Tag Archives: HOF Biography


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.)





John was born on December 15th, 1945 and has been competing in weightlifting for over 45 years, starting in 1962. He started as a lifter primarily as a powerlifter, but also has competed in master’s olympic lifting, having won two US National titles. However, all-round weightlifting soon captivated his attention and he has devoted all of his efforts toward all-round training and competition since its inception. John is a retired teacher (32 years in Jr. High math), a retired martial arts instructor (American Combatives for individuals and airline crews), and a retired weightlifter. John has won so many National and World Meets that he has lost count!!! One accomplishment that he has done that is hard to top is that he went for over 20 years never losing a meet in his age and weight division! He presently has over 200 USAWA and IAWA records on the books. His earliest all-round weightlifting inspirations came from the great National and World Meets that John Vernacchio promoted, followed by the tremendous atmosphere that Frank Ciavattone created in his National and World Meets. John said, “These guys worked so hard to insure that everyone enjoyed themselves and they provided the absolute best conditions to do top notch lifting!! Their meets were more like great workouts with good friends than the usual cut and dry weightlifting competitions. Just big parties, really!!!”. John has served as an official at many meets, and served a term as the IAWA international secretary. He has wrote extensively about all-round weightlifting training methods in Hardgainer magazine and MILO.

McKean-DL2barHe has been involved in the promotion of several National Meets which includes being the meet director at two National Championships in Ambridge with Art Montini, and being the co-director at the two National Meets at Jumpstretch Fitness in Youngstown, Ohio. John has received much personal satisfaction from the great time he has had getting his two sons, Sean and Rob, involved in the USAWA along with many of his school students. One of his biggest thrills in lifting was being probably the only teacher to establish an official class for all-round weightlifting in the public school system. For four years he was given the state’s mandate (IEP) to take over the complete physical education of a legally blind student by the name of Matt Van Fossan. Matt, under John’s coaching, really took to lifting and established several teen National and World Records and even won a National Championship!!! These days John trains at home, still writes a bit, and lives near Pittsburgh with his wife of 40 years, Marilyn. He is still very involved in the lives of his two grown sons, Rob and Sean.


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.)





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.


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.


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.)




Montini-DL1Art Montini was in the inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees – and rightfully so. Art is the most decorated all-rounder in USAWA history, having won overall best lifter at four National Championships (1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995). He was born October 11th, 1927 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. After graduating from High School, Art joined the Navy in 1945 and served our country in WWII aboard a naval ship. After his military service, he went to work in a steel mill in which he continued until retirement. Art’s early sport activities included playing “sandlot” baseball, and even some semi-pro football. Art started lifting weights when he was 20 years old. At first, he competed in Olympic Weightllifting. But once he got started competing in all-round weightlifting that was his focus from then on. Art’s favorite lifts are the Steinborn and all of the chain lifts. However, he trains all of the all-round lifts at different times in his workouts. Art is one of only three lifters that has over 400 USAWA records!! Art is a member of the Ambridge V.F.W. Barbell Club and does all of his training there. He has competed in over 100 all-round weightlifting meets!!!! You can always count on Art being at the National Championships. He has even been involved in the promotion of the National Championships, being the Co-Meet Director of the Nationals in 1991 and 1999 in Ambridge. Art is an outstanding official as well, both at the National level and at the World level. Art was the first elected Vice President of the USAWA, elected in 1989 and serving in that position till 2007.  Art has been the recipient of many USAWA Yearly Awards – Courage Award 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012 and Sportsmanship Award 2015, 2011, and 2009. In 2010 Art was awarded the IAWA Award of Merit.  This prestigious Award has only been presented to four IAWA members ever.  In 2012, Art received the “25 Year Participation Award” at the National Championships, an award given to him based on his outstanding participation in the USAWA National Championships throughout the 25 year history of the USAWA.


When asked what he enjoys about the USAWA, he replied, “I really enjoy competing with other lifters. I’ve made many great friends at all of the meets.” In 1988, Art was selected to the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Art lives in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and still competes in all-round weightlifting meets even though he is over 80 years of age!! He even celebrates his birthday every year by hosting Art’s Birthday Bash, an all-round weightlifting meet, on his birthday.

HOF Bio – Dale Friesz

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

Dale Friesz – Class of 2002



Dale E. Friesz was born on July 30th, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri. As the son of a career Army Colonel he traveled a lot as a youth. His family spent two tours in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.. Dale did his undergraduate and graduate work at George Washington University in Washington D.C.. He spent 11 years as Director of Human Resources for Fairfax County before taking over the family owned shooting sports business.  He ran it for 21 years until his retirement.

Dale was married to Penny for over 40 years. They have three beautiful children – Pamela, Mark and Karen. They also have a great son-in-law Mark, one lovely daughter-in-law Christine, and two beautiful grand children Ansley and Cody. Dale believes his family is his greatest treasure.

Dale learned about Olympic lifting from his older brother Leonard. Dale taught himself to be an Olympic lifter. It was at the 1960 National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships at the University of Maryland that he first met fellow USAWA Hall of Famer, John Vernacchio. In 1963, at the Junior Nationals in Columbia, Missouri he was introduced by his older brother to Bill Clark.  In preparation for entering Bill Clark’s Masters Olympic Weightlifting at age 39, he again started Olympic lifting. Dale stayed with that style of competition until back and shoulder problems put him on the shelf at age 45.


