Iron History

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12/30/2002 Entry: "Ironhistory 2003:1"

Welcome to's second year, and thank you for donating to, the reason we are here. If you have questions or comments use the comment button to reach me- all comments, even unkind ones which help further our knowledge, are welcomed. May I remind those of you who print this effort, to please wait a few days to do so, in case corrections or additional information comes in, so you will be printing the better version.

NEW POLICY: I will answer questions only through the Q+A section of, or through the comment button here; this assures me you are a donor to the cause and are supplying cyberpump with at least $10 per year (I do not receive money). It is unfair to those who donate to answer questions for those who do not. I fully realize that the non-donors cannot see this announcement, but wanted to say it here anyway. If this seems harsh, sorry. But it seems harsh to me to consider $10 per year as an extreme request.

January 1 thru 17th births:
Jan 1: 1969 Kimberly Page and Ian Harrison

Jan 2: 1892 Lillian Leitzel
Jan 2: 1914 Juanita Peoples
Jan 2: 1922 Kimon Voyages
Jan 2: 1950 Lynn Pirie
Jan 2: 1971 Lena Johannesen
Jan 2: 1977 Dave Johnson

Jan 3: 1834 George Barker Windship (not Winship)
Jan 3: 1918 Elaine Mae Smith

Jan 4: 1959 Cory Everson
Jan 4: 1963 Sally Gomez
Jan 4: 1970 Dennis Newman
Jan 4: 1971 Kristy Chandler and Jennifer Goodwin

Jan 5: 1893 Karl Norberg
Jan 5: 1943 Linda Wood-Hoyte
Jan 5: 1951 Bertil Fox
Jan 5: 1954 Audrey Harris-White
Jan 5: 1957 Jeep Swenson
Jan 5: 1972 Sophie Duquette

Jan 7:1916/1918? Julius Johnson
Jan 7: 1920 Harold Sakata
Jan 7: 1942 Vasily Alexeev

Jan 8: 1863 Minerva
Jan 8: 1936 Ernie Phillips
Jan 8: 1949 Steve Michalik
Jan 8: 1969 Criag Licker

Jan 10: 1916 Alistair Murray

Jan 11: 1884 Dietrich Wortmann
Jan 11: 1893 Antone Matysek
Jan 11:1926 Andy Bostinto
Jan 11: 1957 Janet Tech (or 21st?)
Jan 11: 1963 Nicu Vlad

Jan 12: 1921 John Davis
Jan 12: 1933 Ray Stern
Jan 12: 1959 Rolf Moller and Tom Terwilliger

Jan 13: 1913 Chester Teegarden
Jan 13: 1959 Brenda Kelly

Jan 14: 1866 Luigo Borra
Jan 14: 1959 John Brookfield
Jan 14: 1967 Craig Titus

Jan 15: 1970 Millet Faure

Jan 16, 1921 Leo Robert
Jan 16, 1953: Kal Szakalak
Jan 16: 1968 Lynne Nichols

Jan 17: 1837 Bill Curtis
Jan 17: 1905 Marcel Domoulin
Jan 17: 1923 Leo Murdock
Jan 17: 1964 Milos Sarcev and Willie Stalling

FORMAT for 2003:

Later this month will begin our treatment of Apollon, whom I have learned from a French friend named Amaury (on the grip board) is not buried where he is supposed to be laid to rest. Amaury will continue checking on the situation and keep us abreast of developments.


In October 1998, after an absence of four years, I resumed writing for the journal from the University of Texas at Austin, Iron Game History. The foreboding that had been accumulating in me prompted a new column titled Ironclad in which readers were invited to be editors-at-large and to supply Ironclad with examples of errors that were printed in either the mainstream muscle magazines, or elsewhere. We were not concerned with obvious typos so much (for being printed as fro), but were worried that if other, non-obvious mistakes were allowed to be potted and watered, they would take over the greenhouse that we treasured so much and that the true accomplishments of our forefathers' lifting would be unjustly supplanted. The first article in the Ironclad series was entitled, The Impending Disconnect.

