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HISTORY OF POWERLIFTING, WEIGHTLIFTING, AND STRENGTH TRAINING PART 98: WORTHY OF A FIGHT? THE GOOD OLD DAYS, PART THREE
By Dr. Ken
When you’ve been around a “smaller” sport like powerlifting for many decades and you’re an “older person,” two things generally become true: you “know everyone” involved in the sport through those many decades, and in the minds of most, you become a better lifter than you actually were. I’ve been publicly credited of late with the latter when in truth, I was the equivalent of a boxing “ham-and egger” (as an amateur boxer, I was already a “ham-and-egger!”). I can say however that my many travels and involvement in powerlifting in
numerous capacities has left me with at least a passing acquaintance with most of those who were part of the founding and early history of the sport. I am one of those individuals, as my magazine and internet columns and articles through the past fifty-plus years indicate, that believes that knowing a sport’s history is important. Powerlifting’s struggle for legitimacy, shedding its mantle of “The Hell’s Angel of Organized Lifting Sports” as one top official once uttered to me, and overcoming what should have been Olympic weightlifting’s suffocating influence allows the present generation of competitors and fans to better understand why we are not and never will be an Olympic sport, why we are not and never will be a television draw, and why our contests are still small-potatoes affairs usually left to an audience of family, friends, and training partners. None of the above descriptive statements about our sport are necessarily negative they are, at least in my opinion, just how things are and we should all enjoy it the way it is.
To this point in our reading, we can sum things up easily:
-Until the early 1960s, Olympic weightlifting, not bodybuilding, was the driving force behind the public perception of what “lifting weights” was perceived to be.
-The inroads made by bodybuilding as it moved towards the top of the Iron Sports food chain, were difficult and slow because the general public, athletic coaches, and most athletes viewed the entire activity as a producer of negative physical traits like loss of speed, stiffness, and diminished coordination for any sport or activity. The close association with homosexuals and homosexual behavior, even if this was more perception than truth served as a major cultural black eye.
-The financial backing, even though primarily from York Barbell Company as the only source at times, was directed to Olympic lifting.
-Most trainees and competitors involved in any form of lifting activity performed the same basic barbell and dumbbell exercises and thus, many if not most were “as strong as they looked” and “looked as if they lifted weights.”
-There were many who did not have the flexibility, athletic ability, and/or interest in performing or training the Olympic lifts and wanted another outlet for their competitive desires.
-Thus was born Odd Lift Contests and then, Powerlifting.
My comments in Parts One and Two of this specific article drew a number of correspondences filled with both praise and disagreement. My intent of course has been to indicate the struggle powerlifting has had for any bit of recognition relative to other sports and any of the other lifting related sports. Some complaints came from the perspective that Bob Hoffman and the York Barbell Club did in fact, support or even strongly support powerlifting. There
can be no argument that Hoffman was for decades, the strongest supporter of Olympic lifting in this nation if not the world. I doubt few spent the fortune he did in promoting and literally paying for the sport’s survival and eventual status as a respected Olympic participating activity. Yes, he made money doing this but without him and York Barbell, there would have been no Olympic weightlifting in the United States or at best, a very truncated version of it. It may be hard to believe for the younger generations that at one time, we were competing for world supremacy. Arguments can go all day and night, and have in past decades, whether he was fair, biased, dictatorial, benevolent, caring, or concerned with the lifters and the sport relative to his commercial interests and gains but there can be no argument; he was the guy, the savior, and the one benefactor that made Olympic weightlifting whatever it was in this nation. By the early to mid-1970s when Bob tired of the recreational drug use of the York lifters, lifters in general, and those of the younger generation that was spawning the pool of eligible lifters and turned his attention and fortune to the sport of softball, Olympic lifting in the United States suffered and did so for decades. Despite many efforts from many individuals, the establishment of a centralized Olympic training center that includes Olympic lifting, and attempts to secure corporate financing, weightlifting is a minor sport, little more than a blip on the worldwide spectrum of participatory and spectator events.
