Monthly Archives: October 2012

Women vs. Men

by Al Myers

Jera Kressly performed a 90 KG Steinborn Lift at Worlds. Her lift exceeded that of several of the men - WITHOUT being percentage amended!

IAWA is the World organization that combines the organizations of the USAWA (United States All Round Weightlifting Association), IAWA-UK (International All Round Weightlifting Association of the United Kingdom), and the ARWLWA (All Round Weightlifting Western Australia).  IAWA is the “umbrella organization” that allows these organizations to “come together” for international competitions, ie the World Championships, the Gold Cup, and the World Postal Meet.  It is a great concept that has allowed for many great competitions and lots of fun times.  However, there are differences in how each country interprets the rules.  This is on top of there being rules differences between each organization .  At each World Meet that I have been at I have found several of these differences.

One of the interesting things that came to my notice at this past World Championships is the combination of men and women, through adjusted points, which allowed men and women to be competing with each other for the “overall title”.  I knew beforehand that IAWA scoring allowed for an additional 33% to be added to women’s scores. But I didn’t think this was to allow men and women to be directly competing against each other!!  In recent years this has not been an issue, but this year with the outstanding efforts of Ruth Jackson it became noticeable.  Ruth (when all adjustments were figured) placed THIRD OVERALL (with 736.0 points), behind Dan Wagman (845.7 points), and Chad Ullom (768.4 points).  

The USAWA does this quite differently.  Men and women are in different divisions and do not compete directly against each other for titles.  At least that is the way it has been done over the past 10 years.  I can not attest if that is how it was in the very beginning of the USAWA.  This puzzled me why there is this difference in the way this has been done.  I know the IAWA(UK) allows for this to happen, and men and women compete with each other for the “overall” in their competitions.

I feel the reason for this difference is the rule interpretation from the Rule Book.  Both the USAWA and the IAWA(UK) rulebooks has only this line, which is the same, in them:

1.  Competitions are to be organized for both men and women.

There is no other rule stipulation in either rulebook pertaining to this issue. So it obviously becomes a matter of interpretation??  When it says “for both” – I take that as implying a separation of men and women into two different divisions.  Otherwise it should say, “which includes”, or something like “together as one group”.  Am I wrong in thinking this way?   By the way, this is an original rule in both rulebooks that has not been changed or amended through the years.  Apparently the USAWA “took it one way”, while the IAWA(UK) “took it the other way”. 

Please express your viewpoints on this issue on the USAWA Discussion Forum.  I think this is a topic worthy of discussion.  Also – you may have noticed that I was careful not to give my opinion on whether I think it is right or wrong  for men to be competing against women through a formula. That’s another issue altogether!!  I’ll save that for the discussion forum!!!

What makes OTSM Different?

by Thom Van Vleck

John O'Brien had the top Apollons Lift of the OTSM Championships with this 300 pound lift.

First, please notice I said “different”.  Not BETTER, just different.  Al Myers came up with the concept for Old Time Strong Man contests to bring something different to the USAWA.  I really like the idea.  This does not mean I don’t like the regular USAWA.  On the contrary, I like the idea a lot!  But I have also been a fan of Strongman Contests as well.  I also think a lot of the other USAWA members do as well.  The OTSM brings that strongman flavor, but does something to it that no strongman contest does.  It allows for the events to be loaded to weights that will suit any age group, skill level, weight class, or gender.  Basically, it makes Strongman accessible to everyone, makes it quantifiable (for record keeping purposes that are legit), and brings it in line with the USAWA tenants that we all appreciate (drug testing for one!).

One of the things I like about the OTSM format is how the lifter is allowed several chances to complete a lift within the one minute time limit.  I think this adds some real excitement and drama to the meet.  Several successful lifts in this meet would not have been allowed in the format used by not only the regular USAWA and IAWA meets, but in any Olympic or Powerlifting contest.  For example, John O’Brien called for 300lbs on his final Appollon’s Axle attempt.  He pulled the weight, racked it, then missed the jerk….however, he still had time, so he pulled a second time, racked it, and made a very solid jerk.  This was the only 300lb lift of the meet in the Appollon’s Lift.  For those watching, it is really exciting to see something like that!  I know the limits placed on earlier meets was a time factor, but usually the lift is made quickly and it really doesn’t take much more time with the few times the whole minute is used.