Now, five years later, the disconnect is not pending, it is well-along, and in fact it may be too late to thwart the tidal-wave of misinformation and ignorance well-springing up seemingly everywhere that iron history is being reviewed- being reviewed in some cases by writers who don't know a French grip from a French press. So as we begin 2003 here at the International Headquarters of (my tiny office), it is appropriate to revise and update that article.

John Grimek told me once that a friend of his had given John false credit for a feat of strength that John had not performed. Seems the friend asked John one day, 'John, remember that time I was in jail and you forced the jail bars apart enough so that I could escape?' Grimek knew this never happened but he also knew that the man remembering the incident, believed it had happened, even though, somehow, Apollon's opening act of forcing some bars apart and escaping had become intertwined as though is was currently happening in York, Pennsylvania, with JCG playing the part of Apollon on behalf of an escaping prisoner.

But what if Grimek had endorsed this tale- had said, yes, he remembered it well? In 1998, I offered,"Legions of his loyal fans would rush to second his motion, and anyone hinting at doubt would be branded a heretic. When John and Vic Boff, and the few others who span the-first-hand-knowledge bridge between old and new strength tales are no longer with us, the bars captivating correct literature may be bent, and many yarns may be woven into the current fabric of our sport".

John Grimek died the month after that article in IGH, and Vic Boff died in 2002. Now, we are, in fact, in a position of having no one else of their ilk available to supply us with first hand information in the fields and times they participated. Another factor which has helped misinformation to blossom is the internet. Anyone with a keyboard can assume a key position in relaying the history of the iron game to those fresh to the subject.

"Will it become folly without filters? As newer versions of older situations are written, unless researched thoroughly, the iron game's record keeping may fizzle". Here is the danger: "And as these newer versions become the only record that modern readers can acquire, errors will compound, with even newer versions being based upon them."

Those who spread the old literature through reprinting, such as Bill Hinbern has for many years at, or those who collect and study old magazines, are our final fortress in maintaining the accuracy of what we endearingly term iron game history.

Any study of the iron game must be armed with two factors:

1. The understanding of original terms- and an effort to maintain those terms in their virginity.

2. Knowledge of comparative strength among the various lifts is extremely important.

1. Original terms: By the time the 'press' was eliminated from weightlifting competition in 1972, it had degenerated more than an ice cube in the Sahara. What had begun as a military press with heels together, trunk upright, and the lifter elevating the bar to the pace of the referee's rising arm, had weakened to become a knee-jerk started standing bench press with feet wide apart. So any records comparing 1972 press records to the records of 1932 are, in all meaningful senses, useless. In 1972, some lifters were actually lifting about the same poundage in the press as in the clean and jerk, which simply is not possible if both lifts were being performed according to the original rules.

The Hack lift/squat has left the original meaning (Hacke-'near the ankles') where the bar was behind the lifter and lowered to near the ankles, to modern times when 'Hack' machines allow the lifter to recline and the weight is beneath the feet not behind the ankles, and the feet are placed above the head's plane.

The Two Hands Anyhow, which always involved two separate weights, is now being bandied as encompassing a clean and jerk with a single barbell.

The Snatch, which involved hand spacing on the barbell of approximately the same width as the lifters shoulders, now sees arms flared collar to collar.

The Continental, which allowed the bar to be lifted onto a belt buckle before being lifted up farther, is now confused with the Clean, which does not allow the bar to touch the body until at the shoulders. Even at the Arnold Classic, though the term Continental was allowed for the lifting of the Apollon wheels replica, the belt buckle WAS NOT allowed! Then we have those who offer Continental Clean, which is the same as saying to the lifter: Touch/Don't touch.

Powerlifting has become lifting's largest punch-line for non-raw lifters. With bench shirts adding, in some cases, more than 100 pounds to the lifter's bench press, it is obvious to everyone, hopefully even to the lifter in his pensive moments, that he alone was not lifting that much weight. My suggestion has been, and I am quite serious, that a handicap factor should be implemented. Bench what is possible raw, say 500 lbs, then have your trio of tuggers pull your shirt onto you, and bench again. Say, 600 lbs. So your handicap is 100 lbs. Hence, in competition, you need not wear the shirt, simply bench raw, and the handicap amount will be added to that amount. If you bench 520 raw that day then you will be credited with 620.

