Tag Archives: Joe McCoy

The Chisholm Trail and the USAWA

By Al Myers

A Chisholm Trail limestone marker is located a half mile from the Dino Gym.  At one time cattle drives where going over the same ground as the Dino Gym Training Field!

A Chisholm Trail limestone marker is located a half mile from the Dino Gym. At one time cattle drives where going over the same ground as the Dino Gym Training Field!

I’ve had the great fortune of living in Abilene, Kansas my entire life. Most think living in Kansas means that you live in a “fly over State”, but my community is deep in history like all other places.  One thing of historical significance includes being part of cowboy history and the Chisholm Trail.  Next year marks a big year for the Chisolm Trail in Abilene – the 150th year kickoff celebration marking the trail beginnings. The actual anniversary of the trail is in 2017, but we are going to start the celebration a year early!   The Chisolm Trail was named for a venture trader by the name of Jesse Chisholm.  Jesse was not a cattle driver, but used this pathway for other trade purposes before any hooves had even hit the famous Chisolm Trail.  The unique thing about these long cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail was that originally it ended in Abilene, Kansas. The years of the cattle drives were not that long (1867-1885) but this time frame shaped the beginning of Abilene.  Abilene at that time was a “rough and tough” time as cowboys were often tired and exhausted from the many months on the trail, and wanted to have a little fun once they got their paycheck.  They spent this money on various forms of entertainment in Abilene, and things often got out of hand.  It took a Sheriff that knew how to rule with an upper hand to keep things under control.  And we had that in Sheriffs Wild Bill Hickok and Tom Smith which made them famous law enforcing icons in the Old Wild West.

This marker is located in Old Abilene Town, right beside the old stockyards.

This marker is located in Old Abilene Town, right beside the old stockyards.

Now it’s that time of the story that I make the tie between the Chisholm Trail and the USAWA.   Once the cattle drives of Texas Longhorns arrived in the Abilene Stockyards, they were loaded on railcar for the long train ride back east where top dollar was being paid for beef.  This only happened because of a man named Joseph McCoy, who convinced the community of Abilene to support his Stockyards for the Kansas Pacific Railway to run rail from Abilene for cattle transport and convincing legislatures to allow movement of Longhorns in Kansas.   Joseph McCoy indeed was the “real McCoy” to make all this happen to support his business interests, a phrase he often referred to himself as.  He built a hotel, saloon, bank, and many other buildings to support his enterprise.  His first shipment of Longhorns left Abilene September 5th, 1867 headed to Chicago. All in all, over 3 million head of cattle flowed through Abilene driven up on the Chisholm Trail.  This put Abilene on the map as a true cowboy town.

Now for some of you, you may have recognized the name Joe McCoy as being the name of a past all round weightlifter. That’s where these stories interweave, as the Joe McCoy that we know in the USAWA was a great-great grandson of Joseph McCoy. I knew Joe pretty well, and competed with him on several occasions.  Before his death in 2014 we visited at least once on the phone every month.  Joe always wanted to make it to Abilene to research his family history, but never did as in his later years physical limitations prevented him from traveling.   Joe McCoy was appointed as the first IAWA Registrar in 1987, the year of the beginning for the International All Round Weightlifting Association.  Joe competed in the second USAWA Nationals in 1989 held by John Vernacchio in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.  In that meet he lifted 170 kilograms in the Zercher Lift at 46 years of age, one of his favorite lifts.  He was one of the members of the “inaugural class” of USAWA members in 1988.  Joe had a great passion for taking pictures and later producing videos of meets which he shared with all.  I have several of his videos. He was a very likable guy, and would visit for hours with anyone.  In our visits I would always be amazed at the things he remembered – names of lifters, specifics that happened at various meets, and obscure weightlifting trivia.  He was immensely involved in the Missouri Valley Weightlifting Association, which I consider to be the precursor of the now USAWA.   At that time only in the Missouri Valley Region the all round lifts were contested in competition, promoted mostly by Bill Clark.  Joe supplied many of the pictures that were in the original USAWA Rulebook.  He was a very good lifter himself, and always gave everything he had on the platform.  He was involved in USAWA meet promotions, with his most famous being the Texas Deadlift Classic.   Joe was always full of enthusiasm at meets, and in his deep booming Texas voice would encourage fellow lifters nonstop above the sounds of the other meet noises.

