Tag Archives: Howard Prechtel

Gold Cup History

by Al Myers

British All Round Champion Steve Angell (left) and Howard Prechtel (right) together at the 1994 IAWA Worlds in Burton-upon-Trent, England.

The 2013 IAWA Gold Cup is coming up this weekend.  It is one of three big IAWA promotions (the Worlds and World Postal are the other two).  I am really looking forward to attending this prestigious meet hosted by our USAWA President Denny Habecker  in Lebanon, PA.  Denny has promoted several other Gold Cups and is one of the premier meet promotors in the USAWA – so it, without a doubt, will be a well organized affair.

The Gold Cup is often a misunderstood event, especially if you have never attended it before.  I’ve had lifters question me why “go to a meet where you can only do one lift for record?”, especially considering you can  potentially set several World Records at a local record day.  Let me tell you – the Gold Cup is not like any local record day.  The Gold Cup is about the experience of competing in an international event where lifters from several countries will be represented.  The direction of the Gold Cup is overseen by the IAWA officers and technical committee to insure that the Gold Cup  gives the atmosphere of something very important (which it is!).   It allows a lifter to showcase their best lifts on a BIG STAGE for IAWA World Record in front of their IAWA peers.  Each lifter and their record lift receives the total attention of those present.  When a lifter is performing their Gold Cup lift they have the stage to themselves – and is the only thing going on at the moment. After the meet is over there is always a big banquet to enjoy a great meal, fellowship with other lifters, and have a formal awards ceremony.  The banquet is always a highlight for me at the Gold Cup. 

Now a little “history lesson” on the Gold Cup:

The first Gold Cup was held in 1991 in Lakewood, Ohio  under the direction of Howard Prechtel, IAWA President at the time and originator of the Gold Cup.  This year marks the 23rd  year of the Gold Cup.  In this span the Gold Cup has been promoted every year, without missing a single year.  The following came from a 1991 issue of Bill Clark’s  Strength Journal outlining Howard’s concepts on the Gold Cup:

On November 23, in Cleveland, Howard will be directing the First Meet Of Champions.  The concept is thus: Only people who have won IAWA titles will be invited….a list of some 25 from the USA and England.  Each lifter will be allowed to do only one lift of his choice….and he’ll get only one attempt at that lift – which must be a world record.  That means only 25 lifts and 25 lifters.  Better warm up good – for the TV cameras will take only one look at you.  Of the 25 lifters, it looks like we’ll have at least 15 different types of lifts.  Howard will be trying a record sit-up, for instance. If you’re a world record holder, but not an IAWA champion, don’t ask.  It is a record-makers meet open only to IAWA Champions. 

You can see that Howard had a lofty goal originally that this would become a televised feature of All Round Lifting.  That never really materialized.  Also, you can see that the original criteria for even entering the Gold Cup was pretty strict.  Things have evolved with the Gold Cup since then, but there still are entry criteria.  For the past few years this has been the main rules regarding entry into the Gold Cup:

1.  Lifter must open on their first attempt at an IAWA  World Record lift.  However, a lifter is given three attempts to repeat an attempt or increase the poundage.
2.  To enter the Gold Cup, the lifter must be a current holder of an IAWA World Record.
3.  The lifter must be a member of the IAWA, or a member in an affiliated organization of IAWA.

If a lifter can not accomplish a World Record in any IAWA lift, an entry can still be approved.   It is of the IAWA philosophy now that NO LIFTER be denied the opportunity to compete in this event.  The offering of a Silver Cup Award (for setting a National Record) and the Bronze Cup Award (for a lifter setting a personal record) has been added to allow for this.

You may wonder how that FIRST EVER Gold Cup turned out.  Of the 34 lifers that were invited (yes – the first year this meet was by invitation only), 31 entered.  All 31 lifters were successful setting new IAWA World Records.   As for Howard, it turned out well for him in the success of the promotion and with his quest of setting a new record.  The following report from the Strength Journal sums up Howard’s day quite nicely:

After all the effort and money Howard put into the meet, he was the final lifter.  He attempted to break an 85-year-old mark in the Travis Lift by doing 60 reps in 60 seconds with 1510 pounds.  Travis had done 56 reps in 60 seconds with 1500 pounds in 1906…when he was a young man.  Howard, at 66, hardly qualifies as young (except at heart), but he banged out 45 reps with the 1510 in 60 seconds….easily a new IAWA record.

