AOBS Highest Achievement (Vic Boff) Award Recipients
From its outset, one of the missions of the AOBS was to recognize and remember the (sometimes forgotten) greats of Iron Game history. Hence the founders of the organization created an award which them named their “AOBS Highest Achievement Award” (renamed the “AOBS Vic Boff Highest Achievement Award” in 2003, in honor of Vic Boff’s contribution to the organization). In that same year, Vic Boff received the award, posthumously.
May 10, 1986
(received our Association's First Highest
May 23, 1987
Oct. l, 1988
Oct. 7, 1989
Sep. 22, 1990
Sep 28, 1991
Feb 29, 1992
(at the US. Power & Strength Symposium,
Sep 26, 1992
Oct. 23, 1993
Oct 8, 1994
Oct 7, 1995
Oct. 5, 1996
Sep 27, 1997
Oct 17, 1998
Oct 23, 1999
Oct 14, 2000
Oct 6, 2001/(postponed to Jun 2002)
Jun 28, 2003
June 12, 2004
Jun 11, 2005
Jun 3, 2006
Jun 9, 2007
Jun 13, 2009
October 23, 2010
September 17, 2011
Joe Abbenda – Joe Abbenda emerged on the bodybuilding scene in the late 1950’s. He competed as a weightlifter as well as a bodybuilder, but the latter sport was his focus from day one. After years of hard work on simple exercises, Joe’s training paid off in a very big way, when he won the Teenage Mr. America competition in 1959. In 1960, he placed 5 th in the Mr. America competition, moving up to 2nd place in 1961. The following year proved to be the breakout year for Joe, as he won both the 1962 Mr. America and amateur NABBA Mr. Universe titles. In1963, he returned to the NABBA Mr. Universe competition, this time as a professional. He continued his undefeated streak in taking the 1963 professional title. Shortly thereafter, Joe enhanced his worldwide reputation when he traveled to South Africa to appear with Reg Park in a series of exhibitions. Joe went on to become an educator for many years, coaching young men and women with regard to the benefits of exercise, particularly weight training. He then earned a law degree and today is in private practice as an attorney.
Paul Anderson - A World and Olympic Champion in Weightlifting, Paul burst upon the strength scene in late 1952, and in a little more than a year was rewriting the record books in weightlifting, while almost single-handedly establishing the squat as the primary assistance exercise for weightlifters from that point forward (as well as helping to firmly establish the squat style of lifting as the dominant style thereafter). Known for squatting weights that were previously unheard of, he was probably the first man to squat 300 kg., 400 kg. and 500 kg. If there was a single athlete in the 20th century who earned the right to call himself the undisputed world’s strongest man, it was Paul Anderson. The Russians called him a wonder of nature and indeed he was.
Jules Bacon - Mr. America in 1947, Jules Bacon was considered to have one of the most symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing physiques of his era and beyond. Jules was a key player in the formative years of the York Barbell Co. Jules also played a key role in the popularization of food supplements, when he gave Bob Hoffman samples of a unique protein supplement that Irwin Johnson had developed. Bob tried the protein powder and pronounced it “the” new thing. It became the greatest financial success in the York Barbell company’s history and one of the earliest successes in what was to become the huge food supplement industry.
Doris Barrilleaux - A true pioneer in women’s bodybuilding, Doris has often been referred to as “The First Lady of Bodybuilding.” An outstanding competitor in her own right she, perhaps more than any other person in the history of the Iron Game, made national and international women’s physique competition a reality. Even while she was competing, she devoted her endless energy in organizing and promoting women’s bodybuilding competitions, wherever and whenever she could, eventually in virtually every state of the union. Moreover, despite having invested so much of her life’s energy in getting women’s bodybuilding under way, Doris had the courage to take a stand against the drugs she believed would ruin the sport she had worked so hard to build. She walked away from a coveted leadership position with a major bodybuilding organization as a protest of the movement of drugs into the world of women’s bodybuilding. However, she did continue her career as one of bodybuilding’s top photographers and is donating her massive collection of women’s bodybuilding memorabilia to the Todd-McLean Library.
Clarence Bass – After a fine career in weightlifting, Clarence moved into the field of bodybuildingwith a vengeance. In “Past-40” bodybuilding competition, he has won his height class in both the Mr.America and Mr. USA competitions. In the latter competition, he has also earned the Most Muscular, Best Abs and Best Legs awards. But Clarence is probably best known for the instruction and inspiration he provides to others. It all began with his now classic book “Ripped”. Espousing the benefits of a healthy diet and proper exercise, Clarence is living proof that this philosophy works. After his initial book, Clarence has gone on to produce a series of books and videos that have literally reached many thousands around the world with his prescription for healthy living and with a lean and muscular physique.As the photos of now 70 year-old Clarence in his latest book (“Great Expectations”) show, Clarence remains in phenomenal shape to this day. Given his example and his prolific communications, his audience will no doubt continue to grow.
