My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 2

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone was the first American to ever lift the Dinnie stones unassisted. He performed this amazing feat in 1995.

Al: I know you have promoted several All-Round meets throughout the years. Could you tell me about some of the most memorable meets you have promoted?

Frank: I have run National and World competitions in both Allrounds and Heavy Lifts. The most memorable Allround meet was definitely the 1st one in 1993, in my home towns of Norwood/Walpole, Mass. All in one meet I had my family, friends, the towns people, and all the lifters from other countries. They were also like friends and family. With that combination it was a week of comradeship, competitiveness, and support. The rest was a true celebration of what this sport is by bringing a half dozen countries together as human beings. This is a time I will always cherish in my heart. As the Heavy Lifts go, I would have to say Winning the Outstanding Lifter Title at the 2005 World Heavy Lift Championships in front of my home towns Norwood/Walpole, Mass. I was in the 275lb. class. I gave the award to my daughter Domenique. That was a Hallmark moment for me.

Al: How many times have you competed overseas at World Meets? I know when you where in Scotland you became the first American to ever lift the Dinnie Stones without straps. Could you tell me the story about your success in lifting the Dinnie Stones?

Frank: I have lifted overseas in 6 World Championships and 1 Millennium Gold Cup for a total of 7 trips. The Dinnie Stones story got started by Willie Wright and his team wanting me to go north and give them a try! They offered to take time off from work and take me. For this I said yes and would give it my best shot. Well after lifting in 2 day competition with 10 lifts at the 1996 World Championships, and the 9th lift being a 507lb. right hand- 1 arm deadlift, I was beat. After the meet we all got ready for the banquet, which anyone who’s ever lifted in Scotland know their banquets are right up there with the best of them. Well around midnight Willie informed me that the mini-bus was leaving at 5 a.m. sharp, tomorrow morning with about a 4 or 5 hour drive. The next day everything goes on schedule and we arrive there with a full mini-bus. I never saw the stones in person before but have to say I was overwhelmed at them. They were both chained to the wall, and it was drizzling out. Everything had a film of water over it, and the marble size piece of chalk I brought was disintegrated. So I found an area not so wet and dug my hands through the dirt to dry them up and it helped. At this point I picked up the little stone right and left, then I did the same to the big stone. Well now I thought I did it. They all yelled NO – do the 2 stones together. Since they were chained to the wall I decided to keep my 2 feet together since the stones were close to the wall. It was hard for me to straddle them and definitely too tight to have one on each side. So finally on my 1st. attempt I reached down and slowly stood up, and stood there while Willie Wright gave his down signal. I was in another world as I felt like I could not put them down. I got an IAWA World record certificate and the honors of being the 1st. US citizen to lift up the stones without straps or other assistance. Also to be one of few to lift them feet together. I am not sure who the others are. The truth to all this is I lifted them fatigued, never seen them before, and never trained to lift them. No excuses – just got of the bus and within 5 minutes lifted both of the ground. I did it my way!!!!!!

My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 1

by Al Myers

Recently at the World Championships I got the great honor of getting the opportunity to compete with Frank Ciavattone again. It has been several years since Frank has been able to compete because of various injuries, with the last one being a hip replacement. Frank is a true Pioneer in the Sport of All-Round Weightlifting and contains a wealth of information. He is also the ultimate sportsman by demonstrating that a big man can be very strong without the use of drugs, showing that strength comes from within, and displays the unselfish attitude of always helping out his fellow competitors.

Frank Ciavattone performing a One Arm Hack Lift at the 2005 USAWA National Championships. I'm standing behind him watching and learning. Frank has the top USAWA lift of All-Time in this lift at 402 pounds.

Al: Where do you current live and what do you do for a living?

Frank: I live at 204 East St. E. Walpole, MA 02032. I am a self-employed Excavator Contractor two-thirds of the season and a Heavy Snow Remover the remaining time.