Simple, more efficient, less silly, but it would drive the commercial shirt manufacturers into a tailspin, and thus, the whole sponsor setup would falter, to say nothing of the egos of those who actually somehow manage to believe they do not really need the shirt except for safety, which of course, implies that strength limits (without the shirt) are being red-zoned. I hasten to add that power lifts made in this manner, raw with shirt handicap credit, deserve no respect, but it would speed matters along, and would merely require the self-deceived to switch to a different delusion.

So, in addition to changing the names of lifts and/or changing the methods of performing those lifts, the sport is no longer easily compared to the sport of several decades ago.

2. Knowledge of comparative strength levels among various lifts:

David Willoughby made some calculations about comparing reps with a certain poundage to a single rep with more weight. For example, if you can press 200 lbs for a set of ten reps then he would estimate how much you could press for one rep. These calculations were not favored by Leo Gaudreau, and indeed appear, in retrospect, to be more mathematical than meaningful in real life terms, because after all, if you do not prove the estimates on the lifting platform, they remain guesses.

However, if you cannot perform a one hand deadlift of 200 lbs, then it is reasonable to assume that you will also fail with trying 400 lbs, two hands deadlift. And, in general terms, at least where body positioning remains similar, many one handed lifts can be close to one half of two handed lifts, though the factor of two hands working together engages the chest and shoulder areas more and will allow more weight to be lifted.

Question everything you read in this field! We do not have hundreds of reference books to consult as do the fans of baseball and football. Further, it appears that fans of those sports care more about the histories involved than do many/most of the pumping practitioners.

So, as we begin 2003, please use the comment button here at to correct any errors I may write. Become my fellow students as we trudge along the path to trying to clear-cut our way to understanding what the great lifting pioneers actually hoisted. Help uproot incorrect statements, whether here, or in the magazines, or on the internet. Let's become known as the default location, the final answer, the place that cares about the wonderful sport we practice, whether on the platform or in the basement, and the address where, working together, we can provide an answer to those seeking truth. We will not reach those who do not share our values, but we can cement a community for those who do. Thank you in advance.

I am at work on the necrology for 2002 iron game personalities, and will post it later in January. If you have a name to add please notify me. Abe Goldberg died Dec 4, 2002- after hearing many rumors; Tom Minichiello confirmed it for me. Tom bought Abe's gym many years ago and they had remained friends.

More excerpts from the letters of Charles A. Smith to Joe Roark: Dec 27, 1985

Dear Joe,

I had a great time Xmas day, watching the boys cut their capers, hugging all those lovely cans of Australian beer close to my bosom for fear that some sod would ask for one. No one did and it is mine-all mine. I shall nurse it carefully and drink it one can per day so it will last, with the memory of your thoughtfulness. Vera also thanks you for your kindness. My stomach also thanks you and I thank you from my bottom-heart that is.

On going over your letter I see I forgot to mention your mention of Bill Pullum.

Now here was the GENUINE ARTICLE. He no more resembled Jowett than a rooster resembles a kippered herring. He of course, like all of us, had his faults. One of which was that HE was the only one in his time who knew anything about weight training. But if he said he did so and so, you can rightly assume that what he claimed was the Gospel-and HOT GOSPEL at that.

No one, but no one is more entitled to be called The Father of British Lifting than Pullum. If it hadn't been for Bill, lifting in the UK would still be in the dark ages.

He had a lot of trouble with Jowett who stole his articles and had them published under his, Jowett's name. He, Jowett, begged Pullum to give him medals so he could 'make my way' in the USA. If ever Grimek sends you that stuff I sent to JCG, you will see for yourself exactly what Pullum was like and exactly what Jowett was NOT. This is a man of truth and integrity. It is no cause for wonder that Jowett and McFadden are IDOLIZED by XXX. He was of their kidney.

Pullum was straight. He may have been a sharp business man, willing to sue- as he did- at the drop of a hat or an adverse criticism, but he had his integrity. He was close with what he called his 'training secrets' but dealt straight with people. He charged what the traffic would bear, but the fact that men like Hackenschmidt and Goerner knew him and counted him as a friend, means something. Hack, except where some of his bouts were concerned was honest. Ditto Goerner, although Goerner had quite a thing for the jolly old fuzz box.