Al Berger - A Strength & Health coverman in May of 1941, Al Berger was renowned for his physique and strength feats. He was particularly well known for his gripping and forearm strength. His signature feats consisted of performing chins hanging from rafters that he pinch-gripped while performing the chins. Al was able to perform 12 consecutive chins in this manner, and a single rep with 43 lb. of added weight. He also performed a strict reverse curl with 165 lb., further demonstrating his arm and grip strength.
Isaac Berger – Isaac Berger had one of the fastest rises in weightlifting history. After entering his first weightlifting competition in 1952, Berger improved so fast that by 1955 he became a National Champion. Defending his title in 1956, despite an injury, Berger lifted enough at the 1956 Olympic Trials to earn a berth on the team going to Melbourne. He moved his training into high gear and shocked the weightlifting world by winning the Olympic Games as a teenager and breaking the world record in the total at the same time. He later went on to win both the 1958 and the1962 World Championships, along with silver medals in both the 1960 an 1964 Olympic Games. Isaac also set many world records across his illustrious career. The last world record he earned, at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, in 1964, was a 152.5 kg. C&J. That record lasted for more than 5 years, becoming one of the longest held world records in weightlifting history.
Vic Boff - Long before becoming one of the founders of the AOBS, Vic Boff had established his reputation in the Iron Game. In his early years he was a professional level boxer and baseball player, and became deeply involved in the areas of diet and exercise. A meeting with George Jowett led Vic to a lifelong commitment to the Iron Game. Early in life, Vic noticed that he loved the cold weather that others shunned. He eventually became the long term President of the Iceberg Club – a club dedicated to year round ocean bathing from its home base in Coney Island. In the 1960’s Vic opened the first of several health food stores that he would own. His Brooklyn store soon became his flagship and it attracted Iron Game notables from virtually everywhere. Vic was a well known writer in the fitness field and a confidant of Bob Hoffman and countless others in the fitness world. Vic seemed to know everyone in and everything about the Iron Game. So it was natural for him to become the leader of the AOBS – an entity that Vic dedicated 20 years of his life to building. We all owe him the deepest debt of gratitude for his great work.
Jim Bradford – Jim Bradford has always considered himself a strongman, more than a weightlifter. He prided himself in being able to compete with the best weightlifters in the world with limited technique and one of the strictest pressing forms of any athlete in the world at the time. Across his career, Jim won 2 US National Championships and earned silver medals at 4 World Championships, and in both the 1952 and 1960 Olympic Games. In the latter case, he gave the USSR’s legendary Yuri Vlasov a run for his money. In addition to being remembered for the lifting he did do, Jim is famous for the lifting he declined to do. Competing at the World Championships in Milan, in 1951, Jim battled it out with the legendary John Davis, who was defending his undefeated record at World and Olympic Games that began in 1938. When Davis was injured during the competition, Bradford refused to take his last C&J attempt, not wanting to defeat an injured man, or force Davis to take another lift, which might have injured John further. Bradford’s act has gone down as one of the greatest displays of sportsmanship in the history of sport.
Frank Capsouras - Frank made a sudden impression on the national weightlifting scene when, at the age of 17, he made a 354 lb. C&J to place second at the 1964 Olympic Trials in the 82.5 kg. bodyweight category, and to establish a Teenage American record in that lift. He then went on the win three Teenage National Championships in a row. Frank continued to improve over the next several years and moved his bodyweight up to 90 kg. He made a World Record in the C&J in April of 1969, when he lifted 199 kg. He then went on to win his first Senior Nationals later that year, and to place sixth in the World Championships. Moving his bodyweight up once more over the next several years, he won his second Senior National Championships in 1972 and earned a spot on the US Olympic Team that he had tried so hard to make in 1964 and 1968. Frank placed 10th at the Olympic Games. He earned a bronze medal, overall, at the 1975 Pan American Games and retired in 1977.
Pat Casey - Early in his weight training career, Pat Casey became enamored with pressing exercises and getting big. His favorite exercise was the bench press, and while others were looking at 500 lb. as being somewhere near the ultimate lift, Pat announced that he would bench press 600 lb. While many doubted such a lift would ever be made, Pat trained relentlessly to reach the objective he had promised to the world. He accomplished his long sought after goal on March 25, 1967, when he officially bench pressed 615.5 lb. However, in addition to becoming perhaps the best known bench presser in the world at the time, Pat developed into an exceptional all around lifter, becoming the first powerlifter to total 2000 lb. officially.
Bill Clark – In 1959, when some boxers he was training wanted to enter the Missouri State Weightlifting championships, Bill found there was no such event, so he decided to run it. The following year he became the chairman of his local AAU weightlifting committee, a position he retained for approximately 30 years. In 1962, Bill organized postal competitions in the US prison system, a program that lasted more than 20 years and produced some of the top lifters in the country. By 1964, Bill cooperated with Jim Witt and Homer Brannum to persuade the AAU to permit the organization of the first National powerlifting championship. In 1973, Clark was innovating again, asking the AAU to permit him to run the first National Masters weightlifting competition, which was held by Bill in 1975. Today more than 60 nations compete in Masters Weightlifting competitions worldwide. In 1986, Bill worked with Tony Cook of England to form the International All Around Weightlifting Federation, which continues its activities today. Without innovators like Bill Clark, the Iron Game would not be nearly as rich and diverse as it is today.