Al: When did you first start weightlifting and how did you get started?

Frank: I started to lift after I received a 75lb. weight set for Christmas in 1966. My uncle Ralph (my godfather) was a bodybuilder in the early 1950’s. He actually placed 5th in the 1951 Mr. Boston Contest. Plus my dad was a Marine during the Korean War and was a Power Shovel operator (steam shovel). Running this type of equipment makes you strong. I remember how big, calloused and strong his hands were. No doubt they were my inspiration.

Al: What got you started in All-Round Weightlifting?

Frank: I trained for many years (1971 to 1988) with my coach Joe Mills of The Central Falls Weightlifting Club in Central Falls, R.I. Joe trained some of the best Olympic lifters in the country and the world, such as Mark Cameron and Bob Bednarski. Joe did this with respect and honesty. I was always very close to Joe and he knew I would never make it as a World champ in Olympic lifting. He suggested to me to work the lifts that I could out lift all the other lifters from the club in and go for the best there ever was. His only suggestion was stay around 275lbs. or less. I never ever got the drug speech from him as he knew my family and how we were raised and the rest is history. I also had some tremendous help from Bill Clark, John Vernacchio, and Howard Prechtel. I met Bill at the 1984 American Championships in Conn. He told me how they do Allround lifting in Missouri and sent me newsletters to see the records and THEN another sparkplug lit. I’ve got all his newsletters ever since. I basically was a charter member in 1988 but due to a personal problem could not go to England. John & Howard gave me endless phone time on educating me how to do a lot of the lifts before upcoming contests. I can not leave without mentioning Frank Gancarz and Ed Jubinville (both deceased) who played a big part in making me feel Allround lifting was just as important as life itself! To these MEN I truly admire and respect and I thank them from the bottom of my HEART!

Legacy of Iron – a Novel by Brooks Kubik

Book Review by Al Myers

Legacy of Iron

I just finished reading what I consider one of the most informative, entertaining books regarding weightlifting that I have ever read!! It has been over ten years since Brooks Kubik wrote the classic training book Dinosaur Training. I read Dinosaur Training at least once per year and find new information in it each time. In fact, the book Dinosaur Training inspired me to name my gym the Dino Gym. Dinosaur Training outlined my training approach exactly – and when I was reading it for the first time I would constantly nod my head and say, “Yes – I agree – That’s how I train!!” Brooks Kubik did me a big favor – now there is no need for me to ever write a book describing my training – Brooks Kubik already did it!!!

Back to Review of the Legacy of Iron..

Brooks Kubik does a great job of combining a fictional novel and factual information regarding training and famous weightlifters from the 1930’s. The story centers around the life of a young lifter, by the name of Jim Miller, who was beaten up as a young kid by the local bully, and in response, started weightlifting. The time frame the novel occurs in, as Kubik refers to, as the Golden Era of Weightlifting. This was the time Bob Hoffman and the York Barbell Club was producing weightlifting Champions like John Grimek, Steve Stanko, Gord Venables and many others. The Legacy of Iron mixes weightlifting history and a suspenseful story line that keeps your attention throughout the entire book.

I HIGHLY recommend that you order a copy of the Legacy of Iron – I promise you will not be disappointed!! I admit that I was slightly let down when I finished the book and on the last page it said, To Be Continued. I wanted to read more!! But then I found out that Brooks Kubik already had the sequel out, Legacy of Iron – Clouds of War!! I immediately ordered his second book (yesterday) and can’t hardly wait until I get it. My advice for you is to order both of them at the same time so you can immediately start reading the second book after the first book and not have to deal with the frustration of waiting for it like me!!

USAWA Business

by Al Myers

USAWA on Facebook


Chad Ullom, the new USAWA Vice President to be, has developed a group Facebook page for the USAWA.  Chad already has several pictures from various all-round weightlifting meets on it. It is set up in a way that anyone may put pictures from competitions on it so everyone can enjoy them. Thanks Chad for getting this started.

