Tag Archives: Wayne Smith

The 1964 Missouri State Champ!

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Gardner holding the 1964 State Champ trophy and a copy of the Obituary of his good friend Wayne Smith.

Wayne Gardner holding the 1964 State Champ trophy and a copy of the Obituary of his good friend Wayne Smith.

Recently I visited an old friend and member of the JWC, Wayne Gardner.  Wayne had been a member of the Jackson Weightlifting Club in the 1960’s and had them moved away for a job in Kansas City.  Wayne continued to lift competitively into his 50’s and lifted often in the old Odd Lifting days that preceded the USAWA.

I was looking at all of Gardner’s trophies and he told me there was one that was extra special to him.  It was one that he didn’t win but was given to him because he should have won it.  It was for the 165lb weight class of the 1964 Missouri State Championships.

The story goes like this.  When I was growing up there was a club member (and a former USAWA member and odd lifter) named Wayne Smith.  Smith lifted with the JWC and was on the two time State Team Champs.  Now, no disrespect to Smith as he was a great lifter and chin up champ.  But Olympic lifting was not his best area of lifting.  Gardner was a great Oly lifter and in 1964 they ended up in the same weight class.

Gardner had won the previous year.  He was the favorite to repeat.  As the meet progressed a funny thing happened.  Everyone bombed out except Gardner and Smith!  Going into the last lift, the Clean & Jerk, Gardner needed only a 135lbs to seal his second stated championship.  Smith came up and told him to take it a seal the win.  Gardner didn’t like the idea of taking such a light weight so he stuck with his original opener of 240lbs.  Smith finished his C&J’s and then waited on Gardner.  Who promptly BOMBED OUT!

Smith ended up with his only state championship.  He was pretty happy about it even if the other members kidded him for years about it being by default.  Many times I remember Smith retorting with, “Yeah, but I did what I had to do…to bad those other guys didn’t”!

Close up of the trophy

Close up of the trophy

Over the years Gardner and Smith remained great friends and then a few years ago Smith passed away.  It was a sad day for the JWC.  Gardner went to Smith’s family and asked if he could have that trophy and promised to give it a good home.  So they did and now after all these years it was in Gardner’s hands.

As Gardner recounted the story to me that I’ve heard a hundred times it took on a new meaning.  It was obvious to me this was more about friendship and less about a piece of metal mounted on wood.  A tear came to his eye as he finished knowing that Smith is no longer around to share in the moment.  Which considering Gardner was a Marine and one of the toughest guys I’ve ever known was saying much about how much it meant to him.  I’m pretty sure knowing him all my life I never saw him shed a tear before.

So that’s the story of a long forgotten state championship upon which a lifetime of friendship was built!

Wayne Smith: 1932-2012

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith deadlifting the front end of a Volkswagon. This was one of Wayne's favorite photos.

Got word that one of our USAWA brothers and long time Jackson Weightlifting Club member Wayne Smith passed away.  Wayne was a guy that goes way back.  He did the “Odd Lifting” back in the 50’s and 60’s when Ed Zercher kept the records.  Smith even predates Bill Clark in his lifting career.  There are a couple of good stories on Wayne Smith archived in the website if you’d like to brush up on this great lifter.

http://www.usawa.com/wayne-smith-part-ii/

http://www.usawa.com/wayne-smith-all-round-legend-part-i/

The last meet Wayne attended was last year’s USAWA Nationals held in Kirksville, Missouri.  Wayne had to enjoy the meet as a spectator but he told me at one point how he itched to get on the platform.  He even said he hoped to get back into shape to do so!

I have many stories on Wayne, he was a unique individual that loved his weightlifting.  He encouraged me a lot and since he never had kids of his own, I think in some way he adopted me.  He would take photos around bragging on me and it made me want to live up to his stories!   Which made me train harder as sometimes Wayne could make a guy look too good!  But he always spoke highly of his friends, that was just him.  The last time I visited him he insisted that I go around the nursing home to introduce me to everyone.  He was a friend to all.

Wayne will be missed.  His funeral will be next Monday in Kirksville.  I you have a kind word about him you would like to pass on, send it to me at tvanvleck@yahoo.com.  I will make sure his family and friends get it.  His legend will live on, not because he was the greatest lifter but because he was the greatest friend.

Wayne Smith Update

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith, long time USAWA lifter and even longer time member of the Jackson Weightlifting Club was recently featured by me in two part website article.  Wayne also attended the USAWA Nationals hosted by the JWC in Kirksville this year.  Wayne has many friends in the lifting world and I thought maybe some of you would like to hear the latest.

A couple of weeks ago Wayne was rushed the hospital.  He was having some problems and they were very concerning.  I went several times to check up on him and left with more questions than answers.  The doctors just didn’t know what was going on with him.

