Monthly Archives: March 2012

Joe & his mutant finger

by Al Myers

Joe Garcia lifting a 186# Fulton (2" diameter) Dumbbell with his left hand.

I sure understand why someone would conceal a freaky birth defect from their friends, so when Joe Garcia commented at the restaurant table following the meet last weekend to all of us that one of his middle fingers was 3/8″ longer than the other – I immediately called BS on him in front of everyone!!  To make matters worse, several other guys at the table chimed in with a few snickers at my defiant response.  It left Joe with a blank expression on his face, and I’m sure full of embarrassment that he told a deep, dark secret  about this physical abnormality of his (or maybe the look  was his astonishment that I didn’t believe him??).  I’ve heard of guys having one leg longer than the other and having to wear a special built-up shoe to balance out their walk, but till now I have NEVER heard of anyone having an extra long phalanx.

This is visual proof that Joe can hook grip a Fulton Bar with his left hand. His entire thumbnail is covered with the hook.

But I’m a big boy, and own up to things when I’m proved wrong.  Joe immediately held up both of his hands and INDEED the middle finger of his left hand is much longer than the middle finger of his right hand!  There were several witnesses to this scene, and I owe Joe an apology for not believing him.  That is the reason I’m writing this story – it’s my lame way of apologizing.  But then again, it also means I’m pointing out Joe’s genetic defect (in an otherwise perfect physical specimen) to the World.  However, I don’t think Joe wants to keep this a secret anymore, or he wouldn’t have told me about it.  This must be his way of getting the word out about his FREAKY FINGER, because I bet keeping this secret to himself all this time probably was becoming a terrible burden to bear.  It’s a good idea NEVER to tell someone who writes blogs for internet websites anything you want to keep secret, because it won’t be a secret for long. 

Joe’s deviated digit got me thinking about all the birth defects I’m glad I don’t have and the birth defects I would be alright having.  Having a mutated member like Joe has would give all kind of advantages to lifting weights.  Being able to hook-grip a 2″ bar would sure come in handy at times, and that extended extremity would sure help ya out on the finger lifts!  I suspect it was even an advantage to Joe when he did his World Record Hand and Thigh Lift (or maybe that is WHY it is longer – it got stretched out holding onto 1900 pounds???)  I will say this about Joe’s outstretched feeler, I doubt if the kids picked on him in school because of it.  Because if they did – he could give them the middle finger salute in GRAND STYLE!!

5 Stages of Weight Lifting

by Al Myers

Everything these days seems to be psychoanalyzed  by putting things into “stages of this” or “stages of that”.    I did an internet search and I realized that NO ONE has done this to date for Weight Lifting (at least not on the web, and if it’s not on the web, it’s not really available information since no one has books anymore!).  I’m no certified therapist so please do not take anything I say here too serious.  In fact I’m pretty simple minded when it comes to “feelings” or emotional issues, and if you ask me a question about anything mushy I’ll probably give you some vague and strange answer which includes some reference to animal behavior.  But here it goes with my 5 STAGES OF WEIGHTLIFTING:


In this stage the lifter basis his enjoyment of weight lifting upon receiving recognition.  This may be winning or placing high in meets, or bringing home big trophies to show his buddies. Recognition is the motivation to keep lifting.  Add in a few “broken records” of some type here and there and it brings more fame, which further inspires the lifter to keep training.


In this stage, it is about self-improvement as a weight lifter.  The trophy shelf is full and you’ve been patted on the back enough.  Weight lifting becomes an “inner battle” of setting personal records and improving your lifts.  Success is defined by making improvements “in your numbers” which becomes more important than taking home first place awards. 


In this stage, it is about giving your maximum performance at each competition.  The days of setting personal records are over, so now you judge yourself by whether you gave the best performance you could at a meet.   Success is defined by hitting the marks in competition that you KNEW you could get, by goals that have been established by training lifts.


In this stage, a lifter has got to a point in the game where giving maximum performance might not always be possible.  The one thing the lifter still has control over is the EFFORT given in a competition.  You judge yourself after a meet by asking, “did I give everything I had today?”  If the answer is yes, you feel that the day of the meet was successful. 


