By Al Myers
These blogs are always the saddest for me to write. Especially when I’m writing one about a friend that has died. But I’m doing it – as I feel that Tom deserves a tribute from us because of his influences and contributions he has made to the USAWA.
Tom Ryan was born on April 23rd, 1945 and died on December 1st, 2016. He had been involved with weightlifting his entire life. He started out with focusing on Olympic Lifting, and then these past 25 years his main interest was All Round Weightlifting. He competed in the pre-USAWA days in all round lifting, and primarily in the first few years of the USAWA. He did lift in a few record days later on. I have had the opportunity to lift with Tom on a few occasions.
Tom and I had a great email relationship. We would exchange emails almost weekly, often discussing matters of all round weightlifting, training, or news within the organization. I could always count on Tom calling something to my attention if he noticed something on the USAWA website that he thought wasn’t correct. I really appreciated that as I knew the best interests of the USAWA were always in his heart. Tom was an extreme intellectual and a person who wanted details being correct. He had a PhD as a statistician and spent a good part of his professional life writing statistics books, teaching, and editing statistics books. He was a great writer as well. He had written several articles for magazines and newsletters through his life in both his professional life and for weightlifting. When we did the big USAWA Rulebook rewrite in 2009 I had Tom proofread it. He found over 100 corrections! He used his knowledge of statistics to evaluate weightlifting formulas. I remember him telling me that he once served on an Olympic Weightlifting committee to decide whether Masters Weightlifting should use the Sinclair Formula or the Malone Formula.
Tom was a great weightlifting historian. He served as a moderator for Joe Roark’s Iron History Forum for a number of years. Tom had a great interest in Paul Anderson. He wrote several articles about Paul Anderson. Tom lived near Atlanta in his later years and the Paul Anderson Youth Home is nearby in Vidalia. I always told him I was going to come to Atlanta and see him and then we could go to the Youth Home together. That was a trip I was never able to make which I now regret.
Tom has several records in the USAWA which he was very proud of. He still holds over 20 USAWA Records (over 50 at one time). Among these include his Weaver Stick record of 7 pounds (which I was there to witness), his one arm thumbless deadlift of 254 pounds (still one of the top All Times lifts), a 345# one arm deadlift (done at the 93 Zercher Classic), and a 95# Rectangular Fix. Tom’s last USAWA meet was the 2006 Goerner Deadlift.
Even as his health declined in the past few years, he still stay committed to his training program. He had trained at home most all of his life. He once told me that he had plenty of self-motivation to train alone, and that he liked to train in total silence by himself. We would often email visit about his training program. Just a few months before he died he was still training the seated one arm deadlift with a dumbbell. He was up to a 281 pound dumbbell which he said he could lift and hold for 30 seconds. His last training goal was to lift a 300 pound dumbbell while seated!
I will sure miss Tom. He was a major contributor to the USAWA Discussion Forum. I’m sure all of us will miss his page long topic posts, which often read more like an article on the subject instead of a comment. Many times I would try to get him to write a website blog following one of his forum posts, but the feeling I got from him was that he had said all he wanted on the subject in the forum!
If anyone has stories or memories of Tom and would like to share them on the website, please send them to me. I am dedicating the 2016 USAWA Year in Review to Tom. We will keep his memory alive in the USAWA.