Monthly Archives: December 2012

Top Performances of 2012

by Al Myers

Today I was thinking about all of the GREAT lifting performances done in the USAWA throughout this past year.  I have been fortunate to have witnessed many of these performances firsthand.  I’ve given it a little thought and I have came up with the LIST of PERFORMANCES that I have watched during this past year, and compiled my TOP TEN.  This list is completely of my opinion, and does not represent any official view of the USAWA.  It also only includes lifts that I have seen myself – as there are many other great lifts done in the USAWA that I did not have the privilege of viewing and thus are not on this list.  I have also  ranked them – but this was extremely difficult as they are all worthy of top recognition.  I might have well just “flipped a coin” to determine the order – but here it goes!!! I’ll even do the countdown from number 10.

10.  Doug and Jera Kressly’s Team Deadlift of 650 pounds.

Doug and Jera Kressly performing a Team Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Team Championships.

At this year’s USAWA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS, Doug and Jera entered the first Mixed Pair (male & female) team in the Championships history.  And to add to the drama of this – the two of them are married!  I was extremely impressed when we got to the last event, the deadlift, and they pulled 650 pounds. I was really worried Doug was going to let Jera down and not pull his weight on the lift!   

9.  Denny Habecker and his Clean and Jerk at the Gold Cup.

Denny Habecker at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland.

I’ve already told the story about Denny and his performance at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Scotland, despite being sick with the intestinal flu.  I was impressed that he would even attempt to lift feeling like that.  However, I DID NOT sit in the front row when he was lifting as I didn’t want to be in the path of any possible eruption! 

8.  Joe Garcia’s 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Deanna Meet.

Joe Garcia and his signature lift, the Hand and Thigh Lift, at the 2012 Deanna Springs Meet.

Garcia and the Hand and Thigh Lift are becoming synonymous.  You think of one and you have to think of the other.  I keep thinking one of these days Joe G will lose his touch with the H&T which will  give me the edge – but it doesn’t look like it will ever happen! I knew my chances of winning the Deanna  meet was over at this point.

7.  Dale Friesz and his 154# Ring Fingers Deadlift at the Presidential Cup.

Dale Friesz won the 2012 USAWA Presidential Cup with this lift.

Last year Dale “the Miracle Man” Friesz performed a 122# Ring Fingers Deadlift and I raved and raved about it.  Now he’s UPPED his record to 154 pounds – that’s over a 30 pound increase!  This was the lift that WON Dale the prestigious PRESIDENTIAL CUP this year.  I beginning to think there must be bionics in that prosthetic leg of his.

6.  Larry Traub’s 529# Jefferson Lift at the National Championships.

Larry Traub (left) receiving his award at the 2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas, NV.

Everyone knows Larry is an “out of this World” deadlifter, but at the 2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas he also showed he is quite good at the Jefferson Lift as well.  Larry is 58 and only weighs 200 pounds, which makes his lift all the more impressive.  It would take over a 630# Jefferson Lift for an Senior Age group lifter (at the same BWT) to beat Larry in this lift with the age correction.  We make lifters weigh to verify their bodyweights, but we don’t make lifters show their ID’s to verify their ages.  Larry looks like he’s only 30.  Maybe it’s time for him to be “carded” at the next meet?


It’s Time to Renew Membership!

by Al Myers

Hard to believe that another year of the USAWA is coming to an end!  This has been a great year for our organization.  Now is the time to renew your USAWA membership so you can take advantage of a full year’s membership.  I want to remind everyone that membership in the USAWA is for “the calendar year”.  Thus the logical time to renew membership is at the beginning of the year – January FIRST!  

I have already started recording the 2013 membership on the membership roster (it’s at the bottom).  Also, I include the “date beside the name” to remind everyone when you joined.  I want there to be “special distinction” of those that register early.  Any registration before January 1st, 2013 will receive that date as their date of registering.  I hope this encourages early registration.

Individual Membership Applications are found at the top of the left-hand column under “forms and applications”.  It is the very top item so it should be easy to find!  Please fill out the application fully in ledge-able print, and sign it.  Make checks/money orders out to the USAWA and send them to me (address on form).  Once I receive the application (with the $25 fee), I will list your name on the Membership Roster.  It doesn’t get any easier than that!!!

