Tag Archives: Dennis Mitchell

Sportsmanship Award Winner

by Al Myers

Tim Piper (left) awarding Dennis Mitchell (right) the winner of the Sportsmanship Award in the USAWA.

The Sportsmanship Award went to a lifter who I felt really deserved it – Dennis Mitchell.  The definition of the Sportsmanship Award is, “This goes to an individual who possesses and shows great sportsmanship within the USAWA.  The act of sportsmanship may be by conduct at all events, or by an specific example of exceptional Sportsmanship.”

This sums up Dennis Mitchell.  Dennis is one of the most supportive lifters I know.  He always is encouraging others – and well as supporting the USAWA in any way he can.  This  includes always giving encouraging words to other lifters, sitting in the officials chair when he’s competing, writing for the USAWA website,  or helping the USAWA by being a valuable member of the USAWA Executive Board.  Dennis is a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON in the USAWA, and it’s nice to see the membership rewarding him in this way by voting  him the Sportsmanship Award of the Year.

Congrats Dennis!!!!!

Louis Abele’s Training Program

by Al Myers

Louis Abele

At our Nationals in June, Dennis Mitchell loaned me a pamphlet that outlined Louis Abele’s Training Programs.  It was compiled by Chester O. Teegarden, and  published in 1948.  It is only 15 pages long, and has lots of interesting training information and insight into the training philosophies of Louis Abele.  I actually had set this pamphlet aside and just rediscovered it to read (so I haven’t forgot about it Dennis!).  I blame my distraction on this to all that was going on at the National Meet.

Louis Abele was often in the shadows of other great York lifters at the time – namely John Grimek, Steve Stanko, and John Davis.  However the progress he made in Olympic lifting compelled him onto the national stage as one of the best heavy weight lifters of the time. I asked Dennis about Louis Abele and this was his reply, ” I never had the opportunity to meet Louis Able. He had the misfortune of being at his best when John Davis was at his best. He could never get the recognition that he deserved as he was overshadowed by John.  The thing that I found very interesting about his training was that he used a large verity of lifts. I’ve only read one other study where it was felt that instead of doing, for example four sets of squats, to do one set of lunges, one set of front squats, a set of back squats and then one set of leg presses. I’ve used this form of training as I’ve gotten older as I am trying to keep as many parts moving in as many directions as I can.”

I want to thank Dennis for sharing this Louis Abele Training Program with me, and thus in turn I’m gonna share it with you!  Interesting historical information like this is easily lost with the passage of time.  It is a pdf so simply open it, print it off, and save it for future generations of lifters (or put it in some digital file that will soon “die off” when your computer crashes because you forgot to have it backed up!”)

The Training Programs of Louis Abele  (PDF)Louis Abele Training Programs

I very much enjoy visiting with Dennis and discussing such issues as how he has seen lifting change in his lifetime.  Dennis is over 80 years of age and STILL COMPETING in competitions (both all round and Olympic lifting).  He has a wealth of information and wisdom.  He has had a lifting career that has spanned over 60 years so he has “been there” and “seen it all”.  I can’t help but finish with a little story on Dennis that I found humorous.  At Nationals he made a comment to my daughter Molly (age 15) and Chad’s daughter Bree (age 16) as they were “playing” with their cell phones.  I was fortunate to overhear this story that he told these two young girls about how he has seen communication improve over the years. It is priceless, and left a look of disbelief on the girls’  faces!!

“In 1954, Fort Monmouth in New Jersey  I was in the last class to learn how to use carrier pigeons. They were still being used in the Korean War. Any time I use E-Mail or cell phones I think of this. We had a special net pouch that we could carry the birds in when we out in the fields. The only company the army found that could make these pouches was a company that made ladies undergarments, the Maidenform Co………………………..Denny M.. “

Lifter of the Month: Dennis Mitchell

by Al Myers

Dennis Mitchell (left) receiving his Championship Award from meet director Frank Ciavattone at the 2013 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships.

The lifter of the Month for the month of May goes to Dennis Mitchell – and for good reason.  At the Heavy Lift Championships last month Dennis has accomplished something VERY FEW lifters EVER achieve.  He eclipsed a milestone of competing for 70 years.  That’s right – 70 years of active competition!  In my book, that’s an amazing accomplishment and worthy of special recognition.  

I first met Dennis at Nationals 10 years ago or so.   Since then I have got to know him very well, as he is always representing the USAWA at national and international events.  He has been one of the most loyal supporters of the USAWA since the organization began.  

Congratulations Dennis on winning this months Lifter of the Month!!!

Heavy Lift Championships

by Al Myers


The group picture from the 2013 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in Walpole, Massachusetts.

