More Tributes for John

by Steve Gardner

John Vernacchio front squatting at the 1997 Gold Cup in England.

Still cant get over the fact that my old friend is not with us anymore. This photo was from the Gold Cup in 1997 which I ran at Bass Museum in Burton. It doesnt seem 5 minutes ago but John would be about 60 here I guess. He is performing the front squat, the Squat and the Military Press were Johns favourite lifts and he excelled in both in his glory days. I met John at the first IAWA Worlds in Liecester in 1988, we became friends there and in 89 I went over to his place in Philadelphia for the 2nd World Championships. John came over to England to all of the competitions I ran including the 93 Gold Cup and the 94 Worlds. I went over to Johns every single year for Gold Cups, Worlds or even just for a holiday. John was the same age as my Dad but was more like a Brother. He was a part of my family, and me and my family became a part of his. I am so sad he is gone but I have a lifetime of great great memories. John used to laugh when we would talk him up and call him the ‘Legend’ but I know this for sure, John did have something special and I will never forget him.

by Frank Ciavattone

My heart goes out to the Vernacchio family. Like the many stories that all my friends are writing to you about John, they are not only true but without John most of us would not of even had been in this Great wonderful sport. I spent a countless number of hours from 1988 to two days before the 1989 I.AW.A. & U.S.A.W.A. Championships held in Pennsylvania, U.S. As being a prior Olympic lifter I needed some coaching on the All-Rounds. He never once did not take my call and was able to coach me to win my first championships in both the Worlds and the U.S. title. Most of all through him I met a true family which is second to none over my acclompishments and thats Judy & Denny Haybeker, Karen & Steve Gardner, Steve Angell, Barry Bryan, Bill Clark, Dennis & Flossy Mitchell, Howard Prechtell, John Mckean, Art Montini and there families! I went through many diffacult times in my life and without my All-Round family and my own family it would have been tough. My condolenses to the Vernacchio family and to thank John for making me part of this family.

by Steve Andrews

John was a top guy and a great lifter. I remember him hosting Worlds in Pennsylvania in 1989 where i lifted with Adrian Blindt and Frank Allen. I enjoyed competing with him over the years. Condolences to John’s family at this sad time. RIP John.

by Tom Ryan

I am very sad to read this. Yes, John was 75 and would have been 76 near the end of the year. Technically, he didn’t live in Philly but lived outside Philly. John was indeed a USAWA pioneer and was very active in staging competitions, including competitions in the building that housed his carpet business! I knew him well, especially from the 1989-90 academic year that I spent in the Philly area and trained a few times in John’s gym. John told me after one of those training sessions that his father suffered a lot during the final years of his life. Since John had a stroke a few years ago, as Denny informed us some time ago, his final years obviously weren’t great, either, so at least he is now free of earthly pain and troubles. RIP, John, you were a very giving person in many ways, including once treating my mother and I to dinner at that famous all-you-can-eat place that I believe was/is in Collegeville. You contributed a lot to the USAWA and you will be greatly missed.

John Vernacchio performing a Fulton Bar Deadlift of 375 pounds at the age of 68 at the 2005 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio.

by Steve Angell

Been thinking about John a lot today (Feels the same as when my father passed away) I am full of sadness AND guilt as i lost contact with John in resent years. Just wanted to re-share the post i put up a couple of months ago regarding John. Looking back John was there to shout for me during all of my best ever lifts and i will always be grateful for the help & support he gave me. I have looked at the results of resent IAWA world championships with a little envy, as i would love for my body to have given me one chance to put it on the line against Al, Chad & Mark Haydock. That would have been a battle royal! But do you know what? Being around in the 90’s and sharing a platform with and being inspired by John, Howard & co were amongst the best days of my life. I would not change that for anything. Al asked for stories about John. I have an encyclopaedia full of them, but this will make you all smile. John was telling me about when he was a school teacher and one of his pupils who was a good football player was getting a hard time from the school bully. John kept him back after class. Had a John V type chat with him (I loved those no BS chats we had). Then looked him in the eye and said “Now go kick his fucking ass” which the kid duly obliged. The world should have more teachers like JV!!!!

Quote from home page.
Tireless John Vernacchio directed and lifted and led his Valley Forge team to first place in a one-man demonstration of dynamic energy July 9-10 in Plymouth Meeting, PA. as the new United States All-Round Weightlifting Association staged its first-ever National All-Round Championships. Vernacchio thus completed his second in a three-sport round of national lifting championships. In 1987, he was the meet director (and organizer and lifter) for the National Masters Weightlifting Championships. In 1989, he’ll do the same for the National Masters Powerlifting meet for the USPF.

I just wanted to elaborate a little on John as some of you guy’s may never have had the pleasure of meeting him. John Vernaccio is a LEGEND pure and simple. Not only was he a National Masters Champion in Olympic lifting, All-Round lifting and Powerlifting; He was also World Champion in all three sports Winning the Masters World Olympic lifting Championships on Oxford (England) in 1992?. I had the absolute pleasure of staying with, training with and competing with John on many occasions, and i will openly say, i love John Like another Father, and i owe him so much for all the help and support he gave me during the 90’s.

Just some of the competitions i lifted in with (Against) John that he promoted include:

England V America 3 match tour 1994
England v America v Scotland 2 match tour 1996
1996 Gold Cup
1997 World Championships

I also stayed with John and travelled across to Ohio for the 1994 Gold Cup and 1995 World Champs. I also Competed in the WNPF World Powerlifting Championship with John in 1995. He won the Masters title and i won the Deadlift title. Unfortunately, i have not been in contact with John for a while, and the last i heard he was having some health issues. I just wanted to take the opportunity on this forum to let the World know how John played an integral part of my success as a strength Athlete, and i put him along side Howard Pretchtel in my list of heroes and strength legends.

by Al Myers

I first met John at the 2003 National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. I have to admit that at first I was taken back by John’s imposing physical presence – heavily muscled physique, commanding voice, strong facial features, and slicked back dark hair. I had previously “heard about him” and his involvement in the USAWA, and I would have to say, was a little intimidated by him at first impression! We didn’t talk much during the meet. However, the day following the meet as I was hitting the hotel’s continental breakfast, John was there already eating and invited me to join him at his table. I couldn’t believe how nice he was to me. He commended me on my lifting performance, and offered several words of encouragement to me in pursuing all round weightlifting. I was a little taken back – as I was just “newbe” to the USAWA, yet this legend of the sport was taking interest in me and thanking me for making it to the meet? It made an impression on me as I left that morning. That’s how John was to all new lifters. He is responsible for getting more lifters involved in the USAWA than probably anyone else throughout the years. He also was a man who put “the organization” above his own personal lifting goals, and because of this, has left a legacy in the minds of many.