Grip Championships

by Al Myers


Scott Tully had the "top lift" at the 2012 USAWA Grip Champioships with this 394# Vertical Bar Deadlift - 2 Bars, 2". This year the 2" Vertical Bar Deadlift will be contested again, but this time with only one Vertical Bar.

For the fourth year in a row now, the USAWA will feature the Grip Championships.  This event allows the showcasing of unique strength, that of grip strength, in crowning a yearly champion.  The USAWA has in its list of lifts numerous lifts that focus on gripping strength, and these are the lifts that are chosen for this Championship.  Each year there is a different selection of lifts in this meet, which allows lifters to demonstrate their specific grip strength from year to year.  This year the lifts in the Grip Champs are:

Pinch Grip (Two Hands)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, One Hand
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip

In addition to this being the USAWA Grip Championships, a postal challenge has been issued with the IAWA(UK).  Mark Haydock, of England, is  promoting  the British Grip Championships on February 2nd, the weekend before the USAWA Grip Championships. .  This year it has been organized that the IAWA(UK) Championships will offer the exact same events as the USAWA, thus setting up the “perfect situation” for a International Postal Grip Challenge between the USAWA and the IAWA(UK).  The IAWA(UK) President Steve Gardner and I have been in contact with each other in setting this up.

Steve  and I have agreed that the “WINNER” will be determined by averaging all the scores from each participant from each Nation to determine the winner of the challenge.  This means that EVERYONE who competes in the Championships will be part of this challenge, no one will be left out, and everyone’s performance matters. This is different than many of the postal challenges of the past, where only a set number of lifters are selected to participate in the final scoring of the event.  We were hoping to have both of our Championships scheduled for the same day, but due to scheduling conflicts we were not able to organize it this way.  Steve has promised to keep the IAWA(UK) scores “secret” till after our event is finished as to not give us the advantage of knowing what we need to beat.  This is looking to be a fun challenge and I hope lots of USAWA lifters show up to support this event!

ENTRY FORM  – 2013 USAWA Grip Championships Entry Form

Dino Gym Record Day

by Al Myers


Meet Director: Al Myers and the Dino Gym

Meet Date: Sunday, February 10th, 2012 10:00 AM-4:00PM

Location: Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas

Sanction: USAWA

Entry Form: None – just show up

Entry Fee: None

Lifts: Record Day – Pick any lifts you can set a USAWA record in!

Contact me at if you have any questions

Gary Ell – The Tiverton Dynamo

by Al Myers

Recently I had the great fortune of interviewing  “The Tiverton Dynamo” Gary Ell.  Gary lives in Tiverton, Devon, England.  He trains at the Tiverton Weightlifting Club and has been competing at the IAWA World level for several years now.   Gary is a very dynamic lifter – and recently performed a very exhausting lifting marathon as a fundraiser for hospice.  Most don’t know this about Gary, but in March of 2007 he was in a serious car accident.  As he was sitting in his stationary car, another vehicle going 70 mph smashed into the back of his car! The doctors said he would never walk right again, let alone ever lift!  He has proved them all wrong.  Initially all he could do is Bench Press as he suffered a serious back injury. The other guys in the club had to actually lift him off the bench after his sets since he couldn’t get off the bench by himself!!!  Gradually, through persistent training he has been able to regain most of the lost strength.  Gary has a lifting tenacity that few have – thus earning the nickname of the Tiverton Dynamo!! Last month I was able to “catch up” with Gary at the Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland – so let’s get to the interview!

Gary Ell performing a 2" Bar Hack Lift of 185 kilograms at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland. This was the FIFTH BEST performance of the Gold Cup, based on the Blindt Formula.

AL:  Please tell me a little about yourself. I have known you for a few years now, but I don’t know much about your personal life.

GARY: Al, I have been married to Jackie for 18 years (Jackie works in a bakery).  I have one stepson Kris who is 22 and a chef, and 2 daughters Maddy (17) in the Royal marines band (saxophonist), and Mina (15) who is studying at high school. I worked previously as a brewery engineer and before that as a beer taster. For the past four years I have worked as an Ambulanceman. The other sport I play is Water Polo and I represent Tiverton playing in goal.  I have played many sports over the years including cricket, soccer and rowing.  My ‘weights’ career started in powerlifting, graduating into All-Round lifting for fresh challenges. I love the variety of lifts and never lack for a challenge,  always encouraging the youths at the club to try new lifts. No two workouts of mine are ever the same!

