Author Archives: Al Myers

More on Jack Walsh……..

by Al Myers

Jack Walsh, the New Jersey Strongman, was a strongman showman more than a weightlifter. He loved the Heavy Lifts, such as the Back Lift and the Hand and Thigh Lift because they were crowd favorites with the large amount of weight lifted. He was not a big man, standing a little more than 5’6″ and weighing 180-200 pounds at his heaviest. Thus, his best claims in the Back Lift of 4700 pounds and 1900 pounds in the Hand and Thigh Lift seem even more spectacular. His best lifts were done in the early 1950’s. He was also good at the one arm Clean and Jerk, with a best of 210 pounds done with a barbell. He excelled at the finger lifts – doing a middle finger lift of 550 pounds (using a padded ring which is not used today).

But this lifting stunt of his caught my attention more than any others – he would hang from a chin-up bar with ONLY his chin supporting him, and while in this “hanging position” perform a crucifix with a pair of 50 pound dumbbells!!! Is this possible? I have some leftover USAWA Nationals T-shirts and will give one away to anyone who sends me a picture of themselves doing this!! I’ll make it easy – Just do it with a pair of 20 pound dumbbells!!

Middle Atlantic Postal

by Al Myers

Middle Atlantic Open Postal Meet
June 2009

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts:  Clean and Press – Reverse Grip, Continental Snatch, Hack Lift

Lifter Age BWT C&P Snatch Hack Total Points
Al Myers
42 255 220 198 573 991 802.19
Orie Barnett
48 227 170 110 405 685 622.33
John  Wilmot
62 213 110 100 300 510 541.74


BWT – Bodyweight in pounds. All lifts in pounds. Points are age and bodyweight adjusted.

Best Overall Lifter    Al Myers

Is the Van Dam Lift impossible?

by Al Myers

So you think the Van Dam Lift is impossible???  Rob Van Dam, of wrestling fame, is responsible for this lift being in the USAWA Rule Book and to this date he has been the only one to perform the Van Dam Lift.  For those who are unfamiliar with the Van Dam Lift – it involves lifting a heavy dumbbell from the floor to the waist while maintaining the full splits with each foot/leg supported on a bench . Rob Van Dam demonstrated this lift with a dumbbell of 166 pounds. For those who still don’t believe it – it can be viewed on this YouTube Video and was officiated by USAWA officials.

Steve Freides, at 149 pounds, one arm pressing a Kettlebell of 53 pounds while maintaining the full splits.

Now along comes Steve Freides, of Ridgewood New Jersey, who just may be the second person to accomplish the Van Dam Lift. Steve started out childhood suffering from severe asthma and allergies, to enduring a severe back injury as an adult that left him bedridden for several months and unable to walk without limping for over a year.  At this point in his life,  Steve decided to forget about his physical setbacks and took up an aggressive exercise program involving daily stretching and training with Kettlebells. He also runs, swims and bicycles.  He has even entered several powerlifting meets, setting some deadlifting records in the process.  Steve is a certified Personal Trainer by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and was certified as a Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor by Pavel Tsatsouline.  He received his RKC Level 2 certification in 2007.

Now the question remains – will Steve enter an All-Round Weightlifting Record Day and be the only person to do the impossible Van Dam Lift besides the man himself, Rob Van Dam?  Lets hope it happens!!!!!!

Joe Garcia and the Hand & Thigh

by Al Myers

A Hall of Fame Biography is now available for Joe Garcia.  Joe is famous for his Hand and Thigh Lifting – and holds the all-time record in this lift by lifting 1910 pounds! Not only has he lifted more than anyone in the history of the USAWA, but also of All Time, even exceeding the Hand and Thigh Lifts of the old time strongmen.

Joe Garcia with the Hand and Thigh Lift

Quiz Question: Name the lifter whose all-time record was broken by Joe Garcia, and the weight of the previous record.

Rules of contest: 1 answer per day, first correct answer to webmaster wins

Winner receives a USAWA Patch!!!!

Mike McBride, of Columbia Missouri, correctly answered the quiz. The

previous Hand and Thigh Lift record holder was the New Jersey Strongman,  Jack Walsh.  He did a Hand and Thigh Lift of 1900 pounds in 1950 at Trenton, New Jersey.  This beat the previous record held by Louis Cyr of Canada, who had a Hand and Thigh Lift of 1897 pounds, set in 1896.  Will it be another 50 years before Joe Garcia’s Hand and Thigh Lift record is broken?


