Oldest USAWA Members
by Al Myers
After last weeks quiz, Tom Ryan presented some additional questions on the USAWA Discussion Forum. Tom’s questions were quite a bit harder than mine, and after much discussion on the forum, the group has came to a unified conclusion on the answers. I think these should be shared in the USAWA Daily News because I know not everyone follows the discussion forum. The answers to these two questions are a very important part of USAWA history. These were Tom’s questions:
I’ve got another quiz question for you regarding USAWA members. Actually it is a two-part question:
(a) What deceased USAWA member was born before every other person who has at any time been a member of USAWA?
(b) Among current and past USAWA members who are still alive, which one has the earliest birthdate?
Immediately, I thought I knew the answer to the first question without looking anything up. How could it be anyone other than the St. Louis Strongman Ed Zercher I ?? Ed competed in the first years of the USAWA and was in his early 80’s at the time. I couldn’t imagine anyone who was a member born before Ed Zercher. Ed Zercher I was born on 8-19-07. But I was wrong on this, and Tom pointed it out to me. The legendary, ageless powerlifter Henri Soudieres actually has the oldest birthdate among any past USAWA members. He was born on 8-5-06. There was some discussion that another lifter, the longtime well-known AAU Weightlifting official Jim Messer may have been the correct answer because he had an older birthdate ( he was born on 10-19-05), but his past membership in the USAWA could not be confirmed. He competed once but it must have been just exhibition.
The second part of Tom’s question was even more difficult. Everyone knows that the current active member who is the oldest is none other than Art Montini (Art was born on 10-11-27). But surely there is a PAST USAWA member who is older? Lots of names where proposed, and many lifters with older birthdays than Art were mentioned. But are they still alive? That is when the difficulty in answering this question comes into play. My guess was none other than the man of many talents – Jack Lano. Jack was born on 4-17-22. No one came forth on the forum to prove me wrong on this – so that is the answer I’m going with. However, Tom is still skeptical. That is just how he is about confirming the facts (he will have to visit all past lifters gravesites before he is convinced), but it is a good thing because he keeps me in check from giving out wrong information. He is right in that several lifters were mentioned that had older birthdates, but confirming they were STILL ALIVE was the question. I will gladly print a retraction of this story if someone proves things differently. Please check out the discussion forum if you want more details concerning the discussions that led up to these answers.
And finally – thank you Tom for asking this question! It was very thought provoking and brought up many names of lifters that I have heard about.
Since we are in the discussion mode of talking about old lifters, I want to mention a past USAWA member who was the oldest lifter to EVER compete at a USAWA National Championship. He was 90 years old at the time. This is a question that I have personal first hand information on, since this lifter was very close to me. But that’s tomorrow’s story!!