Hall of Fame Biography – Dale Friesz class of 2002

Dale E. Friesz was born on July 30th, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri. As the son of a career Army Colonel he traveled a lot as a youth. His family spent two tours in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.. Dale has lived at the same address for the past 35 years – 11523 Wild Acre Way, Fairfax Station, Virginia, 22039-2117.

Dale did his undergraduate and graduate work at George Washington University in Washington D.C.. He spent 11 years as Director of Human Resources for Fairfax County before taking over the family owned shooting sports business.  He ran it for 21 years until his retirement.

Dale has been married to Penny for 43 years. They have three beautiful children – Pamela, Mark and Karen. They also have a great son-in-law Mark, one lovely daughter-in-law Christine, and two beautiful grand children Ansley and Cody. Dale believes his family is his greatest treasure.

Dale Friesz at age 19

Dale learned about Olympic lifting from his older brother Leonard. Dale taught himself to be an Olympic lifter. It was at the 1960 National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships at the University of Maryland that he first met fellow USAWA Hall of Famer, John Vernacchio. In 1963, at the Junior Nationals in Columbia, Missouri he was introduced by his older brother to Bill Clark.  In preparation for entering Bill Clark’s Masters Olympic Weightlifting at age 39, he again started Olympic lifting. Dale stayed with that style of competition until back and shoulder problems put him on the shelf at age 45.

210 pound Snatch at age 19 at the 1960 National Collegiate Championships

Dale was inspired by Bill Clark’s writings to join the USAWA and is a charter member. The bug to lift again took hold and against medical advice (birth defect in back and a bad shoulder) he entered his first all-round meet in 1989.  He has won 18 Masters National Championships, and has placed in several open all-round competitions – which includes the Zercher Meet, the Heavy Lift Championships, and the Deadlift Dozen. Dale has created more than 150 USAWA records.

Dale attempting a 360 pound One Hand Deadlift at age 54 (85 kg class)

Dale is most proud of his Right Hand Deadlift of 353.6 pounds at age 52 in the 85 kilogram class and his Neck Lift of 605 pounds at age 55 in the 85 kilogram class. When these lifts were made they were not only masters records but also open records. Dale also like all the Finger Deadlifts and holds a wide range of records in each weight class from 75 kg to 90 kg.  He received the Francis D. Ciavattone Sr. AWARD FOR COURAGE in 2003.

Dale doing a heavy Neck Lift

Since 2002 Dale has spent nearly as much time in the hospital with a variety of life threatening issues as he has spent trying to train. Yet as recently as May 2009 he did a 405 pound Neck Lift record at age 68 in the 85 kilogram class at the Heavy Lift National Championships.

Dale believes, as does his primary physician, that weightlifting is responsible for him being alive. Dale thanks Bill Clark for having the sagacity to create masters weightlifting competition!!!

Hall of Fame Biography – John Vernacchio class of 1996

John Vernacchio performing a Front Squat.

John Vernacchio was born in 1936 and grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania where he still resides today. He attended Holy Savior Catholic Elementary School and graduated from Bishop High School in 1956. He attended Shippinsburg State University where he played football while attaining his degree. After graduation in 1961, he finished his education at Temple University where he earned his Masters degree in Exercise Physiology. John taught High School for several years and coached football. He has also coached football at the College and minor pro league level. At the present time, John is working as a rehabilitation therapist for a Chiropracter. John has two grown sons – John born in 1962 and Jeffrey born in 1965. John lives in Texas and has two daughters. Jeff lives in Pennsylvania with one son. Both received B.S. degrees from Westchester State University. John started training when he was 13 years old at the local YMCA and began competing in weightlifting in 1957 with friends Richard Durante and Domenic DeSanto. John Vernachio-DLFB.JPGwon his first National title in 1961 at the National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships. He continued to train under the direction of James Messer at the Holy Savior Weightlifting Club. John got his start in Olympic lifting, but eventually competed in powerlifting for many years for the Valley Forge Weightling/Powerlifting Club. John was one of the charter members of the USAWA, being involved since the beginning in 1987. He was introduced to the USAWA by Bill Clark. John has served two terms as President of the USAWA, and one term as Vice President of IAWA. He has promoted several National and International competitions throughout the years. He has promoted three National Meets – in 1988, 1989, and 2004. John has the destinction of being the Meet Director of the very first National Meet (1988). He has promoted three World meets – in 1989, 1991, and 1997. He also promoted the 2003 Gold Cup. His favorite lifts are the military press and the squat. Even though John has won numerous weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round meets through the years, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he replied, “My biggest accomplishment was to see both my sons graduate from College.” John Vernacchio displays every quality a Hall of Famer should possess – excellence with the iron and excellence in life.

John Vernacchio deadlifting with a Fulton Bar.

Hall of Fame Biography – Steve Schmidt class of 1993

Steve Schmidt holds the All-Time record in the USAWA in the Back Lift, with a lift of 3050 pounds.