I would truly encourage all all-rounders to try to make it to a Gold Cup.  Once you go once, you will understand why I think it is an elite type competition.  You meet the “legends” of the sport, and get to see world class all rounders perform their best lifts for World Records.

Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy

by Al Myers

Howard Prechtel competing at the 2000 Gold Cup in Burton on Trent, England. Howard performed a 120 KG 2-Bar Deadlift for his Gold Cup Lift. Steve Gardner promoted this event, and it was held at the Bass Museum.

The Gold Cup is the next major IAWA meet on the Calendar of Events.  This year it will be held in Glasgow, Scotland on November 3rd.  As most know – the Gold Cup was started by the legendary Howard Prechtel while he was the President of the IAWA.  The first Gold Cup was held in Lakewood, Ohio in 1991. 

At the World Council Meeting of the IAWA, a proposal was made by Steve Gardner to establish a Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy to be presented in Howard’s memory to the lifter who scores the highest amended total for their record lift at the Gold Cup, using the Blindt Formula to compare the different lifts.  This was passed unanimously by the members in attendance.  Steve has agreed to get a trophy made for this year’s Gold Cup.   The Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy will, “in a sense” recognize the Gold Cup’s BEST LIFTER.   Hopefully, this will become an annual award at the Gold Cup.  I will do what I can to make sure that that happens. 

Steve Gardner summed up this memorial trophy excellently by saying, “I felt it would nice to remember Howard in this way, as the Gold Cup was Howard’s baby, and it was Howard who proposed the idea of the Gold Cup.  It will be great to see who is the first winner of the Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy!”

Roman Chair

by Al Myers

The Dino Gym's homemade Roman Chair, complete with an adjustable upper back safety pad.

Recently on the USAWA Discussion Forum, there was talk about the Roman Chair.   A Roman Chair has an almost mystical name that shrouds confusion.   I have seen (and read) about lifters referring to something as a Roman Chair, and when in fact, it is not a Roman Chair at all, but rather some type of Hyperextension Bench or a Glute-Ham Developer (that’s another story!).  A few of the lifts that we do in the USAWA require the use of a Roman Chair to perform them so understanding what a Roman Chair is REALLY IS  important.  That is why I’m going to try to properly describe a Roman Chair and it’s description to the use of All Round Lifts.  Like I said, some Official USAWA lifts require the use of a Roman Chair – i.e., the Roman Chair Situp, the Roman Chair Bench Press, and the Abdominal Raise on a Roman Chair. 

This is an ancient medieval Roman Chair. But instead of using this chair for exercise, it was used to torture prisoners!

You will read on the internet that Roman Chair exercises (namely Roman Chair Situps) are inherently dangerous amongst the general consensus of the cross fit lifting crowd.  You will read some bad things about this exercise and ALL of the reasons why you shouldn’t do it.  I’m not going to get into that debate here (but aren’t MOST of the All Round Lifts dangerous???, and we love them anyways!), but rather provide an accurate description, and a little history of the Roman Chair.  Professor Attila is often credited with the invention of this device, as well as the Roman Column and the Roman Board (made famous by pictures of Sig Klein performing layouts using them).  And speaking of Sig Klein, I have also read in his writings that he said the Professor didn’t actually invent the Roman Chair, but rather popularize the Roman Chair by it’s use in his gym.  Klein had mentioned once that a Roman lifter who was visiting the Professors gym actually demonstrated exercises using a device similar to a Roman Chair, which gave the Professor the inspiration to build a Roman Chair and give it it’s name after this Roman lifter. In doing my research for this piece, I found that there actually WAS a Roman Chair in the Middle Ages.  It was a chair of torture that was used up till the late 1800’s in Europe.  I found this very symbolic – and could make for a good story on how the Roman Chair we use today got it’s name.  Afterall, most Roman Chair All Round lifts are VERY PAINFUL and could constitute torture to some individuals!  Just try doing a Roman Chair Bench Press and you will get my drift.  On our USAWA YouTube account there is a video of Dave Beversdorf doing a HUGE Roman Chair Bench Press of 250 pounds (YouTube Video of Dave’s RC Bench Press), which is the top All-Time Roman Chair Bench Press in the USAWA Record List.   Read some of the goofy comments regarding his video.  It is obvious that these critics giving these comments have NO IDEA what is required and the back-splitting pain that is involved in doing a heavy lift like this!  (the comments are so absurd that I didn’t even delete them because I found them funny, and I know ANYONE who has done this exercise would agree with me!).

