From 1966 when I lifted in my first power meet in Dayton, Ohio, until today, powerlifting has absorbed my life.
At that first meet I was lifting along side four IPF future world champs: Larry Pacifico, Vince Auella, George Crawford, and Milt McKenzie.
That experience changed my life forever, for good or bad.
Since then I have authored eight books and numerous strength articles and I have acquired 12 United States patents. I am not stopping any time soon.
Lifting is Repeating Itself
I made Top 10 for 34 years—with gear and without gear—in all four categories. But of late, I hear the controversy about one or the other. The so-called Raw Lifters are going down the same path of the Gear Lifters without seemingly knowing. In 1973 I lifted without gear—no knee wraps, meaning not even ace bandages—a weight lifting belt and a two-hour weigh-in. Today, one would use a three-meter knee wrap, four-inch power belt and, after a 24-hour weigh-in, a 198 is lifting as a 181.
Our Gear Lifters started the same way. First, they used one-meter then two-meter and now three-meter wraps. Even the singlets today are equal to the old spam-jam lifting suits. Like it or not, lifting is repeating itself.
Anything or anyone inspires me to do better. While I don’t watch many movies, some have inspired me to continue competing after doing so for 51 years.
Books have also played a key role in my life in general. I have always seen myself or others mimicking the fictional characters in books or on the screen.
(Mad Max (1979))
I realize that a man of science will be remembered for decades, but a powerlifter is forgotten the day after he retires. I will not divulge the names of the lifters I will be writing about, as what happens at Westside must remain at Westside forever.
Years ago a Top 5 Lifter abruptly quit lifting in one day. He showed up at a party I attended and told me he did not miss powerlifting. I told him powerlifting did not miss him as well.
One of my favorite movies is Mad Max. The movie is full of revenge as Max is in law enforcement fighting against a lawless motorcycle gang. His first encounter is with a crazed member of the gang called The Night Rider who is out cruising with his biker bitch with a chain around her neck. He says to her, “I am a fuel-injected, suicide machine, a real cop killer.” But at that time, Mad Max appears out of nowhere and plays a game of chicken with The Night Rider and wins. Then, Max bumps him from the rear and the Night Rider starts to cry and says to his biker bitch, “I lost it, I lost it, I lost it.” Over and over he says it and then he crashes and dies.
I have seen a lot of Night Riders in my time. It could be someone who just started and swears they are going to break a world record, but when they find out how hard it is and the work it takes to be a world record holder, they quit. Or, they can be on the top of the world with world records and then say they are done with powerlifting for no apparent reason. Either way, they are a Night Rider.
The leader of the gang was named The Toe Cutter. Two of his gang members were Bubba and Johnny Boy. Bubba was his lead man. Whatever The Toe Cutter needed done, Bubba was the guy.
On the other hand, Johnny Boy was a complete f-up—always doing stupid things and getting into trouble. He could not keep his mouth shut. He had done nothing; he was never going to do nothing, but always was talking out of his ass.
There are lots of Johnny Boys on the internet making fools of themselves every time they make programs for lifters even though they are low status, many times because they could not program for themselves. Why doesn’t a high-level lifter train or program others to become better than they are? Ego or lack of knowledge … ok … both.
Just because someone is a world record holder does not mean they can help you. Just because you hang around a great lifter does not mean you will become one. Freddie Roach was an average boxer, but is one of the greatest trainers today. Mike Tyson was a great boxer, but never trained anyone to a title fight. Think about it before you pay for a program by a used car salesman, and I apologize to used car salesmen everywhere.
Remember Bubba? It’s good to have a bubba or two in the gym. Bubba’s the one who everyone asks to hand out a bench or help set a bench shirt.
He always goes to help at meets no matter where they are held, no matter how far, always at his own expense.
Other lifters never go to help. They think they are too good or way beyond doing such meager tasks. You know who they are—one of a kind. Remember, it’s good to be a Bubba sometimes.
Then, remember Johnny Boy the next time you get the urge to talk and make a fool of yourself. Load that computer, phone or iPad on a sled and pull it around the block for a workout, then go to sleep.
Choosing the Sword
I have seen just a few movies, but some have given me great motivation. A movie I enjoy is the Shogun Assassin. The movie is about a Shogun that has lost his mind. He believes his Decapitator, Ogami, who has killed 131 of the Shogun’s enemies, is going to kill him, too.
So he summons his Ninjas to kill Ogami during the night—this would become no easy task. Ogami’s wife, Azami, has a bad dream about being killed and tells her husband, but he says it is just a dream. While Ogami is away in his prayer room, the Ninjas come to his home while Azami is with their young son Daigoro. They are there to kill Ogami, but cause grave injuries to Azami instead. As Ogami comes inside the house he says to Azami that her bad dream has come true. Bloodied Azami is holding their son in her arms.
As she reaches out to Daigoro, she wipes blood on his face in a tender way. She looks at Ogami and dies. Even though Daigoro cannot understand his words, the Decapitator tells Daigoro he must choose between a colorful ball or a sword that is stuck in the floor. His path to destiny is in the balance. If he chooses the ball he will join his mother in death. If young Daigoro chooses the sword, he will follow his father on a road of vengeance, Daigoro is fascinated with the pretty ball, but chooses the sword as Ogami picks him up and says “You are my son!” And, thus, begins a bloody path of destruction.
For those who cannot or will not give their all—who will not make Westside number one in their life—they have chosen the ball, whether they know it or not. For those who choose the sword, they have died and a picture has been placed on the wall to prove it. This is the way of Westside. Many people say that we can help them, but what can they do to help Westside?
Westside has a long and illustrious history and will have a bright future with the help of super strong and dedicated new lifters. So remember that you can choose the ball or choose the sword, but you must choose carefully.
Mad Max. (1979). [film] Directed by G. Miler. Australia: Roadshow Film Distributors.
Shogun Assassin (1980). [film] Directed byR. Houston.. Japan: New World Pictures.