Some contend that Hoffman and the York crowd, what was his crowd of AAU/lifting officials and administrators, did not try to hold back powerlifting, that Bob was vocally and financially supportive. The contention upholds the notion that Hoffman and York worked “
behind the scenes” to contribute in a positive way and that Odd Lift and Powerlifting Contest results were reported in York magazines from the early formation of the sport. For those of us who lived the history, I would disagree. There were those at York and part of the American Athletic Union (AAU) lifting administration that did in fact like powerlifting, saw it as an alternative lifting sport, and if nothing else, provided a viable commercial opportunity to expand the sales of nutritional supplements and lifting related equipment. In some areas of the country, including the New York City region, Odd Lift Contests and “our guys versus your guys in these five lifts” type of competitions were prevalent into the mid-1960s in part because Olympic lifting did not allow powerlifting to get much traction. While York gets credit for eventually producing squat racks and benches that were of safer and more appropriate construction for actual powerlifting, the development of a stronger, stiffer barbell and thin-line plates to accommodate the larger loads powerlifters were subjecting the equipment to, 100 pound plates to make loading more efficient, and of course promoting some of the early national and world level meets, there will always be argument if this was done because there was a supportive belief in the activity or instead done for very obvious commercial reasons. There was always and will remain, the belief that Hoffman’s attitude was “encouraging any lifting activity makes for one more potential Olympic lifter,” thus there will always be a division in those that believe that
Joe Weider of course was to bodybuilding, what Hoffman was to Olympic lifting, at least as a general statement. Joe did in fact put his resources almost solely into the “body end” of things and turned from near bankruptcy to a vise-like and very profitable control of the sport. He certainly managed to have the California powerlifting scene linked to the Weider name thanks primarily to the clever writing of Dick Tyler but it would be difficult to state that Weider was a true supporter. His “world championship” as described in Part Two last month, was no more than attempt to fill a void and of course, make money. When control of amateur sports was taken from the AAU, one of the disadvantages of not having a strong leadership or leadership group, and not having a consistent source of financial support, was a decades long battle for control of powerlifting that led to the establishment of numerous organizations. Each chose to tout its own perspective which may have included drug use, anti-drug use, drug testing, anti-drug testing, strict judging in accordance with the existing rules, judging that often did not come close to satisfying the rules so that lifters knew they would set personal and/or larger scoped records in specific contests, and almost everything and anything else one could think of. Are things “better” now? Do lifters train and compete for financial gain, corporate sponsorship, free supplements and attire, or widespread adulation? Have we been forced to endure and persevere in the gym for our own satisfaction? We are not big time, won’t be, and really should we be?
Joe Weider of course was to bodybuilding, what Hoffman was to Olympic lifting, at least as a general statement. Joe did in fact put his resources almost solely into the “body end” of things and turned from near bankruptcy to a vise-like and very profitable control of the sport. He certainly managed to have the California powerlifting scene linked to the Weider name thanks primarily to the clever writing of Dick Tyler but it would be difficult to state that Weider was a true supporter. His “world championship” as described in Part Two last month, was no more than attempt to fill a void and of course, make money. When control of amateur sports was taken from the AAU, one of the disadvantages of not having a strong leadership or leadership group, and not having a consistent source of financial support, was a decades long battle for control of powerlifting that led to the establishment of numerous organizations. Each chose to tout its own perspective which may have included drug use, anti-drug use, drug testing, anti-drug testing, strict judging in accordance with the existing rules, judging that often did not come close to satisfying the rules so that lifters knew they would set personal and/or larger scoped records in specific contests, and almost everything and anything else one could think of. Are things “better” now? Do lifters train and compete for financial gain, corporate sponsorship, free supplements and attire, or widespread adulation? Have we been forced to endure and persevere in the gym for our own satisfaction? We are not big time, won’t be, and really should we be? powerlifting was pushed forward or held back during its first ten years of struggling existence.
