Category Archives: USAWA Daily News

IAWA World Insights

by Al Myers

Mark Haydock preparing to lift 300 kilograms in the Straddle Deadlift at the 2015 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mark Haydock preparing to lift 300 kilograms in the Straddle Deadlift at the 2015 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

I’ve spent a little time yesterday updating the history archives on the USAWA website.  Time goes by faster than I’d like, and it’s easy for me to forget to add the new “history”.  I knew I needed to add the 2015 IAWA World results, but then noticed I had forgotten to add the 2014 results!  Now everything is up to date in that section at least.

But as I was updating this important historical information, it made me think about all the IAWA history that we have accumulated.  The 2015 Worlds in Scotland marked the 28th Championship, all starting by Frank Allen’s promotion of the FIRST IAWA Worlds in 1988.  I remember that first Championship very well as my brother-in-law Bob Burtzloff attended it and he told me all about it upon his return.  Hard to believe that 27 World Championships have been held since, and let me emphasize this – WITHOUT A MISSED YEAR!  That’s a great accomplishment for IAWA and something we should be proud of.

But back to the questions that were “on my mind” as I was updating the archives.  Some I knew the answers to but some I did not so I had to do a little research.  I would like to share this information, as I’m hoping at least a few might be interested.

Who has promoted the most IAWA World Championships?

I named 3 of the 5 without looking.  But here is the list of the SUPER PROMOTERS in IAWA, all of which you will recognize as “movers and shakers” in the organization. Each one of these promoters has promoted 3 IAWA World Championships.

1.  Frank Ciavattone – 1993, 2000, 2014
2.  Denny Habecker – 2002, 2005, 2009
3.  Steve Gardner – 1994, 2004, 2008
4.  Willie Wright – 1990, 1996, 2001
5.  John Vernacchio – 1989, 1991, 1997

Which men lifters have placed in the top ten overall the most times? And women lifters in the top three?

The GREAT Frank Allen leads this list by a large margin.  He has placed in the top ten 18 times, with being the overall Best Lifter twice (1993 & 1994).   I believe Frank has only missed 2 of the 28 years competing in Worlds!  Steve Andrews and Denny Habecker are tied for second here with 13 appearances in the TOP TEN.

Noi Phumchaona leads the women, with 11 times making the TOP THREE.  Karen Gardner is next at 6 times, followed closely by Agnes McInally.

Which IAWA Worlds had the most lifter participation?

I would not know this answer if Steve Gardner hadn’t shared his IAWA World Championship history information with me.  This was something I hadn’t kept track of  – so I’m glad Steve knew!

It’s a tie. The most were 51 lifters which attended the 1991 Worlds in Philidelphia promoted by John Vernacchio and at the 2000 Worlds promoted by Frank Ciavattone.

Who has won the most Overall Men’s Best Lifter Awards?

Of the 28 Worlds, a total of only 16 men have won the overall best lifter so that tells you that some lifters are repeat performers.  The man who has won the most is Rick Meldon of England, who has FOUR overall Best Lifter Awards (1990, 1992, 2004, 2008).  Two lifters have won the BIG SHOW three times – Steve Angell and Mark Haydock.

Who has won the most Overall Women’s Best Lifter Awards?

Noi Phumchaona leads the list with 4 (1995, 1996, 1997, and 1999).   She is followed by a large group that have three – Paula Thompson, Jackie Simonsen, Agnes McInally, and Monica Cook.

Off all these Championships, who had the LARGEST margin of victory for Overall Best Lifter?

Now this took some time to figure out! I really expected Steve Sherwood’s margin of victory over me in the 2011 Worlds in Australia to be the leader, as he really distanced himself from the field that day by lifting brilliantly.  But it’s NOT the largest margin of victory as I’ve looked back over all past Championships.  Here’s the breakdown of the top 5 for the men…

1.  1995 –  Bob Hirsch over Frank Allen by 122 points
2.  1991 – Adrian Blindt over Frank Allen by 90 points
3.  2008 – Rick Meldon over Steve Andrews by 85 points
4.  2015 – Mark Haydock over James Gardner by 83 points
5.  2011 – Steve Sherwood over Al Myers by 79 points

Breakdown for the top 5 for the women:

1.  1990 – Anette Blindt over Noi Phumchaona by 285 points
2.  2006 – Mandy Hughes over Sandie Gurney by 236 points
3.  2012 – Ruth Jackson over Paula Thompson by 192 points
4.  1994 – Jacqueline Simonsen over Noi Phumchaona by 167 points
5.  1993 – Jacqueline Simonsen over Noi Phumchaona by 159 points

Which World Championships have been decided by the CLOSEST margin of victory for overall best lifters?

