Iron History

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01/08/2004 Entry: "Jan 9, 2004 Iron History"

Letter from Charles A. Smith to Joe Roark June 6, 1986

Dear Joe, Thanks for your letter post dated June 2nd, which arrived on June 4th, and for the news letter which arrived on June 5th. The latter I think was one of the best- if not THE best- you he so far issued. The only change I suggest- note I did not say fault or criticism- is that you, in future issues the last five pages [sic]. If the report had been all that was contained in the first five- that is of the same kind of material, you'd have a real winner, and the sort of stuff that would have readers coming back for more.

Thanks for returning the Jowett birth certificate. You didn't say if you had Xeroxed it, but I assume you did. Thanks also for the bit on Kati Sandwina. The plot thickens as they say on stage. No, Jan [Todd] didn't tell me she had received it until I asked her if she had heard from you lately. Then she mentioned the Kati bit. I had, as you may remember, found the obit cut from some newspaper by Ottley and handed it to her, giving out my thoughts on the matter of NOCK. Jan at first dismissed them saying it was a 'newspaper' error- some sort of misquote I guess- but my reply was to the effect that such info was usually obtained from direct family members who in cases of obits are always careful to get what they wanted into the notice to appear in the press.

I sent an account of the Old Timers' Bash to Rader who told me he wanted me to cover it and I did and sent it off and I haven't heard anything in reply. Since it was an Old Timers' Bash I wrote about the Old Timers and what we discussed about them with a bit of would be humor heaved in here and there. Also have another article ready to go concerning the lies and bullshit that appear in certain mags.

I note your remarks about Glossbrenner. But I suggest you think it through a little more deeply. True there is a fine list of press records but it is not only deceptive but MISLEADING. I know it isn't intentional on Glossbrenner's part and frankly I don't see what pole vaulting has to do with weightlifting. Glass fiber vaulting poles are the problems of Track and Field and not ones for weightlifting committees.

As I say Glossbrenner's list of world's 'Press' records was misleading in that the presses at the top of the list, in the earlier years had little or no resemblance to those at the bottom of the list. In fact the presses as done by the Russians and others WERE NOT PRESSES AT ALL but PUSH JERKS.

The last contest in which GOOD presses were performed was the 1936 Olympics when the Military Press rules were stuck to, feet together, toes turned out at 45 degree angle and the weight pressed from the shoulders with NO back bend whatsoever. The judges having no guts to rule correctly had NOTHING TO DO WITH IT since by the time those tremendous poundages were being put overhead were so VASTLY different from the presses of the 1936 Olympics that they resemble them as much as a cat fish looks like a cougar. They were bending forward, bending knees, leaning back so far they got splinters in the tops of their heads from scraping the platform. They were using the knee bend to start the weight off with a jerk. In fact those lifts didn't even resemble the old British Two Hands Clean and Push in which you WERE allowed to lean forward and back as much as you wanted but WERE NOT allowed to unlock the knees or jerk the weight from the shoulders.

So the danger is that some impressionable kids will really believe that pressing records made incredible leaps due to improved training and 'Trainers Of The Champions since 1036[sic]".

To have been accurate Glossbrenner should have written a complete article and explained just when changes in pressing rules and techniques took place. Frinstance when I was reffing and judging the only difference between the two hand presses of the 30's and the fifties was that you were allowed to keep the feet apart. Then it gradually got worse and worse. Give'em an inch and they take a yard. As I see it, it is UNFAIR to class the presses of the Russians who made the last press records before they heaved the lift out, with the presses of the thirties, forties, and fifties. Those latter presses weren't presses at all but Two Hands somehow lifts.

The real trouble lies in the fact that SPORT has been allowed to become an open instrument of POLITICS and instead of the refs and two judges being the sole arbiters, there was allowed to come into existence a 'Jury of Appeal' - POLITICAL of course.

So Glossbrenner may have done a fine job of research but not a FACTUAL ONE since he merely quoted records. The job of the HISTORIAN and the Statistician is not to say just what happened but WHY AND HOW. And what the hell pole vaulting has got to do with the Olympic Lifts I can't see.

The BOTTOM LINE OF RESPONSIBILITY LIES NOT WITH THE JUDGES BUT WITH THOSE WHO ARE THE HISTORIANS OF THE GAME- THEIR JOB BEING TO TELL IT AS IT WAS AND IS AND NOT TO OMIT VITAL INFORMATION´┐Ż.THIS IS WHERE THE DANGER LIES. In inaccurate or INCOMPLETE reporting. No one wants to believe that Sandow was anything but a little tin god whereas in fact he was a BASTARD, an arrogant, selfish egomaniac. But try to tell that to those who have been fed Sandow pap since he passed away.

True he did a little good- in fact a great deal of good for Physical Culture, but look at those marvelous autobanns [sic] Hitler built and didn't Mussolini make the trains run on time?


Thanks for the info on Hoffie. I think I have seen the gal you mentioned. She was a little above average height- around 5'7" or so, with large dark eyes and as straight up and down as an out house door. Hoffie was always appearing with her in the NYC area at shows. The York bunch referred to her as 'Bob's girl'.

[Roark note: referring to the Olde Timers' Dinner] No. I didn't speak much to XXX. He came up and said, 'Do you remember me' and I replied 'Yes, I remember you' and just sat there looking at him. He stood there for a while and then walked away seeing I wanted NOTHING to do with him or say anything else- the BASTARD.

Vic Boff told me some time ago that he [the bodybuilder, not Vic] was having wife problems, that the missus was the real brains behind the business´┐Ż

[Roark note: this was a man whom Charles never forgave for some injustice which Charles would never share with me- so I have no clue why, though I do know who- a very famous bodybuilder]

As for XXX I was not only shocked but very bitter that he didn't come up and talk to me. He saw me- he could hardly have done otherwise since my name was announced by Murdock the Mighty as speaker. I saw him looking at me so he can't say he didn't know I was there. I never forget treatment like this and my memory is long. I have never harmed him in any way and did much to help him when he was- mostly through his own fault- tossed out of the AAU as a professional. And I must say unfairly so since he had done nothing that the York bunch hadn't been doing for YEARS. One ALWAYS sticks to a friend, and this he DIDN'T DO.

Well, I'd better hang up. Hope you enjoy your trip and I do hope you get a chance to talk to someone at Nautilus and let them know how I feel.

The best of everything to you and yours.