What an exciting Heavy Lift Championships last weekend!  I knew I could expect a great meet atmosphere with the meet being held at Franks Barbell Club, hosted by meet promoter extraordinaire Frank Ciavattone, but this time Frank even exceeded my expectations!   Frank is a very seasoned USAWA meet promoter, having promoted numerous past National Championships and World Championships. Frank is a meet promoter who knows how to put the “lifter’s first”.  He always has the basics well-covered, then he throws in unexpected special things which makes his promotions “one of a kind”.  I regard Frank as one of the BEST meet promoters within the USAWA EVER, and I am VERY GLAD to see him “back in action” putting on meets.  Frank will be the host of the 2014 IAWA World Championships, which will be a special affair.  Everyone BETTER get that meet “penciled in” on your future meet itinerary.  It will be one you WILL NOT want to miss.

Dennis Mitchell performing a 630 pound Hip Lift.

Since the weather was very nice (low 60’s), Frank had set up a platform outside for the meet to be conducted on.  It provided the perfect atmosphere for a Heavy Lift Championships.  Most everyone was in shorts and t-shirts (with the exception of Flossy!) as the day progressed.  Ten lifters competed in this Championships.  I view the Heavy Lift Championships as the SECOND most important Championship event within the USAWA (the National Championships being the NUMBER ONE).  I say this because the Heavy Lift Championships has a longer history than all the others, and because the Heavy Lifts are very uniquely all-round lifts.  No other lifting organization features these lifts. 

Colleen Lane competed in her first Heavy Lift Championships and came away with an overall women’s title. I was most impressed with her 450# Hand and Thigh lift. Denny Habecker was as “solid as ever” with his lifting.  Denny finished off the day with a record 1000# Hip Lift.  Dennis Mitchell had many records, with his 455# Hand & Thigh impressing me the most.  This day marked a BIG DAY for Dennis as it marked his 70th year of active competition in lifting.  That’s right – 70 years!!!!  And in that run Dennis has never missed a year without hitting the platform at least once.  Truly an amazing record that very, very few will ever achieve.  Art Montini again showed that he is not ready to slow down yet.  Art had a great day and finished with a 700# Hip Lift.  I would like to see another 85 year old man do that! NOT LIKELY!  Joe Ciavattone Sr. had a day to be proud of.  He finished third overall in a field of wily veterans in the Heavy Lifts, and in the process he set a PERSONAL RECORD in the Neck Lift with an outstanding lift of 805 pounds!  Joe was the first USAWA lifter to break 800 pounds in the Neck Lift years ago with his historic 804.5#, and I know he had to question since if he was every going to do more.  Well, after what I saw of him last weekend, I would say he has lots more in him!  It was a very solid lift with plenty of clearance.  I could tell that this lift  alone made him tremendously satisfied with his day’s lifting.  Congrats  Joe – you earned it! 

Joe Ciavattone Sr. performing a big Neck Lift enroute to his new personal record of 805 pounds!

However, the real “story of the day” should go to Joe Ciavattone Jr.  It’s been a couple of years since I have seen Joe Jr, and since that time Junior has grown into a MAN!  His neck is now thicker than ole dad’s, and his strength is just starting to mature.   His future is very promising as a future USAWA superstar.  I also want to mention that Joe Jr. is very coachable, and wants to learn how to be a better lifter.  I tried to give him as much advice as I could, and he then would take it IMMEDIATELY to the platform for a bigger lift!   That trait will take him to the next level.  He took an extra attempt in the Neck Lift and he easily got 700 lbs, with much more in the tank.  He also took a fourth on the Hand and Thigh and destroyed 1400 pounds.  Those are the best lifts of ALL TIME in the USAWA for a teenager.   I really liked watching Joe Jr. compete in this meet.  He has a fierce competitive mindset.  Mark my words on this – Joe Ciavattone Jr. will be a future Overall National Champ! 

Joe Ciavattone Jr. performing a new ALL TIME teenage USAWA record in the Hand and Thigh with this 1400 pound lift!

Jim Fuller made his trip from Maine for his second appearance in the Heavy Lift Championships.  I first met James at York a few years ago at the Heavy Lift Championships. He has made great progress with his heavy lifting since then.  He put up a 1100# hand and thigh and a 1400# Hip Lift in this meet.  He has his own harness equipment, and it’s obvious that he has been training these very difficult lifts.  I was most impressed with him missing 1350# on his second attempt hip, only to come back at 1400# and NAIL IT!  That’s gutsy!  Afterwards at Franks backyard picnic, James cleaned and pressed Franks Old 45 Deep Dish York by hub pinching it with one hand for me.  I was even more impressed seeing it first hand than from the pictures he had sent me from Franks last record day.  I have a Deep Dish York 45, and I could tell immediately that Franks was different.  The hub on Franks 45 was very wide (we measured it at 4-3/4″).  My York 45 is much less in diameter.  Frank said his York 45 was made in the 1930’s (while mine was made in the 50’s).  Apparently very few are still around as the design of the thick hub caused the plate to be thinner and most have broken apart at the junction of the base of the hub and the plate.  Bottom line – this Deep Dish York 45 is MUCH harder to hub lift than the newer ones!!!   James hub lifted it several times with ease. 