Again, I really expected to be part of the closest defeat as well, after Mark Haydock “clipped me” at the 2009 Worlds by 1.2 points!  Mark is a brilliant strategist and knew exactly what he needed on his last attempt Zercher that day which he made.  But looking back in our IAWA history I found this NOT to be the closest margin of defeat for overall best lifter.  Now the top 5 for the men:

1.  1999 – Mike Archer over Frank Allen by .19 points!
2.  2009 – Mark Haydock over Al Myers by 1.2 points
3.  1997 – Bob Hirsch over James Dundon by 10 points
4.  1998 – Keith Murdie over Neil Abery by 12 points
5.  2010 – Chad Ullom over Al Myers by 16 points

For the women:

1.  1991 – Suzanne Brooker over Annette Blindt by 1 point!
2.  2000 – Monica Cook over Noi Phumchaona by 13 points
3.  1998 – Agnes McInally over Tracy Emmerson by 17 points
4.  2013 – Paula Thompson over Jenn Tibbenham by 18 points
5.  1999 – Noi Phumchaona over Monica Cook by 34 points

Now, my final question.  Which poor sap has the most runner up, or second place finishes for the overall best lifter award, who had the big victory in sight but fell up short and will be reliquished to a placing that no one will ever care to remember?

That would be me (4 times – 2007, 2009, 2010, & 2011).  Sigh…..

John’s Record Event

by John McKean


John’s 70th Birthday Record Event

Meet Details:

John’s 70th Birthday Record Day Event
Sunday Dec 20 at the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club
Duss Ave  Ambridge, PA.

No entry fee or entry blank needed ,just show up from 8 am on for weigh-in and lifting, hopefully weather will give us a break for travelers! HIGHLY recommended that you have registered with the USAWA beforehand (no records will count until a lifter has registered and paid the annual fee). Plan to have a great “workout” with some wonderful lifters!

Round Up Training

By John McKean

John Grimek performing a one arm overhead lift at the old York Barbell Club.

John Grimek performing an one arm overhead lift at the old York Barbell Club.

Surprisingly, the fabled super human did not squash me like a bug, spit in my direction, or merely ignore an insignificant little nobody like me! At the time I was a wide eyed college student witnessing the parade of Iron Game icons who were milling about at one of the famous York Barbell Club picnics at Hoffman’s wooded Brookside Park. Brushing my right shoulder, John Grimek and his wife casually strolled by, causing an instant,massive lump to clog my throat! Best I could think to do was croak out a meek “Hi, John!” The mighty Grimek, huge arms in full display in a cut sleeve t-shirt, merely extended his hand in warm greeting and genuinely replied ” Hey, great to see you! How’s your training coming along?” Then he started gabbing  as if we’d been long time buddies and avid training partners! Naturally a crowd quickly built around our discussion, amid other queries from the group, when it occurred to me to ask about a point made in a recent issue of John’s MD magazine.

Questioning him about a very interesting, unique arm building article (written by Mr Universe, Tom Sansone), where the major premise was always to keep training time short by constantly CHANGING bi/tri exercises every workout, I was wondering if John himself shared that author’s conviction.” Oh,yes, ABSOLUTELY” emphasized John, “especially if you desire to greatly increase STRENGTH as well!” That statement shocked and puzzled me, as I’d assumed that one had to labor through a movement for quite a while in order to reach decent poundage. Only much later in life did I come to realize that this all-knowing lifting guru had provided the quintessential KEY to much of his  own fabled super strength, and gave a glimpse  to the brilliance he acquired from instinctual power work during his youth.

Of course, VARIETY is also the essence of ALL-ROUND competition ,which I’ve been involved with exclusively for the past 3 decades.( In fact, John Grimek was our first inductee to the USAWA Hall of Fame!) However, for most of that time it’s been a struggle to include a fairly good range of official lifts (we have nearly 200 events!)into workouts without spending entire days in the gym. So, to chase Grimek’s lead , I read “between the lines” in accounts of his earliest training ; seems he followed a basic,constant pattern in standard ,heavy exercises, but usually ended with a single massive effort on some odd strength feat. Never much in favor of “sets/reps”, he’d just extend one big all-out push,pull,partial, or hold. And,of course, ALWAYS experimenting with something new, unusual, or differant.

