Tag Archives: Al Myers

The “Dreaded Red X”

by Thom Van Vleck

Nobody was immune to getting the dreaded Red X from Bill. Even Al got one!

Nobody was immune to getting the dreaded Red X from Bill. Even Al got one!

My roots in the USAWA go way back.  My first meet was a 1979 “Odd Lift” meet put on by the founder of the USAWA, Bill Clark.  But before that my Uncles and their friends often lifted in Clark’s meets going back to the fifties. Clark founded the USAWA but he actually didn’t start the “Odd Lifts”.  That goes back to Ed Zercher, Sr who was a great lifter in the 30’s and after.  But even before Ed was in his first contest he had a buddy in his old neighborhood in St. Louis named John Wille. In the 1920’s they hung out in the same neighborhood and they did acrobatics, lifting whatever was available, and made make shift weights out of scrap metal.

Today we look to the internet.  The USAWA has a great website.  Al Myers does a lot of work to keep this thing going and having regular updates.  But for 50 years it was “Ol’ Clark”.  Bill was old school in an old school way that made a lot of old school stuff seem new!  He never touched a computer.  For 50 years he put out old fashioned newsletters.  For you young guys, that means he typed up the newsletter on a typewriter, then he copied the news letter (on a Mimeograph and later a copy machine), and he would put them in envelopes, actually lick the stamps (because they didn’t just stick on like they do now) and mail them to your actual mailbox (not the “mailbox” that your e-mail comes to).

I remember looking through all the old newsletters my Uncles had.  Reading about the lifts, the lifters, the meets and random thoughts (and sometimes rants) that Clark would have about steroids, improper judging, or whatever he thought was undermining the integrity of the sport.  If you sent him a letter, be careful, he’d put it in the newsletter!

He operated all this on a shoe string budget and his own sweat. He probably spent a lot of his own money.  But he did ask donations.  You could get the newsletter if you sent him even just a few bucks to pay for the stamps!  He would also include in almost every newsletter a little rant about “bucking up” and make jokes about not being a deadbeat.

He would have a list of people that gave money.  He would even put how much they gave.  I think to give credit to those who gave more than their fair share because they loved the sport.  Those that gave often really valued the information and back then there was no internet and finding out much of anything about weightlifting was about impossible).  He also would “Red X” the guys who hadn’t “paid up” for some time.  He would put what he called the “Dreaded Red X” on the front of your newsletter.  It kind of reminded me how teachers would mark up your papers with red ink when you got something wrong.  The funny part was he would often keep sending guys newsletters for a long time.  Especially so if he knew someone was on hard times.  Like my Uncle Wayne.  Clark could be really nice that way.

In some ways I think Ol’ Clark got vilified a bit for his “Red X” and other things he did when he would call out guys for not following established rules. He sometimes had a way of making a remark about it the next time you would see him to let you know his displeasure….one might even call it a snide remark.

But you know what.  Now that I’m older.  Now that I’ve been in the position of running organizations that get by on shoe string budgets and I’ve put in long hours to run highland games, strongman contests, lifting meets as well as three different weightlifting clubs (Jackson Weightlifting Club, Truman State Irondogs, and the A.T. Still University Osteoblasters) as well as other Church and community organizations that ONLY happen because the people involved reach in their pockets and pull out some cash that includes more than a few drops of sweat…..I get it.

That bring me to present day.  When Ol’ Clark ran that newsletter you saw the stamp.  You knew it cost money.  You knew the paper, the ink, the copies, and all that went into it cost money so I think it was easier to see how much all of it cost.  Well, now Al Myers stepped in and took it over some 8 years ago.  He created a website, then got a better one, and did a lot of work to keep it going and at what cost.  I bet a lot more than the stamps Ol’ Clark used.  At the least, I would say both men work (worked) equally hard.

So what can you do?  Send him a few hundred bucks!  Well, that would be nice but I think the best thing we could do as an organization is support the guys that make it happen.  Not just Al, but our officers, judges, etc.  We do this by following the rules, getting meet results to Al in a timely manner, make sure our meets are as legit as we can, write a good story for the meet results for the website, maybe send Al a good story or anecdote for the website (like how people would send Clark a letter) and he’d put in on the website.  Buy Al a beer, slap him on the back….heck, I bet a thanks would go a long way.

