Tag Archives: Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone – IAWA Award of Merit

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone (right) receiving the IAWA Presidential Award of Merit from IAWA President Al Myers.

The “second Frank” that was awarded the IAWA Presidential Award of Merit at the 2014 IAWA World Championships went to Frank Ciavattone. It was a great honor to me to be the one  that got to  make this presentation – as I’ve always looked up to Frank and have considered him a role model.  Below is my presentation speech, for those that were not there to here it firsthand.

I’m honored to be the one that gets to award the IAWA Award of Merit to Frank Ciavattone. This Presidential Award has only been given out a few times, as it represents recognition of the highest form in the IAWA. I could go on forever about Franks lifting accomplishments in the IAWA. As I was doing preparation for this presentation, I realized that Frank has won so many titles and has set so many records and has so many lifting accomplishments that this speech could get very long on me if I wasn’t careful. I’m not going to make Frank stand up here that long – so I’ll just hit a few highlights of his IAWA lifting career. I’ll try to keep this speech as short as I can here.

• Started training in 1971 under coach Joe Mills of the Central Fall Weightlifting Club
• Began involvement in the IAWA in 1988
• IAWA World Championship Meet Promoter 1993, 2000, 2014
• IAWA Gold Cup Meet Promoter 2010
• Holds MANY IAWA World Records
• First US lifter to lift the Dinnie Stones barehanded in 1995
• Won 20 IAWA World Championship titles
• Founder of Franks Barbell Club, and has mentored and coached many new lifters
• Best lifts: One Arm Hack 402.5#, One Arm Deadlift 562.2#, One Arm Ciavattone DL 331#, Neck Lift 808#,Hand and Thigh 1610#, Hip Lift 2515#
• Lifted overseas 7 times – in 6 IAWA World Championships and the Millennium Gold Cup

I’m sure I’ve left off many of Frank’s accomplishments within the IAWA in this short list – but you get the idea here – he has been a major contributor to the IAWA during the entire span of the history of the IAWA. I would like to say a few words about why Frank REALLY deserves this honor. I made this comment in Frank’s USAWA Hall of Fame writeup, and I would like to repeat it here as I think it sums up Frank Ciavattone – “Frank is 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.”

When I first became involved in this great sport of all round weightlifting , I immediately took notice of Frank. We both shared being in the heavier weight classes together. But instead of becoming heated opponents, Frank encouraged me in ways I wasn’t expecting. My involvement in IAWA might not have matured like it has if not for Frank Ciavattone. He has been an inspiration to me, as well as many others, to become more involved in IAWA. Frank has always strived to “give back” to our sport more than he has taken. We would not be here this weekend if not for Frank.

Frank – I consider you a great friend. You are more than deserving of this Presidential Award of Merit and it is my privilege to be the one to get the opportunity to present this award to you. Thank you for all you’ve done for our sport.

Frank Allen – IAWA Award of Merit

by Al Myers

Frank Allen (right) receiving the IAWA Presidential Award of Merit from Steve Gardner (center) and IAWA President Al Myers (left).

It was a very exciting last weekend in Boston.  One of the most important aspects of the weekend was the presentation of the IAWA Presidential Award of Merit.  This the IAWA version of the “Hall of Fame”, and only goes to individuals that are extremely worthy.  Only a handful have been presented this prestigious award, and this weekend included the presentation of the Merit Award to two outstanding men.

To earn this award, a person must not only have shown outstanding accomplishments in performance in All Round Weightlifting in IAWA events, but have been a major contributor in other aspects as well – such as event promotions, leadership responsibilities within the organization,  and be of outstanding character.

It was an honor to be part of the induction ceremony honoring the great Frank Allen. Steve Gardner gave a very eloquent speech highlighting Frank’s illustrious career in IAWA.  Frank was an original member of IAWA, and was the promoter of the VERY FIRST IAWA World Championships in 1988.  He has attended practically every Worlds and Gold Cup through the years.  Congrats Frank!

Team Championships

by Al Myers


Group picture from the 2014 USAWA Team Championships (left to right): LaVerne Myers, Al Myers, Chad Ullom, and Dean Ross.

I started promoting the USAWA Team Championships in 2007, so this year makes it the 8th year! I remember thinking this would become a popular meet amongst the lifters because it gave a different element to lifting than other meets -that being you lifted “on the bar” with a team mate! Well, in these 8 years it has not seemed to grow as I imagined back then, but none the less, always gives an entertaining day of lifting.  This year Chad and I again competed to “defend our title” from last year, and were challenged by the Dino Gym elders LaVerne Myers and Dean Ross.  These two team up well in size and lifting ability, plus have “been around the block a time or two” so they know how to play dirty.  I knew they would give us a good fight.  That was true.  Dean employed various means of chemical warfare against us, while LaVerne used mental persuasion to get us to swap out a lift for another to give them a competitive advantage.  When Chad and I was still dizzy from the nerve gas that Dean imposed upon us, we agreed to this request of LaVerne’s without contention.  Their teamwork was in full force before the meet even started!

