Tag Archives: Hall of Fame

HOF BIO – DENNY HABECKER

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

DENNY HABECKER  – CLASS OF 1997

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Habecker-Zercher

Denny was born and raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and has lived there all but 3 years of his life. His father was always involved in sports when Denny was growing up, and Denny has continued that tradition. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1960 and got a job at Bayer Corporation in 1964 and worked there until his retirement in August, 2008. He got married in 1964 to Judy Gensemer. Judy is now a retired R.N. and they have one son who is an elementary school principal. His son and daughter-in-law have given them 3 grandsons that they are very proud of.

Denny started lifting in the spring of 1957 to build himself up for high school football. He entered a couple of bodybuilding contests in 1961 and 1962 before deciding weightlifting competitions were more fun. He competed in Olympic lifting competitions, with a few powerlifting competitions thrown in, from 1962 until 1975. Then with family commitments and other sports (volleyball, basketball) taking up his time, he didn’t compete again in weightlifting until 1984. He saw the results of the 1983 National Masters Olympic Lifting Championships and decided to start competing again. Denny entered John Vernacchio’s Eastern Masters and Tri-States Masters competitions every year and became a member of John’s Valley Forge Lifting Team. In 1989 John told him about an all-round weightlifting competition he was having. John talked him into entering it and Denny soon became hooked on all-round weightlifting.

Habecker-PP

Denny has been in every National All-rounds since 1990, 22 World All-rounds since 1991, and 20 Gold Cups since 1994, competing in Scotland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. In Olympic lifting, he has competed in 24 straight Keystone Games, 21 National Masters, 5 Pan-American Masters, 2 American Masters and 2 World Masters Championships since 1984. He also lifted in the 1992 WPA World Masters Powerlifting Championships. Denny still played volleyball, basketball, and softball in an over 40 league most of those years. He had to give up the other sports two years ago because of an arthritic hip.

Denny now trains at the New York Fitness Club in Lebanon and in his basement gym, Habecker’s Gym. He has been on the IAWA technical committee since 2000 and President of the USAWA since 2007. He has promoted the 2000 & 2007 USAWA Nationals, 2002, 2005 & 2009 IAWA World’s, 2006 & 2008 Gold Cup, and the 2004 & 2009 National Heavylift Championships. Denny was inducted into the Lebanon Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, and in 2009 was given the Kelly Cup Award for his Keystone Games accomplishments. He was the overall best lifter of the 1999 USAWA National Championships and 10 times best lifter in his age group. He has placed in the top 10 in 14 USAWA National Championships and 8 IAWA World Championships. His favorite lifts are the Arthur lift and the Pullover and Push. His 87.5 kilogram Clean and Press with Heels Together, which was done in his first All-round Meet in 1989, is still a record.

HOF BIO – JOE GARCIA

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

JOE GARCIA  – CLASS OF 1997

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 Garcia-HT

Joseph Anthony Garcia was born in Dewitt, Iowa, August 12, 1953. Joe and his wife Cindy started dating the last week of high school, got married August 11, 1973 and currently live in the country near Sturgeon, Missouri on 27 acres with their animals. Joe received a Business Degree with a major in accounting from the University of Iowa and got his first job as an accountant, but has spent the majority of his employed life in software, both as a developer and as a consultant. Joe’s immediate family consists of his wife and himself, a cat and 5 horses. He comes from a large family that had 9 kids. Joe actually started lifting back in the late 70’s when he was a policeman. As part of getting into shape, he got involved with the USAWA in 1987 when he was at a customer’s location and looked out the window and saw a small sign that read ‘Clark’s Championship Gym’. Joe said, “I went over and met Bill, joined the gym and have been a member of both the gym and the USAWA since that time.” Joe has been involved with some sport ever since he was a little kid, from baseball to track, basketball and football in high school, rugby in college, boxing as a cop, and finally Taekwondo in the early eighties, where he received a second degree black belt. Now days, he coaches boxing, lifts and competes in Cowboy Mounted Shooting. When asked who was responsible for getting him involved in all-round weightlifting, Joe replied, “Bill Clark introduced me to the USAWA and I would have to say he is responsible for my having accomplished what I have in the sport.”