Gary Ell receiving congratulations for his fundraising effort!

AL:  Recently, you performed an IAWA lift (Total P0undage Lift)  that is not very well known for a charity cause. Could you elaborate on this? I’m interested in what motivated you to do this and why, as well as the specifics of your record setting effort.

Gary performing an overhead lift during the lifting marathon.

GARY:  I had decided to raise some money for charity (hospiscare – who look after cancer and other terminally ill patients).  I visit the hospice and I know the nurses who provide great help and support in the community as well. 1 in 3 people get cancer during their lifetime, some survive and unfortunately some don’t make it. Having read Steve Gardner’s tribute to Andy Goddard (although I hadn’t met Andy), this cemented my plan to do something positive.  Having found the Inman mile I persuaded the lads at the club to give it a go earlier in the year.  I looked for a fitting challenge.

Then the F4 lift “total in 3hrs 9 mins” was discovered. I mentioned it at the club that I wanted to give it a go. After putting together the necessary helpers, refs, etc, Mark Rattenberry said why don’t you do a variety of lifts? And so the ‘Century Lift a thon’ was born, comprising of 100 different IAWA lifts to be completed in the time limit.  I proceeded to construct a true all body list of the 100, incorporating Power, Dumbell, Olympic, Speciality(Steinborn, Zercher, Shoulder drop etc) and 2″ bar grip test as the lifts.  All the lifts had to be unaided, no harnesses or equipment lifts.  And all through just the hands.  (the Travis was included, but executed with just hands and no special belt).  The first challenge was to do the 100.  The second challenge was to look at the masters records and list them all, to see if any were possible!  The third challenge was to try and lift 15tons through the hands in the time.

And so the exhibition began, the lifts being done pretty much in order, no warm ups ,straight in , a blend of maximal lifting , repetitions, and speed lifts, one after the other (to catch up time).  Pauses and more attempts for the records, some just done and moved on to the next.  It became a battle of endurance and fatigue was a very big factor around the 2 hr mark. I’d left most of the deadlift style exercises to the end of the list, but only ended up with 1 rep straddle, hack and deadlift as the power had all gone.  All 100 exercises were completed, totalling 400 successful lifts, and 36522.7kgs (80349.9lbs)

Gary performing a hands together bench press during the event. Gary did 100 different All-Round lifts during his record setting performance!

AL:  That’s an amazing accomplishment! I’m sure you were pretty sore the next day! Surely, you had to have several helpers to make this effort happen? Also, I know you did this as a fundraiser. Did you met your goal?

GARY: Hands – Very sore, after the lifts I couldn’t straighten my fingers naturally and I had claw-like hands.  I ripped off four callouses, which are now healing.  Even today (Thursday) I have ‘Traps’ of iron, and surprisingly, sore hamstrings.  The guys at the club, Mark Rattenberry, Thomas Cleverley and Axel Amos, did refereeing and loading, and one of our younger lifters Dion Maynard loaded nearly every lift as well. Everything was set out at four lifting ‘stations’ and without the help of the guys it wouldn’t have been possible.  I set myself an optimistic goal of raising £250,  and when it has all been collected the total will be very close to it.   I am very pleased to be able to make a contribution to the charity.

Just another lift done - the seated press.

AL: I commend you on using your given abilities in this manner. That is a noble cause in raising money for hospice, as cancer affects nearly every family. Are there any plans in the future to do this again?

GARY: As for any plans, I told the guys it was one of their turns on this event next year!  I was told , “We ain’t mad enough – only you are!!”,  which I found funny as well as honoured in an odd kind of way.  I am sure we will as a club do the Inman mile challenge again sometime in 2013.  As for me, I probably will come up with a madcap challenge at some point. I think I am likely to come up with a power rather than endurance event,  ” but I’m mad so who knows!!”.

AL: In closing, I want to thank you for allowing me to do this interview with you. Are there any more comments you would like to make?

GARY:  Al, I am deeply honoured that you wanted to do an article on this,  and I have had a beaming smile since being asked. I often read the articles on the USAWA website, and to be featured amongst the legends of the sport is a high honour for me, inspiring me to do more. It was all made possible by the help I got from the guys, and I have had a positive response and support from the charity calling me inspirational.  That is deeply touching and humbling.  It made all the pain and effort so worthwhile.

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