So the Clean and Jerk with the Fulton Bar AND the Jefferson Lift was replaced by the Deadlift with the Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip.  And as it turned out – the meet came down to this last lift.  LaVerne and Dean pulled together an outstanding lift of 551 pounds!  I knew with their added age allowance this was going to make us really push ourselves.   But thankfully, my partner didn’t let me down and Chad and I pulled a PR of 672# for the win and a new Dino Gym Record (breaking our previous record of 640#).

This may have been a small meet, but we had a lot of fun in the gym today.  The meet even got over quick so the meet report/results is being posted on the same day as the meet.  That might be a first!


2014 USAWA Team Championships
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 24th, 2014

Meet Director: Al Myers

Officials (1 official system used): Al Myers, Chad Ullom, LaVerne Myers

Lifts: Clean and Jerk – One Arm, Curl – Cheat, Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip


Dino Gym 1
Dean Ross – 71 years old, 267 pounds
LaVerne Myers – 71 years old, 247 pounds

Dino Gym 2
Al Myers – 48 years old, 236 pounds
Chad Ullom – 42 years old, 253 pounds

Dino Gym 2 105 165 305 575 467.1
Dino Gym 1 40 105 250 395 400.2

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in kilograms.  TOTAL is total kilograms lifted.  Points are adjusted points for age and bodyweight corrections.

Presidential Cup

by Al Myers

Group picture from the 2014 USAWA Presidential Cup (left to right): Art Montini, Al Myers, Denny Habecker

Denny Habecker,  our USAWA President, hosted the USAWA Presidential Cup this past weekend at his gym in Lebanon, PA.  This is the third year for this now annual event.  The Presidential Cup is the USAWA version of the IAWA Gold Cup – which features lifters picking their best and favorite lifts to be contested in a record day format.  The Presidential Cup is the “Championship” of record days in the USAWA.  Each year the USAWA President picks a lift/lifter that he feels “worthy” of winning the Presidential Cup. Denny watches each lift with scrutiny as he is making his decision!

The Presidential Cup

This year only Denny, Art, and myself participated.  Art and I have been to this meet each year.  Art,  the defending Champion of the Presidential Cup, is tough competition.  Practically everything he lifts is worthy of being the winning lift. He started off with a 163# 2-bar deadlift.  I knew that would be tough for me to beat. So I started off with breaking Chad’s record in the Dumbbell Walk.  I was hoping that would “seal the deal” for me, but I could tell that Denny wasn’t fully impressed.  Art then went onto to some impressive finger lifts. He lifted 113 pounds on the ring and middle finger.  That’s IMPRESSIVE! Art’s fingers are hardened like steel cables, and I doubt if he has any pain sensor’s in them anymore.  I also planned to do some finger lifts beforehand as well – and felt good breaking a couple of records held by USAWA legends Joe Garcia and Bill Clark, but my finger lifts were not comparable to the ageless Art Montini’s finger lifts.  Now I knew things were “on the line” for me as it looked to me that Art was going to repeat as the Presidential Cup Winner.  So I had to stoop to a low and go after my dads best lift  in the one handed pinch. I managed a 83 pound performance using each hand, topping his best of 77 pounds.  My dad has become known for his gripping strength, always placing high in the USAWA Grip Championships.  This must have done it for me – as I was honored to win the Presidential Cup.  Denny even commented “that is was won by my pinch lifts!!!”   Sorry Dad.  You should have came along.

Denny did several very impressive lifts himself. His pressing of 143 pounds in the Press from Racks and Maxey Press stood out.  Also his 90 pound Two Hands Anyhow which almost took out a light bulb was memorable.  This was a great meet and I encourage others to attend next year.  Anytime one gets to spend time with Denny and Art is something to remember.  After all – these two guys are NUMBER ONE and NUMBER TWO on the All Time USAWA Record List!


