), and still involved with promoting his annual Birthday Bash.  He has a deeper resume than anyone in the history of the USAWA, and I’m glad to name Art’s lift as the most impressive lift of 2013.  Congrats Art!!

Joe Jr. & Sr. – FOOTBALL CHAMPS!

by Al Myers

Joe Ciavattone Jr. (left) and Joe Ciavattone Sr. (right) proudly hold the conference championship trophy following the game!

A couple of weeks ago I had a very nice “sit down” visit with Joe Ciavattone Jr. and Joe Ciavattone Sr. following the Heavy Lift Championships in Walpole, Massachusetts.  That’s one thing I really like about the USAWA, most all of us know each other and the after-meet conversations are very enjoyable where we can just relax following a day of competition and enjoy each other’s company.  It’s often in these talks that I learn new information about the lives of  other all-rounders. This is exactly what happened during my visit with Joe Jr. and Sr.

Joe Jr. and Sr. were the first Father-Son duo to play on the Cobras at the same time. Here they show their conference Championship rings as a result of their football success.

This past year this father-son All Round Weightlifting  duo has been involved in another sport – FOOTBALL!  They both have been part of the Middleboro Cobras, a semi-pro team in the Eastern Football League.   Both were rookies on the team, with Joe Sr. being the oldest rookie on the team.  However, the years of lifting and training has kept him  much younger in “athletic years”.  Most guys in their 40’s would NEVER consider  making an upstart in a hard physical game like football at that age.  But most guys are not Joe Ciavattone Sr.!  They were the first Father-Son combo that ever played on this team at the same time.  There were other son’s that followed in Dad’s footsteps and played on the team – but in later years. Not at the same time!!!  The history of the Cobras goes back over 70 years to give a perspective on that accomplishment.

A "close up" picture of the Championship rings!

Their team had outstanding success.  They played an eleven game season, and with the playoffs and Championship game, finished with a record of 12 and 1.  This included winning the conference championship!  Both Joe Jr. and Joe Sr. had their championship rings on hand to prove this to me.  By the size of their rings, I would have said they won the Superbowl!  The Cobras are an excellent team, winning the conference championship in “back to back” seasons, and winning 8 of the last 10 titles!

Joe Jr was the starting fullback at a strapping 220 pounds, and was the youngest player on the team.  Joe Jr. had a stellar High School athletic career, earning All League honors in High School football and varsity All Star recognition in Lacrosse.  His strong contributions to the team during the season resulted in him being named Offensive Rookie of the Year. Before this, it had been 27 years since Joe Sr. played his last football game (which was in High School!).   However, he has always been involved in coaching and has a keen understanding of the game before he began playing on the Cobras.  Joe Sr. played offensive guard and special teams. 

The season begins next month for them and runs through October.  So if you are wondering why you are not seeing Joe Jr & Sr in USAWA meet results, you know why.  They are busy playing football!!!

Heavy Lift Championships

by Al Myers

2013 USAWA HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS

The group picture from the 2013 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in Walpole, Massachusetts.

What an exciting Heavy Lift Championships last weekend!  I knew I could expect a great meet atmosphere with the meet being held at Franks Barbell Club, hosted by meet promoter extraordinaire Frank Ciavattone, but this time Frank even exceeded my expectations!   Frank is a very seasoned USAWA meet promoter, having promoted numerous past National Championships and World Championships. Frank is a meet promoter who knows how to put the “lifter’s first”.  He always has the basics well-covered, then he throws in unexpected special things which makes his promotions “one of a kind”.  I regard Frank as one of the BEST meet promoters within the USAWA EVER, and I am VERY GLAD to see him “back in action” putting on meets.  Frank will be the host of the 2014 IAWA World Championships, which will be a special affair.  Everyone BETTER get that meet “penciled in” on your future meet itinerary.  It will be one you WILL NOT want to miss.

Dennis Mitchell performing a 630 pound Hip Lift.

Since the weather was very nice (low 60’s), Frank had set up a platform outside for the meet to be conducted on.  It provided the perfect atmosphere for a Heavy Lift Championships.  Most everyone was in shorts and t-shirts (with the exception of Flossy!) as the day progressed.  Ten lifters competed in this Championships.  I view the Heavy Lift Championships as the SECOND most important Championship event within the USAWA (the National Championships being the NUMBER ONE).  I say this because the Heavy Lift Championships has a longer history than all the others, and because the Heavy Lifts are very uniquely all-round lifts.  No other lifting organization features these lifts. 

