Tag Archives: USAWA

Wilbur Miller

by Al Myers

Wilbur Miller pulling a 725# deadlift in York in 1965 (above), and then close to 50 years later pulling a 457# deadlift in 2012 at the Dino Gym (below).

Anyone involved with the All-Rounds in the midwest knows “the name” of Wilbur Miller.   I am very fortunate to know Wilbur personally, and he has been to my gym several times now.  He is an ICON amongst past strength athletes in the state of Kansas, and if I was voting,  I would vote him as the GREATEST ALL ROUND STRENGTH ATHLETE ever from the state of Kansas.  I know that’s saying alot, as there have been several others worthy of this distinction as well.  The reason I’m “putting my vote” on Wilbur is his diversity in strength and how he excelled in each discipline, whether it was Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting,  Grip, or All Round.  Recently, Wilbur was at the Dino Gym when some of the guys were doing Strongman, and he  commented to me how he wished that was around when he was younger.  I’m betting if it was, and Wilbur competed in Strongman – he would have excelled in that as well!

I’m glad to see Wilbur back into “action” in the USAWA.   The USAWA has alot to thank Wilbur Miller for.  He was a big part of the “grassroot movement” that started the USAWA and the IAWA.  At the time (late 60’s to mid 80’s), there were no organized associations for All Round Weightlifting like we have now with the USAWA, and the only option for this type of lifting (then known primarily as Odd Lifting) was within the Missouri Valley Region IV by Bill Clark promotions.  Wilbur often took part in these, and set at the time many Region IV records.   These records did not transfer into the modern day USAWA record book.   But if they did – many of Wilbur’s records would STILL be standing.

A little over a year ago, Thom Van Vleck wrote a nice biography about Wilbur for MILO (December 2011, Volume 19, Number 3).   I’ve told Thom that I thought this was one of his best Milo stories ever, but I know I am biased because of the respect I have for Wilbur and what he has done for All Round Weightlifting.  I want to highlight just a few of the things that Thom revealed about Wilbur in that story. However, if you are interested I recommend you order that issue of MILO, and it is worth it just for Thom’s story alone.

Wilbur was born in 1932 in Cimarron, Kansas.   That is the reason he acquired the nickname of “the Cimarron Kid”.  He was a gifted High School athlete – excelling in all sports.  It’s hard to believe but Wilbur ran the mile in Highschool.  He ran a best of 4 minutes, 33.6 seconds. In the state finals, he placed third behind two runners, Wes Santee and Billy Tidwell, who both went on to International Fame as World Class milers (that tidbit of trivia was not in Thom’s story, but rather told to me by Bill Clark).  Wilbur became interested in lifting at the age of 23, after injuring his back in a horse riding accident.  What started out  as physical therapy to recover from an injury turned into passion that lead to lifting greatness!  Wilbur was always known for having outstanding technique.  Thom titled his MILO story this way “Wilbur Miller: Lifting Perfection” because Wilbur was well-known for having perfect lifting technique.  Wilbur had a “story book” lifting career that propelled him into the Powerlifting Hall of Fame and the Weightlifting Hall of Fame.  My feeling is the only thing missing is that he should also be in the All Round (USAWA)  Hall of Fame!  After all, it was lifters like him (and a few others) that set the “groundwork” for the future of the USAWA.  Wilbur stills trains on York bars and plates that he purchased when he was a young man. I have a picture displayed in the Dino Gym that is “personally autographed” by Wilbur.  It is one of my favorites.  One of the reasons for this is that is because the bar is “fully loaded” with straps holding the plates on because there wasn’t enough room for the collars!  At the time the main plates available were Deep Dish York 45’s with wide-flanged rims which took up a lot of room on the bar.  Thom made this comment in his story which I think is worth repeating, “Some have claimed that the reason York quit making the deep-dish 4 and went to a thinner, sleeker version was because of Wilbur’s ability to max out the amount of weight on the bar with his monster deadlifts.”   Thom then went onto to say, “How would you like to be the reason the biggest maker of weights in the US had to change its design!”

