Author Archives: Al Myers

HOF Bio – Joe Ciavattone Sr.

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HAll OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

JOE CIAVATTONE SR., CLASS OF 1996

JoeHOF1Joe Ciavattone Sr. at the 2000 USAWA National Championships performing a 661# Neck Lift, before he set the All-Time USAWA and IAWA Neck Lift Record at the time of 804.5 pounds in 2005.

Joe Ciavattone Sr. was born July 9th, 1968 in Norwood, Massachusetts.  He has lived in Norwood his entire life.  Joe has worked in construction throughout his working life, and is currently a construction foreman and heavy equipment operator.  He has several construction licenses, including a hydraulic, tractor trailer, and supervisor’s license.  Joe has been married to his wife Debbie for over 20 years.  They have four sons – Mike, Marc, Joe Jr., and Jonathon.  They have lived in their house since 1994, which is also the home of Joe’s Gym.  Joe’s Gym has a very nice set up of weights and equipment needed for all the USAWA lifts and general weight training.  A big part of Joe’s training now is involved with coaching and training with his sons.

JoeHOF2Joe Ciavattone at age 15 competing in an Olympic Weightlifting Meet.

Joe started weight lifting at the age of 4 in his parents shed with his brother Frank, another USAWA Hall of Famer.  They are the only two brothers in the USAWA who are both in the USAWA Hall of Fame.  They trained together whenever possible.  As Joe got older, he started competing in local Olympic Weightlifting meets throughout the New England area.  He became involved with the USAWA in 1990 at the Strongest Man in New England Contest which was sanctioned by the USAWA.  Joe continued to compete in Olympic Weightlifting until 1995.  Some of the competitions he competed in were the Bay State Games, Salam Open, Atlantic State Open, Holyoke Open, and various AAU Junior Olympic Meets.  He also competed in the Junior Olympics in 1987 in Syracuse, New York.  He trained in Rhode Island under the great coach Joe Mills.  Joe still comments that was one of the best lifting experiences of his life.  During this time in his training, he perfected the Split Clean and Split Snatch under Coach Mills which has helped his weight training through today.  At that Junior Olympic Weightlifting Meet, Joe placed third as a teenager, which he feels was a testament of his quality training.  Joe played football for 5 years, including 8th grade and throughout High School.  He was Captain of his High School football team.  He started Varsity as a Junior and Senior at the Center position and was Honorable Mention for State as a Senior.  Since then, he has still been involved in football and has been a youth coach for 16 years, from 1987 to 1995, and from 2004 to 2010.  He is very proud to have coached two teams to the Youth Superbowl with a record since 2004 of 41-15.   Joe also coaches weightlifting at his local High School for athletes involved in the football and baseball program at his gym, Joe’s Gym.  Joe remarked, “I’ve always enjoyed coaching football and weightlifting over the years as all the knowledge I have gotten in lifting in the USAWA from good friends here in the US and England.  The knowledge of competing and training that I have gotten has made me the coach and champion that I am today.”

JoeHOF3Joe Ciavattone pressing the famous Ciavattone Train Wheels in 2000.

Joe made sure to mention his brother Frank and credits him for getting him involved in lifting at a young age. Frank encouraged him to pursue Olympic Lifting, and eventually persuaded him to get involved with the USAWA.  The mixture and variety of the various All-Round Lifts fit Joe perfectly as it allows him to get all forms of lifting within one organization.  Today, Joe trains mostly at his home gym, Joe’s Gym.  Since he is busy with work and family, it is the best fit for his schedule.  It also allows him to spend time with his sons, as they train for weightlifting and football.

Joe has been involved as a meet director within the USAWA.  Some of the competitions he has promoted include the 1997 New England Strongman Championship, the Ciavattone Classic, the Norwood Record Breakers Day, Joe’s Gym Record Breaking Day, the Norwood Championships, the New England Championships, Gardner’s versus Ciavattone’s Postal Meet, and the Ciavattone versus Fulton Postal Meet.  His gym has recently been very active in the USAWA Postal Meet Series.

JoeHOF4Joe Ciavattone Hack Lifting 454 pounds at the 1998 World Championships in England.