Well, I have good news.  I visited with Wayne yesterday and he is doing much better and appears to be on his way to recovery and has moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation unit.  He was his old self again and was enjoying visits from three JWC members in one day.  Wayne Jackson had made a visit, and then Wayne Gardner, then myself.

It is nice to know that we take care of our own and the friendships made on the lifting platform are often life time ones.  We hope that Wayne will be back home soon and if you have a message for him, just let me know at tvanvleck@yahoo.com and I will make sure he gets it!  He tells me he is not going to let this keep him from making his comeback in lifting!   You have to admire the dedication.

WAYNE SMITH ENCOUNTER

BY DAVE GLASGOW

WAYNE SMITH IS THE AGELESS WONDER! THE PICTURE ON THE LEFT IS WAYNE IN 1956, AND THE THE PICTURE ON THE RIGHT IS WAYNE IN FRONT OF THE SAME OAK TREE IN 1998!

WE ALL HAVE HAD OUR “DUMBASS” MOMENTS.  I, FOR ONE, SEEM TO HAVE A PENCHANT FOR THEM!  MY LATEST ‘FAUX PAS’ WAS IN KIRKSVILLE AT THE USAWA NATIONALS.  HOWEVER, A LITTLE BACKGROUND IS IN ORDER BEFORE I GO MUCH FURTHER.

I HAVE A BACK ROUND IN LAW ENFORCEMENT.  I HAD A TOTAL OF 18 ½ YEARS SERVICE TO A SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT AND THEN AT THE LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT, AS A RESERVE.  WITH THAT SERVICE CAME LOTS OF TRAINING.  A POINT THAT WAS EMPHASIZED TO US WAS TO BE ‘AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS’ AND ‘LOOK FOR THE UNUSUAL OR SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THAT IS OUT OF PLACE’.  I ALWAYS FELT THAT, FOR AN ‘ALMOST COP’, I WAS PRETTY GOOD AT IT.  THIS ONE TRAIT, THAT I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PROUD OF, IS WHAT BRINGS US BACK TO THE STORY AT HAND.

AT THE NATIONALS, THE WARM UP AREA WAS RIGHT NEXT TO A LARGE, OPEN DOOR THAT LEAD INTO THE GYM ITSELF.  I WAS IN THE WARM UP AREA WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL CAUGHT MY EYE.  HE WAS ELDERLY, VERY SLIGHT AND APPEARED TO BE, SOMEWHAT, FRAGILE.  HIS OVERALLS COULDN’T HIDE THE FACT THAT HE SEEMED TO BE UNSTEADY ON HIS FEET.  WHEN HE SAW ME LOOK AT HIM WITH A QUESTIONING GLANCE, HE QUICKLY LOOKED AWAY, ATTEMPTING TO BREAK EYE CONTACT.  MY ‘SPIDEY SENSE’ IMMEDIATELY KICKED IN. WHAT COULD THIS OLD TIMER BE DOING HERE?  WAS HE LOST?  WAS HE LOOKING TO GRAB SOMETHING FROM THE VARIOUS BAGS LYING AROUND?  HAD HE WANDERED OFF FROM A NURSING HOME??  I DECIDED TO TRACK THOM DOWN AND TELL HIM OF THIS “INTRUDER”!

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, I WAS DISTRACTED FROM MY HUNT BY SOMETHING OR OTHER AND WHEN I FINALLY FOUND THOM, TO MY UTTER SHOCK, HE WAS WALKING TOWARD ME AND HAD HIS ARM AROUND OUR MYSTERY MAN!  APPROACHING, THOM GUIDED HIS GUEST OVER TO ME AND SAID, “DAVE, I REALLY WANT YOU TO MEET WAYNE SMITH.”  WHAT THE HELL??  THE ELDER STATESMAN OF THE JACKSON WEIGHTLIFTING CLUB STUCK OUT A GRIZZLED AND LEATHERY HAND THAT  I GLADLY TOOK AND FOUND A HAND SHAKE THAT, CERTAINLY, DID NOT BELONG TO A ‘FRAGILE’ INDIVIDUAL.  THIS GUY WAS THE REAL DEAL AND I HAD MISTAKEN HIM FOR SOME TRANSIENT PASSERBY!!  TO SAY I FELT STUPID AND FOOLISH WOULD BE THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR! 

I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT I SAID TO THIS GENTLEMAN, SOMETHING ABOUT I HAD HEARD OF HIM AND HIS LIFTING AND IT WAS MY PLEASURE TO MEET HIM.  IT MOST CERTAINLY WAS MY PLEASURE… AND EMBARRASSMENT!

THIS SO REMINDS ME OF A STORY I READ YEARS AGO IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. A VENERABLE, OLDER ARM WRESTLER WALKED INTO A GYM WHERE A COMPETITION WAS BEING HELD.  HE WENT RIGHT BY A LARGE, HEAVILY MUSCLED YOUNG MAN THAT WAS TAKING TICKETS AT THE DOOR.  WHEN THE YOUNGER MAN GRABBED THE MAN’S ARM, HE GROWLED, “IT’S TWO BUCKS TO SEE THE SHOW, POPS!!”  TO WHICH THE OLDER GENTLEMEN SIMPLY SAID, “I AM THE SHOW, SONNY!”

