What happened 10 years ago in the USAWA?


by Al Myers

Garcia wins Zercher

On February 5-6, 2000, Joe Garcia wins his first Zercher Strength Classic at Clark’s Gym.  Fellow gym members Mike McBride  took second place while James Foster came in third.  Seven lifters participated in this 13 lift meet which occurred over two days. Garcia dominated the Chain Lifts – with lifts of 1600# in the Hand and Thigh, 2300# in the Harness Lift, and 1805# in the Hip Lift.  This meet also included the comeback of John Carter, who had been sidelined for two years with two knee surgeries.

Postal League

Four registered clubs (Clark’s Gym, Prechtel Athletic Club, Ambridge VFW Barbell Club and Frystown Power Zone) have entered the Postal League.  The first leg of this year long competition was completed.

Nebraskaland Strength Classic

Meet director Kevin Fulton won the Nebraskaland Strength Classic, barely edging out Elijah Kucera.  Fulton put up big lifts in the Jerk-Behind Neck (305 pounds) and the Deadlift – Fulton Bar (505 pounds) to secure the win over 17 year old Kucera.

Deanna Springs Memorial

Josh Pemberton won the Deanna Springs Meet, beating Abe Smith and Al Springs.  The meet was very close, with Josh slipping past Abe by only 13 points!  A highlight of the meet was having two old JWC lifters in attendance – Wayne Smith and Wayne Jackson.  Smith had developed a reputation by being a one arm pullup champion, and on this day he performed a record in the Pinch Grip with a lift of 90 pounds.

Buckeye Record Breaker

This record day was promoted by USAWA President Howard Prechtel on March 4th. An amazing 16 lifters took part!  The list of those competing: Noi Phumchaona, Anna Holter, Jim Loewer, Dennis Stahnke, Chris Waterman, Bob McKenzie, Lee Gesbeck, Dennis Mitchell, Bob Cox, John McKean, Art Montini, Bob Hirsh, Walter Moss, Bill Crozier, Bob Geib, and Scott Schmidt.

Courtesy of The Strength Journal published by Bill Clark.

ADIOS to the Strength Journal

by Al Myers

“Adios” was the lead story headline for the latest Strength Journal, which I received yesterday. And with this – I mean the last Strength Journal. Bill Clark has published the Strength Journal for over 20 years covering news from the USAWA, but over 50 years including other strength news. I read this last Journal with great sadness, as I’m sure most others did as well. But as Bill said in this last Journal, “All things must have a finish. That’s this letter.” I owe Bill Clark a great deal of gratitude for getting me started in the All-Rounds. I clearly remember my first time meeting him several years ago. I was winding down my powerlifting career and just wanted to see “what this all-round lifting was all about”. So myself and several of my training partners headed to Clark’s Gym in Columbia on a cold December day to try out a record day on Saturday, followed by the Goerner Deadlift Dozen on Sunday. Bill knew we were coming and greeted us at the door (he also knew we were Powerlifters) and one of the first things he said was for us to look at the sign by the door. It had the Gym Rules which spelled out NO WRAPS and NO DRUGS ALLOWED. Bill is one to get right to the point. I knew right away that this was my type of gym and that I was welcome!! Immediately I found out what all-round weightlifting was all about – and I was very intrigued. Steve Schmidt was there that day and was going for a repetition Back Lift record. I had no idea at the time the importance of the record he was breaking. I do now – it was the greatest Back Lift repetition record of All-Time. I also met Tom Ryan that weekend. Tom helped us tremendously – and showed us the proper way to do these strange new lifts that we were trying for the first time.