USAWA Presidential Cup
August 9th, 2014
Habecker’s Gym
Lebanon, PA

Meet Director:  Denny Habecker

Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Officials (2 used on all lifts with both deeming the lifts good): Denny Habecker, Art Montini, Al Myers


Al Myers – 47 years old, 236 pounds BWT

Dumbbell Walk 107 lbs.
Finger Lift – Left Little 69 lbs.
Finger Lift – Right Little 69 lbs.
Finger Lift – Left Ring 113 lbs.
Finger Lift – Right Ring 113 lbs.
Finger Lift – Right Index 130 lbs.
Pinch Grip – Left Hand 83 lbs.
Pinch Grip – Right Hand 83 lbs.

Denny Habecker – 71 years old, 193 pounds BWT

Two Hands Anyhow 90 lbs.
French Press 53 lbs.
Maxey Press 143 lbs.
Pullover and Press 187 lbs.
Press – From Rack 143 lbs.
Jackson Press 121 lbs.

Art Montini – 86 years old, 176 pounds BWT

Deadlift – 2 Bars 163 lbs.
Finger Lift – Left Middle 113 lbs.
Finger Lift – Right Middle 113 lbs.
Finger Lift – Left Ring 113 lbs.
Finger Lift – Right Ring 113 lbs.



Simple Liars, Damned Liars, and Experts

by Thom Van Vleck

I like talking about training.  Even if half the time it evolves in an argument.  The one person I have learned the most about weight training is from my Uncle Phil Jackson.  He would often say to me, “I’ve forgotten more about training than you’ll ever know”.  I still often think he is right.  Another guy I’ll mention is Al Myers.  I have learned more about throwing for the Highland Games from Al than any other person.  A lot of the USAWA crowd may know Al competed in the Highland Games but are not aware he was world class at it.  The reason I listened to Al and Phil was not because they were considered by the majority of the lifting or throwing world as experts but because both had something in common with me.  None of us were what I would call natural or “gifted”.  We all had to work for every bit we have.

First I’ll say this.  There’s a fallacy out there that great athletes make bad coaches and mediocre athletes make great coaches.  The “logic” given is that great players never really learn how to play and rely on their natural abilities while mediocre players have to learn every trick to get better.  The evidence given is that there are many coaches that were mediocre players.  Well, that’s just Bull!  The reality is that there are MANY more mediocre players and it would make sense that they would end up a majority in the coaching world over the handful of great athletes.  What really defines a great coach is knowledge and the ability to impart that knowledge in a way another will take it and use it.  They have what’s been called “Practical IQ”.

Now, I don’t know for sure about Al, but I do know that my Uncle Phil would say I’ve barely listened to him at all over the years.  He’s partly right, I have been stubborn at times.  But I would argue he’s mostly wrong.  If you look at how I train there’s more of him in there than any other person on earth.  As for Al, I know I’ve frustrated him from time to time with a million questions and when he’s been nice enough to answer me I’ve often ripped apart his answers.  Al’s such a nice guy this may be hard to believe….but I’ve made him mad more than once!  Yet, if you look at how I throw…NOBODY has had more influence on my throwing and how I train for throwing!  I have just learned over the years that there are….Simple Liars, Damned Liars, and Experts.

The title for this article refers to a saying among lawyers and judges.  It refers to the “expert” witness.  It is often used to make the point that you can get an credentialed expert witness to support about anything.  Kind of like the saying “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” that make the point that you can find stats to support just about any point of view….whether that point of view is right or not!  This is the attitude I bring into how I approach all experts.

Heck, I AM AN EXPERT!  I have been called into court numerous times to provide expert testimony as a licensed professional counselor.  I have frustrated many judges and lawyers in this role because when I KNOW I’m being looked to as an expert then all the speculation, logic, “makes sense to me” is shoved out of my brain and I got with cold, hard, facts.  And the truth is…..you can’t get much from cold, hard facts!  You need to take that leap and expand out beyond what is known and take your “best guess” sometimes to find success.  When pressed by a lawyer or judge, I would preface my “best guess” by saying this is my “opinion based on what I know”.  That rarely helped….they wanted me to tell them that I “unequivocally” knew the truth and to say it as such.

So, what does all this mean.  I guess (based on what I know…..HAHAHA) that I’m trying to say that we need to seek out experts and understand that one person’s “expert” may not be your “expert”….we all have different needs.  These experts can be anywhere and don’t always need to be the “greatest” or the “most famous”.   We also need to look at being able to mine what an expert can give us even if sometimes they aren’t the best communicators.  We should never throw out the coaching of on person simply because they gave bad advice one time.  That’s like the old saying of throwing the baby out with the bath.  Finally, we need to open ourselves to find people who know more than us and take a leap of faith on what they are telling us…..but always remember there are liars, damned liars, and experts.  It’s all in how you want to look at it.  If you think it’s a lie….or the truth…you’ll probably be right.

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