Category Archives: USAWA Daily News

Getting Kids involved in Strength

by Thom Van Vleck

Ethan Van Vleck Supports the Weight of the Moon on his Back

It is so important to give kids positive outlets for their energy or they will find the negative things on their own.  We all train for different reasons and often for many reasons.  Fame, health, competition, pleasure are just a few reasons to choose from.  But I think the most important is to be a good role model and make an effort to teach a new generation about the importance of strength and what it can do for you.
I tell my kids bedtime stories, just like many fathers do.  But my stories often are about famous strength legends, like Milo, Hercules, Samson, and Atlas as well as contemporary legends like Saxon, Sandwina, and many others.  I want to instill my kids the idea that weight training and achieving strength is important for many reasons.  If they can stick to it, they will learn to stick with many challenges that will come in life.
Recently I had the honor of inducting Al Myers into the RMSA Hall of Fame and my family went along for the trip. For me, this included doing two strongman exhibitions and competing in a full Scottish Highland Games with my family present.  It was a real family affair with Al and his family there along with us.
During our trip to McPherson, we traveled as a family to the Kansas Cosmosphere.  If you are a fan of space travel, this is a great place to go.  While there, we walked by a replica of the moon and before we knew it, my youngest son, Ethan, scrambled underneath and pretended to groan as if lifting a heavy, heavy weight.  This drew the attention of many people there and some laughter followed as Ethan refused to move until a picture was taken!  He came over to me afterwards and I gave him a “high five” and he said, “I lifted it just like Atlas lifted the world”!

As our generation ages, we need to instill the same love for the iron game into our children that we have.  It won’t just “happen”, like our own developed abilities, it takes “workouts” and effort.  We need to bring kids along with us to our meets and explain to them what is going on and make it fun so they will want to do it!  I work every day to keep and maintain my children’s respect.  Ethan insists he will someday be as strong as me and you know what, I believe he will be stronger!

Bob Burtzloff – The USAWA’s BEST in the One Arm Clean and Jerk

by Al Myers

Bob Burtzloff performing a One Arm Clean and Jerk in the early 1980's. Bob is doing this outside his house in the pasture in South-Western Kansas. The bar is loaded with 10 Kilo bumpers for a total weight of 231 pounds. As you can tell, the ground is not exactly level.

As I promised last week on the USAWA Discussion Forum, I am featuring a story today on Bob Burtzloff from Liberal, Kansas.  As some of you know, Bob is my brother-in-law and one of the pioneers of All-Round Weightlifting.  He was competing in All-Round Weightlifting (or Odd Lifting as it was known then) before the USAWA was even an organization.  Lifters like Bob are the reason we have an organization today.  If it wasn’t for lifters competing in this sport before it organized – there may not have been an USAWA!!  The USAWA started in 1987, but Bill Clark was hosting Odd Lift Meets long before this.

But back to today’s story on Bob Burtzloff.  Bob was a true all-rounder – excelling at several different types of lifts.  However, one of his favorite lifts was the One Arm Clean and Jerk. Bob was a very accomplished Olympic Lifter in the state of Kansas. He won several State Championships in Olympic Lifting so it was only natural for him to be great in the One Arm Clean and Jerk.  His best official One Arm Clean and Jerk was 253 pounds, but I know he had done up to 275 pounds in training. Most guys can’t do this much in the Two Handed Clean and Jerk!!

There are two very different and distinct techniques for doing an One Arm Clean and Jerk – and Bob was the master of both.  The most common technique is to side clean the bar prior to the Jerk.  The other technique is to One Arm Clean the bar in front, much like a regular Clean.  This is very difficult to do as the rules state, “In receiving the bar at the shoulder, the bar must not make contact or rest on the shoulder or chest opposite to the lifting arm.  The center of the sternum is the line of lineation.” Very few have the ability to do this while maintaining control of the bar.  Bob also had a “stunt” he would do in the One Arm Clean and Jerk.  He would first side clean the bar with his right arm, Jerk it overhead, lower it back to the shoulder, and then TOSS THE BAR over his head and catch it in his left hand dead center. At that point he would Jerk it overhead with his left arm before returning the bar to the platform. And I’m not talking about him using light weight on this – in 1988 at the IAWA World Championships in England Bob did this with 220 pounds!!  Everyone in attendance was shocked and in disbelief!! I have witnessed Bob doing this several times in the past and can attest that it is just one of those things you have to see to truly believe.

Bob retired from All-Round Weightlifting by 1990, but he has made a few appearances at All-Round Meets since. In 2004, Bob competed in my Dino Gym Challenge and did a 175 pound One Arm Clean and Jerk which is the All-Time BEST in the USAWA Record List.  Bob was the BEST before the USAWA and is STILL the BEST in the One Arm Clean and Jerk!!!

TOP USAWA ALL-TIME ONE ARM CLEAN and JERKS


1.   175 Pounds  Bob Burtzloff
2.   165 Pounds  Matt Doster
3.   160 Pounds  Barry Bryan
4.   160 Pounds  Joe McCoy
5.   154 Pounds  Al Myers
6.   154 Pounds  Bill Spayd
7.   154 Pounds  Don Verterosa
8.   145 Pounds  Mike McBride
9.   138 Pounds  Dennis Stahnke
10.  132 Pounds  Bob Karhan
10.  132 Pounds  Ed Schock

Special BonusYouTube Video of Bob Burtzloff doing a One Arm Clean and Jerk from an Odd Lifting meet in 1986. It appears the weight on the bar is over 200 pounds.