The Neck Lift is the lift that Joe is most proud of.  He has held the World Record in it in four different weight classes and breaking such barriers as 700 pounds and 800 pounds.  At one time he held the All-Time Neck Lift Record for the USAWA and IAWA with a lift of 804.5 pounds.  The other lifts he likes are all the varieties of Bench Presses within the USAWA.  The Ciavattone Deadlift is also a favorite, and he feels it is a true test of hand and leg strength. When asked what initially interested him in the USAWA, Joe replied, “I like the many different type of lifts and training different lifts for competition, which makes this sport very interesting to me.” When asked if there were any meets that meant the most to him, Joe replied, “In 1998 I went to the World Championships in Leicester, England.  I had trouble in training for the Hack Lift, and only was getting 300 pounds in training, but got 454 pounds at the meet.  Training for a year as well as saving money to go over seas was hard, but was well worth it to bring home a Gold Medal.  The second meet was the 2005 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships where I Neck Lifted 804.5 pounds for the All-Time Record.  The third meet would be the 2005 Gold Cup in Maui, Hawaii where I saved up money to take a weeks vacation with my wife and break the World Record in the Reverse Grip Bench Press of 300 pounds.”

Joe’s resume of Championships is quite long.  He has been World Champion 6 times, National Champion 8 times, and has won 5 National Heavy Lift Championships.  He has also competed in 6 Gold Cups. In 1998 at the USAWA National Championships in Mansfield, Massachusetts, Joe was the Best Lifter of the entire meet!

Joe is a perfect example of someone who can lead a balanced life and still be a Champion Weightlifter. He spends a lot of hours at work, yet still finds time to be involved with his son’s activities, and not just in attendance, but actively involved as their coach and supporter.  On top of this, Joe always helps out as an official at meets and attends as many meets that he can.  You can count on him supporting the USAWA through participation in Postal Meets at Joe’s Gym.  In closing, Joe remarked, “Being part of the USAWA is a very important part of my life because of the friends I have made, and the competitions are always of the highest quality.”

Club Championships

By Dave Glasgow

MEET RESULTS AND REPORT –

2017 USAWA CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2017 USAWA Club Championships.

Group picture from the 2017 USAWA Club Championships.

GRATITUDE.  THAT’S WHAT I WAS FEELING AS I SAW THE COMPETITORS FILING INTO THE SHOP FOR THIS YEARS VERSION OF THE USAWA’S CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS.

WHAT DID THIS GRATITUDE STEM FROM?  WELL, SIMPLY PUT, I HAVE NEVER HAD THIS MANY FOLKS SHOW UP FOR THE ‘CLUBS’ BEFORE.  NINE LIFTERS FROM THREE DIFFERENT CLUBS AND THREE DIFFERENT STATES!  SIMPLY OUTSTANDING!

LEADING THE CHARGE WAS DENNY HAYBECKER AND HIS GRANDSON, AIDEN.  COMING ALL THE WAY FROM PENNSYLVANIA, THEY SHOWED LOYALTY TO THE USAWA AND THE CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS.  WE ESPECIALLY GOT A KICK OUT OF AIDEN’S LOOK OF AMAZEMENT WHEN HE COMPLETED A LIFT HE HAD SERIOUS DOUBTS ABOUT.  HIS PROUD GRAND DAD DID’NT DO SO BAD, HIMSELF.  DENNY ALWAYS PUTS UP SOLID, WELL THOUGHT OUT LIFTS.  FOR HIS REWARD, HE WAS GIVEN A BEER THAT HE IS FAMILIAR WITH BACK HOME.  HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT, DENNY!

MAKING THE TREK FROM THE BUSTLING METROPOLIS OF HOLLAND, KS., AL BROUGHT SOME DIFFERENT FOLKS TO REPRESENT HIS TEAM.  IT WAS GOOD TO SEE NEW BLOOD GET INVOLVED.  CALE DUNLOP AND BRANDON REIN PUT IN SOLID LIFTS AND I BELIEVE THEY BOTH LIFTED THE EXACT WEIGHTS!  HMMMMMMMMM  I WON’T COMMENT ON THAT.  REGARDLESS, I REALLY ENJOYED BANTERING WITH THEM.  THEY GAVE AS WELL AS THEY GOT!

ROUNDING OUT AL’S DINO CLUB WAS A LIGHTER VERSION OF DEAN ROSS.  I MADE THE COMMENT TO OUR TEAM THAT DEAN RARELY MISSED A LIFT HE CALLED FOR AND ALWAYS SEEMED TO LIFT WITHIN HIMSELF.

FINALLY, TEAM LEDAIG.  I ATTEMPTED TO STACK THE DECK IN THE FORM OF JERA KRESSLY(FORMER KANSAS’ STRONGEST WOMAN 2012/13) AMD NEW COMER TO USAWA, JAMIE CHANNEL, ONE OF MY HIGHLAND GAMES ATHLETES.

JERA, NO STRANGER TO USAWA, PUT UP FINE NUMBERS IN ALL LIFTS.  JAMIE, HOWEVER, CAME TO LIFT AND THE TWO THEM, ALREADY LONG SINCE FRIENDS, PUSHED EACH OTHER TO THE END.