Past USAWA lifting legend Howard Prechtel excelled at the Roman Chair Situp. He held the All-Time USAWA record at 738 pounds for many years. Amazingly, he did this in 1990 at the age of over 60 years!

The only description of a Roman Chair in our USAWA Rule Book falls under the rule for the Roman Chair Situp.  It says, “This lift is done on a Roman Chair or similar device.  The toes must be secured at floor level.  The seat of the Roman Chair must be level and parallel to the platform and must not extend above the top of the buttocks when the lifter is fully laid back on the Roman Chair.  A second bench of lesser height than the seat of the Roman Chair may be used for safety purposes under the lifter’s shoulders when laid back”.   Not all commercial Roman Chairs would fall under this description. I have seen some where the foot pad is level with the seat, some with “rounded” seats, and some with even inclined/declined seats.  These types of Roman Chairs would not be legal for use in the execution of the USAWA lifts.   The Roman Chair I have in the Dino Gym is one that I made.  It works very well, and is of a very simple design.  The seat is 12″ by 24″, the seat sits 20″ high, the Chair is 4 feet long,  and it contains an adjustable safety back support. The feet can be braced on a bar positioned at floor level.   

There is nothing more “old school” than training on a Roman Chair.   And if it was good enough for the Professor – it is good enough for me!

Year in Review -2010

by Al Myers

2010 USAWA Year in Review

I have finished the 2010 USAWA Year in Review, compiling all the information that has been placed on the USAWA Website throughout the year of 2010.  I do this for a couple of reasons:  1) to allow all information to be saved for prosperity in one location, and 2) to allow individuals who do not have internet access to stay informed with USAWA news.  I know it is, at this time, pretty “old news” but at least it provides an opportunity for staying abreast of the USAWA nowadays, especially since the USAWA does not provide a written publication any longer.

This is a long book.  You will not be able to finish it in one night.  It contains all 308 blogs that were placed in the USAWA Daily News for 2010.   The book is 441 pages long, and contains 164,875 words.   It has over 250 pictures.  This review book also contains the full meet reports and results for the 22 competitions that the USAWA sanctioned in 2010.

Due to the length, I have decided to forgo the color printing this year which helps lower the cost.  I plan to do another printing by the first of March – so THAT is the deadline for purchasing this Review Book.  Please make payment of $40 to the USAWA for purchase, and send to me.  I will ONLY print Review Books for those that I have payment for in hand.


Howard Prechtel – The Supreme All-Rounder

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE: The following was written about Howard Prechtel by Bill Clark in the February, 1990 issue of the Strength Journal.  It is  the BEST STORY I have ever read concerning the life and lifting career of Howard Prechtel.  It is worth sharing again for those who missed it the first time.)

by Bill Clark

Howard and Noi - an uplifting couple.

An All-Rounder is a person who gets a thrill out of lifting anything that isn’t attached – and some things which are.  Possibly no individual in the USAWA more truly personifies the all-round mentality than Howard Prechtel. The 64-year old Cleveland native has been picking up iron for 45 years and seems to be enjoying it more now than ever before.  Training is even made easier by coaching Noi Phumchaona, his wife and fellow all-rounder.  That’s them in the picture.

