Jack Lano and the Lano Lift

By Al Myers

Jack Lano lifting at the 1997 USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri.

Jack Lano lifting at the 1997 USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri.

All this talk recently of the Lano Lift and Jack Lano got me thinking about him.  It’s been years since I’ve visited with him, but he was one of those type of guys that left you with a “lasting impression”. The first time I met him was at the 2003 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio.  Immediately he struck up a conversation with my dad and me and it wasn’t long before he handed me his business card.  I still have it as it’s the most unusual business card I’ve ever recieved.  I had to do some looking but here it is:


After I got to know him it became obvious that he accurately summed up his entire life on one business card! Jack was a very interesting and eccentric individual, and lived life to the fullest.  Today I’m gonna focus on his contributions to the USAWA, because if I was going to cover his entire life it would be a long biography. He was that interesting of man and accomplished many things.  Sadly, Jack passed away on January 10th, 2015. Just in the past few months was I aware of this, because if I had known earlier, I would have written a tribute blog about him shortly after his death.

Jack’s main lifting love was Olympic Weightlifting. He won over 30 Masters Weightlifting Championship titles, and many Pan Am and World titles.  He competed all over the World in Olympic Weightlifting including Australia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Hungary, Poland, Austria and many more. He was very involved in Olympic Weightlifting and served on the US Olympic Team Board of Directors. His best Olympic Lifts were a 265 Clean and Jerk and a 200 pound Snatch as a Masters Lifter. He is member of the Olympic Weightlifting Masters Hall of Fame. These are just the highlights of a very lengthly weightlifting resume.

Jack was introduced to the USAWA by Bill Clark.  Jack was one of the original competitors of the Masters Olympic Weightlifting program. When Bill promoted the very first National Masters Olympic Championships in 1974 only 4 lifters showed up that first year, of which Jack was one of them. Jack only competed in a handfull of USAWA competitions, but each one he competed in was a big one (either it be the Nationals, IAWA Gold Cup, or the IAWA Worlds).  Jack was a member of the initial class of USAWA members in 1988.  Here’s a short list of his major USAWA competitions: 1997 Nationals, 2003 Nationals, 1999 Worlds in Australia, and the 1995 Worlds in Ohio. Overall Jack still holds over 25 USAWA Records. He won Best Lifter in the 80-84 Age Group at the 2003 Nationals and Best Lifter in the 75-79 Age Group at the 1997 Nationals.

Of course, what Jack is now known for in the USAWA is the Lano Lift. It combined several of his favorite lifts – the Arthur Lift, the Shoulder Drop, and the Jerk behind the Neck. Jack, even when he was over 70, was extremely flexible for a man his size.  At the age of over 75 Jack has records in the books in the Arthur Lift of 110 pounds, the Shoulder Drop at 110 pounds, and a Continental Clean and Jerk of 165 pounds.  I remember him doing a Hack Lift at the 2003 Nationals of 100 pounds at the age of over 80! Jack proposed the Lano Lift in 1997 to the USAWA and the IAWA.  The USAWA passed it as an official lift, while it was turned down by IAWA.  The rules for the Lano Lift are as follows:

D19. Lano Lift

The bar is first cleaned from the platform. On a command from an official, the bar is pressed or jerked overhead. Once the bar is motionless and at the lifter’s discretion, the bar is lowered to the base of the neck. The lifter will then bend at the waist forward to a position of about 45 degrees and release the hands’ grip on the bar, thus balancing the bar on the shoulders. The bar is then allowed to roll down the lifters back until the bar rolls off the hips. The lifter must then catch the bar in the hands at arms’ length behind the back. The lifter will stand upright and shrug the bar into a resting position higher than the top of the buttocks. The lifter will bend the knees and lean forward until the head and shoulders are lower than the hips. The grip on bar is released and the bar is allowed to roll to the base of the neck. The hands may assist in this roll. The lifter will re-grip the bar and stand erect. The bar is then pressed or jerked overhead to arm’s length. Once the bar is motionless, and the lifter’s feet are in line with the torso, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control by the lifter.

That’s alot of lift to process! I always wished I asked Jack why he proposed such a complex lift to be his namesake. In the past  I often thought that he did it out of his sense of humor – just to see if the organization would fall for it and actually approve such a bizarre lift (he loved to joke around!).  Afterall, he never actually did the Lano Lift in any USAWA competition so that leaves you to wonder if he really liked this lift.  Maybe it was truly proposed just to represent some of his favorite USAWA lifts, since it combines several. Jack was a very intelligent person and liked to voice his opinions.  I remember him being very outspoken against the use of formulas to determine lifter’s rankings and/or placings.  Years ago he wrote a story for Milo titled, “You can’t put a man on a graph”.  He often wrote in opinions to the USAWA STRENGTH JOURNAL published by Bill Clark.

Jack Lano has definitely left his mark on the USAWA.  I just wanted to let everyone know that there was alot more to Jack Lano than just the Lano Lift. I’m going to end this story with a favorite quote from Jack himself, “You gotta wanna. Someday, when I don’t wanna, I’ll quit.”  I say those are words to live by, and with Jack, he wanna till the very end.

(for more on Jack Lano’s life, here’s a link to his obituary)