Otherwise, people like Bill and Al get burned out.  They love a sport and after awhile they feel unappreciated and frustrated and next thing you know…..well, let’s just try and do our part and keep the USAWA great.  It’s only as great as the people who run it and the people who are a part of it AND appreciate it!

Gold Cup 2016: My Take

by Thom Van Vleck

gold-cup

Thom Van Vleck inducts Chad Ullom and Al Myers into the Hall of Fame at the awards banquet for the 2016 Gold Cup.

I was recently honored to be asked to help out at the the 2016 Gold Cup.  To be honest the main reason for me to be there was to induct my friends Al Myers and Chad Ullom into the Hall of Fame. An honor they both deserved and I hope I did them justice with their induction speech.  They are very deserving.

I helped out with the set up, take down, and other logistics of running the meet. It was held in the old Union Pacific train depot in downtown Abilene, Kansas.  A very historic city and a great place to hold a meet.  The location was perfect, the meet was well run, and I don’t think you could ask for a better set up for some great lifting.  Al Myers was the Meet Director and he did a great job and had lots of help.  Steve Gardner announced and he is very smooth on the microphone and his knowledge of the lifts makes him the right man for the job.

I also had the privilege of judging most of the meet.  I am a level 2 judge and I have judged at some big meets over the years for the USAWA and IAWA.  I take it very seriously.  Judging also gives me a front seat to all the action (plus I don’t have to load….I’ve done my fair share of that,too!).

All in all, another great meet.  While Al did a great job this was like every other USAWA meet I’ve ever been a part of.  Everyone chips in to make it happen!  Great job to all!

 

John Patterson – The Sequel

by Al Myers

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

At the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Western Australia I was reunited with the legendary Australian weightlifter John Patterson.  I had met John previously at the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Perth were we immediately struck up a friendship. After that Worlds, I wrote a short piece in the USAWA Daily News about John, his weightlifting career, and his life.  Now today I would like to expand on that story with this sequel! I did a better job taking notes this time. I’ll start at the beginning.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John was born in 1944 in Auckland, New Zealand. He worked various jobs as a young man – on the wharf, as a farmer, and in the flour mill.  In 1970 he emigrated to Australia and took a job as a wardsman in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.  The next year he took a job at the Royal Perth Hospital as a nursing technician. It was in Perth that he enrolled in Murdock University and got exposed to his future passion that would change his life and career. John assisted on a historical survey of the Dampier Archipelago in 1978.  This included studying maritime archaeology which was a great interest to him.  During this study, John was intrigued by the Aboriginal rock carvings and artwork. He sent a list of his findings to the Aboriginal Sites Development  and this lead  him to a future job as a Museum Ranger at Woodstock and Abydos in the Northern Pilbara region.  He was in charge of the protection of Aboriginal Heritage. His work included finding new Aboriginal historical sites. He had a talent for finding new Aboriginal rock carvings.   He would document and photograph these historical areas.  Photography is John’s other passion as well as weightlifting.  He shared with me many fantastic photographs that he has taken over the years.  I was quite impressed! His territory included over 1000 square miles.  He lived in this primitive and isolated area for close to 10 years.

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack.   Here John is pulling a 750 pound People's Deadlift!

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack. Here John is pulling a 750 pound People’s Deadlift!