Another thing I like that this format has over regular strongman contests is how you can start with any weight you want.  It brings the best part of a regular weightlifting meets in a Strongman format.  You get three attempts, you can start at any weight and go up to weights that are within your ability.  In most strongman meets, you have one weight for all…..and in my book, “one size does NOT fit all”.   This way, you can have a meet where young and old, the super strong and the weekend warrior, can all take part.

A third thing is the relaxed rules.  Most USAWA regular lifts have pretty strict interpretations on how the lift will be performed, with good reason.  But for the novice lifter or most spectators, this can lead to confusion or frustration when the complete a lift or see a lift completed only have it turned down on a technicality.  To those of us “in the know” we understand perfectly….but for many a slight press out leaves them shaking their heads.  OTSM has many lifts where the lifter can get a weight up multiple ways with few rules.  As a result, very few lifts are turned down upon completion.  This is very spectator friendly in my book!

Now, I do want to take some time to address some criticisms I’ve heard about the OTSM.  Some have to do with the very nature of it (relaxed rules, etc).  Not much I can say about that.  It is what it is.  But some things I can address.  I have heard concerns that we have enough in the USAWA already.  Why do we need more.  Well, first of all, that’s the very nature of those that have come to the USAWA!  Guys who were satisfied with the Olympic lifts stayed with those lifts, but there were a group of guys who weren’t and powerlifting was born…and so on.  The USAWA adds lifts every year!  I would argue that’s just who we are.  Plus, have you ever watched the Olympics….how many swimming styles do we need to compete, gymnastics events, running events?!?!  Nobody complains about why we need a 200 meter champion when we already have a 100 meter champion.   It’s just more ways to have fun and enjoy sports.  Track and Field has two shot put world champs every year…indoor and outdoor.  No big deal.

These seem to be the key differences to me.  It adds a nice wrinkle to all the USAWA offers and I think can serve  as a way to recruit new blood to the larger organization.  I think a lot of new people could get “hooked” into lifting through the OTSM and then as they became more “weightlifting savvy” we could draw them into the more structured lifting of the USAWA!  So, please, even if you don’t want to lift in the OTSM, help the rest of us out by supporting it by either helping at the meets or at the least supporting it through recommending it to others!  OTSM is still very much an experiment…..whether it stays is really up to everyone in the USAWA!   More fun for everyone!

Neck Lift Challenge at Worlds

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom (left) and Eric Todd (right) both lifted over 1000 pounds in the Neck Lift Challenge!

OK – I promise that this will be the blog that “wraps up” the news from the 2012 World Championships.  I know I have said that already a few times. However, I want to HIGHLIGHT a special event that will “go down in history” in several peoples minds that were there to witness it first hand.  It was quite a spectacle and one of the most memorable events that I ever remember happening at any lifting event I have ever been at.   Chad Ullom and Eric Todd had agreed to a NECK LIFT CHALLENGE to determine “once and for all” who the Worlds best Neck Lifter is.  They have been trading the Overall World Record “back and forth” between them over the past couple of years. 

Frank Ciavattone (center) served as the Head Official of the Challenge.

Neck Lifter EXTRAORDINAIRE  Frank Ciavattone assumed the role of Head Official.  It is only appropriate that Frank perform this duty – as his Neck Lifting resume is a mile deep!  I took on the roll of the announcer, and I have to admit that I got “caught up in the moment”.   The parameters of this Challenge was laid out beforehand to stimulate competitiveness – unlimited attempts with each lifter getting to choose what they wanted to go to next.  I made a call of a weight, and then they could decide if they wanted to try it or not.  The weight on the bar for THE FIRST warmup was 500 pounds!! It wasn’t that long ago when 500 pounds was considered a world class lift in the Neck Lift.  However on this day it was just the first warmup!!  It wasn’t long and both lifters were over 700 pounds.  At this point – each lifter started using a little strategy to gain an advantage over  the other.  The Champ went to 800, and got it easily.  ET countered with 850, and then Chad went after a NEW WORLD RECORD of 920#, which appeared as a very easy attempt.   ET then made the call to go after the BIG 1-0-0-0.   At this point things were really heating up.  Eric got the 1000 pounds, and became the first lifter to break the 1000 pound barrier in the Neck Lift.  However, Chad then moved the bar to 1010 and with a great effort, made a successful lift.  TWO LIFTERS over 1000 pounds for the first time, and all happened in under 5 minutes!  ET then raised the weight to 1030, which maxed out the Neck Lift bar.  He made the lift in a dramatic fashion.   Chad countered with 1040, but it was just a little too much for him on this day.  After all, he had just completed a 2-day World Meet with many max lifts over the weekend before this monstrous challenge event!