Gary Cleveland - Newer members of the Iron Game may remember Gary Cleveland for the his newsletter, the “Avian Movement Advocate”, a mixture of Iron Game history, serious weightlifting analysis and pure whimsy. But Gary was, for a number of years, one of the top weightlifters in the World. Gary made his international debut at the 1962 World Championships, where he took 5 th place – outstanding for such a young athlete in his first World Championship. He placed 5 th at the Worlds in 1963 and repeated that placing at the Tokyo Olympic Games. In March of 1965, he made more weightlifting history by breaking the long standing lightheavyweight American total record held by Tommy Kono, by lifting a total of 1015 lb.
Dave Draper – Known during the 1960s as “America’s Strongest Youth” and the “Blond Bomber”, Dave Draper became an idol to the teens who followed the sport of bodybuilding in that era. With a physique possessing a combination of extraordinary size and balance, Dave was soon winning major titles with regularity. He subsequently reformed his physique, becoming known for his extraordinary definition. As Dave continued the training that he loved in his later years, he began to realize that many in the Iron Game were inspired by his tenacious dedication to training and his unique style of writing about his personal experiences with training. Today, he operates one of the most successful web-sites on bodybuilding in the world and is in great demand as a speaker, both for the motivation his communications impart and for the wisdom regarding training they contain. Such wisdom could only be gathered by someone who has been as dedicated and consistent in his training as Dave has been for so many years.
Joe Dube – Joe Dube (c) first burst upon the weightlifting scene as a teenager, becoming the first teenager in history to press 400 pounds. In his twenties, he continued to gain bodyweight and strength, rising to become a top contender for the superheavyweight championship of the US, and one of the best lifters in the world. During his illustrious career, Joe set numerous American and World records. He won the Pan American Games in 1967 and went on the following year to win a bronze medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, the only American to medal that year. Inspired by his Olympic experience and convinced he could defeat the reigning superheavyweight Olympic and World Champion, Leonid Zhabotinsky (who said the Americans could never beat him), Joe trained with a vengeance for the 1969 World Championships. His dedication was rewarded when he handed Zhabotinsky his first defeat since he the Russian won the Olympic Games in 1964. With his victory, Joe became the last American male to date to win a world weightlifting championship.
Carla Dunlap – Carla Dunlap's athletic career began with gymnastics and swmming (she was part of the team that won the 1977 Jr. National championships in synchronized swimming). In 1979, she placed 5th in the “Best in the World” physique competition, having never trained specifically in bodybuilding. She decided to train seriously in 1980, and in that same year she won the AAU Ms. America competition. In 1981 she won the NPC Nationals, repeating in 1982. That same year she entered the Ms. Olympia competition, placing second. Later that year, she won the Pro World Championships. Carla won the Ms. Olympia competition in 1983, along with the Caesar’s World Cup (Grand Prix Las Vegas). In 1984 she won the World Professional Mixed Pairs title with Tony Pearson (they repeated their win in 1988). She then went on to star in the documentary films “Women of Iron” and “Pumping Iron II – The Women”, which helped to break the barriers between women and iron. She promoted women's bodybuilding on such shows as Good Morning America and Regis Philbin, was a regular cast member in "Body Shaping" and served as a commentator for ESPN.
Marvin Eder - Marvin Eder was considered one of the most amazing physique and strength stars of his era. Known initially for his physique, he earned 3 rd place at the Mr. America competition at the tender age of 19. Such a physique on a person so young was considered virtually impossible heretofore. But as information on Marvin’s training methods reached the public, it was the strength and endurance he exhibited during his workouts that became even more legendary than his physique. He bench pressed more than 500 lb. while weighing under 200 lb. and could perform repetitions in the press with the then world record in that movement. Perhaps his most amazing accomplishment was a dip with 434lb. of added weight – a feat that has never been approached by anyone of any bodyweight since Marvin.
George Eiferman - George Eiferman was one of bodybuilding’s best known champions. He won the Mr. America title in 1948. Amazingly, he came back to win the Mr. Universe title 14 years later, in 1962. A man of many talents and trades, George performed with Mae West for a number of years. He appeared in a movie “The Devil’s Sleep”, in 1955. Later in life, George had a string of health clubs in Las Vegas where the stars, the Las Vegas visitors and the locals came to get or stay in shape.