Dale was inspired by Bill Clark’s writings to join the USAWA and is a charter member. The bug to lift again took hold and against medical advice (birth defect in back and a bad shoulder) he entered his first all-round meet in 1989.  He has won 18 Masters National Championships, and has placed in several open all-round competitions – which includes the Zercher Meet, the Heavy Lift Championships, and the Deadlift Dozen. Dale has created more than 150 USAWA records.

Dale is most proud of his Right Hand Deadlift of 353.6 pounds at age 52 in the 85 kilogram class and his Neck Lift of 605 pounds at age 55 in the 85 kilogram class. When these lifts were made they were not only masters records but also open records. Dale also like all the Finger Deadlifts and holds a wide range of records in each weight class from 75 kg to 90 kg.  He received the Francis D. Ciavattone Sr. AWARD FOR COURAGE in 2003. Dale was awarded the USAWA Courage Award in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, the only USAWA member to ever win it four times.


Dale spent much time in the hospital with a variety of life threatening issues during his later years, yet he continued to train and compete in the USAWA. In May 2009 he did a 405 pound Neck Lift record at age 68 in the 85 kilogram class at the Heavy Lift National Championships.

Dale once said, “weightlifting is responsible for him being alive.” Dale passed away on March 18th, 2013. Dale, before his death, thanked Bill Clark for having the sagacity to create masters weightlifting competition!!!


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.)




Chad lives in Topeka, Kansas with his wife Tasha. He has a daughter and 2 stepsons.    He has a BS in Pharmacy and is currently a Pharmacy Manager with Walgreens.  Before he became involved with the USAWA he was a multi-sport athlete in High School, where he played football, wrestled, threw the shotput and discus, and was a yell leader.  After High School he played football at Coffeyville Community College and was part of a national championship team in 1990.  After college he played semi pro football for 2 years before getting involved in the Scottish Highland Games where he competed for over 20 years.

Chad started weight lifting when he was 13 years old when he was training for other sports.   His first competition in the USAWA was in 2005.  Chad was introduced to the USAWA by Al Myers and is part of the Dino Gym Club.  Chad commented, “Al has been a great training partner over the years and I wouldn’t be nearly involved in the USAWA if it wasn’t for Al.  We have travelled to many meets together across the United States and all over the World.”

Chad has long lengthy resume of USAWA National Championships he has competed in. To date he has competed in 8 National Championships (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).   In each one of these Championships he won the National Championships in his age/weight class.  In 2014 he won the Overall Best Lifter at the Nationals.  In all of his National Championships he has placed very high overall with two second places, three third places, one fourth, and one fifth.    He also has competed in 8 IAWA World Championships (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015).   In the 2010 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland he won the Overall Best Lifter Award at the World Championships.   Chad is one of the very few USAWA lifters to have competed at the World Championships in all the countries that have hosted a Worlds – United States, England, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia.

Chad has also been very involved in the organization besides just as a lifter. He has been the USAWA Vice President since 2010 and has been the Drug Enforcement Director since that time as well.   He has served as a IAWA Vice President since 2012.  He is also a certified USAWA Official and has officiated at many Championship events including at the IAWA World Championships and the IAWA Gold Cups.  In 2012 he was Co-Meet promoter of the 2012 IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas.

Chad has won many USAWA Awards. He was awarded the USAWA Athlete of the Year in 2010, 2012, and 2014.  He received Runner Up Awards for the Courage Award in 2015, and the Athlete of the Year in 2009.  He has been an active participant in USAWA Championship Events.  He was the overall best lifter in the 2015 USAWA Grip Championships and the 2012 Old Time Strongman Championships.  He has been the Overall Best Lifter (with teammate Al Myers) in 10 USAWA Team Championships.  He has been the USAWA Lifter of the Month 4 times – April 2012, July 2013, June 2014, and February 2017.  Chad has been very active in the USAWA Postal Series. He has won the Overall Best Lifter in the USAWA Postal Championships 2 times – 2008, and 2012.   In 2012 and 2014 he was the Overall Best Men’s Lifter in the USAWA Postal Series, and has placed in the top ten many times.  In 2012 Chad won the World’s Strongest Two Man Team Postal with teammate Al Myers. Chad owns several USAWA records and is in the top ten of all record holders with over 250 USAWA records.

Chad’s favorite All Round Lifts are the Arthur Lift, Steinborn Lift, and the Neck Lift. In the Arthur Lift he has the top ALL TIME record in the USAWA with a lift of 297 pounds, set at the 2007 USAWA National Championships. He has done a 446 pound Steinborn Lift, which is also an All TIME mark in both the USAWA and the IAWA.  This was done at the 2012 IAWA World Championships.  Chad was the first lifter to break the 900 pound barrier in the Neck Lift, done at the 2011 Heavy Lift Championships. He is currently one of only two lifters who have exceeded 1000 pounds in the Neck Lift.  Chad always has saved his best lifts for the big meets in front of the best officials and many witnesses.  No one can question the authenticity of his great lifting ability and records because of this.


Chad is a very modest Champion.   He often downplays his success and is always a great supporter of the other lifters.   He will help anyone out, and often at meets will be lifting, officiating, and loading all at the same time.  After the meet he will be the one doing the most work cleaning up.  At the banquets and social functions associated with the USAWA Chad is always the life of the party.  Anyone who knows him knows he just truly enjoys being part of the overall meet experience.   When asking him about his favorite part of competitions, he responded, “I love to compete and test myself but I really enjoy the comradery with the other lifters more.   I have some great friends that I only get to see at competitions and it’s always a great excuse to travel!”

That sums up Chad Ullom, a truly humble well-liked Champion in the USAWA.