THE PLEASANT SURPRISE, TO ME AT ANY RATE, WAS JOHN DOUGLAS, ANOTHER OF THE HIGHLAND GAME CREW.  JOHN ASKED ME TO BE ON TEAM LEDAIG.  I AM ALWAYS GAME FOR NEW MEMBERS SO I SAID, ‘SURE!’  AM I GLAD I DID!  JOHN POSTED TOP WEIGHTS IN ALL THE DISCIPLINES AND HELPED THE LEDAIG TEAM CARRY THE DAY.

THE MEET DIRECTOR AND SO CALLED LEADER OF TEAM LEDAIG DID HIS USUAL MEDIOCRE LIFTING AND POSTED SOME NON-AWE INSPIRING NUMBERS.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT WAS GREAT TO MEET NEW FRIENDS AND CATCH UP WITH OLD ONES.  I LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR.   THE CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS WILL BE HELD ON  14 JULY-2018.  BE THERE!!!   WHY!??

‘CAUSE I SAID SO!!

FINAL STANDINGS:
1ST……LEDAIG HEAVY ATHLETICS
2ND……DINO GYM
3RD…….HAYBECKER’S GYM

****SPECIAL THANKS TO AL FOR JUDGING , AS WELL AS THE BIRTHDAY SURPRISE!****

Meet Results:

USAWA Club Championships
Ledaig Heavy Athletics
Rainbow Bend, KS
July 15th, 2017

Meet Director: Dave Glasgow

Official (1 official system used): Al Myers

Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Lifts: Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm; Curl – Strict; Snatch – Dumbbell, One Arm; Bentover Row

1. Ledaig HA – 1499.3 Total Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DLNT1 Curl SNDB1 Row
Dave Glasgow 64 258 195R 100 85R 225
John Douglas 53 310 185R 110 100R 300
Jera Kressly 32 216 135R 65 65R 135
Jamie Channel 34 241 135R 60 70R 145

Dave Glasgow: Deadlift – NT, Left 185 pounds

2. Dino Gym – 1125.0 Total Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DLNT1 Curl SNDB1 Row
Dean Ross 74 222 105L 35 45L 135
Cale Dunlap 22 164 110R 75 60R 130
Brandon Rein 22 159 110R 75 60R 130

3. Habeckers Gym – 906.9 Total Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DLNT1 Curl SNDB1 Row
Denny Habecker 74 193 130R 70 50R 200
Aidan Habecker 14 149 100R 45 40R 90

Notes: Age is age in years. BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. R and L designate right and left arms.

Otto Arco

By Eric Todd

Otto Arco (photo credit: Strongmanbooks.com)

Otto Arco (photo credit: Strongmanbooks.com)

In the last article I wrote about Georg Lurich,  I mentioned that one of the things I liked most about the old timers was their versatility.  There was not a great deal of specialization in just one discipline.  Many of these strongmen displayed their strength in a variety of ways.  I am not sure any is a better example of this than Polish strongman/wrestler Otto Arco.

Otto Arco was born Otto Nowosielsky in 1881.  Standing only 5’8” and weighing a mere 138 pounds (Jesse), Arco was definitely an outlier in the world of physical culture at the time, compared to peers like Louis Cyr and Herman Goerner.  However, Arco did not let his diminutive stature dissuade him from being a very successful strongman and wrestler. In 1903, Arco won the Austrian wrestling title.  He was considered one of the best Greco Roman wrestlers in the world, pound for pound (Jesse).

Arco was an accomplished lifter as well.  He had a clean and jerk of 279 pounds.  He was only the second man to have accomplished this, and it was a double body weight lift (Jesse). He was also credited with a 175 pound Turkish getup (Christopher, 2017). As you are probably aware, the Turkish Getup is an official USAWA lift.

Another discipline that Arco was well versed in was hand to hand balancing.  HE would train hand balancing and perform with his brother Pete (Christopher, 2013).  Though you may occasionally see a hand balancing act on “America’s Got Talent” (my wife loves that show), how many strongman competitors or weightlifters do you see performing such feats today?  There are some, but I would venture that their numbers are few.

Otto Arco (photo credit: Breakingmuscle.com)

Otto Arco (photo credit: Breakingmuscle.com)

What Otto Arco was most proficient at, however, was the art of muscle control.  Muscle control is the skill of relaxing one or more set of muscles while flexing another in order to really make it stick out.  In 1913, Arco won the title of worlds most developed man (Christopher, 2017).  Here is a picture of Otto performing “the rope” in which he isolates certain abdominals and flexes them while relaxing the rest of his midsection, giving them a rope-like appearance.