Heartland Armwrestling


Mary McConnaughey has recently registered her club, Heartland Armwrestling, as a club member in the USAWA. Mary has competed in several All-Round meets in the past and always brings several young competitors to the meets.  I always enjoy it when Mary is at a meet I’m at because she encourages all the lifters non-stop.  Just don’t challenge her in the Finger Lifts or she’ll beat you!!  Welcome Mary and Heartland Armwrestling

Rule Books Available


I have several Rule Books printed up and available for sale. They are $30 each (including shipping) and contain color pictures.

Hot Water Bottle Video


A few weeks ago I covered a story in which Thom Van Vleck, of the Jackson Weightlifting Club, blew up a Hot Water Bottle. Now I have a video of him doing it – which was taken at the McPherson Highland Games on September 26th.  To see the video – Click Here

JWC All-Round Challenge


Thom Van Vleck and the JWC are hosting their first ever All-Round Weightlifting competition on Saturday, November 21st, 2009.  It will be a record day. For those who have not been to the JWC Training Hall, make a point to attend this event. The JWC is a club filled with history, much of which is prominently displayed on the walls of the gym.  You will also be intrigued by the collection of Old Time Weightlifting equipment – such as old Jackson and York plates.

Correction on Team Postal Results


When the scoresheet for the IAWA World Team Postal Competition was double checked, an error was found in the scoring. This mistake resulted in a big change – making the Hastings Warriors of England the Overall Team Champions. The team of the Hastings Warriors included Nick Swain, Phillipe Crisp, and Sam Hills.  This was the only mistake – all the other results are the same. Congratulations to the Hastings Warriors.

Clark’s Gym Record Day

David Beversdorf and the
Best Roman Chair Bench Press of All-Time

by Al Myers

David Beversdorf, of Clark’s Championship Gym,  has been training a lift that most other all-rounders want to avoid – the Roman Chair Bench Press.  This past weekend, Dave was the lone entrant at a record day held at Clark’s Gym. Last spring David performed a 215 pound RC Bench, which was the top mark of All-Time in the USAWA, until now. At this Record Day he upped that to 250 Pounds in the Roman Chair Bench Press. Dave said to me in an email, “Got 250 on the Roman Chair Bench. Had to double it because in the excitement I forgot to wait for the press command the first time.” All I can say is WOW –  I have trained the RC Bench myself some and can tell you from experience it is a lift that puts unbelievable pressure on the lower back. Dave obviously has a very strong back to go along with his tremendous abdominal strength.  If Dave did 250# for a double  – he may soon be upping this record again!

But there is more!  He did several other presses for records – such as a 310# Hands Together Bench Press, 405# Alternate Grip Bench Press, 380# Reverse Grip Bench Press, 130# Left Hand Bench Press, and a 160# Right Hand Bench Press. After all this, Dave still tried to go for the Feet in the Air Bench Press record but said, “he was out of gas”. Truly a great day of pressing for David Beversdorf!!  David wanted to make sure to thank Bryan Mann of the MU Strength Team and James Foster of Clark’s Gym  for spotting and helping him.

YouTube Video of David’s Record Roman Chair Bench Press


With the rise of Dave Beversdorf and newcomer Ernie Beath in All-Rounds – I’m glad I’m not a SHW!!! Now that is a competition I would pay to see – Dave versus Ernie in a Press Off!!

FULL MEET RESULTS:

Clark’s Record Day
Columbia, Missouri
October 11th, 2009

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Official (1 official system used):  Bill Clark

Results:

David Beversdorf   296 pounds BWT, 44 years old
Roman Chair Bench Press  250#
Bench Press – Hands Together 310#
Bench Press – Alternate Grip 405#
Bench Press – Reverse Grip 380#
Bench Press – Left Hand 130#
Bench Press – Right Hand 160#

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