Hall of Fame Biography – Dennis Mitchell class of 1997

Dennis Mitchell performing his favorite lift - the Bent Press.

Dennis Mitchell was born February 15th, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. He still lives in Cleveland. He was “raised” in the family business of photography, and worked in the family business part time during High School and College. After returning home from two years in the Army, Dennis worked full time with his father until his father retired in 1961. Dennis continued the family’s photography business until he retired in 1995. Dennis has been married to his wife Flossy for close to 48 years. They have two daughters and four grand children. Dennis started lifting in May of 1943. He started out with bodybuilding and some Olympic lifting training. He got involved with the USAWA in 1989. Dennis is very involved in other sports. He also has competed in running, swimming, and Judo. He still competes in Olympic Weightlifting and Masters Swimming. Howard Prechtel, who Dennis has known since 1949, introduced him to All-Round Weightlifting. Dennis remarked, “I’ve always been interested in training the odd lifts, and being part of the USAWA allowed me to enter competitions where these lifts are contested.” During the 1940’s and the 1950’s, Dennis trained at Joe Raymond’s A.C. He now trains at home and has a very complete home gym which is set up for All-Round Weightlifting training. Dennis is a member of the Ohio Olympic Weightlifting committee. He is chairman of the World All-Round Technical Committee. He has held that position for several years. Dennis is also a very active official, having judged at many local, National, and World meets. Dennis was the Co-Meet Director of the 2008 National Championships in Columbus Ohio. He also has helped organize the local portion for six All-Round World Postal Meets. The chain lifts and the Bent Press are his favorite lifts. Dennis has competed in 20 National Meets, 19 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. He has lifted in many states, and overseas in England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand. Dennis has won his weight and age class in 20 National Meets, 17 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. When asked what he likes about All-Round Weightlifting, he replied, “One of the best parts of being involved in the All-Rounds is the people. They are just a super group.”

Dennis Mitchell perfoming the Vertical Bar Deadlift.

Dennis Mitchell perfoming a Bent Press with a dumbbell.

Hall of Fame Biography – Joe Garcia class of 1997

Joe Garcia and his specialty lift - The Hand and Thigh Lift.

Joseph Anthony Garcia was born in Dewitt, Iowa, August 12, 1953. Joe and his wife Cindy started dating the last week of high school, got married August 11, 1973 and currently live in the country near Sturgeon, Missouri on 27 acres with their animals. Joe received a Business Degree with a major in accounting from the University of Iowa and got his first job as an accountant, but has spent the majority of his employed life in software, both as a developer and as a consultant. Joe’s immediate family consists of his wife and himself, a cat and 5 horses. He comes from a large family that had 9 kids. Joe actually started lifting back in the late 70’s when he was a policeman. As part of getting into shape, he got involved with the USAWA in 1987 when he was at a customer’s location and looked out the window and saw a small sign that read ‘Clark’s Championship Gym’. Joe said, “I went over and met Bill, joined the gym and have been a member of both the gym and the USAWA since that time.” Joe has been involved with some sport ever since he was a little kid, from baseball to track, basketball and football in high school, rugby in college, boxing as a cop, and finally Taekwondo in the early eighties, where he received a second degree black belt. Now days, he coaches boxing, lifts and competes in Cowboy Mounted Shooting. When asked who was responsible for getting him involved in all-round weightlifting, Joe replied, “Bill Clark introduced me to the USAWA and I would have to say he is responsible for my having accomplished what I have in the sport.”

Joe lifts both at Clark’s gym and at home. Joe has been the USAWA Record Keeper since the start of the USAWA and still holds that position. Joe was also responsible for designing and starting the USAWA website in the mid 90’s. He has been an official at many meets over the years. Bill and Joe have promoted three USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri (1995, 1997, 2001). He has also helped Bill put on numerous meets at the gym. Joe’s favorite lifts are the big bar lifts, and when asked if there was any record he was the most proud of, he replied, “I would have to say my record of 1910 pounds in the Hand and Thigh Lift is the one I am most proud of.” Joe’s record in the Hand and Thigh of 1910 pounds, which was set in 1997, remains the top Hand and Thigh Lift in history. Joe competed in the first World meet which was held in England, and has competed in several World Championships and National Championships since. Joe has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 10 National Championships, with three third place finishes overall in 2001, 1997, and 1988. He was the top overall Master at the National Championships in 2006 and 2001. He has also won numerous age group Best Lifter Awards at the Nationals. Joe is one of very few lifters who have been with the USAWA from the very beginning who is still competing at the top level – as showed by his most recent placing of 4th overall at the 2009 National Championships. Joe is always helping out new lifters at meets and has done numerous things through the years to promote the USAWA. Joe Garcia sets the standard that all future Hall of Famers should aspire for.

Hall of Fame Biography – Denny Habecker class of 1997

Denny Habecker performing a Zercher Lift.

Denny was born and raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and has lived there all but 3 years of his life. His father was always involved in sports when Denny was growing up, and Denny has continued that tradition. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1960 and got a job at Bayer Corporation in 1964 and worked there until his retirement in August, 2008. He got married in 1964 to Judy Gensemer. Judy is now a retired R.N. and they have one son who is an elementary school principal. His son and daughter-in-law have given them 3 grandsons that they are very proud of.

Denny started lifting in the spring of 1957 to build himself up for high school football. He entered a couple of bodybuilding contests in 1961 and 1962 before deciding weightlifting competitions were more fun. He competed in Olympic lifting competitions, with a few powerlifting competitions thrown in, from 1962 until 1975. Then with family commitments and other sports (volleyball, basketball) taking up his time, he didn’t compete again in weightlifting until 1984. He saw the results of the 1983 National Masters Olympic Lifting Championships and decided to start competing again. Denny entered John Vernacchio’s Eastern Masters and Tri-States Masters competitions every year and became a member of John’s Valley Forge Lifting Team. In 1989 John told him about an all-round weightlifting competition he was having. John talked him into entering it and Denny soon became hooked on all-round weightlifting.

