Olympic Champion Stanley Stanczyk

by Dennis Mitchell

Stanley Stanczyk posing for a picture in the March 1947 issue of Strength and Health. The caption under his picture stated that he was "one of the most perfectly developed of present day weightlifters".

Stanley Stanczyk was born May 10, 1925 in Armstrong Wisconsin.  When he was one year old his family moved to Detroit Michigan.  Even as a child he was stronger than the other children his age.  At the age of nine he joined the Detroit Boys Club where he participated in acrobatics, tumbling, wrestling, boxing, and swimming.  Even though the club had weightlifting equipment the young boys were not allowed to use it. Stan used Charles Atlas’s course, and when no one was looking he would sneak into the weight room and do a few lifts and leave before anyone would see him.  When some of the older lifters did see him and saw how much he was lifting he was allowed to start training.

Johnny Krill, a former 126 Lb. Jr. National champion helped Stan by teaching him the three Olympic lifts, and setting up a training program for him. Right from the start he was a persistent and determined lifter. Along with the Olympic lifts he would do presses behind neck, rowing motion, push ups, reverse curls, shoulder shrugs, sit ups, and squats.  At that time he was told to do squats only once a week.  It was believed that squats would make you slow.  However, Stan said that he felt squats made him feel stronger and managed to do them at every workout. When getting ready for a contest he would concentrate on the three Olympic lifts in order to perfect his style.

In May of 1943 Stan went into the Army.  He served in the Pacific where he received the Purple Heart award.  When not fighting on the front lines he tried to stay in shape by using barbells that he and some other lifters had made out of boiler plates.  Somehow he managed to lug his weights with him as he traveled across the Pacific.  After his discharge from the army in late 1945, he took a third place in the 1946 Sr. National meet as a middle weight behind Frank Spellman, and John Terpak.  He did however set a National record in the clean and jerk with 333.5 Lbs.  In the 1946 North American meet he did take a first place, and defeated both Frank Spellman, and John Terpak.  It was at this time that Stan joined the York Barbell Club and trained for the 1946 world meet to be held in Paris France.  He lifted as a lightweight and did a 231.5 press, 253.5 snatch, and a 325.25 clean and jerk, to win by a 44.25 Lb. margin over second place lifter, Swietillo of Russa. His total of 810.25 Lbs. was a new world record.  After the 1946 world meet Stan moved up to the middle weight class. In 1947 he continued setting records with a 273.5 Snatch world record, and a 341 National record in the Clean and Jerk. In 1947 at the world meet he pushed his Snatch record to 288 Lbs. and the Clean and Jerk to 352.5 lbs.  He also tied the world Press record with 259 Lbs.  He was voted the best lifter in the world pound for pound.

Stan still had one more goal, to become an Olympic champion.  This he accomplished at the 1948 Olympics, where he set a record of 292 in the Snatch. He however refused the record stating that the lift was not good because his knee touched the platform.  He later received the Sullivan award for his good sportsmanship. It was also at this meet he was timed as the fastest moving athlete in the Olympics  Stan also trained for bodybuilding and won the Mr.Miami, All South, and the Mr Florida physique titles.

While living in Florida, Stan and his partner opened a bowling ally.  Due to the AAU rules he had to be a silent partner or he would have been called a professional athlete.  He continued his lifting.  Along with his bowling he continued to win world meets as a light heavy weight,in 1950 and in 1951. He also won the 1951 Pan American meet.  In bowling he won city, and state meets, and bowled a perfect 300 game.  For a short time in 1955 he and his partner ran a gym, but concentrated on their bowling ally,  bar and restaurant business. Stan later bought out his partner and ran the business for twenty seven years.

Stans last lifting contest was in 1957 where he lifted in the new 225 Lb. class, and took a third place using the squat style instead of his usual split style.
Stans was having some health problems and passed away July 3,1997.