Colleen Lane competed in her first Heavy Lift Championships and came away with an overall women’s title. I was most impressed with her 450# Hand and Thigh lift. Denny Habecker was as “solid as ever” with his lifting.  Denny finished off the day with a record 1000# Hip Lift.  Dennis Mitchell had many records, with his 455# Hand & Thigh impressing me the most.  This day marked a BIG DAY for Dennis as it marked his 70th year of active competition in lifting.  That’s right – 70 years!!!!  And in that run Dennis has never missed a year without hitting the platform at least once.  Truly an amazing record that very, very few will ever achieve.  Art Montini again showed that he is not ready to slow down yet.  Art had a great day and finished with a 700# Hip Lift.  I would like to see another 85 year old man do that! NOT LIKELY!  Joe Ciavattone Sr. had a day to be proud of.  He finished third overall in a field of wily veterans in the Heavy Lifts, and in the process he set a PERSONAL RECORD in the Neck Lift with an outstanding lift of 805 pounds!  Joe was the first USAWA lifter to break 800 pounds in the Neck Lift years ago with his historic 804.5#, and I know he had to question since if he was every going to do more.  Well, after what I saw of him last weekend, I would say he has lots more in him!  It was a very solid lift with plenty of clearance.  I could tell that this lift  alone made him tremendously satisfied with his day’s lifting.  Congrats  Joe – you earned it! 

Joe Ciavattone Sr. performing a big Neck Lift enroute to his new personal record of 805 pounds!

However, the real “story of the day” should go to Joe Ciavattone Jr.  It’s been a couple of years since I have seen Joe Jr, and since that time Junior has grown into a MAN!  His neck is now thicker than ole dad’s, and his strength is just starting to mature.   His future is very promising as a future USAWA superstar.  I also want to mention that Joe Jr. is very coachable, and wants to learn how to be a better lifter.  I tried to give him as much advice as I could, and he then would take it IMMEDIATELY to the platform for a bigger lift!   That trait will take him to the next level.  He took an extra attempt in the Neck Lift and he easily got 700 lbs, with much more in the tank.  He also took a fourth on the Hand and Thigh and destroyed 1400 pounds.  Those are the best lifts of ALL TIME in the USAWA for a teenager.   I really liked watching Joe Jr. compete in this meet.  He has a fierce competitive mindset.  Mark my words on this – Joe Ciavattone Jr. will be a future Overall National Champ! 

Joe Ciavattone Jr. performing a new ALL TIME teenage USAWA record in the Hand and Thigh with this 1400 pound lift!

Jim Fuller made his trip from Maine for his second appearance in the Heavy Lift Championships.  I first met James at York a few years ago at the Heavy Lift Championships. He has made great progress with his heavy lifting since then.  He put up a 1100# hand and thigh and a 1400# Hip Lift in this meet.  He has his own harness equipment, and it’s obvious that he has been training these very difficult lifts.  I was most impressed with him missing 1350# on his second attempt hip, only to come back at 1400# and NAIL IT!  That’s gutsy!  Afterwards at Franks backyard picnic, James cleaned and pressed Franks Old 45 Deep Dish York by hub pinching it with one hand for me.  I was even more impressed seeing it first hand than from the pictures he had sent me from Franks last record day.  I have a Deep Dish York 45, and I could tell immediately that Franks was different.  The hub on Franks 45 was very wide (we measured it at 4-3/4″).  My York 45 is much less in diameter.  Frank said his York 45 was made in the 1930’s (while mine was made in the 50’s).  Apparently very few are still around as the design of the thick hub caused the plate to be thinner and most have broken apart at the junction of the base of the hub and the plate.  Bottom line – this Deep Dish York 45 is MUCH harder to hub lift than the newer ones!!!   James hub lifted it several times with ease. 

James Fuller "playing around" hub pinching Franks very difficult old York Deep Dish 45.

Franks son Jeff lifted and did very well, placing fourth overall.   Jeff did well in every lift – 650# Neck, 1200# Hand and Thigh, and a 1400# Hip.  Jeff has loads of natural lifting ability (a Ciavattone trait!!!).  He looked to be good for more in each event to me.  It was a great pleasure to have Frank  join us on the lifting platform.  I know Frank had lots on his mind hosting the meet at his place, serving as head official most of the day, and organizing the awards banquet and meal afterwards.  Frank has great heavy lifting technique, and it’s obvious he has spent a lot of time “polishing his trade” with the heavy lifts.  