James Fuller "playing around" hub pinching Franks very difficult old York Deep Dish 45.

Franks son Jeff lifted and did very well, placing fourth overall.   Jeff did well in every lift – 650# Neck, 1200# Hand and Thigh, and a 1400# Hip.  Jeff has loads of natural lifting ability (a Ciavattone trait!!!).  He looked to be good for more in each event to me.  It was a great pleasure to have Frank  join us on the lifting platform.  I know Frank had lots on his mind hosting the meet at his place, serving as head official most of the day, and organizing the awards banquet and meal afterwards.  Frank has great heavy lifting technique, and it’s obvious he has spent a lot of time “polishing his trade” with the heavy lifts.  

The great display of after-meet food prepared by Frank and his family!

After the meet, we were treated to a HUGE ITALIAN feast at Franks place.  You name it he had it – pasta, salad, meatballs, chicken, sausage, etc.  A totally top notch affair.  Many thanks are in order for Franks family in preparing this feast.  I also want to thank the outstanding loaders who worked hard all day – Dave, Peter, and Charlie.  You guys made this event move along with your outstanding loading all day. 

Meet Results:

2013 Heavy Lift Championships
Franks Barbell Club
Walpole, Massachusetts
May 4th, 2013

Meet Director:  Frank Ciavattone

Announcer and Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Officials (3 official system used):  Frank Ciavattone (head official), Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, Joe Ciavattone Sr., Art Montini, Al Myers

Loaders: Dave Hartnett, Peter Vouno, Charlie Payne

Lifts:  Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift


Colleen Lane 57 206 175 450 500 1125 1166.5


Al Myers 46 235 780 1300 1800 3880 3400.6
Joe Ciavattone Jr. 19 224 600 1200 1750 3550 3040.2
Joe Ciavattone Sr. 44 217 725 1100 1500 3325 2981.5
Jeff Ciavattone 33 235 650 1200 1400 3250 2662.1
Jim Fuller 41 226 400 1100 1400 2900 2472.0
Denny Habecker 70 191 270 775 950 1995 2396.3
Dennis Mitchell 81 152 245 425 630 1300 1949.4
Art Montini 85 177 200 450 700 1350 1890.4
Frank Ciavattone 58 285 300 800 1000 2100 1858.8

NOTES: All weights recorded in pounds. BWT is bodyweight in pounds. TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction. 


Denny Habecker:  Hip Lift 1000#
Dennis Mitchell: Hand and Thigh Lift 455#
Joe Ciavattone Sr.: Neck Lift 805#
Joe Ciavattone Jr.: Neck Lift 700#
Joe Ciavattone Jr.: Hand and Thigh Lift  1400#


Women Master 55-59 100KG Class – Colleen Lane
Mens Teenage 18-19 105 KG Class – Joe Ciavattone Jr.
Mens Senior 110 KG Class – Jeff Ciavattone
Mens Master 40-44 100 KG Class – Joe Ciavattone Sr.
Mens Master 40-44 105 KG Class – Jim Fuller
Mens Master 45-49 110 KG Class – Al Myers
Mens Master 55-59 125+ KG Class – Frank Ciavattone
Mens Master 70-74 90 KG Class – Denny Habecker
Mens Master 80-84 70 KG Class – Dennis Mitchell
Mens Master 85-89 85 KG Class – Art Montini
Overall Mens Best Lifter – Al Myers

25 Year Participation Award

by Al Myers

Winners of the 25 Year Participation Award: Denny Habecker (left), Art Montini (middle), and Dennis Mitchell (right). Missing from this picture is Dale Friesz.

As part of our yearly USAWA Awards Ceremony, this year it included several “special awards”.  These were awards that were presented by the USAWA for accomplishments over the entire 25 history of the USAWA.  That’s quite a hard award to win – it is the result of years and years of effort and contributions!  The lifters that won these awards are the TRUE LEADERS of the USAWA, and it is only the right thing to do to thank them by recognizing them with these special awards.  The first 25 YEAR AWARD given out was the participation award.  This award went to 4 individuals – Dennis Mitchell, Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dale Friesz.  These guys have competed in over 80% of the USAWA Nationals in the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Dennis leads the pack with an amazing 24 of 25 (only missing the first year in 1988).   Denny has been in 23 of 25 (only missing the first two years, 1988 & 1989).  Art is third in this race with competing in 21 of 25 (missing 1997, 2004, 2006, & 2011).  Dale rounds out this field of “superstars” with a record of 20 of 25 (missing only 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006, & 2011).  I would have to say that these lifters have had “amazing runs” of National Championship entries and will be a “tough act” to follow for future USAWA lifters.   Congrats!!!!

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