Now, it occurred to me, some 50 years since I first marveled over Grimek’s sage advice , that I can save time in the gym, yet train a bigger variety of lifts more effectively if I only tweek John’s essential power building KEY a bit. Simply, I needed  to start with a  moderately loaded barbell, build up weight in increments (such as 20 pounds each set), and perform a semi-challenging LIFT that will “FIT” each differant poundage. For example, the other day I began with a fairly heavy curl, added 2 ten pound plates, did a single bent arm pullover off the floor, then an increment up for a row. Twenty more pounds for an easy one arm deadlift. And on up (lots of ten pound plates laying there!) through subsequent singles for a hack lift, Ciavattone pull, heels together deadlift, Jefferson (or straddle), 12″ base deadlift, 2 bars deadlift, and finish with our heavy Kennedy lift .Yep, an eleven “event” total, great variety,decent strength output (mostly along similar “off the floor” lines),and ,most importantly, no multiple set drudgery or boredom at all! Heck, I thought I was competing in one of the USAWA’s exciting “record day” events (in itself, a form of this training system)! At the rather fast  termination to the workout, in fact, my mind& mood were as “pumped” as my legs and back were!

Next workout, if I don’t decide to change the list completely, I’ll merely add 5 pounds to the initial lift in that sequence,which,of course, puts an additional nickel on EVERY lift. Advancement will continue until some weak link in the chain becomes a “partial”; there’s never such a thing as a “miss” -max effort is always a BUILDER ! Besides, no lift stays stuck for long, as each in the series tends to boost and strengthen all others!

My training partner, 88 year old (!!) USAWA patriarch Art Montini, has been following his own version (Art’s  well thought out plans feature 28 lifts, not done all at once, but 7  lifts per session, alternating each workout) of this “Round-Up”  for years with considerable success. Art recently won (again!) the IAWA World Championships in Scotland, and is second all time on our national record list with over 400 current marks in various age and weight divisions. His brief, variety enhanced workouts begin at 4 AM, EVERY morning, finish quickly before 5, then has him bounding through the day with unbelievable vigor !

Want the strength of Grimek and the longevity of Montini? Forget all useless, time robbing set/rep systems and “Round-Up” for an instant power surge, vastly increased energy, and all-round versatility!


3rd Quarter Postal

by Al Myers




3rd Quarter Postal Meet
September, 2015

Postal Meet Director: Denny Habecker

Lifts: Crucifix, Cheat Curl – Dumbbell, One Arm, One Arm Deadlift

Officials:  Lifters who used a certified official
Ruth Jackson – Official Jarrod Fobes
Daryl Jackson – Official Ruth Jackson
Crystal Diggs – Official Ruth Jackson
Al Myers – Official LaVerne Myers
LaVerne Myers – Official Al Myers
Chad Ullom – Official Denny Habecker
Denny Habecker – Official Chad Ullom
Draven Kressly – Officials Chad Ullom & Denny Habecker
Austin Brewer – Officials Chad Ullom & Denny Habecker
Doug Kressly – Officials Chad Ullom & Denny Habecker
Dean Ross – Officials Chad Ullom & Denny Habecker
Jera Kressly – Officials Chad Ullom & Denny Habecker

Officials: Lifters who used a non-certified Judge
Christian Schmipf
Tressa Brooner
Mary McConnaughey


Lifter Age BWT Cruc Curl DL-1 TOT PTS
Ruth Jackson 53 106 35 55 R 135 L 225 356.5
Tressa Brooner 54 132 45 40 L 95 R 180 240.6
Jera Kressly 30 220 50 45 R 176 271 230.0
Crystal Diggs 28 152 24 25 L 70 R 119 125.7
Mary McConnaughey 55 304 45 55 R 95 79.5


Lifter Age BWT Cruc Curl DL-1 TOT PTS
Al Myers 49 230 70 105 R 353 R 528 481.2
Chad Ullom 43 252 40 115 L 352 R 507 418.6
Denny Habecker 72 191 50 50 L 242 R 342 417.3
Draven Kressly 14 137 50 50 R 198 L 298 405.5
Austin Brewer 15 131 50 50 R 176 L 276 371.6
Doug Kressly 35 249 80 100 R 242 L 422 335.6
LaVerne Myers 71 240 20 60 R 226 L 306 327.4
Christian Schimpf 17 154 60 70 L 150 R 280 307.3
Dean Ross 72 255 60 50 R 154 L 264 275.9
Daryl Jackson 25 139 48 79 L —– 127 143.1

Notes:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. R & L designate right and left arms. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are overall adjusted points for bodyweight and age corrections.

Art’s Birthday Bash

by John McKean

Art’s 88th birthday & BD Bash

The previous week on his 88th birthday Art Montini won another World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

The previous week on his 88th birthday Art Montini won another World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Not a beautiful Autumn morning like usual, it was SNOWING out side my house! Seemed a bad sign, as I was, unbelievably for me, already in a bad mood, over worrying that attendance would be minimal, since the previous week’s IAWA World Meet had usurped Art’s long standing birthday meet date (next time ,meet directors, if your plans are on or just after Oct 12,suck it up! Art has had claim to this date for 88 years!!!). To bottom out my bad start this morning,our cat upchucked over my nice meet shirt, which was carefully laid out on the kitchen floor for packing!!