Some of our readers weren’t certain where the December 2016, Part One of this article was headed, at least not relative to its title. Simply stated, Powerlifting as a sport, had its origins in Odd Lift Contests and Olympic Weightlifting, the former for the actual lifts that were eventually chosen, and the latter which was used as a template to first formulate the actual competitive standards of the new sport. What came with that template for determining weight classes, record keeping, contest performance, and administrative structure, was an established lifting hierarchy that firmly sat upon the new sport of powerlifting and was attempting to utilize it for its own purposes. Since the growth of powerlifting as an organized sport was consistent from its initial organization, there has been a ton of revisionist history written, some meant to excuse those in control of the lifting sports during the 1960s and ‘70s for their mean spirited and dubious behavior and other chapters designed to glorify and elevate the status and so-called record setting ability of those actually writing that jaundiced view of actual events.
There is no generation that appreciates the work, effort, sacrifice, and consideration given by the generation that preceded it. My generation, the so-called Baby Boomers although I just made it since the years seem to “officially” span 1946 – 1964 and I was conceived while World War II veterans were still being mustered out of the military service, weren’t appreciative of what truly was “The Greatest Generation” until we were well into our forties. “That generation” survived the Great Depression which makes any following economic calamity seem like grade school stuff, fought in World War II and in the Korean War, many men in both. As a historical footnote, allow me to add that Congress has not officially declared war since 1941. However, whether whatever occurred in
One of the beliefs I have albeit an old fashioned and out dated one, is that all lifters who compete should give something back to the sport of powerlifting. If you lift in a competition, large or small, you should at some point spot, load, judge, or do something at a contest to make it run more efficiently. Some men and women are obviously not capable of spotting safely due to their physical stature but anyone can load a bar either on the platform or in the warm-up room. For reasons I do not understand, this task, especially in the warm-up room, is often seen as “peon work” on the list of meet day tasks, yet it is vital. While most lifters have a coach, there are not enough bodies around to load, or load quickly in the warm-up area, leaving some lifters rushed or short on their warm-up attempts. Some meet directors are experienced enough to know that having a few “attendees” in the warm-up area available to assist loading if asked or if needed, makes for a much more efficient meet. I believe it is assumed that “there are plenty of guys with each lifter or team who could be doing this” but that just isn’t true. Especially in smaller contests that host primarily inexperienced lifters, many competitors might arrive by themselves or with a training partner serving as their coach or handler. A handful of lifters like this are the antagonist to the slick, fully staffed teams that show up with designated loaders and spotters of their own, lifters who will not be in competition on this specific day who are present to do no more than serve the needs of their teammates whose every warm-up attempt is carefully scripted and scrutinized.
В моей спортивной карьере было очень много разных событий, мне приходилось не только тренироваться и выступать на соревнованиях, но и проводить соревнования, как организатору.
В 2005 году, мой тренер Игорь Деревянко посоветовал мне провести соревнования по пауэрлифтингу среди юниоров Сибирского региона на призы чемпиона мира Константина Павлова и за счет спонсоров вручить юниорам, хорошие призы. И я взялся за это тяжелое дело. Первый турнир прошел хорошо и вот пришло время, второго турнира.
С Александром Карелиным судьба свела меня в 2006 году в городе Бердске Новосибирской области. Его родственник, тренер по тяжелой атлетике и бизнесмен Виктор Голубев пригласил моего тренера Игоря Деревянко и меня купаться в ледяной проруби на святой праздник Крещение Господне. Признаться, я ждал этого дня, очень хотелось познакомиться с сибирским гигантом. Понятно, что трижды становится Олимпийским чемпионом – это задача сверхсложная. Кроме Александра Карелина ожидалось прибытие других известных чемпионов, высокопоставленных чиновников по спорту из городов Сибири: Новосибирска, Бердска, Алтая, Омска, Томска.
In my sports career was a lot of different events, I had not only to train and perform at competitions, but also hold competitions as organizer.
In 2005, my coach Igor Derevyanko told me to hold on powerlifting competitions among juniors in the Siberian region of the world champion Konstantin Pavlov and prizes from sponsors give juniors, good prizes. And I took up this difficult matter. The first tournament went well and now it’s time, the second tournament.
With Alexander Karelin fate brought me in 2006 in the city of Berdsk Novosibirsk region. His relative, coach of the weightlifting and businessman Viktor Golubev invited my coach Igor Derevyanko and I swim in the ice-hole in the holy holiday of Epiphany. Frankly, I was waiting for this day, really wanted to get acquainted with the Siberian giant. It is understood that the three become Olympic champion – a task extremely complicated. Besides Alexander Karelin expected arrival of other well-known champions of senior officials of Sport of Siberian cities: Novosibirsk, Berdsk, Altai, Omsk, Tomsk.