Denny has been in every National All-rounds since 1990, 16 World All-rounds since 1991, and 13 Gold Cups since 1994, competing in Scotland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. In Olympic lifting , he has competed in 24 straight Keystone Games , 21 National Masters, 5 Pan-American Masters, 2 American Masters and 2 World Masters Championships since 1984. He also lifted in the 1992 WPA World Masters Powerlifting Championships. Denny still played volleyball, basketball, and softball in an over 40 league most of those years. He had to give up the other sports two years ago because of an arthritic hip.

Denny now trains at the New York Fitness Club in Lebanon and in his basement gym. He has been on the IAWA technical committee since 2000 and President of the USAWA since 2007. He has promoted the 2000 & 2007 USAWA Nationals, 2002, 2005 & 2009 IAWA World’s, 2006 & 2008 Gold Cup, and the 2004 & 2009 National Heavylift Championships. Denny was inducted into the Lebanon Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 , and in 2009 was given the Kelly Cup Award for his Keystone Games accomplishments . He was the overall best lifter of the 1999 USAWA National Championships and 10 times best lifter in his age group. He has placed in the top 10 in 14 USAWA National Championships and 8 IAWA World Championships. His favorite lifts are the Arthur lift and the Pullover and Push. His 87.5 kilogram Clean and Press with Heels Together, which was done in his first All-round Meet in 1989, is still a record.

Denny Habecker performing a Pullover and Push.

Denny Habecker performing a Hack Lift.

Hall of Fame Biography – John McKean class of 1999

John McKean deadlifting.

John was born on December 15th, 1945 and has been competing in weightlifting for over 45 years, starting in 1962. He started as a lifter primarily as a powerlifter, but also has competed in master’s olympic lifting, having won two US National titles. However, all-round weightlifting soon captivated his attention and he has devoted all of his efforts toward all-round training and competition since its inception. John is a retired teacher (32 years in Jr. High math), a

John McKean performing a 2 bar deadlift.

retired martial arts instructor (American Combatives for individuals and airline crews), and a retired weightlifter. John has won so many National and World Meets that he has lost count!!! One accomplishment that he has done that is hard to top is that he went for over 20 years never losing a meet in his age and weight division! He presently has over 125 USAWA and IAWA records on the books. His earliest all-round weightlifting inspirations came from the great National and World Meets that John Vernacchio promoted, followed by the tremendous atmosphere that Frank Ciavattone created in his National and World Meets. John said, “These guys worked so hard to insure that everyone enjoyed themselves and they provided the absolute best conditions to do top notch lifting!! Their meets were more like great workouts with good friends than the usual cut and dry weightlifting competitions. Just big parties, really!!!”. John has served as an official at many meets, and served a term as the IAWA international secretary. He has wrote extensively about all-round weightlifting training methods in Hardgainer magazine and MILO. He has been involved in the promotion of several National Meets which includes being the meet director at two National Championships in Ambridge with Art Montini, and being the

John McKean performing a Hip Lift.

co-director at the two National Meets at Jumpstretch Fitness in Youngstown, Ohio. John has received much personal satisfaction from the great time he has had getting his two sons, Sean and Rob, involved in the USAWA along with many of his school students. One of his biggest thrills in lifting was being probably the only teacher to establish an official class for all-round weightlifting in the public school system. For four years he was given the state’s mandate (IEP) to take over the complete physical education of a legally blind student by the name of Matt Van Fossan. Matt, under John’s coaching, really took to lifting and established several teen National and World Records and even won a National Championship!!! These days John trains at home, still writes a bit, and lives near Pittsburgh with his wife of 40 years, Marilyn. He is still very involved in the lives of his two grown sons, Rob and Sean.

Use it or Lose it

by Thom Van Vleck

I like to lift weights, but I also “LIKE” weights. I have some antique stuff in my gym but I am not a collector. Everything in my gym is there for training. It if breaks, so be it, but I don’t like to have things around just to collect dust.

One of my favorites, is a complete Jackson Barbell set I have. There is a long story on how the Jackson Weightlifting Club had a set, lost it, then got it back. It is also a story that is not quite finished as I am still trying to find a pair of 2 1/2lbs plates to complete the lost set (that’s a big hint for anyone out there who knows where I could get a couple!). Oh, and in case you thought maybe the maker of Jackson Barbells was a relative of the Mom’s family and the JWC family….the simple answer is “not that I know of” but he’s certainly a brother in iron. Just a happy coincidence.

I also have collection of Jackson advertising. Most of which I have framed in my gym, but some socked away for when I have more wall space.

The new Jackson Adjustable Dumbbell Sets

The above is a nice example. I really like the “capital exercise” that was chosen to illustrate the benefits of owning a set of Jackson “Dumbells” (I also like the way they spell Dumbell). At any rate, It might be a good exercise to try as I see Al Myer’s has a “two hands anyhow” coming up in his Dino Gym meet on January 16th, 2010!

I like the old stuff as well as the new stuff. When I wrap my hands around the oly bar from the set my Uncles ordered in 1957….I’m inspired. You know that there’s a basement somewhere with a dumbbell set just like the one above and it’s just rusting away, long forgotten. I won’t knock guys who collect stuff, I can understand that, but to me, it was made to be used and my stuff will get used until it falls apart….but considering how Andy made his stuff…I may fall apart long before that happens.

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