The great display of after-meet food prepared by Frank and his family!

After the meet, we were treated to a HUGE ITALIAN feast at Franks place.  You name it he had it – pasta, salad, meatballs, chicken, sausage, etc.  A totally top notch affair.  Many thanks are in order for Franks family in preparing this feast.  I also want to thank the outstanding loaders who worked hard all day – Dave, Peter, and Charlie.  You guys made this event move along with your outstanding loading all day. 

Meet Results:

2013 Heavy Lift Championships
Franks Barbell Club
Walpole, Massachusetts
May 4th, 2013

Meet Director:  Frank Ciavattone

Announcer and Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Officials (3 official system used):  Frank Ciavattone (head official), Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, Joe Ciavattone Sr., Art Montini, Al Myers

Loaders: Dave Hartnett, Peter Vouno, Charlie Payne

Lifts:  Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift

WOMENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT Neck H&T Hip TOT PTS
Colleen Lane 57 206 175 450 500 1125 1166.5

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT Neck H&T Hip TOT PTS
Al Myers 46 235 780 1300 1800 3880 3400.6
Joe Ciavattone Jr. 19 224 600 1200 1750 3550 3040.2
Joe Ciavattone Sr. 44 217 725 1100 1500 3325 2981.5
Jeff Ciavattone 33 235 650 1200 1400 3250 2662.1
Jim Fuller 41 226 400 1100 1400 2900 2472.0
Denny Habecker 70 191 270 775 950 1995 2396.3
Dennis Mitchell 81 152 245 425 630 1300 1949.4
Art Montini 85 177 200 450 700 1350 1890.4
Frank Ciavattone 58 285 300 800 1000 2100 1858.8

NOTES: All weights recorded in pounds. BWT is bodyweight in pounds. TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction. 

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORD

Denny Habecker:  Hip Lift 1000#
Dennis Mitchell: Hand and Thigh Lift 455#
Joe Ciavattone Sr.: Neck Lift 805#
Joe Ciavattone Jr.: Neck Lift 700#
Joe Ciavattone Jr.: Hand and Thigh Lift  1400#

BEST LIFTER AWARDS

Women Master 55-59 100KG Class – Colleen Lane
Mens Teenage 18-19 105 KG Class – Joe Ciavattone Jr.
Mens Senior 110 KG Class – Jeff Ciavattone
Mens Master 40-44 100 KG Class – Joe Ciavattone Sr.
Mens Master 40-44 105 KG Class – Jim Fuller
Mens Master 45-49 110 KG Class – Al Myers
Mens Master 55-59 125+ KG Class – Frank Ciavattone
Mens Master 70-74 90 KG Class – Denny Habecker
Mens Master 80-84 70 KG Class – Dennis Mitchell
Mens Master 85-89 85 KG Class – Art Montini
Overall Mens Best Lifter – Al Myers

Hall of Fame Biography – Joe Ciavattone Sr., class of 1996

Joe Ciavattone Sr. at the 2000 USAWA National Championships performing a 661# Neck Lift, before he set the All-Time USAWA and IAWA Neck Lift Record of 804.5 pounds in 2005.

Joe Ciavattone Sr. was born July 9th, 1968 in Norwood, Massachusetts.  He has lived in Norwood his entire life.  Joe has worked in construction throughout his working life, and is currently a construction foreman and heavy equipment operator.  He has several construction licenses, including a hydraulic, tractor trailer, and supervisor’s license.  For the past 6 years Joe has been busy working on a 200 house subdivision site.  Joe has been married to his wife Debbie for 18 years.  They have four sons – Mike, Marc, Joe Jr., and Jonathon.  They have lived in their house since 1994, which is also the home of Joe’s Gym.  Joe’s Gym has a very nice set up of weights and equipment needed for all the USAWA lifts and general weight training.  A big part of Joe’s training now is involved with coaching and training with his sons.

Joe Ciavattone at age 15 competing in an Olympic Weightlifting Meet.