Otto Arco was the epitome of and all-round strength athlete. Though small, he had herculean strength.  As many of the strongmen of his time, he was also a very accomplished wrestler.  All things considered, though, what he was best at, and perhaps one of the best all time, was the art of muscle control.  See here for some vintage footage of Otto performing some muscle control and hand balancing (pardon the hideous music):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5grdAYFrFvY

References

Christopher, Logan. “Strongman Profile: Otto Arco Teaches Us About Muscle Control
Techniques.” Breaking Muscle. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2017.
Christopher, Logan. “Otto Arco.” Legendary Strength. N.p., 04 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 July 2017.
Jesse, J. (1976). Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia. Pasedena, Calif: Athletic Press.

 

History of the OTSM

By Al Myers

As promised in the USAWA Discussion Forum, I have completed a historical review of the USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships. Now the past history of EVERY Championship Event is recorded.  The below summary is now included in the History Archives on the website and will be updated every year with the new information from the annual Championships.

HISTORY OF THE OLDTIME STRONGMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
(Promoted by Eric Todd, KCSTRONGMAN Club)

DATE PROMOTER LOCATION MENS OVERALL WOMENS OVERALL #
9/10/2016 Eric Todd Turney, MO Abe Smith  Heather Gardner 10
9/26/2015 Eric Todd Turney, MO Denny Habecker  none 4
11/1/2014 Eric Todd Turney, MO Eric Todd Jenna Lucht 7
12/7/2013 Thom Van Vleck Kirksville, MO Eric Todd none 7
10/14/2012 Thom Van Vleck Kirksville, MO Chad Ullom Whitney Piper 7
10/16/2011 Thom Van Vleck Kirksville, MO Al Myers none 10

The USAWA OTSM Championships is always one of the best attended Championships in the USAWA every year.  One thing that I like about it is that it draws new competitors to the USAWA.  Several of these lifters much prefer the format of the OTSM compared to traditional All Round meets.  I want to take this time to make a pitch for this years OTSM Championships coming up on September 9th,  at ET’s House of Iron and Stone in Turney, MO.  Eric is the Chairman of the OTSM in the USAWA and has hosted the past three OTSM Championships.  ET always puts on a quality event so I HIGHLY recommend you enter.  He has picked 4 great OTSM lifts – the Hackenshmidt Floor Press, Thor’s Hammer, the Dumbbell to Shoulder, and the Kennedy Lift.  After the meet an exhibition OTSM lift will be tried out for the first time – the Lurich Lift.  If the response is good on the Lurich Lift it will be presented to the EB for new lift status.  So another good reason to attend – as you could be part of the beginning of a new USAWA lift!!

HOF History

By Al Myers

Being nominated and inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame is the highest honor one can receive in the USAWA.  The HOF program has been in place almost since the beginning of the USAWA, and has several inductees.  The list of these HOF members is always available on the website, under the top page header “History”.

This week in the USAWA Discussion Forum (and if you’re not following the discussion forum, you should, as this is where active daily discussion is occurring involving the organization) there was a post started by Eric Todd asking why the HOF application did not include some of the Championship Events in the USAWA receiving points.  First of all, I was really impressed that ET had noticed this.  He’s obviously been studying the website.  I’m glad he pointed this out as it’s something that needed attended to, and something that I have been overlooking.

The Hall of Fame Program was started by Chris Waterman.  Chris is a fellow Hall of Famer in the USAWA (and just made his COMEBACK to the USAWA at Nationals), and deserves the credit for setting up the original parameters (of earning points) to be inducted into the HOF. This started in 1997. He was the chairman of the committee that included Frank Ciavattone, Denny Habecker, and John Vernacchio. At that time Chris oversaw the program and kept track of everyone’s points, and once you broke the 1000 point mark you would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Before that the HOF members were nominated and voted on at the National Meeting.  In 2010 the HOF program was placed under the direction of the newly formed position of the USAWA Awards Director, in which I have been the director since then.  At that time the USAWA made a few minor changes in how points could be earned, but pretty much followed the exact outline that Chris and the committee developed originally.  As time goes on things change in the organization and those changes need to be reflected in the application.

However, after developing the new HOF application in 2010 and getting it approved by the membership it has not been amended SINCE that time. And things have continued to change!  One of those changes has been the development of the many great Championship Events in the USAWA that we have now.  Many of these Championship Events were not included in the HOF application, and obviously I agree with Eric that they should be.  I made this change and with unanimous vote by the Executive Board the HOF application now includes these new events.  During the EB’s discussion on this it was also pointed out that being a certified USAWA official should be included. So that was added as well!

The new updated Hall of Fame Application is now available under the main header “About Us” and the page “Forms and Applications”.

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