During this time John continued to lift weights and compete. He competed in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting and won several championships. During our conversations I enjoyed most the discussions of his training during this time.  He was faced with the hardest environment for training – yet he kept with a program that he made significant gains on. Most would not even bother training in his circumstance!  This was all done with the simplest of equipment – bar and some plates (some homemade out of concrete) – and the focal point of John’s training, his power rack.  John believes in training in the power rack to overcome sticking points. As he put it, he would work “down the rack”. I will simplify his program for this article, but John had many little nuances in training philosophy that he developed over time with trial and error. He found a program that worked for him! This is how his program went.  Say for example your top deadlift is 500 pounds. Your first set would be 500 pounds from mid-thigh for six reps.  You would then lower the pins in the rack to around 2-3″ below the knees and then pull 500 for 3 reps.  Then take the bar to the floor and pull a single at 500 pounds.  The next workout you would increase the weight.  He did this program for his squat and bench press as well. John felt this program allowed you to use your top poundages for repetitions, thus overcoming any mental boundaries you may have with your max.  It worked for John as he maintained a max squat and deadlift over 600 pounds for many years.  I should also mention that John trained outside at night under the stars, as it was too hot to train during the day in the Australian Outback. John kept his focus on primary lifting movements like the squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, high pulls, and push press.  He kept his training abbreviated to the important movements. I should also mention that John did all of his training by himself without the help or assistance of training partners!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press.  John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press. John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John has just recently had a physical setback with having heart surgery.  But that hasn’t slowed him down much – as he told me he just pulled over 300 pounds!  He seems very excited to get back to heavy training!  I have no doubt that he will. He was not cleared by the doctor to compete in the Gold Cup so he spent the entire weekend helping out, officiating, and encouraging the lifters.  His enthusiam for all round weightlifting was evident.

I love success stories like John’s.  Many people think they don’t have the time to train, or the proper place to train so they don’t. They make excuses.  John Patterson had all the reasons in the world to make an excuse – but he didn’t!  He overcame his obstacles and had a successful weightlifting career. That’s inspiration for everyone!

I want to conclude this story with some simple wisdom that John shared with me on training.  John said, “Keep it short. Keep it heavy. Train as though every rep will be your last.”

Those are words to live by.

Deadlift-Fingers, Middle

by Al Myers

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark's Gym.  You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner's.

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark’s Gym. You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner’s.

This lift probably has been in the USAWA Grip Championships more than any other and each time it’s in the meet I’m asked by lifter’s — WHY?  Well, maybe because I just love to watch the pain in your face as you are pulling with all your might using only your middle fingers!  And because the USAWA Grip Champs HAS to have at least one painful lift in it.

The rules for the Middle Fingers Deadlift is as follows:

B7. Deadlift – Fingers, Middle

The rules of the Deadlift apply except only the middle fingers of both hands may be used. The middle fingers of both hands may grip the bar in an alternate manner. The thumb must not be in contact with the lifting fingers.

I have written blogs in the past about the Middle Fingers Deadlift and the famous old time German Strongman Hermann Goerner. I want to share again part of a story I’ve written before.

David Willoughby in his book The Super Athletes listed Goerner as having done a MF deadlift of 140 kilograms (308.5 pounds) around 1925.  I have always considered this the mark to beat to be outstanding in the middle fingers deadlift.  Now, compared to what Hermann has reported in his other finger lifts, this lift of his seems to be a sub-maximal effort.  None the less, it is a very good lift (and is actually believable compared to some of his other claims).   However, this 308.5# middle finger deadlift is not listed in Hermann’s autobiography by Edgar Mueller’s Goerner the Mighty.  I have read this book several times, and I don’t ever remember seeing this lift listed.  Mueller does talk in one chapter about the wide deviations of grips that Hermann uses for his deadlifts, and mentions a middle finger overhand grip  deadlift (of which he lists Goerner as having worked up to 220 pounds), but nothing about using an alternate grip as we allow in the USAWA for the Finger Deadlifts.

I’ve always considered  Goerner’s Middle Finger Deadlift of 308.5 pounds as the mark to be considered outstanding at this lift. Only a handful of USAWA lifter’s have achieved it in USAWA competition and are part of the USAWA “Goerner’s Club”.  This is the short list:

1. Kevin Fulton 400 pounds – 1999 SuperGrip Challenge
2. Ben Edwards  310 pounds – 2011 USAWA Grip Championships
3.  Bill DiCiccio 309 pounds – 1994 IAWA Gold Cup

I’m hoping someone else will join this list at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships!

Lifter on the Month – Al Myers

by Chad Ullom

Al and his award at the Gold Cup.

Al and his award at the Gold Cup.

The lifter of the month for November is our Secretary and Webmaster, Al Myers! Al competed in the Gold Cup and won the Howard Prectel trophy. Al represented the USAWA in the Belmont Heavy events in Perth and won the masters class! While in Australia, he also set a new record in the Power Row and on his second lift set a record in the Thumbless DL. Way to go Al!
Congratulations!

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