An event like this we could have sold tickets for.  It was a climatic ending to a great weekend of lifting by all.


Neck Lift Challenge
Dino Strength Training Center
Salina, Kansas
October 7th, 2012

Officials (3 official system used):  Frank Ciavattone, Frank Allen, Denny Habecker

Lift: Neck Lift

1. First Place – Eric Todd:  1030 pounds
Age 37 years, BWT 118 KG

2.  Second Place – Chad Ullom: 1010 pounds
Age 40 years, BWT 112.0 KG

Mike Murdock joins the CENTURY CLUB

by Al Myers

Mike Murdock joins the USAWA Century Club, a club which recognizes lifters who currently hold over 100 USAWA records.

I predicted it in my last blog covering the CENTURY CLUB.  Mike Murdock has become the 23rd member to join this exclusive group of USAWA record setters.  Mike is very deserving of this, and all I have to say, is that it is ABOUT TIME!  I have often criticized Mike for only breaking his own records at record days and not growing his absolute count.  If he hadn’t been doing that he would have been over the “100 count” needed to be in the Century Club a long time ago.  It is also very appropriate that he did it at the Ledaig Record Breaker, the club that he lifts with.  I should have announced this before now, but since I did the last count right before Dave’s record day I sorta forgot how close Mike was to being a full-fledged CENTURY CLUB MEMBER!  

Our prez Denny Habecker still holds the lead.  Denny has now turned 70, and it has opened up a new age group for him to attack.  That’s exactly what he has been doing.  He is FIRMLY in first place now with 447 USAWA records.  His lead over Art has widened since last count.  Denny has been on the war path of competing in USAWA events.  There’s not very many he has missed since Nationals.

Since I’ve become the EXPERT PREDICTER, let me announce my prediction of who will be the next USAWA member to join the Century Club. It goes to the recent Hall of Famer Bob Geib.  Bob now has 95 USAWA records, and his presence has been plentiful at recent USAWA competitions.  In visiting with Bob at Worlds, he seems to me to have the enthusiasm of a teenager when it comes to lifting in competitions.  My money is on him (so don’t let me down Bob!!!)

CENTURY CLUB (as of October 23rd, 2012)

1  Denny Habecker  447
2  Art Montini  413
3  Al Myers  396
4  John McKean  292
5  Noi Phumchona  265
6  Frank Ciavattone  262
7  Dennis Mitchell  260
8  Joe Garcia  243
9  Bob Hirsh  229
10  Bill Clark  200
11  Chad Ullom  195
12  Howard Prechtel  175
13  Dale Friesz  162
14  Jim Malloy  153
15  Scott Schmidt  148
16  John Monk  148
17  Ed Schock  142
18  Chris Waterman  137
19  Dean Ross  132
20  Rudy Bletscher  131
21  Mary McConnaughey  117
22  John Vernacchio  105
23  Mike Murdock  104

Lifter of the month: Barry Bryan

by Al Myers

This is a picture of Barry Bryan from his earlier lifting days. That's alot of weight he has overhead!

There’s a reason I’ve been waiting to announce the LIFTER OF THE MONTH for the month of September.  Due to the low number of meets during September, I decided the lifter of the month should be the lifter that won BEST LIFTER of the Delaware Valley Postal Meet, and I’ve been waiting on the final meet results.  So the congrats for winning the lifter of the month goes to Barry THE BOMB Bryan!!!! 

I am so glad to see Barry get back involved in the USAWA.  I had a great visit with him at the Presidential Cup a couple of months ago.  I know alot of the younger guys in the USAWA don’t remember when Barry was competing in the USAWA during the early 90’s.  He was “a force” to be reckoned with!!!  He was the overall BEST LIFTER at the 1990 USAWA National Championships against a very tough field of lifters.   However, there’s a price to pay for lifting heavy weights, and Barry incurred a few injuries as a result which lead to him not competing for several years.  But it looks like he has put those injuries aside – and IS BACK TO WINNING FORM!!!  Congratulations Barry for winning the LIFTER OF THE MONTH for the month of September!!!

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