This picture of Joe McCoy performing a two dumbbell deadlift is in the USAWA Rulebook.

This picture of Joe McCoy performing a two dumbbell deadlift is in the USAWA Rulebook.

Joe McCoy spent most of his life in Glen Rose Texas, on the family ranch. Interestingly, Glen Rose offers up much Chisholm Trail history as well as Abilene. Glen Rose was right on the path of the Chisholm Trail, and features the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum which is one of the largest collections of Chisholm Trail history.  I’m betting the first group of 2400 Longhorns that hit the Chisholm Trail came from the grasslands very close to Glen Rose.

Just as Grandpappy Joseph McCoy had a big part of the history of the Chisholm Trail, so does his lineage Joe McCoy has had in the USAWA.

(This story is dedicated to the memory of Joe McCoy for his contributions to the USAWA and the IAWA.)

Recent Death of Joe McCoy

by Al Myers

I received some sad news this week, passed along to me by Dale Harder, that longtime USAWA Joe McCoy has died. Joe was one of the pioneers of the USAWA and all round weightlifting in the Missouri Valley Region. His influence in the early days helped shape our organization.  I’ve spent many hours visiting with Joe on the phone over the past 10 years, and his passion for the all rounds was still as great as it was when he was younger.  Physical issues kept him from competing in these later years, but I know if he would have been capable,  he would have been at many USAWA meets.

The following was from his obituary:

Joe McCoy, 71, passed away Friday May 30, 2014, in Fort Worth.  The service was at 1:30 PM Monday at the Wiley Funeral Home in Glen Rose, Texas. Joe was born Jan 1st, 1943 in Stephenville Texas to J.C. and Louise McCoy.  He married Mary Jo Phillips, June 10, 1961, in Burleson. He had lived in Glen Rose most of his life.   He enjoyed weight lifting and working out.  He also made movies of weight lifting contests.. He was preceded in death by his father.

I welcome comments and tributes on the USAWA Discussion Forum regarding those that knew Joe, and any stories you may have of him.  If you prefer to just email them to me instead, that is alright.  I plan to take these comments and write a tribute blog story in Joe’s remembrance.

Ronnie Coleman vs. Roy Mason

by Al Myers

The other day on Facebook I saw this YouTube Video for the first time.  Actually I was surprised I hadn’t seen it before as I like to watch YouTube Videos of any type of lifting. It featured an unlikely duo competing in a deadlifting competition   – Ronnie Coleman and Roy Mason.  EVERYONE knows 8-TIME Mr. Olympia (1998-2005) Ronnie Coleman, but I bet just a few have heard of the elder deadlifting machine Roy Mason.  I’m going to start this story off with the video (which you MUST WATCH) as a teaser, then I’ll give a little USAWA history lesson as it applies to both of these great strength athletes.


Under the caption of this video you will notice that mention was made that this was Ronnie Coleman’s first powerlifting competition. I have no idea how many more he ever did as his future in Bodybuilding fame was about to ignite.  He sure looked the part in that meet.  Also, you will notice by the date of the video the meet was contested on 1/29/1994.  You may ask “what’s the significance of that?” . Well, to most “not much” except if you are interested in the history of the USAWA, then it becomes a very important trivia question that you can quiz your workout partners on during an evening training session.  That meet was the Fourth Annual Texas Deadlift Classic held in Alvarado, Texas directed by the famed All Rounder Joe McCoy and SANCTIONED THRU THE USAWA! I checked back through old memberships rosters and Ronnie Coleman is indeed listed as a USAWA member for that year of 1994.  This was also the only USAWA meet that he competed in. His 728# deadlift from that meet is listed as the overall record in the 12″ base deadlift for the 120kg class.  It is the TOP 12″ base deadlift listed in the USAWA record list.  This came from the meet report published in the Strength Journal, “All lifts were done with the 12 inch maximum heel spacing and done with two hands.  All were judged by USAWA officials Howard Prechtel, Noi Phumchaona, Bob Cox, Phil Anderson, and Joe McCoy.”  After watching this video, I would question “how much” the 12 inch heel spacing was really adhered to – but I’ll let you make your own decisions on that!!

