USAWA History – 1996 Nationals

by Al Myers

(The following meet report covering the 1996 USAWA National Championships  was written by Bill Clark in the August 1996 issue of the Strength Journal, Vol. VII No.5)


The crowd was the smallest in the history of the USAWA’s national championships which originated in 1988, but the lifting was excellent, the food great, the fun unmarred by the competition, and the weekend a tribute to the Ciavattone Family in general and the memory of Frank Ciavattone Sr., in particular.

A field of 23 lifters were on hand for the Ninth Annual USAWA Championships which were held in the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, Mass., a fine facility which seemed to perfectly fit the needs of the small crowd.

Five members of the Ciavattone Family lifted in the competition and, when the meet was done, three-year-old Joseph Ciavattone did an exhibition Ciavattone lift with 10 kilos which must have set a USAWA record for most lifters in one extended family in a single meet, beating out the many Montinis of Aliquippa, Pa.

Cleveland’s Bob Hirsh was an easy winner of the best lifter award for Americans, but waged a huge battle with England’s Steve Angell for the bragging rights, regardless of nationality.  Bob finished with 1162.5 points on the Lynch Formula.  Steve wound up with 1172.5 points.  Hirsh received one per cent age correction — 11.6 points – which gave him an edge of 1.6 points on teh age-corrected total… a tremendous battle between two great lifters.  Bob is only 41; Steve is 26.

Cara Ciavattone took the women’s overall title.  She shared gals’ honors with Noi Phumchaona the masters’ leader, and Holly Ciavattone, her niece, who won teenage honors.

Joe Ciavattone was the best open lifter (Angell was not eligible for USAWA awards) and his nephew, Jeff, was the best teenager.  Only one Ciavattone failed to win age group honors.  As is normally the case, the meet director has many thing to distract his concentration on lifting and this meet was no exception.  Frank Jr., failed to break a couple of records he had hoped to exceed, but had to be happy with the way the weekend progressed.  He took home the best meet director award…. and well-deserved.

The Ciavattone neck proved to be super strong – this time it belonged to younger brother Joe.  Frank had taken the neck record up to 322.5 kg (711 pounds) at the 1992 Nationals in his hometown of Walpole, Mass., and it still stands as the heavyweight record.  It was also a Ciavattone Family record. No longer!!!!!

Joe, only 27 and lifting in the 105 KG class at a bodyweight of only 223, made a 287.5 KG opener, jumped to 325 for a family record ad the best-ever neck lift.  He missed it the first time, but got a better lean and a more balanced drive to make the 325 – 716 1/2 pounds …. the best of all-time.

The Ciavattone Family neck battle is now under way.


The Sunday evening banquet, which left most everyone full of bar-b-q, was highlighted by the presentation of the Frank D. Ciavattone Sr. Courage Awards for both 1995 and 1996.  Frank Sr. was a long-time supporter of all varieties of lifting, who, in his final years, was a staunch supporter of the USAWA.   He served the USAWA as an official despite being battered by diabetes and cancer and the strength with which he fought his conditions is very much evident in this family.  In memory of her husband, Josephine Ciavattone presented the 1995 Courage Award to Howard Prechtel, the USAWA President who still sets records at 71 despite recurring problems stemming from World War II wounds.  The 1996 Courage Award went to Bill Clark, who has overcame three joint replacements to win two USAWA titles and set nearly 100 age group records at age 64.


1996 USAWA National Championships
June 22-23, 1996
Mansfield, Massachusetts

Meet Director: Frank Ciavattone
Loaders: Mark Bridges, Ramon Lopez, Jim Collins

Lifts: Clean and Press Heels Together, Continental to Chest, Pullover and Press, Zercher Lift, Deadlift with Ciavattone Grip, One-Arm Clean and Jerk, One-Arm Deadlift, Neck Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Bob Hirsh, Ohio
2. Chris Waterman, Ohio
3. Barry Pensyl, Pennsylvania
4. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
5. Jim Malloy, Ohio
6. Joe Ciavattone, Massachusetts
7. Denny Habecker, Pennsylvania
8. Pete Zaremba, Ohio
9. Howard Prechtel, Ohio
10. Dale Friesz, Virginia

Women: Top Three Placings
1. Cara Ciavattone, Massachusetts
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio
3. Holly Ciavattone, Massachusetts

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Junior – Holly Ciavattone
Women Open – Cara Ciavattone
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Junior – Jeff Ciavattone
Men Open – Bob Hirsh
Men Master – Bob Hirsh
Men 40-44 Age Group – Bob Hirsh
Men 45-49 Age Group – Barry Pensyl
Men 50-54 Age Group – Jim Malloy
Men 55-59 Age Group – Dale Friesz
Men 60-64 Age Group – Dennis Mitchell
Men 65-69 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 70-74 Age Group – Howard Prechtel
Frank Ciavattone Sr. Award – Bill Clark