I was always intrigued by the sport of powerlifting. I started my journey into powerlifting in 1966. There was a power meet in nearby Dayton, Ohio, in late October, the month before I was being drafted into the Army, so I entered and found my calling. There were 11 men in my 165-pound weight class.
I got 10th place, only beating a 55-year-old. I knew this was my sport, and as it turned out, my life. I squatted 410 at 14-years-old, and in 1967 at 19 it was still 410. While in the army in Berlin, Germany, I picked up a copy of Muscle Power Builder, a magazine used by Joe Weider which included weightlifting, bodybuilding and powerlifting articles.
They were by a world famous gym called Westside Barbell of Culver City, California. The main information came from Bill West and George Frenn, who was a world record holder in the 56-pound weight throw. And Joe DiMarco who still lives today.
I wanted to be the best I could after my first meet with Milt McKinney, George Crawford along with Vince Anello and the great lifter Larry Pacifico, all of whom were from Ohio. I talked to George about my squat. He told me that I must start the lift correctly to do it correctly, and he was right on.
Vince Anello would become one of the greatest deadlifters of all time. He made 821 at 198 pounds. He always had his mom and dad at the meet. I asked Vince what made his deadlift go up?
He said to me, “Everything makes my deadlift go up.” I thought what kind of answer is that? But now I know Vince was talking about the conjugate system long before the Russians put a name on it.
Larry helped me a lot when he told me a person’s triceps are 75 percent of your bench. I also credit Bill Seno of Chicago for showing me the ultra wide grip six, eight and 10 rep system.
My main problem was that I had no training partners, just a power rack, a radio, a mirror and my training aids. But now after reading the Muscle Power Builder and the Westside articles, I had imaginary training partners.
Their names were West, Frenn, DiMarco, Casey, Merjruian along with Bill Thurber and Tom Overholtzer, a great squatter. They were the greatest on earth. There were also all kinds of athletes, mostly in the field events, such as Frenn, Long, Davis and Connolly who were some of the legends of bodybuilding.
In addition, I read about people like Arnold Schwarznegger, Dave Draper and pro wrestlers like Killer Kowalski and super star Billy Graham aka Wayne Coleman. But, my squat was still at 410 pounds.