Now onto the story of Roy Mason and his ties to the USAWA.  Credit to getting Roy involved in the USAWA goes to Joe McCoy.  This was said by Bill Clark in an edition of a 1994 Strength Journal, “Roy Mason is a deadlifting wonder. At the age of 76, he beats most men 40 years younger in the regular deadlift.  The Red Wing, Minnesota resident has long thrilled powerlifting crowds with his rare ability. Joe McCoy has twice brought Roy to the platform in sanctioned exhibitions to join the USAWA record list – and Roy has done so in amazing fashion.  Roy not only lifts amazing poundages, but he preaches a sermon and excites the crowd as he lifts.” 

Roy Mason currently holds 3 individual USAWA records: 485 lbs. in the 12″ base deadlift in the 75 age group/70 kg class from the meet in the video (this is ALSO an overall record in the 70 kilogram class –  SIMPLY AMAZING!) and a record in the middle fingers deadlift of 237 lbs. in the 75 age/70 kg BWT class from a meet on 4/10/1994.  He also holds one TEAM RECORD.  This was done after the deadlift competition from the video in which he teamed up with Bill Decker to pull a Two-man Deadlift of 661 pounds in the 75 age group/75 KG BWT class.  This was covered in a past blog I wrote ( http://www.usawa.com/summary-of-usawa-team-records/) and contains a great picture of their record setting effort, which is a record that I think will be a long  while before anyone EVER BREAKS.  Following that Texas Deadlift Classic, Roy also performed these finger deadlifts for exhibition:  330.5 lbs. in the two fingers deadlift (ring and middle), 381.5 lbs. in the three fingers deadlift (no thumb or little fingers), and finally 463 lbs. in the deadlift with all but the little fingers.

Roy Mason's book, "The Life of a Truck-Driver Preacher and Weight Lifter for Christ".

I first met Roy in the mid-90’s when he stopped at our gym in Salina to give an evangelistic strength performance.  Roy Mason spent his life as a long haul truck driver and traveling evangelist spreading the word of Christianity. He used his God-given deadlifting skills to reinforce his testimony.  Certainly he made an impact on everyone in the room while he delivered his message –  and we listened in awe.   He was a gifted speaker and had a high degree of modesty.  I never remember him once bragging (or even mentioning) his lifting accomplishments during his testimony. As he went across the country on his truck runs, he would stop at many places along the way to spread his Christian beliefs.  I bought his book, “The Life of a Truck-Driver Preacher and Weightlifter for Christ” on that day and I have read it several times since then. These are some of Roy’s words from  the introduction of his book,” I am very proud to be called the truck-driver preacher.  I consider it a great honor that God has called me to be a spokesman of his. Also, what a privilege to proclaim the word of God to each and everyone that I am privileged to meet.”   His book contains a reflection of his life experiences, interactions he had with other people he met giving his testimonies,  and how it all has affected him spiritually. He spends very little time in his book talking about his weight lifting accomplishments, and it’s only at the very end.  I have no idea if this book of his is still available.  It’s a simple book with no color photos and bound with a plastic binder, but a great source of Christian inspiration.

However, I already knew of Roy’s great lifting accomplishments when I heard him speak.  When I started lifting in the early 80’s I remember reading his name from National Masters Powerlifting Championship meet results and other big meets and his unbelievable deadlifts at an age of over 60.  I’ll never forget seeing him on the cover of the July, 1986 issue of POWERLIFTING USA.  In that U.S.P.F. National Masters, he deadlifted 562 pounds at 68 years of age!!  I had to do “some digging” but I found that issue of PL USA so I could include that “cover shot”  in this story so you would believe me!

Roy Mason on the cover of July, 1986 issue of POWERLIFTING USA.

Take the time to watch that video again.  I heard Joe McCoy several times yelling encouragement in the background for both lifters. I also think that YouTube Video clip came from a video that was taken by Joe during the meet.   That meet will go down as “one of the classics” in USAWA history.  Thank you Joe McCoy for making it happen. 

Roy Mason died in 2005 at the age of 87 years – but he will not be forgotten.