When Howard lifted at John Vernacchio’s Valley Forge open last November 11th and finished off the day with his exhibition of the Travis Lift, it was simply another chapter in the rather amazing saga of Howard Prechtel and the iron pile.  Howard was born in Cleveland and grew up there, dropping out of school to join the service when he was 17.  He fought at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima and was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds that eventually were the reason he’s still lifting iron at the age of 64.  After war service, Howard returned to Cleveland, bounced from job to job for a decade, went thru a marriage, and wound up in a hospital with shrapnel from an old war wound threatening his future.

Along the way, Howard had become intrigued by strongmen, such as Warren Lincoln Travis and Louis Cyr.  At age 31, Howard started to work on the things the old-time strongmen did.  Now, 33 years later, he’s still at it.  At the Valley Forge meet, Howard banged out 108 reps in the Travis Lift with 1027 pounds in 75 seconds.  When Travis was at the top of his game, he did 100 reps with 1000 pounds in 75 seconds.  And he was far short of being 64 years old.  That effort, which was done under careful scrutiny headed by USAWA President John Vernacchio, currently is not an approved USAWA record – but the effort is on the table – not dead.

It also is the extension of a remarkable lifting career.  Howard’s efforts have been aimed at three Travis specialties – the Roman Chair Sit-Up, the Hip Lift, and the Back Lift.  He also has returned to Olympic lifting and has captured national and international honors.  He’s lifted in two world masters meets and numerous national competitions. Howard’s record surge goes back to 1961 – not long after his stay in the hospital.  He came up with a one-hand effort of 1020 pounds in the Hand and Thigh.  That was on January 12th, 1961 – more than 29 years ago.  In November, 1963, he broke the mark of Travis which had defied those who tried… he hip lifted 1025 for 105 reps in 75 seconds.  It was 16 years before Howard would beat the mark again.  In May, 1979, he did 108 reps with 1109 in 75 seconds. That effort remains his personal record.

In the Roman Chair Sit-Up, he started in 1973 with 713 pounds and today has raised the mark by over 200 pounds to 932.  His efforts in the Back Lift border on the frightening.  Travis had done 1000 pounds for 3000 reps in 101 minutes, and a total of 5,000,000 pounds in three hours, nine minutes.  In 1980, Howard did 3547 reps with 1070 pounds in 85 minutes to erase Travis from the books with 3,795,290 pounds.  Then, in June, 1982, he made 5460 reps with 1111 pounds in three hours, nine minutes to obliterate Travis’ mark with 6,066,060 pounds.  Travis had done 1000 pounds for 5000 reps in the same time period.

Who knows what Howard will do next.  He still keeps an active schedule as an Olympic lifter.  After all, he was third in the 198-lb class Olympic Trials back in 1956 and loves the overhead lifts.  Plus – he has Noi to train in those lifts as well. He’s become a leader in the USAWA, both on the platform and in the meeting room.  He’s the chairman of the Ohio chapter of the USAWA and a member of the USAWA board of directors.  he holds 60-64 age group records in the bench press feet in the air (90 kg), RH C&J (45 kg), Continental Clean (100 kg), RH deadlift (100 kg), Hack lift (127.5 kg), Hip Lift with traditional bar (648 kg), Jerk from Racks (90 kg), Neck Lift (115 kg), Two-hand DB press (62.5 kg), Two-hand Military Press with BB, heels together (72.5 kg), Pullover and Pushup (82.5 kg), RH Snatch (45 kg), Front Squat (127.5 kg), Steinborn Lift (92.5 kg), and Zercher Lift (137.5 kg).

Howard’s sincerest hopes for 1990 are that repetition records will be approved by the USAWA and that his mark set at Valley Forge will be accepted by the USAWA as a true record.  If the rep records become a reality, look for Howard to load up the back lift again and see if he can get 7,000,000 pounds next time.  If he does, you’d best bet on Howard.  The barrel-chested, short-haired military determination of the 17-year-old fighting a man’s war on Guadalcanal has not diminished one bit.

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