Bob Burtzloff setting the Best One Arm Clean and Jerk Record in the USAWA. This was done at the 2004 Dino Gym Challenge with a lift of 175 pounds.

The Challenge Barbell of Hermann Goerner

by Al Myers

Hermann Goerner lifting his famous Challenge Barbell. This photograph was taken in Cape Town, South Africa in 1923.

Hermann Goerner had a Challenge Barbell that only he could lift.   It had solid globe metal ends, connected by a 2-3/8″ diameter shaft, and weighed 330 3/4 pounds (150 Kilos).  It was said the Goerner could lift his Challenge Barbell overhead anytime – day or night – for over 20 years.  He didn’t even need warmups to do it – and often hoisted his Challenge Barbell overhead in street clothes.  This really demonstrated the strength of Hermann Goerner’s hands – as most other challengers could not even pick it off the ground. Goerner would use a power clean to get the barbell to the shoulders, and then put it overhead with a push jerk.

Source:  Goerner the Mighty by Edgar Mueller

IAWA Finger Lift Challenge

International “Tough Guy” Finger Lift Challenge

by John McKean

On a gorgeous Pennsylvania Fall day, IAWA president Steve Gardner and his always charming wife Karen convinced their American hosts, the equally charming USAWA first couple, Denny and Judy Habecker, to travel to Ambridge to challenge a not-so-charming pair, Art Montini and John McKean, to an impromptu finger lift team meet. Steve had the great idea that a friendly visit to the VFW “cave” would prove more sociable if we actually lifted something while amidst our usual spirited conversation (it’s rumored that Art only speaks in grunts if something heavy is not in his hands!). We were honored that Steve and Karen would spend some of their three-week American vacation with us at the Ambridge gym!

Steve set up three teams – the two ladies were the female team, Steve & Denny were the “presidential” reps, and Art & I were the Ambridge grunge boys! (Well, Steve had nicer team names!). So we agreed to do the index finger, ring finger, and middle finger ring lifts. We had a lot of laughs and some very sore fingers!! Karen and Judy did some very impressive pulls, with their efforts threatening to make the rest of us look bad at the onset! But in the final tally, ole 82 year old Art Montini was the star of the show, with quick effortless pulls of very heavy, record weights; the guy seems to feel no pain!

After the lifting and Steve’s meticulous tallies of scores, Art showed us an amazing little home cooking restaurant on one of the side streets of downtown Ambridge. The food was as amazing as the lifting and the magical day we shared as all-round “brothers (and sisters) of Iron”! With the sun just retreating over the hills of the Steel Valley, Steve, Karen, Denny, and Judy headed back to Lebanon, content with a good day’s work!

FULL MEET RESULTS:

IAWA Tough Guy Finger Lift Challenge

Louis Attila, The Professor

by Dennis Mitchell

A Classic Picture of Louis Attila, The Professor

Louis Attila, whose real name was Ludwig Durlacher, was born July 2,1844 in Karlsruhe Germany. He was a well educated young man having studied with Professor Ernst, in Berlin. He played the piano and had mastered five languages. The significant change in his life came when he saw the Italian strongman Felice Napoli perform. Many strongmen at that time made their living by performing in theaters, music halls, and the circus. Young Ludwig became Napoli’s student, and learned all about the strongman profession. Staging, costumes, posing, showmanship, and performing. It seemed that there were two types of strongman shows. One where the performers were truly very strong and impressed the audience with lifting and supporting heavy weights, breaking chains and horse shoes. etc. Other strongman acts depended more on showmanship and staging, than on strength. Ludwig learned his craft well and worked with Napoli for a time, but in 1863 at the age of 19 he set off on his own. It is not clear how long he worked by himself as after a time he teamed up with “Valerie the Female Gladiator“. He also toured in both Europe and America. Ludwig, who now called himself Louis Attila (he took his name from the leader of the Huns), is also credited with inventing the Roman Chair, the shot loading globe barbell, the “Human Bridge” stunt that later became a regular part in many strongman acts. He was also the inventor of the Bent Press and was the first person to do 200 pounds in this lift. Other than lifting Attila was a very good all round athlete, and excelled in track and field and swimming. Although being only 5′ 4″ tall he had a very good physique,weighing 175 pounds with a 46″ chest, 17.5″ neck, 16.5″ calves, 25″ thighs, and a 36″ waist. His career was very successful and he performed in the capitals of Europe to standing room only crowds. In many of the cities where he performed he was asked to help and give advice to people on how to exercise. In approximately 1886-1887 he began to cut back on his strongman shows and opened his first gym in Brussels. It was at this gym that he first met Friedrich Muller, who is better known as Eugene Sandow. Attila was credited with discovering Sandow and coached him, and also performed with him. However this is material for another article. Attila opened another gym in London, and because of his success as a performer and his knowledge as an instructor he was very successful. Over the years he had many of Europe’s royalty as clients. Attila immigrated to New York City in August of 1893. New York had a large German population and he felt opening a gym there would attract them, having a German speaking owner. He also said that New York was full of office workers who were in need of rejuvenation. He named his gym, “Attila’s Athletic Studio and School of Physical Culture”. He was very successful and was the first to use weight training to help athletes improve themselves for other sports, particularly boxing. One of his students was boxing champion James J. Corbett. He was also among the first to encourage women to engage in muscle building workouts. He ran his gym until his death, March 15, 1924, at which time his son-in-law Seigmond Klein took over.

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