Joe lifts both at Clark’s gym and at home. Joe has been the USAWA Record Keeper since the start of the USAWA and still holds that position. Joe was also responsible for designing and starting the USAWA website in the mid 90’s. He has been an official at many meets over the years. Bill and Joe have promoted three USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri (1995, 1997, 2001). He has also helped Bill put on numerous meets at the gym. Joe’s favorite lifts are the big bar lifts, and when asked if there was any record he was the most proud of, he replied, “I would have to say my record of 1910 pounds in the Hand and Thigh Lift is the one I am most proud of.” Joe’s record in the Hand and Thigh of 1910 pounds, which was set in 1997, remains the top Hand and Thigh Lift in history. Joe competed in the first World meet which was held in England, and has competed in several World Championships and National Championships since. Joe has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 10 National Championships, with three third place finishes overall in 2001, 1997, and 1988. He was the top overall Master at the National Championships in 2006 and 2001. He has also won numerous age group Best Lifter Awards at the Nationals. Joe is one of very few lifters who have been with the USAWA from the very beginning who is still competing at the top level – as showed by his most recent placing of 4th overall at the 2009 National Championships. Joe is always helping out new lifters at meets and has done numerous things through the years to promote the USAWA. Joe Garcia sets the standard that all future Hall of Famers should aspire for.

HOF BIO – DENNIS MITCHELL

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

DENNIS MITCHELL  – CLASS OF 1997

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Mitchell-Bentpress

Dennis Mitchell was born February 15th, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. He still lives in Cleveland. He was “raised” in the family business of photography, and worked in the family business part time during High School and College. After returning home from two years in the Army, Dennis worked full time with his father until his father retired in 1961. Dennis continued the family’s photography business until he retired in 1995. Dennis has been married to his wife Flossy for over 50 years. They have two daughters and four grand children. Dennis started lifting in May of 1943. He started out with bodybuilding and some Olympic lifting training. He got involved with the USAWA in 1989. Dennis is very involved Mitchell-VB1Hin other sports. He also has competed in running, swimming, and Judo. He still competes in Olympic Weightlifting and Masters Swimming. Howard Prechtel, who Dennis has known since 1949, introduced him to All-Round Weightlifting. Dennis remarked, “I’ve always been interested in training the odd lifts, and being part of the USAWA allowed me to enter competitions where these lifts are contested.” During the 1940’s and the 1950’s, Dennis trained at Joe Raymond’s A.C. He now trains at home and has a very complete home gym which is set up for All-Round Weightlifting training. Dennis is a member of the Ohio Olympic Weightlifting committee. He is chairman of the IAWA World All-Round Technical Committee. He has held that position for several years. Dennis is also a very active official, having judged at many local, National, and World meets. Dennis was the Co-Meet Director of the 2008 National Championships in Columbus Ohio. He also has helped organize the local portion for six All-Round World Postal Meets. The chain lifts and the Bent Press are his favorite lifts. Dennis has competed in 20 National Meets, 19 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. He has lifted in many states, and overseas in England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand. Dennis has won his weight and age class in 20 National Meets, 17 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. When asked what he likes about All-Round Weightlifting, he replied, “One of the best parts of being involved in the All-Rounds is the people. They are just a super group.”

HOF BIO – DEANNA SPRINGS

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

DEANNA SPRINGS  – CLASS OF 1997

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Deanna Springs and Al Springs performing a Team Cheat Curl.

Deanna Springs and Al Springs performing a Team Cheat Curl.