Bill immediately put us to work breaking USAWA records. Of course we were just focusing on bench press type lifts at first, until Bill said, “I have never seen that much bench pressing in Clark’s Gym before.” I soon found out that All-Round Weightlifting was much more – when Bill brought out the ring and challenged us to Finger Lifting. I thought later that this must have been his way to test us – to see if we really had what it takes to become All-Round Weightlifters. We maxed on every finger of each hand and Bill made us go all out. After all – He WAS!!! I left that weekend with several sore fingers but knowing that this sport was for me – thanks to Bill Clark. I would like to know how many lifters Bill has introduced to All-Round Weightlifting – I’m sure it is more than I could count.

The Strength Journal has been the backbone of the USAWA since the start. It will not be the same not receiving any more of them in the future. In the past when I found a Strength Journal in the mail – I would open it up right away – even before looking at any of my other mail. I would like to think that I could maybe talk Bill into writing a few stories for the USAWA Daily News in the future. But I know Bill has said in the past that he would never put anything on the internet – and Bill is a man of conviction so I believe I probably won’t be successful in this endeavor. But I will keep trying to change his mind on this so hopefully we can read the words of Bill Clark again.

Bill, I know you probably will never see this, but THANK YOU for everything you have done for the USAWA. THANKS for the many years of publishing the Strength Journal. THANKS for the leadership you have given to our organization. And most importantly – THANKS for getting me started in this great sport of All-Round Weightlifting.

History of the USAWA – What happened 5 years ago?

by Al Myers

(It is amazing how fast time goes sometimes – and 5 years does not seem like a long time.  The following is a summary of the USAWA September news that happened in 2004, as taken from the Strength Journal published by  Bill Clark. )

USAWA News from September, 2004

Joe Garcia, representing Clark's Gym, pulls a fire truck at the Mid-Mo Strongman Competition.

Ciavattone Best at Heavy Lift Meet


Frank Ciavattone was the best lifter at the USAWA Heavy Lift Championships, which was held in Lebanon, PA and directed  by Denny and Judy Habecker. This was a big event for Frank, as it marked his 25th anniversary of beating colon cancer. This meet was attended by 13 lifters!!  Frank finished the meet with a 1902# Hip Lift. John Vernacchio was on hand to officiate.

Mid- Mo Strongman Competition


Clark’s gym hosted their first-ever strongman competition. Helping Bill Clark in the promotion was Demetrius Davis, Sam Huff and Joe Garcia.  These events were selected – clean and push press,  burlap bag hold,  medley consisting of carrying an anvil,  a farmer’s walk, and a tire flip, bus/fire truck pull, and a stone load.

Steve Schmidt at the Knox Fair


Steve Schmidt made his second appearance at the Knox Fair in Knox, Indiana  to put on a teeth pulling performance. Steve pulled a Mack truck, weighing 18,700 pounds, with his teeth down a 50 foot course on the main street of Knox.  He also put on a bending performance – bending bars over his head and nose.  Steve even bent a half-inch bar, 4 feet long, over his lower teeth!!

Sad News from the Strength Journal

(I just received the Strength Journal, published by Bill Clark, and learned of the death of two all-round weightlifters. The following is from the Strength Journal).

by Bill Clark

Word comes to us well after the fact that Cleveland’s Bob Cox has died. I have no obituary to pass along to the membership. If anyone has such, please get it to me. Bob was an active lifter until knee replacement put him on the sidelines. He was 84 years old and a major contributor to the Journal. He was a training partner with Fred Kwast, Howard Prechtel, and many other Cleveland lifters dating back to World War II.

Kevin Heavner, who still holds the Mansfield Lift record, died recently at age 52. He lived in Columbia, trained in his garage, and dropped out of Olympic competition years ago. He was an excellent Olympic lifter with a chance to be a national class competitor, but chose to lift for fun. He lived no more than five minutes from Clark’s Gym and occasionally dropped by to check if anyone had broken his Mansfield record, but chose to train at home. Death was sudden. He seemed to be in excellent health. Some of his weights have been donated to our gym. Kevin was one of those folks about whom Ring Lardner once wrote – “The World of Men Who Might Have Been” – but he was happy with his place in life and in lifting.