MR. WAYNE SMITH COULD HAVE SAID THE SAME THING TO ME………

Wayne Smith: All Round Legend Part II

 by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith pulling a partial deadlift with everything but the kitchen sink on the bar!

In Part II of my story on Wayne Smith, we will look at some of his best lifts, his personality, and his hard work ethic.

Wayne Smith was most impressive when he was deadlifting.  He had a best of 460lb at 148lbs (triple bodyweight).  He also had a 240 bench, snatch 145, C&J 200, squat 290, and a Clean & Press of 160.  Wayne Jackson told me that one of the most impressive things he saw Wayne Smith do was a bent arm pullover from the floor to the chest while lying on a bench with 250lbs.  Some of Waynes old records on the Pre-USAWA “All-Round Records” list include a 230lb Middle Fingers deadlift, a Pinch Grip of 115lbs, and a Miller Clean & Jerk of 90lbs all done in his late 40’s.

Phil Jackson remembers meeting for the first time in 1957.  He said he was around 13 and Wayne was the “expert” who actually was friends with Tommy Kono!  Phil said they all enjoyed Wayne’s wry sense of humor and it made training sessions funny and the long, late night trips back from meets tolerable.  Wayne was always saying something off the cuff.  Some of his best that I remember include:

“Bodybuilding is like a dog show”

“I complained to my wife about how sore I was and when she found out it was from doing a heavy deadlift she told me to see a vet because only a jackass would try something like that”

One time, Ed Zercher, Sr was the head judge at a lifting meet and smith was up on the deadlift.  Zercher was really serious on judging.  Smith walked up and took a “clean grip” as Ed looked on through his trademark tiny spectacles.  Smith stood up, snapped his fingers and said, “That’s right, this is the deadlift…..I was getting ready to clean this”.  Phil said Zercher didn’t bat an eye and said, “One minute” indicating Smith better lift or get off the platform.

Smith up in a tree cutting limbs.

Smith was a tree trimmer his whole life and he was famous for scaling unbelievably tall trees with little or not climbing gear and like a surgeon dropped limbs with great precision.  One day a guy said, “You must like heights” and Smith told him he HATED heights.  The guy asked him why he climbed such tall trees then and Smith said, “Because that’s where my grocery money is at!!!!”

Smith was a great tree trimmer and my Uncle Phil and I both share the experience of helping Smith in his tree trimming business.  Smith was not a wealthy man, as a matter of fact, he usually just got by.  I recall one time Smith was trying to get one of three chain saws going to finish a job when he turned to me and said, “There’s nothing shameful about being poor….it’s just d@med inconvenient”!!!  It’s hard work trimming trees and Smith made extra money cutting that wood up for fired wood that he would sell.  He was one of the hardest working men I knew and the fact that he trained with weights at all was a feat unto itself.  There is no doubt he would have had a much greater career if he hadn’t been breaking his back all day working!

That might explain Wayne’s training regime.  He worked so hard trimming and cutting down trees and often when the work was there he’d put in dawn to dusk days that he hardly had time or energy to train.  Getting that “grocery money” out of the trees was more important than a trophy!  He would often show up at the gym and lift for about 20 minutes at a time hitting all the major lifts he was going to do in the next contest.  For example, if he were going to do a powerlifting meet he’d hit his warm ups, hit his opener and move on to the next lift.  No frills, just right to the point.  Smith got plenty of “assistance” work in his job….the kind of stuff people now do and call “old school” training, Smith did and made a living at it!  Wayne also would focus on some new stunt that he’d practice when he could on the job.  When I was working for him it was around the time Mt. St. Helen’s erupted.  So Wayne was working on doing chins while pinch gripping the rafters.  He also would “monkey bar” across the room pinching the rafters.  He quite seriously would tell me if a volcano erupted and the room filled with lava he’d be safe!  I never knew how serious he was because I thought to myself….”If the room is full of lava then I would think that would be the least of your worries”!  His wry sense of humor kind of always left you wondering!

Smith with his custum made truck hauling a "typical" haul for him. He was talented at getting huge trees out by himself. The truck had a strong wench with an I-beam on the top that would pull a large log right in!

Later Wayne Smith became interested in bowling.  He became very good at it and  and was so successful he was inducted in the Missouri Bowling Hall of Fame.  He is a local legend in the bowling alley and he is proud of the fact that he’s the only person in both the Bowling and Lifting Halls of Fame.

Wayne has been a big part of the JWC for OVER 50 years.  Who knows, maybe if he had not been there to guide my Uncle’s when they first started training maybe there would never been a JWC.  I feel we owe him a lot and his contributions to Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, and the USAWA should not be overlooked!

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