This is that "autographed picture" in the Dino Gym that shows the plates loaded to the end of the bar!

Wilbur’s best lifts in competition were: 725# deadlift, 320# clean and press, 320# snatch (split-style), and a 385# clean and jerk.  Wilbur often competed in the 240-250 lb bodyweight range, which often put him as very light heavyweight because this was at the time that the heavyweight class started at 110 kilograms.  He often gave up over 100 pounds bodyweight to his competitors!  His 725 pound deadlift was an All Time Deadlift record at the time, and was done in 1965 in York, Pennsylvania.  He weighed 245 pounds in that meet.  I did some research on his best All Round lifts and this is what I found from an old Region VI Missouri Valley Record List.  Below is just a few of his records at the time:

Middle Fingers Deadlift 320 pounds  (1983)
Hack Lift 650 pounds (1963)
Jefferson Lift 650 pounds (1963)
2-Dumbbell Deadlift 520 pounds (1984)
Strict Curl 180 pounds (1964)
Abdominal Raise 105 pounds (1962)
Miller Clean and Jerk 135 pounds (1979)

That last lift mentioned, the Miller Clean and Jerk, was named after Wilbur by Bill Clark in 1979.  It is that “dreaded lift” where a Clean and Jerk is performed by the middle fingers only!  It is a very painful lift!   Someday I will get Wilbur to demonstrate this lifted named after him for a picture.  I asked him to do it for me this past year, but he said it’s been awhile since he did it and he wanted to “train it” for a while before the photo op! I bet he’ll match his “bar and two plates’ for me like he did over 30 years ago!!!

Wilbur Miller (left) and USAWA President Denny Habecker (right) at the 2012 Dino Gym Challenge.

Wilbur currently has 7 records in the USAWA.  Like I said, those earlier Mo-Valley records didn’t carry over so these are records he has set recently.  All of them are in the 75-79 age group, 100-105 kg weight class.  I would like to see the lifter that can break these marks!!!

12″ Base Deadlift 457 pounds (100kg class)
12″ Base Deadlift 450 pounds (105kg class)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip 397 pounds (100kg class)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip 350 pounds (105kg class)
Deadlift – Heels Together 419 pounds (100kg class)
Deadlift – Heels Together 400 pounds (105kg class)
12″ Base Squat 320 pounds (100kg class)

I have MANY MORE things and stories I could tell about Wilbur here, but I don’t want my story to be longer than the one Thom did for MILO (another reminder – BUY that issue!).  I want to close this by saying a few words about Wilbur as a person.  He is an extremely modest and humble person and it takes a bit to get him to talk about his accomplishments in the lifting game.   It is very obvious that he truly loves weightlifting and the people involved in it.  When he’s been at the Dino Gym, he’s “all smiles” and just loves to be part of day.  He’s always offering words of encouragement to the other lifters. In today’s world of BIG EGOS and SELF PROMOTERS, there are  few around anymore like Wilbur Miller who lifts  for the “love of the sport”.  I consider him a great weightlifting role model and I try everyday to have the attitude and character that he has shown.

REMINDER – Joe the Turk Meet

by Tim Piper

The date is quick approaching for the “Joe the Turk” OTSM meet in Macomb IL.  Because I know you are all going to need to refuel at the meet the Salvation Army will be selling lunch at the meet.  They haven’t decided what they will sell yet but last meet we hosted they had pulled pork and homemade cookies and brownies.  All the funds go directly to supporting the Salvation Army programs and they typically sell for FAR TOO LITTLE in my opinion. 

 We have our unique awards already in and I think they will be not only interesting but useful as well. 

Please send entries soon so they can plan their food purchases.  Hope to see you all there.

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.