Clyde Emrich – Clyde is remembered by many as an Olympian, a 4-time National Weightlifting Champion, a medallist in 2 World Weightlifting Championships and a World Record Holder in weightlifting. But after his weightlifting career was over, Clyde, went on to make another great contribution to the Iron Game and to the spread of the use of weight training in sport. After providing free weightlifting instruction to some of the most well known players on the legendary Chicago Bears football team, Clyde was hired by the Bears to become one of the pioneers of the Strength Coaching field. He started officially working the team in the in the 1960’s. Although he has gone on to accept broader duties within the organization, Clyde continues to help out in the weight room. In the fickle and stressful world of professional sports, a stay of that length with one team speaks for itself, as does Clyde’s Super Bowl ring and the training facility the Bears have recently dedicated in Clyde’s name.
Slim Farman – Slim Farman worked as a stone cutter most of his life. Unlike many in that field, he did not regard that profession solely as a form of skilled labor, but also as a profound challenge to his physical strength and skill. Wielding his sledge hammers on a daily basis had given Slim extraordinary strength in his hands, wrists and arms, but it was a chance meeting with the legendary “Mighty Atom” – Joe Greenstein – that propelled Slim into a career as a professional strongman and an heir to the Atom. Apprenticing under the Atom, Slim soon learned and developed his strength sufficiently to duplicate many of the Atom’s amazing feats, but he coupled those feats with hammer lifting feats of his own design, welcoming others to try and duplicate what he could do (which no one ever has). A phenomenal showman, as well as strongman, Slim has thrilled audiences all over the country with his feats of strength and his incredibly polished way of presenting them. Slim has carried on the legacy of the Atom in another important way, by inspiring a new generation of strongmen to carry on the feats performed by the Atom and to invent new feats of their own.
Bob Gajda - Bob took up weight training in HS, in an effort to improve his performance in other sports. His love of training grew over the years, as did his muscles. He began to win local bodybuilding competitions, and by 1965 won the AAU Mr. USA title. The following year, he won the coveted AAU Mr. America title and the FICH Mr. Universe title as well. He also became and accomplished weightlifter. He then went on to establish himself as an author and inventor. By the 1970s, he had begun to focus on training others and soon established one of the most respected sports performance and rehabilitation programs in the country, a program to which he continues to devote himself until today.
Dr. James George - During his phenomenal weightlifting career, Jim won four National Championships and a Pan American Games. He was a medal winner at four World Championships, won a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and earned a silver medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. In addition to winning an Olympic medal in 1956, during the competition, Jim set a world record in the snatch with 303 lb. Only 3 days after he lifted at the Games, he made a world record in the C&J with a lift of 388 lb.
Dr. Peter George -
-Pete George’s career accomplishments included winning 6 National Championships,an Olympic Games in 1952 (and silver medals in 1948 and 1956), along with 5 World Championships. Pete also established many World Records in his signature squat style and in so doing became a role model for many other athletes interested in lifting in that style. Pete cooperated with his coach Larry Barnholth to publish ‘Secrets of the Squat Snatch” – the first book to explain the advantages and training methods needed to learn to perform the squat snatch. That book and Pete’s lifting inspired many athletes to try and master the squat style of lifting.
Bert Goodrich - Bert Goodrich began training in 1928, under the guidance of the renowned trainer and historian, David Willoughby. In 1934, he was prevailed over 54 competitors to win “Best Built Man in NY” title. In 1938, the won the “America’s Best Built Man Competition”, which was later acknowledged as the first official Mr. America competition. He was a coverman for a number of magazines, including Strength & Health. He was also famous for being a Hollywood stunt man, becoming as well known in that field as he was in the bodybuilding arena and protecting such famous stars as John Wayne and Buster Crabbe.
John Grimek - Perhaps no bodybuilder was admired by his peers more than the great John Grimek. His incomparable strength, incomparable physique, posing ability, flexibility and charisma combined to make him arguably the greatest all around Iron Game competitor in history. John first earned fame as a weightlifter, winning the US Nationals in 1936 and earning a spot on the 1936 Olympic Team. But by the late 1930s, he began to focus more on physique development. When he appeared in the 1940 Mr. America competition, his physique was considered the most outstanding by far. When he repeated his Mr. America victory again in 1941, by a wide margin, officials decided that no one would ever beat him, so they declared that no one would be allowed to win the Mr. America title more than once. In 1948 John won the NAABA Mr. Universe competition. He retired undefeated after winning the inaugural Mr. USA competition in 1949, becoming a prolific writer on the Iron Game, and an inspiration to generations of strength athletes, in the US and throughout the world.
Kenny Hall - Kenny Hall emigrated to the US from his native Barbados having already won the Mr. Barbados title. He became Mr. New York State in 1962. But Hall was not as successful on a national level (placing 10 th in the Mr. America competition the same year). Many have argued persuasively that Kenny, along with other physique competitors of color, such as George Paine, Arthur Harris, Elmo Santiago and Harold Poole, never placed as high as they should have because of the prejudices of certain judges. However, Kenny persevered, winning such titles as Mr. Universe over-40 and Pro Mr. America over-50, all while being lifetime drug free.