In this final stage, a lifter has reached a point that even giving maximum effort is not always possible in meets, and thus doesn’t expect that of themselves.  Lifters in this stage receive enjoyment by just being part of the sport by participating.   This may even extend beyond competing in the competition.  Bliss is found by just being involved.

What stage are you in??  Most of the time I have seen lifters go through these 5 stages in chronological order, but not always.  Sometimes a lifter will become “stuck” at one stage for a long time, and get discouraged because they haven’t progressed to the next.  Very few lifters truly reach STAGE 5.  I can only think of a few in the USAWA that might be there.  Most lifters quit long before they reach that level. 

Now, as I’ve said earlier, these stages are just my thoughts, and don’t represent any scientific theory.  Crazy stuff like this is what I think about when I’m working out by myself!

Battle in the Barn

by Eric Todd


Group picture from the 2012 Battle in the Barn.

This Saturday past,  the weather could not have been better as we hosted  the Old Time Strongman meet “The Battle in the Barn”.  It was the first USAWA meet hosted at my strongman gym, and hopefully there will be more to follow.  The meet consisted of 4 lifts:  The Apollon’s Axle, the Goerner Stroll, the Crucifix, and the People’s Deadlift.  We ended up with 9 lifters from 3 states in our inaugural all-round meet, and a great battle ensued.  Some of the highlights of the day for me were as follows:

* Chris Anderson and Bryan Benzel going toe to toe in the Apollon’s axle, with Chris hitting an easy 325 and Bryan hitting a big PR at 355.

* Lance Foster and Bryan Benzel both missing an attempt at the Goerner Stroll, resetting the weights and completing the course for PR runs.

* Mike Murdock hanging with the young guys on the crucifix, and even repping one attempt just to show off.

* Mike Murdock, Dean Ross, and Joe Garcia competing on back to back days; something many guys a fraction of their age would not attempt.

Here are the results of the divisions:


1st place- Jesse Jobe


1st Place-Bryan Benzel
2nd Place-Chris Anderson
3rd Place-Scott Tully


1st place- Darren Barnhart
2nd Place- Joe Garcia
3rd Place-Dean Ross
4th Place-Lance Foster
5th Place-Mike Murdock

Overall Best Lifter-   Bryan Benzel

A huge thanks to all the athletes who came out and competed.  Bryan edged out his training partner Jesse Jobe for the Best lifter award.  This was a great battle all day.  Thank you also to Al Myers for serving as head judge, Rudy Bletscher for taking pictures, and Thom VanVleck and John Obrien for spotting and loading.  Without you all it would have been a much longer day.  I am looking forward to next time!

Meet Results:

Battle in the Barn
Old Time Strongman Competition
Turney, Missouri
March 25th, 2012

Meet Director:   Eric Todd

Officials (1 official system used):  Al Myers

Loaders: John O’Brien, Thom Van Vleck, Eric Todd

Events: Apollons Lift, Crucifix, Goerner Stroll, Peoples Deadlift

LIFTER AGE BWT Apo Cru DL Goer Total Lynch Points
Bryan Benzel 24 286 355 80 705 520 1660 1232.38 1232.38
Jesse Jobe 35 227 250 70 585 470 1375 1146.75 1146.75
Chris Anderson 23 301 325 110 535 510 1480 1072.41 1072.41
Darren Barnhart 44 303 220 90 555 470 1335 964.40 1012.62
Scott Tully 36 362 270 60 535 510 1375 915.61 915.61
Joe Garcia 58 212 165 70 335 310 880 761.29 905.93
Dean Ross 69 269 115 60 385 270 830 634.04 824.25
Lance Foster 46 319 200 40 500 310 1050 740.67 792.52
Mike Murdock 72 236 115 70 275 230 690 563.80 749.85

NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Lynch is the adjusted Lynch Points. Points are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction.

Deanna Springs Meet

by Al Myers


Group picture from the 2012 Deanna (left to right): Dean Ross, Rudy Bletscher, Al Myers, Joe Garcia, and Mike Murdock.