Joe started weight lifting at the age of 4 in his parents shed with his brother Frank, another USAWA Hall of Famer.  They are the only two brothers in the USAWA who are both in the USAWA Hall of Fame.  They trained together whenever possible.  As Joe got older, he started competing in local Olympic Lifting meets throughout the New England area.  He became involved with the USAWA in 1990 at the Strongest Man in New England Contest which was sanctioned by the USAWA.  Joe continued to compete in Olympic Lifting until 1995.  Some of the competitions he competed in were the Bay State Games, Salam Open, Atlantic State Open, Holyoke Open, and various AAU Junior Olympic Meets.  He also competed in the Junior Olympics in 1987 in Syracuse, New York.  He trained in Rhode Island under the great coach Joe Mills.  Joe still comments that was one of the best lifting experiences of his life.  During this time in his training, he perfected the Split Clean and Split Snatch under Coach Mills which has helped his weight training through today.  At that Junior Olympic Weightlifting Meet, Joe placed third as a teenager, which he feels was a testament of his quality training.  Joe played football for 5 years, including 8th grade and throughout High School.  He was Captain of his High School football team.  He started Varsity as a Junior and Senior at the Center position and was Honorable Mention for State as a Senior.  Since then, he has still been involved in football and has been a youth coach for 16 years, from 1987 to 1995, and from 2004 to 2010.  He is very proud to have coached two teams to the Youth Superbowl with a record since 2004 of 41-15.   Joe also coaches weightlifting at his local High School for athletes involved in the football and baseball program at his gym, Joe’s Gym.  Joe remarked, “I’ve always enjoyed coaching football and weightlifting over the years as all the knowledge I have gotten in lifting in the USAWA from good friends here in the US and England.  The knowledge of competing and training that I have gotten has made me the coach and champion that I am today.”

Joe Ciavattone pressing the famous Ciavattone Train Wheels in 2000.

Joe made sure to mention his brother Frank and credits him for getting him involved in lifting at a young age. Frank  encouraged him to pursue Olympic Lifting, and eventually persuaded him to get involved with the USAWA.  The mixture and variety of the various All-Round Lifts fit Joe perfectly as it allows him to get all forms of lifting within one organization.  Today, Joe trains mostly at his home gym, Joe’s Gym.  Since he is busy with work and family, it is the best fit for his schedule.  It also allows him to spend time with his sons, as they train for weightlifting and football.

Joe has been involved as a meet director within the USAWA.  Some of the competitions he has promoted include the 1997 New England Strongman Championship, the Ciavattone Classic, the Norwood Record Breakers Day, Joe’s Gym Record Breaking Day, the Norwood Championships, the New England Championships, Gardner’s versus Ciavattone’s Postal Meet, and the Ciavattone versus Fulton Postal Meet.  His gym has recently been very active in the USAWA Postal Meet Series.

Joe Ciavattone Hack Lifting 454 pounds at the 1998 World Championships in England.

The Neck Lift is the lift that Joe is most proud of.  He has held the World Record in it in four different weight classes and breaking such barriers as 700 pounds and 800 pounds.  He holds the All-Time Neck Lift Record for the USAWA and IAWA with a lift of 804.5 pounds.  The other lifts he likes are all the varieties of Bench Presses within the USAWA.  Joe currently has a unequipped Bench Press of 375 pounds.  The Ciavattone Deadlift is also a favorite, and he feels it is a true test of hand and leg strength. When asked what initially interested him in the USAWA, Joe replied, “I like the many different type of lifts and training different lifts for competition, which makes this sport very interesting to me.” When asked if there were any meets that meant the most to him, Joe replied, “In 1998 I went to the World Championships in Leicester, England.  I had trouble in training for the Hack Lift, and only was getting 300 pounds in training, but got 454 pounds at the meet.  Training for a year as well as saving money to go over seas was hard, but was well worth it to bring home a Gold Medal.  The second meet was the 2005 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships where I Neck Lifted 804.5 pounds for the All-Time Record.  The third meet would be the 2005 Gold Cup in Maui, Hawaii where I saved up money to take a weeks vacation with my wife and break the World Record in the Reverse Grip Bench Press of 300 pounds.”

Joe’s resume of Championships is quite long.  He has been World Champion  5 times, National Champion 6 times, and has won 3 National Heavy Lift Championships.  He has also competed in 6 Gold Cups. In 1998 at the USAWA National Championships in Mansfield, Massachusetts, Joe was the Best Lifter of the entire meet!

Joe is a perfect example of someone who can lead a balanced life and still be a Champion Weightlifter. He spends a lot of hours at work, yet still finds time to be involved with his son’s activities, and not just in attendance, but actively involved as their coach and supporter.  On top of this, Joe always helps out as an official at meets and attends as many meets that he can.  You can count on him supporting the USAWA through participation in Postal Meets at Joe’s Gym.  In closing, Joe remarked, “Being part of the USAWA is a very important part of my life because of the friends I have made, and the competitions are always of the highest quality.”