Steve Schmidt was born on August 22nd, 1955 in Franklin County Missouri. He still lives there and is self-employed in the fertilizer business and as a farmer. Steve is married with two grown sons and 3 grandchildren. He started lifting in 1977 as a powerlifter. He got involved with the USAWA from the very beginning. In fact, he held the very first membership card issued. Steve has spent most of his time training at home in an old building with no heat, electricity or doors, but at times trains at Clark’s Gym in Columbia Missouri and represents Clark’s Gym when he competes. Steve was the Overall Best Lifter at the first two National Meets in 1988 and 1989. He was the Open Best Lifter in 1991. He was the Overall IAWA Best Lifter at the 1989 World Championships in Plymouth Meeting Pennsylvania. He has promoted the Backbreaker Meet 7 times, which consists of the Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift, in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was held at his farm. Today, Bill Clark hosts this meet at his gym every year and it is now named the Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon, after Steve. He has won the Backbreaker 14 times and the Zercher Meet 8 times. Steve’s favorite lifts are the Harness Lift, Back Lift and Teeth Lift. He holds the overall USAWA record in the Harness Lift at 3515 pounds and the overall USAWA record in the Back Lift at 3050 pounds. Steve holds nearly every repetition record in the Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift. He holds the Total Poundage record using the Back Lift, doing 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours and 50 minutes!! He also holds the Teeth Lift record with a lift of 390 pounds, with his hands held behind his back! Steve has also done numerous strength shows in which he pulls heavy loads with just his teeth!! He is also a World Class Bender and has performed at the AOBS Banquet where he did 10 repetitions in the Hip Lift with 1800 pounds! Steve has very calm demeanor when he lifts and often makes impossible lifts look remarkably easy. When asked why he likes all-round lifting, Steve replied, “It’s the best!!” Steve has always been a man of few words and just lets his outstanding lifting accomplishments speak for themselves.

Hall of Fame Biography – Art Montini class of 1993

Art Montini performing an One Arm Deadlift.

Art Montini was in the inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees – and rightfully so. Art is the most decorated all-rounder in USAWA history, having won overall best lifter at four National Championships (1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995). He was born October 11th, 1927 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. After graduating from High School, Art joined the Navy in 1945 and served our country in WWII aboard a naval ship. After his military service, he went to work in a steel mill in which he continued until retirement. Art’s early sport activities included playing “sandlot” baseball, and even some semi-pro football. Art started lifting weights when he was 20 years old. At first, he competed in Oylmpic lifting. But once he got started competing in all-round weightlifting that was his focus from then on. Art’s favorite lifts are the Steinborn and all of the chain lifts. However, he trains all of the all-round lifts at different times in his workouts. Art is one of only two lifters that has over 300 USAWA records!! Art is a member of the Ambridge V.F.W. Barbell Club and does all of his training there. He has competed in over 100 all-round weightlifting meets!!!! You can always count on Art being at the National Championships. He has even been involved in the promotion of the National Championships, being the Co-Meet Director of the Nationals in 1991 and 1999 in Ambridge. Art is an outstanding official as well, both at the National level and at the World level.

Art is a master of the Heavy Lifts. In this picture he is performing a Hip Lift.

When asked what he enjoys about the USAWA, he replied, “I really enjoy competing with other lifters. I’ve made many great friends at all of the meets.” In 1988, Art was selected to the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Art lives in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and still competes in all-round weightlifting meets even though he is over 80 years of age!! He even celebrates his birthday every year by hosting Art’s Birthday Bash, an all-round weightlifting meet, on his birthday.

Hall of Fame Biography – Jim Malloy class of 1996

Jim Malloy performing a Clean and Press.

Jim Malloy was born July 7th, 1941 and currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Following High School graduation, Jim went to work in a steel mill where he has worked for over 47 years. He has been married to his wife, Sandy, for over 45 years. They have one daughter, Tracey, who now lives in Texas. Jim started out with Olympic Weightlifting in 1968, and then got involved with the USAWA in April of 1990 after being introduced to all-round weightlifting by Bob Karhan. Jim spends most of his training time lifting in his garage. When asked if there were any lifters that inspired him in all-round weightlifting, Jim named two great lifters – Howard Prechtel and Art Montini. Jim worked out with Howard quite often, and often helped Howard in the promotion of several competitions, which included a National Championship, a World Championship and several Gold Cups. Jim is a true all-rounder with his lifting and has set USAWA records in many lifts that are very different from each other. Jim has done a 400# Front squat, a 400# one handed Deadlift, a Continental to Chest and Jerk of 300#, and a 420# Zercher Lift. I should also mention that these were all done after the age of 50!!!! Jim has set over 100 USAWA records and has lifted in close to 100 competitions. Among his greatest accomplishments in the USAWA was winning overall Best Lifter at the National Championships in 1997. He was the Master’s Best Lifter in 1994 and 1997 at the National Championships. He has also won many Championships in his age and weight class. Another thing that is very impressive is Jim has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 12 National Championships!!!! He has also placed in the top six in 4 IAWA World Championships, with his best placing being 3rd Overall in 1995. When asked what he likes about the USAWA, Jim replied, ” I have lifted in several other weightlifting organizations, but nothing compares to the people I have met in the USAWA.” Jim is a great Champion and role model in the sport of All-Round Weightlifting.

Jim Malloy performing a Jefferson Lift.

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