Championship Entry Reminders

by Al Myers

I just want to remind everyone that the entry deadlines for the Heavy Lift Championships and the USAWA National Championships are coming up.   Frank Ciavattone is hosting the 2013 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships on May 4th in Boston, MA  and Denny Habecker is hosting the 2013 USAWA Nationals Championships on June 29 & 30th   in Lebanon, PA. However, both of these MAJOR COMPETITIONS require prior registration to enter so you need to get your entry in by the entry deadline. I know I’ve “harped” on this issue before, but here I go again.  It takes considerable planning and upfront expense to promote a major event and a meet director needs to know in advance how many to “plan the party for”.  I consider it disrespectful to think you can enter at the “last minute” when there is an entry deadline in place.  That’s why I’m reminding everyone of these dates now.


Heavy Lift Championships  – April 19th

National Championships – May 28th

The entry forms for these meets are located in USAWA Future Events on the right column of the website.

USAWA Signature Events

by Al Myers

One of the terms that Bill Clark often used in his Strength Journals was the expression “Signature Events”.  What exactly is meant by this?  I always took it to mean events/competitions that were the most important ones in the USAWA.  Obviously, this changes with time.  In the past few years the USAWA has began to offer yearly CHAMPIONSHIPS that recognize specialities within the organization.  I would say that these Championships are the signature events in the USAWA today.  These events symbolize the BEST of the BEST – and gives each lifter the chance to prove to the USAWA that they are indeed a champion.

The USAWA offers 8 different Championships.  With the USAWA Grip Championships being held tomorrow, I want to remind everyone of it’s importance and why if you are an all-rounder who excels in grip lifts this is a meet you should be at so you have the opportunity to be in the running for the USAWA Grip Champion!!!


Grip Championships 2nd weekend of Feb. Dino Gym Al Myers
Club Championships 1st or 2nd weekend of March Ambridge John McKean
Heavy Lift Championships 1st or 2nd weekend of May rotates rotates
National Championships 3rd or 4th weekend of June rotates rotates
Presidential Cup 1st or 2nd weekend of Aug Habeckers Gym Denny Habecker
Team Championships 3rd or 4th weekend of Aug Dino Gym Al Myers
Old Time Strongman Championships November JWC Thom Van Vleck
Postal Championships December Postal John Wilmot


The DADDY of all these Championships is the USAWA National Championship.  The reason  is that it recognizes the best ALL-ROUND lifters in the organization.  It contains a selection of ANY lift within the organization (out of around 200), and often contains a good balance of all types of lifting.  A few years ago I had a good discussion with Dale Friesze (and we ALL KNOW Dale doesn’t mind sharing his opinions! LOL), and he felt the name NATIONALS should just be used for the National Championships to identify its significance as the only “true” Nationals in the USAWA.  Well, I couldn’t argue with him so from that point on I have been referring to our yearly BIG MEET as the National Championships and the rest of these important meets as the Championships. This hasn’t always been the case, and in years past meets like the Heavy Lift Championships was called the Heavy Lift Nationals. But from now on it will be called the Heavy Lift Championships.

Each of these other Championships represent unique areas within the USAWA.  The Grip Championships only includes official USAWA lifts that test the grip, the Heavy Lift Championships contain only Heavy Lifts, and the Old Time Strongman Championships only include OTSM lifts. The Club Championships is unique in that it recognizes the top performing USAWA club, as it scored using a team score of 3 club members added together. The Presidential Cup is hosted by the USAWA President to recognize a top Record Day performer. Think of it as the Championships of Record Days.  The Team Championships is the championships that recognizes Team Lifting (2-man, 2-women, 2-person).  The Postal Championships recognizes the top performers in the postal meets.  The beauty of having these different Championships is that if you have special skills in lifting you can find an avenue in which you can compete in a specialized Championship.  It’s just one of the ways that the USAWA gives opportunities to lifters who like to specialize in the different areas of all-round strength.

As secretary, it is my job to sanction events/competitions.  Since these are our organizations most important events (ie Signature Events) I try not to allow other meets to be sanctioned on the same day as one of our Championships.  I know this hasn’t always been the case, but from now on I will try to make sure there are no other USAWA meet conflicts on the same day as one of these Championships.  Now since I have announced the “yearly dates” of these Championships, the Championships have “first dibs” on those dates for sanction.  This way no one will have any USAWA reason NOT to attend any of the USAWA Championships!

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