This was another great year for the Deanna Meet.  The “same crew” of lifters made their appearance  that have been attending the past few years – Joe, Rudy, Mike, Dean and myself.  Several times throughout the day I felt de-ja vu (a feeling that I’ve experienced this before), which TURNS OUT to be the case.  Same group of lifters, performing the same lifts in the Clark’s Gym, and getting beat rather handily by Joe Garcia!  This makes FOUR YEARS in a row that I have placed second to Joe G in this meet.  I should research this farther back, but it would be depressing as I know there have been many other “seconds” for me in prior years!

Bill Clark - meet director of the Deanna Springs Meet.

This was a BIG DAY for Joe.  This win marks his 11th victory at the Deanna Springs Meet.  The amazing thing is that he scored an adjusted point total of 4196 points, which is the BEST OF ALL TIME.  Congrats Joe!!!!  Joe’s new record erased the previous top point total by Abe Smith in 2005.  I would like to believe that the Daily News Story that I wrote last week on the “top performances at the Deanna Meet” might have inspired Joe to this new record.  After all, my main goal at this meet is to push Joe to lift hard.  If I can make him a little nervous at any point throughout the day, I feel like I have accomplished something.  He is just TOO GOOD at these lifts for me to give him any serious competition once the age and bodyweight corrections are made.   I did put up a 4146 total, which is the 5th best total of ALL TIME in this meet.  Joe tried to top me in this as well with his final Hip Lift, but it was just too much for him.  I thanked him for letting me take home a “moral victory”!  But by the look on his face when I said this to him, it was obvious to me that he wasn’t “letting me” take home anything. If he could have totalled more – he WOULD HAVE regardless of my feelings! 

As Joe and I were having our battle, the “senior lifters” of Rudy, Dean and Mike were having theirs.  Rudy came out on top again this year over his two amigos (I’ve impressed myself here – a little Spanish and French in the SAME story!).  Rudy’s big Hip Lift of 785# sealed the win.  I’ve said this before – I really enjoy watching these guys compete against each other.  They do it for the RIGHT REASONS – as you can tell they are enjoying every minute of it.  

Afterwards, we made our traditional visit to the Golden Corral to fill our rumens.  But unlike prior years where I’m hitting the road right after eating, this year I spent the night in Columbia because of Eric Todd’s meet in Cameron on Sunday.  This was a BIG WEEKEND for the USAWA in Missouri – two meets 150 miles apart!  In closing,  I want to thank Bill for opening his gym up to us again this year by hosting this meet.

Meet Results:

Deanna Springs Meet
Clark’s Gym
Columbia, MO
March 24th, 2012

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Officials (1 official system used): Bill Clark

Lifts: Crucifix, Curl – Cheat, Deanna Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift

LIFTER AGE BWT Cruc Curl Dean H&T Hip Total Points
Joe Garcia 58 210 70 151 535 1400 1900 4056 4196.76
Al Myers 45 247 60 191 805 1285 1805 4146 3507.90
Rudy Bletscher 76 223 50 96 405 485 785 1821 2100.10
Dean Ross 69 264 60 111 405 535 785 1896 1902.83
Mike Murdock 72 234 60 121 285 405 0 871 950.72

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are adjusted points for lynch and age correction.


Mike Murdock: Squat – Front 165#

Steve Gardner, IAWA President

by Al Myers

Steve Gardner in action as a Powerlifter taking a big squat down deep!

Most lifters involved with the USAWA know that Steve Gardner is our IAWA president.  Steve is closing in on the end of his third four year term as the IAWA President. This is a total of 12 YEARS that he has committed to leading our organization!  The IAWA (International All-Round Weightlifting Association) is the world umbrella organization of all-round weightlifting in which the USAWA is affiliated with.   There are four major countries that are involved with the IAWA (United States, England, Scotland and Australia).  Lifters from other countries (New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, and a few others) have competed in IAWA International events, but these countries do not have organized associations which oversee the all-round events within them.  Steve’s Presidency followed that of Howard Prechtel.  Howard also served the organization for 12 years.

Steve lifting a van during his days as a Police Officer.