Pullum at 123 pounds, broke more lifting records before or since in ALL the 42 odd lifts recognized at one time by the BAWLA- some of these records going right up through every class to the heavyweight division.

At over forty after having been 'retired' for some time, he came back and at over forty busted every one of the records he had busted as a young man. That's how good Pullum was.

You should try and get a copy of his book WEIGHTLIFTING MADE EASY AND INTERESTING. It is an eye opener. It explains every one of the 42 lifts then accepted as competition lifts, in detail, AND illustrated, each and every one by Pullum himself. Get it. It's a collector's item. Iuspa should have a copy for sale.

Hope you had a good Xmas, best to you and yours, Chas.

Letter from Charles A. Smith to Joe Roark: Jan 7, 1986:

I had a five page letter from XXX telling me about his Xmas and that it was spent with his family, they coming in from far and wide. He also seems to be very bitter at not being in XXX's will, saying that he was made a lot of promises, including shares in the company, which were not carried out. I am wondering about this, since in my opinion XXX and the mag and the XXX company WERE XXX.

So Meg [one of Roark's daughters] wants to visit Fort Lauderdale during the early part of the year. Ah, the rites of spring. I can recall going through limbo and unshirted hell with Vera [Charles' daughter] when she wanted to take off for the Gulf Coast and I said Nay Nay. I was a monster, a blue beard, a beast etc, etc, etc. But flattery got her nowhere.

Still exercising with my dumbbells although I am getting somewhat alarmed at my right arm not progressing as easily as my left arm in pressing the monstrous weight of 27-1/2 pounds skywards. Conversely, my right arm is much stronger curling than it is pressing. But it helps me and my circulation from the effects of a completely sedentary life.

Thas all, thas all, best wishes to you and yours, Chas

My personal schedule is uncertain for the next six weeks so I cannot other than tell you to check the cyberpump news section for the next posting of our effort- probably mid January. May your new year be filled with peace and contentment!

Replies: Comments(3)

Jim, Tom,
Thanks for the comments.

I think we agree. Willoughby's estimates were always that to me:predictions awaiting proof, and frankly, held and hold little interest to me, because not only were such estimates lift specific- they were training and skill specific.
My point was intended to communicate that math alone cannot
predict platform performance. Recently a friend told me that he can pinch grip 88 lbs in such a way that onlookers would predict he
had several more pounds in him, when in fact, 90 lbs would not budge for him. In a similar way, transferring from reps to singles is guesswork in my opinion, and if it in fact had merit, we could simply calculate from training poundages what a lifter would do on the platform.
And, now that red/white fibers with
their different characterists have entered the picture, it would be necessary to know which type of fiber composed the muscle groups being used before such predictions could be made.
Anyway, the comment was not intended to be against the merits of math, but an abuse of math wherein too many unknowns cannot result in a proper result.
And because I know little of math, I will now jump ship before getting into more of a minus situation...

Posted by Joe Roark @ 01/03/2003 06:58 AM CST


Since I'm a professional statistician, I couldn't let your words "more mathematical than meaningful in real life terms" go by. So math isn't meaningful ... in real-life terms?

I believe one can do what Willoughby did, but only to a limited extent. If someone presses 200 for 3 reps, that is equivalent to a single with 215. Now what if another person pressed 175 for 20 reps. What does that equate to for a single? I don't know and I doubt if Willoughby could estimate it accurately, either. The world is nonlinear, and that also applies to the world of weightlifting. Before I could estimate what the second lifter could do for a single, I would need more information.

Such guesswork is also lift-specific. As they say about squats, "if you want to squat heavy, you have to put the weight on the bar", so estimating a person's capability for a single based on what can be done for 10-20 reps is likely to be harder than for most other lifts.

Enjoyed your column, as always, but could you go a bit easier on the "math isn't meaningful" stuff? :-)


Posted by
Tom Ryan @ 01/02/2003 06:35 PM CST

Enjoyed it Joe!

Jim Bryan

Posted by Jim Bryan @ 01/02/2003 05:11 AM CST