Deanna Springs was born in Gallatin, Missouri, daughter of Ray and Gertrude Cook. Deanna was introduced to All-Round Weightlifting by her husband, Al Springs, in 1990. Having no prior sports experience, she quickly developed a love for weightlifting, and trained with Al at their gym. Together, they also promoted several local competitions. Someone else who inspired her to take up weightlifting was Bill Clark. Deanna and Al would often compete in the All-Round Weightlifting competitions that Bill hosted at his gym. Her best National placing was placing 3rd overall at the 1994 USAWA National Championships in East Lake, Ohio. Deanna’s favorite lifts were the Zercher Lift and the Hand and Thigh. Her best Hand and Thigh was 620 pounds. That is how the Deanna Lift, which was named in her honor, came to be – by combining the movements of the Hand and Thigh and the Zercher Lift. Deanna died in 1995. Every year Bill Clark hosts the Deanna Springs Memorial, a meet which features the Deanna Lift.

HOF BIO – FRANK CIAVATTONE

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

FRANK CIAVATTONE – CLASS OF 1996

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Ciavattone-1ArmHack

Frank Ciavattone lives in Walpole, Massachusetts. He is a self-employed Excavator Contractor two-thirds of the season and a Heavy Snow Remover the remaining time. He started to lift weights after he received a 75lb. weight set for Christmas in 1966. Frank’s uncle Ralph was a bodybuilder in the early 1950’s who placed 5th in the 1951 Mr. Boston Contest. Frank’s dad was a Marine during the Korean War and was a Power Shovel operator (steam shovel). These two men were Frank’s early inspiration to take up weight training.

Frank trained for many years (1971 to 1988) with his coach Joe Mills of The Central Falls Weightlifting Club in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Frank started out doing some Olympic lifting but soon found out that he had tremendous potential with All-Round Weightlifting. It was at this time that he got help from Bill Clark, John Vernacchio, and Howard Prechtel – all of which were very accomplished and experienced All-Round Weightlifters. Frank was a charter member of the USAWA, and competed in the organization from the start. Frank is a very sincere and honest person who always gives thanks to those who help him. He commented, ” 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! ”

Frank was also involved in meet promotions. He was the Meet Director for several National Championships (1996, 1998 and 2016) and World Championships (1993, 2000, and 2014) in both All-Round Weightlifting and The Heavy Lifts. His most memorable All-Round meet was definitely the 1st one in 1993, in his home town of Norwood/Walpole, Massachusetts. Frank had his family, friends, the towns people, and lifters from other countries all together in one meet. Frank said, “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.” One of his most cherish meet wins was winning the Outstanding Lifter Title at the 2005 World Heavy Lift Championships in front of his home town Norwood/Walpole. Regarding this, Frank said, “I was in the 275lb. class. I gave the award to my daughter Domenique. That was a Hallmark moment for me.”

Frank has lifted overseas in 6 World Championships and 1 Millennium Gold Cup for a total of 7 trips. When in Scotland at the 1995 IAWA World Championships Frank achieved something no other American had ever done previously. This story is best told in his own words, “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!!!!!!”

Ciavattone-1armdl

Franks favorite lifts are the three Ciavattone lifts, the One Arm Deadlift and the Neck Lift. He also excelled at these lift and set many USAWA records in them. His records are One Arm Hack Lift -right hand 402 1/5 pounds, One Arm Deadlift – right hand 562 1/5 pounds, One Arm Ciavattone Lift – right hand 331 pounds, Neck Lift 808 pounds, Hand and Thigh 1610 pounds, and a Hip Lift of 2515 pounds. Frank has won 15 IAWA World Championships, 14 USAWA National Championships, 3 Heavy Lift World Championships, and 5 USAWA Heavy Lift National Championships. Frank was the Overall Best Master lifter at the 1998 National Championships. He has placed in the top 10 Overall at 9 National Championships.

There is more to Frank than just being one of the best All-Round Weightlifters of All-Time. He is a man of integrity and outstanding character. He always is willing to help those who need it, and is the perfect role model for the young generation of lifters. When asked what advice he would have for a new lifer, this is what Frank said, “Stay away from any artificial way of getting ahead. Hard, hard, hard work is what got me to do the best I could without jeopardizing my number one thing in my life, FAMILY. Keep your priorities in the right order. This formula keeps everyone happy and supportive.” I would say this sums up Frank Ciavattone.

Frank is a true Pioneer in the Sport of All-Round Weightlifting. He 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.

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