Gene Jantzen - Gene Jantzen’s outstanding physique enabled him to be chosen as the Strength & Health coverman in the June 1941 issue of that magazine (an honor he was to be afforded twice more in his career). Jantzen went on to become the owner and manager of a resort, a corrective therapist, sculptor and published poet. A chance sighting of a mail order exercise course launched Jantzen’s training. In 1944, he placed third in the Mr. America competition and in 1947 won the “Finest Physique in America” title, an award conferred by Bernarr MacFadden’s Physical Culture magazine, one of the leading publications of the day.
Harry Johnson - Harry Johnson was one of the most persistent competitors ever to win the Mr. America title. Harry began bodybuilding during the 1940’s and placed 16th in the 1952 Mr. America competition, after years of training. In 1953 he moved up to 14th place. In 1954 he placed 5th and earned that placing again in 1955. In 1956 he placed 6th in the same competition, although he did win the short division of the Mr. Universe competition that year. In 1957, he moved up to 3rd place at the Mr. A. In 1959, the title he had worked so long and hard to attain became his, when he was named Mr. America. At that time he was the oldest man ever to win that competition. While operating his long running gym, Harry trained for and won the 1966 Masters Mr. America title.
Ed Jubinville - Ed Jubinville made many contributions to the Iron Game, but he was perhaps most famous for his abilities in the art of muscle control. At a time when muscle control had become a dying art, Ed mastered that skill and thrilled audiences around the world with this physique and ability to control the muscles that made it up. In addition to his performing skills, Ed manufactured some of finest gym equipment of his day. He was also a stalwart meet promoter in the New England area for decades, his shows drawing huge crowds to see displays of many legends of the Iron Game.
Mike Karchut – One of the most outstanding lifters in the US during the late 1960s and through the 1970’s, Mike Karchut was renowned for his outstanding technique and dedication to the sport of weightlifting. Across a career that spanned more than 25 years, Mike amassed 8 National Championship titles, broke 10 American Records and was a member of 3 US Olympic teams. His international accomplishments included a Gold Medal at the Pan American Games and a total of 4 bronze medals at 3 World Championships. He also has the distinction of competing in more consecutive National Championships in US weightlifting history – 25. Mike was always one of the most popular lifters in the US, not only because of the wonderful style with which he lifted, but for the deep and sincere encouragement he provided to so many lifters of his day and in the years that followed, by his example and by his willingness to help anyone who has a sincere desire to improve his or her weightlifting performance.
Russ Knipp - Russ Knipp was started in the sport of weightlifting at the tender age of 6, by a father who was a powerful lifter. Knipp made his first major mark on the international weightlifting scene on July 23, 1966, when he pressed a World Record of 152.5 kg (336 lb) at a bodyweight of 165 lb. He went on to make three more World Records in that lift. But Russ was an exceptional all around lifter as well, having been the first middleweight (165 lb.) US lifter to total 1000 lbs. on the three lifts. Across his outstanding career, Russ won 3 National Championships, a Pan American Games and Gold medals in the press at 2 World Championships.
Tommy Kono – If being a sickly and underweight child did not make Tommy Kono’s early years difficult enough, being interred with his family at the Tule Lake detention camp during WWII (for no other reason than their Japanese ancestry) raised the bar. But during his interment, Tommy took up weight training and thereby started one of the greatest careers in world weightlifting history. A winner of 6 World Championships, 2 Olympic Games (winner of a silver medal in a 3 rd), holder of 26 World Records is 4 bodyweight categories, Tommy is on anyone’s short list of the greatest lifters of all time (he has been officially recognized by the International Weightlifting Federation as one of the greatest lifters of all time). As if his record as athlete were not sufficient to preserve his name in weightlifting history, Tommy is perhaps the only coach ever to have coached Olympic Teams from 3 different countries (Germany, Mexico and the US). More recently, he has authored the classic book – “Weightlifting – Olympic-style”.
Ron Lacy - During his successful career in college football, under the legendary Bear Bryant, Ron discovered his ability with the weights, when he pressed bodyweight (170 lb.) the first time he tried it. That marked the beginning of his career in weight training. Over the next 7 years, Ron slowly worked his way up to bodybuilding stardom, placing 3 rd in the Mr. California competition in 1954, 10th in the Mr. America contest in 1955, 2nd in 1956 and finally winning the crown in 1957. That same year he won his height division at the NABBA Mr. Universe. After winning his title, Ron continued to train, and to train others, for the rest of his days.
Red Lerille – While he had successfully competed in a number of high level bodybuilding competitions by the time he entered the Mr. America contest in 1960, Red Lerille was far from the favorite. Nevertheless, he prevailed over more experienced competitors to win that coveted title. Upon returning home, Red immediately set about achieving the second of his boyhood goals (winning the Mr. America competition had been the first). That second goal was to build a gym where people who were seeking health and strength could gather together to build their bodies. Red has succeeded beyond even his own imagination. Through his relentless work over a span of more than 40 years, Red has built the largest health club in the Southeast, and one of the largest in the world. Today that club includes more than 200,000 square feet of fantastic space that accommodates the fitness and recreational desires of countless members of his community. So outstanding have been Red’s achievements that he is recognized as one of the legends of the fitness industry.