Steve lives in Burton on Trent, England.  He began living there when he was stationed there as a Police Officer out of the police academy.  It was then that Steve realized that he had ability lifting weights.  Steve started out as a competive powerlifter.  In the early 80’s Steve won the British Title and represented Great Britain three years in a row at the European and World Championships with the WDFPF. He was the heavyweight Champion in 1990, winning the Championship in Belgium. Steve also won a Bronze Medal at the World Championships in Chicago in 1989 and a Silver Medal in France in 1991.  He has held several European Powerlifting Records with the WDFPF (World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation).

Steve getting ready to flip a big caber in a Highland Games.

Steve has also been involved in Strongman and the Highland Games.  Most don’t know this about him, but I got this story out of him recently.  In the early 80’s he competed with Geoff Capes and the International Touring team all over Great Britain, competing in Strongman and the Highland Games. At one competition he placed 4th in the World Lorry Pulling Championships and BEAT the then World’s Strongest Man Jon Pall Sigmarson!!!! Now that’s a good story.

Around 1985, Steve became involved with the All Rounds.  This was before the IAWA was even organized.  Steve was involved in the first IAWA events, and has competed in MANY international competitions.  The following is a small list of his accomplishments within the IAWA.  It would take pages and pages to list everything Steve has done in and for the IAWA!!!

  • IAWA World Heavyweight Champion 17 times (won multiple World titles in the United States, England, Scotland, and Australia)
  • Hosted the IAWA World Championships 3 times (2008, 2004, 1994) in Burton on Trent
  • Hosted the IAWA Gold Cup World Record Breaker 4 times (2011, 2000, 1997, 1993) in Burton on Trent
  • Promoted the IAWA World Postal Meet multiple times
  • Instigated and developed the drug testing program within the IAWA, which insures that our sport offers drug-free competition
  • Holder of multiple IAWA World Records (to many to count), and holder of the ALL TIME best Steinborn Lift at 200 kilograms
  • Served on the IAWA Technical Committee and has been the person responsible for updating and maintaining the IAWA Rulebook
  • Served as meet announcer and recorder numerous times at World Championships and Gold Cups

Steve also has a very active All-Round Weightlifting Club.  He runs the Powerhouse Gym in Burton, and has since 1985.  He has coached numerous lifters – powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and All-Rounders. Several of his lifters have went on to win National and World Titles.  His gym has also been the host venue of several IAWA competitions.  The 2011 IAWA Gold Cup was held in the Powerhouse Gym.

Steve competing in the Lorry Pulling Event in a Strongman Competition.

Steve has also been very involved in Tug of War. He began in 1975 as a member of the Holland Tug of War Club in Barton under Needwood.  Reporting on Steves accomplishments with Tug of War is another story in itself!!!  Steve is very involved in the Holland Sports Club.  He has been a member for over 20 years and has been in the office as Chairman for the last 6 years. He was made an honorary life member in the Holland Sports Club  in 2010 in recognition of the work he has done for the club. He is also a member of the East Staffs and District Sports Council, which awards sports grants and recognizes outstanding sports achievements.  Steve has served on the Barton Parish Council for 8 years.  He has held office as Vice Chairman for 2 years and then Chairman of the Council for another 2 years.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few years visiting with Steve.  Steve contains a WEALTH of information about many topics.  Last fall when I was in Burton for the Gold Cup Steve gave me a car tour of the town and surrounding area.  I felt like I was getting a history lesson on local history from a professional tour guide! As it turns out, Steve finally told me that he has written three books that were published about the history of Barton under Needwood. So he is, in a  sense, a professional tour guide!!

Steve and the club members of the Powerhouse Gym.

We are VERY fortunate as an organization to have Steve as our President.  We owe him alot of thanks for everything he has done to better our organization.  Very few people would “give” to an organization as much as Steve has done with IAWA.  He made the trip to Australia to help coordinate and announce the competition – just because he wanted to help make the World Championhships a great event.  I should mention that he didn’t even lift.  Not many would do that.  The IAWA has maintained WORLD-WIDE involvement because of Steve’s leadership and guidance. I feel I speak on behalf of the entire organization when I say this – we greatly apprecate the work Steve has done to make the IAWA a better organization.

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