Glumly entering the VFW gym, my mood instantly changed and I was immediately inspired seeing the GREAT Dean Ross, all the way from Oklahoma, about to begin a series of finger lifts! Dean had left his home, stopped over in Missouri for a Highlands Games event, then drove without sleep to Ambridge and did his lifts. He then, after his usual hilarious jokes & stories (don’t ever accept a quarter from this guy!!), hit the road again, promising to find sleep in a motel  somewhere hours away, and then get home to OK! “Hey”,he quipped, “I do have to work tomorrow morning!” At 72 years of age and looking as strong as he displays, this is what I call a true IRON MAN !!

Then in bounced a spry Steve Santangelo and his lovely, personable wife, all the way from Kentucky! Steve lifted great and showed us a lift rarely performed in the USAWA meets – a NECK BRIDGE pullover and press! Not bad for  a 63 year old!

Travelers weren’t over, either, as Cleveland and Vermilion, Ohio were represented by the wonderful Schmidt family, Scott and wife Kathy, with Bob Geib and Tony Frasso driving in from V-town. They all promised if we hold an “in-the-works” record day in December (for MY 70th birthday!!) that they’ll brave Dec weather to make the trip again!

We hadn’t seen local boxing coach Andy Root for a few years, as he and wife Angela (of 240# bench press fame at a petite 120 some bw!) have a new baby to take care of (congrats mom&dad!). But Andy did some terrific deadlifting and took some wild stabs at heavy bent pressing (not as easy as it looked,huh Andy?!)

Of course, birthday boy Art, tho still sore from last weekend’s World win, looked fresh as a donut,err, I mean daisy! Not only did he perform his usual great finger lifts, but took a stab at a brand new event -the Dinnie Lift- and discovered he was MADE for this lift!! Yeah, he drove me crazy in making me compute the 75% for the smaller rod each time, but it was worth it to watch the ole boy delight in his own efforts!

We left the gym, and tho cold outside, the sun and brilliant tree colors were now out to make for a great Fall day, after all! Bob Geib was treating Art to a birthday dinner at the famous Ambridge roast beef restaurant, and I’d caught some nice rainbow trout on Friday, which Art will bake for a later bd snack! Yes, Art does the eating even better than he lifts!


Art’s 2015 Birthday Bash Record Day
Ambridge, PA
October 18th, 2015

Judges (3 official system used) – Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, John McKean

Stephen Santangelo BW 162  Class 75 K (60+)  age 63
2″ vertical 2 bars deadlift  292#
2″ Dumbbell deadlift left    130#
2″ Dumbbell deadlift right  130#
Neck bridge pullover and press  80#
No thumb deadlift  280#
No thumb deadlift Ciavattone  265#

John McKean  BW 164.5 Class 75k(65+) age 69
Dinnie Lift  320.5#
Ciavattone2″ bar deadlift 175#
Right arm Ciavattone deadlift 145#
Left arm Ciavattone deadlift 135#
bench press fulton bar  104#
Heels together deadlift  224#
Rectangular fix  65#
Fulton bar rectangular fix 40#
deadlift 12″ heels  224#

Art Montini  BW 173 class 80k (85+) age 88
Left Ciavattone deadlift 2″ bar 60#
clean &press 2″ bar  60#
Index fingers deadlift with olympic bar 75#
Ring fingers deadlift with olympic bar 75#
Dinnie lift  283#

Kathy Schmidt BW 175  class 80k (f 55+) age 58
Left hand 1″ vertical bar deadlift 47.5K
Dumbbell deadlift (L)  47.5K
Ciavattone deadlift 60K

Scott Schmidt bw 234 Class 110K (60+) age 62
Right hand 2″vertical bar deadlift 75K
Left hand 2″vertical bar deadlift 75K
2 hands 2″ vertical bars deadlift 110K
left hand dumbbell press 25K
French Press 40K

Dean Ross bwt 253 class 115 k (70+)age 72
left little finger deadlift 57#
left ring finger lift 67#
left middle finger lift 72#
left index finger lift 72
right little finger lift 57#

Bob Geib bw 258 class 120K (70+) age 72
Dinnie Lift 309#
Fulton deadlift 270#
Straddle deadlift 305#
Stiff leg deadlift 209#

note : all Dinnie lifts were with lighter weight at 75% or slightly less of heavier rod thanks to Al for great rings!!

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