Fred Lowe - An eight time National Weightlifting Champion and three time Olympian (1968, 1972 and 1976), Fred was the first American to C&J more than 400lbs. as a middleweight (165 lb.). An eight time World Masters Champion, Fred has had perhaps the longest career in open national competition is US weightlifting history, having competed in the American Open Championships in 2010 at the age of 63 while having made his debut on the national weightlifting scene in 1966, at the Teenage Nationals. He won his first Senior National Championship in 1969 and his last in, 1981, taking a bronze medal at the Senior Nationals in 1997.
Johnny Mandel - One of the AOBS’s founders, Johnny Mandel served as Chairman of the AOBS for many years, until his death in 2006. A Detective with the NYPD for 20 years, he was the President Emeritus of the Retired Detectives Association and operated one of most successful private investigation companies in the NY area for many years. In addition to his involvement in the Iron Game, Mandel was a top-flight wrestler, who served as the coach of the United States Olympic Team for the 1960 Games in Rome, Italy.
Dave Mayor - Dave Mayor became widely known for developing arms that measured more than 19 inches in the 1930’s, at that time perhaps the largest muscular arms ever developed. He put those arms to good use by earning a spot on the 1936 US Olympic Team in weightlifting and went on to win the US National Championships in weightlifting the following year. Dave later became a professional wrestler and a Regional Director for York Barbell Co. He helped to develop the initial strength training program of the Dallas Cowboys (believed to be one of the earliest ever in professional football) and trained the Vesper Board club for the 1964 Olympic Games.
Jim Murray - Jim Murray has been a powerful advocate for weight training for many decades. A lifelong friend of bodybuilding promoter Jim Lorimer (producer of the annual Arnold Sports Festival), the two Jim’s began training together in their early teens, cementing their lifelong commitment to the weights after seeing John Grimek pose in the early 1940s. Jim went on to become a prolific writer on the Iron Game, co-authoring the pioneering “Weight Training in Athletics”. Murray became widely known in the Iron Game when he went to work as the Managing Editor of the Strength & Health magazine, sharing an office with the great John Grimek.
Al Oerter - Having set multiple world records with the discus, Al Oerter was perhaps best known forbecoming the first athlete in Olympic history to win 4 gold medals in separate Olympic Games. Although he never entered any Olympic Games as the favorite (there was always someone else who held the world record going into the Games) Al won the discus events at the Olympic Games in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968, after which he retired. He made a comeback in 1980 in an effort to earn a spot on the ill fated US Team that was to boycott the Games in 1980. He continued his training through 1984 and just missed earning a spot on that year’s team. Al always credited weight training as a major factor in his success in athletics.
George Paine -
George Paine was considered by many to
be the “uncrowned Mr. America” (many believe a black athlete would simply not be
awarded the Mr. America title in his era). After emigrating to the US from his
native Cuba, George racked up a slew of victories beginning with the Mr. New
York Metropolitan in 1949. He was Mr. NY State in 1950 and Mr. Eastern America,
and Jr. Mr. America in 1951. However, at the Mr. America competition later that
year, he placed 3rd. He was 3rd again in 1952. Then he
placed 4th in 1953 and 1954, while winning the Most Muscular part of
Reg Park - Reg Park first attained bodybuilding fame with a victory at the Mr. Britain competition in 1949. He placed second in the Mr. Universe competition in 1950 and the following year won the NAABA Mr. Universe title. After starting successful publishing and weight training equipment businesses in England, Reg moved to South Africa and opened a gym in 1958. That same year, he returned to the Mr. Universe stage and won a second time. He repeated that trick in 1965, to become the first bodybuilder ever to win 3 such titles. In addition to having a truly Herculean physique, Reg was incredibly strong. He was the second man in the world to bench press 500 lb. officially. His rugged physique and good looks were not overlooked by the film business, which gave him starring roles in 5 movies, built around Hercules or similar legends.
Bill Pearl - Bill Pearl surprised many by winning the Mr. America competition in 1953 but he cemented his bodybuilding reputation by winning the Mr. Universe title and the Mr. USA title in 1956. He appeared in the Mr. Universe competition 3 more times, winning each time (in 1961, 1967 and 1971). Bill ran a very successful gym in Southern California for a number of years, but then turned to writing and publishing. His “Key’s to the Inner Universe”, a massive tome that demonstrated the performance of almost every weight training exercise imaginable with the equipment available at the time, it became an instant classic that was sold to hundreds of thousands of grateful readers over the years. Bill’s subsequent books have also been very successful and his upcoming work on the history of the Iron Game is eagerly awaited by Bill’s fans.