Highlights of the National Meeting

by Al Myers

After the chalk settled, and the lifters full from a BBQ of burgers and chicken, the USAWA membership sat down to have the National Meeting, presided over by USAWA President Denny Habecker. Several issues were on the agenda this year that if voted “yes on” could change the direction of the USAWA and the future of the organization. The first item brought up was the review of the bylaws. The USAWA has been working with bylaws that were developed when the organization began in 1987. In this time no changes have ever been made to the bylaws, despite the fact that the USAWA has been operating in a different fashion from what the original bylaws outlined. Much of this was the result of the failure of the USAWA to grow in numbers – and the original bylaws were written with the idea that the USAWA was going to be a large organization and thus would require complex governing bylaws. After a short discussion, a committee was formed to re-write the bylaws. Members of this committee are Tim Piper, Joe Garcia and myself. The next item brought to the floor was the process of Hall of Fame Induction. The previous system was a point system in which an individual must accumulate 1000 points, and upon reaching this number, would automatically be the Hall of Fame. One person was designated to keep track of everyone’s points. This system ceased to work when the individual in charge of it retired and no one took it over, and thus no one has been inducted since 2003. I presented a new Hall of Fame Induction form to the membership based on a nomination process whereas an individual would nominate someone and be the one responsible for figuring the nominees points, taking the pressure off of one individual. No motion was made to accept this new form. Again, a committee was formed to investigate this process and to report to the membership at next years annual meeting. The Hall of Fame committee consists of Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, and Dale Friesz. The next item was a review of the Officials’ Test. Discussion included that the current rules test is too long and is discouraging people from taking it. As of now, only 8 individuals have taken the rules test in the past 3 years. This was countered by discussion pointing out the importance of having an extensive rules test with stringent criteria in order to become a qualified official, much like other sports organizations. Also included in this was reasons why a practical exam should be implemented. No motions were made. Joe Garcia volunteered to be the Officials’ Chairman. The next item was the approval of the new Rule Book. The Rule Book was updated and expanded on this spring, and was reviewed by several people. The approval of the Rule Book passed unanimously. The motion was amended to include a date of August 1st for the new Rule Book to take effect. The reason given for this was to give time so people could be made aware of it that do not have access to a computer. The proposed Rule Book has been available on the website for the past 6 weeks. The next item brought up was a review of the drug testing policy. Much concern was voiced by the membership about the considerable expense the testing program is costing the organization, and that other cheaper testing programs should be looked at. Amongst the discussion was the importance of maintaining an extensive quality testing program, which this program has done, and having outside individuals doing the testing instead of doing the testing in-house. A motion was made by Chad Ullom to continue with our current testing program and it passed by majority vote. The next item discussed was the future of the Strength Journal, which is published by Bill Clark. Bill Clark announced that he was resigning as publisher of the Journal, effective at the end of the year. Discussion included trying to convince Bill to have a change of mind, but it was to no avail. The next agenda item was election of officers. It started with Bill Clark announcing that he was resigning as Secretary/Treasurer after over 20 years in this capacity. A motion was then made by Bill Clark nominating Denny Habecker for President, myself as Secretary/Treasurer and Chad Ullom as Vice President. The motion was seconded by Randy Smith and passed unanimously. Included in this motion was that the new officers would take office at the beginning of 2010 to allow time for transition. The next item was a review of the record keeping process. Discussion included the possibility of having the Record List put on the website. Joe Garcia, the Official Record Keeper expressed concerns over bandwidth and whether this would be possible with the new website. This was discussed and agreed upon that it needed to be looked into further before the Record List would be put on the website. Joe and I agreed that we will work together on getting the Record List on the website. The next item was a review of the website. Discussion amongst the membership included wanting to have a message board, and being able to register online for membership and sanctioning. Next up was a review of club memberships and the discussion of team awards. In the past, club awards have been given out but this ceased when club memberships declined. As of now, the USAWA has 4 registered clubs. The membership agreed that this was not enough clubs to have an club award program. Next item up was a discussion of insurance. As of now, the USAWA does not provide insurance for sanctioned meets, nor has an insurance policy that would allow meet directors to purchase insurance for meets. Meet Directors must find their own insurance, or just go with out. Discussion included having this looked into and what the costs would be to the organization. No motions were made and no committee formed. The next agenda item was a review of the age adjustment, and whether the point correction was fair. This issue was brought up at the IAWA meeting last fall. Dennis Mitchell presented a survey done by the IAWA committee that was formed to study this. The study showed 1 percent was somewhat fair up to the age of 60, but after the age of 60 performance decrease was more rapid than 1 percent. Concerns were expressed by the membership that increasing the age adjustment for lifters over 60 may deter new young lifters from joining the USAWA. The majority of the membership felt that no change should be made, and this should be the USAWA recommendation to IAWA at the IAWA meeting in October. The next item was an issue brought forward by the Technical Committee concerning whether using the Zercher Lift in the Continental to Belt should continue to be allowed. This issue was brought up at the last IAWA Meeting requesting that the Continental to Belt should be divided into two lifts – the Continental to Belt and the Continental to Belt Anyhow. Discussion among members felt that by the definition of a continental using a Zercher Lift to get the bar to the belt is within the description of a continental, and there would be no point in separating them. This was also the recommendation of the Technical Committee. Next up was a discussion involving whether we should remain part of the IAWA, or join with the BSAG. Membership voiced overwhelming support of IAWA, and after a very short discussion, no motions were made. The next item was a motion made by Bill Clark naming the Overall Best Lifter Award at Nationals the Monahan Award, in honor and memory of Rex Monahan. It passed unanimously. The last item was asking for bids for the 2010 National Championships. Denny Habecker put in the only bid, and it was accepted unanimously.

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