О диетах, правильном питании и сгонке веса у пауэрлифтеров написано уже не одна статья, а множество, поэтому я только хочу поделиться опытом моей диеты и рассказать, как я убирал лишние килограммы из своего собственного веса перед соревнованиями. Честно говоря, мне это давалось с большим трудом, потому, что я представитель легкой весовой категорий и легковесу согнать лишний вес перед соревнованиями намного труднее, чем тяжеловесу.
Иногда многие говорят, что питание в пауэрлифтинге не главный фактор в достижении результата в поднятии большего веса, я с этим не согласен и готов поспорить, так как питание в жизни человека играет очень важную роль, а питание профессионального спортсмена, а еще и пауэрлифтера, который за одну тренировку в спортивном зале тратит огромное количество калорий, это еще важнее, чем для обычного человека.
About diets, nutrition and weight loss powerlifters have already written more than one article, and a lot, so I just want to share the experience of my diet and to tell you how I removed the excess kilograms of its own weight before the competition. Honestly, it was very difficult for him, because I represent the lightweight weight categories and weight to lose weight before competition is much harder than heavyweight.
Sometimes many people say that food in powerlifting is not the main factor in achieving results in the lifting of greater weight, I disagree and I bet, as food in human life plays a very important role, and power of a professional athlete, but also of a powerlifter, who for one workout in the gym spends a huge amount of calories, it is even more important than for the average person.
Having noted the various “seasons” or training periods that comprise a yearly calendar for the sport of football as we did in Part One of this blog/article, I want to now relate that information to the sport of powerlifting.
Harking back to the 1940s and ‘50s, long before powerlifting became an official sport, both Olympic weightlifting and bodybuilding comprised the “lifting sports” for those who publicly admitted they did either. In an era when hard work, dedication to supporting one’s family, and rising above the socioeconomic level imposed by immigration and starting anew in one’s adopted country were qualities that were prized and expected from every male, a leisure time activity like “lifting weights” was seen as frivolous, wasteful, and selfish.
Three weeks ago I traveled to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to compete at the NAPF Regional Championships. My only goal of this meet was to earn my spot at the World Games in 2017. The top male lifter, scored by Wilks, receives an invite to the World Games in Wroclaw, Poland next summer. I knew just getting my openers would be good enough to earn best lifter, so I took some token openers and jumped to my regular openers and finished the meet with a 1,025 lb. Squat, 783 lb. Bench Press, and 717 lb. Deadlift for a 2,525 lb. Total. This is 278 lbs. below my total from the Arnold (2,803#) but I just needed to hit my openers on this day.
The next meet coming up for me is the 2016 IPF World Championships in Orlando, FL on November 19th. This will be the biggest meet of my life simply because winning the World Championship last year in Luxembourg barely eluded me.
My training cycle for this competition has started out well and I’ve squatted 1,025 lbs, bench pressed 805 lbs, and deadlifted 805 lbs already in the first two weeks of my training cycle before ramping up to heavier weight in the next few weeks. I currently have 10 more weeks until the championships arise which will come upon me extremely fast. My body is not entirely healthy and I’ve been racking up a few injuries over the past few years because I compete too often and never let myself rest. But I will not let injuries slow me down from winning the World Championship this year. There have been a lot of rumors and speculation on who may be competing in the SHW weight class and who may not be coming. But none of this matters to me or affects me. It goes in one ear and out the other. I am preparing for all of the best superheavyweights in the world to be there and in full health, so I will be bringing my A game.
I will not predict numbers or reveal my goals for this meet, simply that I will win and I will do whatever numbers I need to in order to win.
I look forward to November 19th and to step on the platform at the IPF World Championships and represent my country.
You can find Blaine Sumner’s website at https://www.blainesumner.com/. Blaine offers customized programming and coaching services, in addition to his highly successful e-book, “Gorilla Warfare”.
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