Joe Pitman – Joe Pitman had one of the greatest strings of National Weightlifting Championship victories in the history of the United States. Across his tremendous career, Joe won a total of 11 National Championships (the only lifters in US weightlifting history who won more were Tony Terlazzo – 13 and John Davis – 12). Joe was very successful on the international scene as well, winning gold medals at the inaugural Pan American Games in 1951, and then again at the 1955 Pan American Games. At the World Championships, Joe earned silver medals in both 1949 and 1951. Perhaps Joe’s greatest year came in 1950 where, after defeating Tommy Kono and Dave Sheppard in a colossal battle at the US National Championships, he went on to win the Gold Medal at the World Championships in Paris. His total of 352.5 kg. that day equaled to winning totals made by Shams of Egypt the year before and Pete George of the US in 1947. After retiring from weightlifting, Joe made his career as a teacher, educating America’s youth.
Joe Puleo – Joe Puleo emerged on the weightlifting scene as a teenage phenomenon, breaking “teenage” American and World records. He also won the first of his 5 National Championships in 1962, while he was still a teenager. A year later, he established himself as one of the top lifters in the world, by winning the Pan American Games (which he did again in 1967), along with taking second in the “Little Olympics” (a hastily arranged substitute for the World Championships that had been cancelled that year). Joe retired from competition in 1970 to pursue a very successful career as an attorney. However, in 1979, he decided to make a comeback in an effort to earn a spot on the 1980 US Olympic Team. Joe’s effort was successful, when he earned that team spot at the 1980 Olympic Trials in Philadelphia. Although the US boycotted the Olympics that year, Joe was invited to compete in substitute championship held in China. By competing in China, Joe became the US athlete with the longest international career in US weightlifting history.
Mabel Rader - Mabel married Peary Rader (see below) early in their careers and became his partner in building the publishing and equipment empires that Peary led. She made her own legend by becoming the first female AAU National Referee of weightlifting and bodybuilding in the history of the US and then becoming a powerful advocate for Women’s weightlifting. She worked tirelessly during the late 1970’s to establish national recognition by the AAU for Women’s Weightlifting. She became Chair of a special Women’s Committee and in 1980 requested that a Women’s National Championship be organized. Her request was approved by the AAU and the first Wormen’s Nationals in weightlifting was held in 1981. Mabel published the first newsletter for Women’s Weightlifting, which became a beacon for the women’s weightlifting movement worldwide.
Peary Rader - Peary was for more than 50 years the publisher of Iron Man Magazine (as well as the shorter lived “Lifting News”). Iron Man was revered as an independent voice in the Iron Game. While the incredibly successful publications created by Bob Hoffman and Joe Weider spread the word about weight training throughout the nation and the world, they were perceived by many as close reflections of the views of those men. In contrast, much of Peary’s support came from a broad range independents who sold equipment or supplements and/or wrote for Peary’s publications. Peary’s integrity and independence made him a highly respected name in the Iron Game.
Steve Reeves - Perhaps no name in the history of bodybuilding was more synonymous with the legendary “Hercules” than Steve Reeves. After winning the Mr. America title in 1947, Mr. World in 1948 and Mr. Universe in 1950, Reeves’ classic physique, good looks and drive propelled him to a very successful acting career in the films. While he starred in a number of successful films, Reeves is perhaps best remembered for his depiction of the mythical Hercules in a series of films he made in the 1950’s. Millions who saw his image on the silver screen became imbued with the desire to develop their own physique and strength, so that they could emulate their screen hero.
Don Reinhoudt – Don Reinhoudt didn’t begin to lift weights until he was 18, and he wasn’t particularly strong when he first touched the iron. During his college years, Don focused primarily on upper body exercises yet gained more than 40 pounds of muscular bodyweight. After graduating from college in 1968, Don entered his first powerlifting competition. By 1972, he had improved enough to place 3 rd in the World Championships, with a total of 2150 lb. He won that championship in 1973 and in the ensuing years added more world championship titles and many world records to his list of accomplishments. Later Don became one of the top performers in the World at the World’s Strongest Man competitions. But Don is perhaps best remembered for the incredible 2420 lb. total he amassed in 1975. It is a total that many believe has never been beaten with the same equipment and rules as the ones that prevailed in Don’s day.
Terry Robinson - A recipient of the AOBS’s highest honor in 1993, former Mr. NY State and Mr.America contender Terry Robinson has earned the title “trainer to the stars” many times over. In addition to his long association with Mario Lanza, as Mario’s trainer and adviser (and the godfather who helped to raise Mario’s children when the star and his wife died within months of each other in their 30s), Terry has worked with the biggest stars in Hollywood for years, from Anthony Hopkins to John Ritter. A writer, artist and true renaissance man, and now more than 90 years of age, Terry is the trainer of the trainers and a manager with Sports Club LA – one of the largest and most prestigious health clubs in the US. Terry has said, “I look at the body as a miracle, and I take care of it by staying healthy and fit.” In the vast list of his accomplishments Terry is perhaps proudest of his work as a physical therapist, through which he has helped to make the disabled “able-disabled” and the handicapped “handicapable”.
Dennis Rogers - A diminutive weakling as a young boy, Dennis took up weight training and experienced a transformation. His improvements in size and strength led him to explore a wide variety of strength testing feats. He excelled in arm wrestling, winning national and world titles in that sport. He then became interested in old time strongman feats, encouraged by Vic Boff and Slim "The Hammerman" Farman, he built his strength, along with a portfolio of strength feats, to the point where he has become the most widely viewed strength performer in the world today. When he is not performing, he is helping young people develop their physical strength and character through faith based and other initiatives that Dennis has dedicated himself to.
Rudy Sablo - Rudy Sablo fell in love with the sport of weightlifting in his teens and soon developed into a national level competitor. However, Rudy was to became best known as an official and administrator. In the early 1960’s, he became the Chairman of the AAU National Weightlifting Committee, rewriting the organization’s rulebook and procedures to assure the sport’s smooth administration. He ran the NYC AAU office for more than 20 years, after retiring from the NYC Fire Dept. He served on the USOC Executive Board for many years and was recognized by the USOC, IOC and the IWF for his lifetime contributions to international sport.
Bruno Sammartino – Bruno was the longest reigning world champion in the history of the World Wide Wrestling Federation. He held the world heavyweight championship during two separate reigns as champion (a total of 11 years). He appeared as a headliner in Madison Square Garden more than 200 times. Bruno received the AOBS’s highest honor in 2000, for his achievements in the wrestling and strength worlds. Besides being a professional wrestler, Bruno, was a strongman capable of world class feats. He has always attributed much of the success he achieved in his fabulous wrestling career to weight training and other forms of exercise. Sammartino grew up in post-WWII Italy, where food was scarce. When he came to the US, he was a sickly and undersized young man. Weight training and healthy living built him into the Hercules who dominated the professional wrestling world for so many years. He is another living example of the power of dedicated training to generate a Herculean transformation.
Elmo Santiago - Introduced to weight training by a friend in his Bronx neighborhood, Elmo Santiago soon became a devoted bodybuilder. In 1952, he became Mr. New York Metropolitan. In 1953 he was 2nd in the Mr. North America competition and third in Mr. YMCA. In 1954 he was 2nd in the Mr. Eastern America competition and he won the Mr. New York City title in 1958. In 1959 he won the Jr. Mr. America title and placed 6th in the Mr. America competition. In 1960 he won Mr. North America. The following year he traveled to London and placed third in his class in the NABBA Mr. Universe. In 1965, Elmo returned to London and finally won the NABBA Mr. Universe title.
Hy Schaeffer - Dr. Hy Schaeffer was one of the top weightlifters in the United States in the early 1940’s, winning the Jr. Nationals in 1942. Later in his career he opened a gym in Brooklyn where he was instrumental in developing a number of top lifters, including Olympic Champion and World Recordholder, Isaac Berger. Dr. Schaeffer was also a doctor of chiropractic to whom many athletes turned when they had injuries that were hampering their athletic careers.
Norb Schemansky - Norb Schemansky is considered one of the all-time greats of weightlifting history. He won the 1946 Jr. Nationals and the following year placed second in the Nationals and then at the 1947 World Championships. He earned a sliver medal at the 1948 Olympic Games. In 1951, Norb won the Nationals for the first time, in the newly created 198 ¾ lb. bodyweight category and then went on to win the World Championships the same year. He earned an Olympic gold in 1952, making world records in the snatch, C&J and total. He won the World’s again in 1953, and moved up to heavyweight in 1954 for still another victory and a new slew of world records. Then Norb twice injured his back and required two major back surgeries that were expected to end his career. But he battled back and won a bronze medal at the 1960 Olympic Games, set world records in 1962 and placed 2nd at the Worlds Championships, after a controversial call by the referees at the Worlds that may have cost him the title. At the 1964 Olympics, at the age of 40, Norb garnered another Olympic medal, becoming the first weightlifter ever to win 4 Olympic medals
Bill Seno – Bill Seno excelled in powerlifting, bodybuilding and Olympic-style lifting. He won the Mid-Western Section of the Jr. National Weightlifting Championships in 1962. As a bodybuilder, Bill placed 5th in four Mr. America competitions between 1962 and 1973, winning the Most Muscular Man part of that competition on 1964, where he placed 4th overall. He was also a coverman for Health & Strength, Iron Man and Muscular Development magazines. In, powerlifting, he won the first official AAU National Powerlifting Championship in the 198 lb. in 1965. After a period of relative inactivity on the competitive powerlifting stage, he won the 220 lb. bodyweight category at the 1972 Nationlas with a record 1805 lb. total. Later that year, he won the 1973 World Powerlifting Championships with a total of 1840 lb. His bench press, deadlift and total were all world records. In 1981, lifting in the 242 lb. bodyweight category, Bill made a lifetime record of 2040 the total. He also bench pressed a record 578 lb.. Many believe that record has never truly been broken by a man of the same bodyweight and same equipment that Bill used (which is to say a T-shirt).
Dave Sheppard - Dave Sheppard earned medals in 4 World Championships and the 1956 Olympic Games, established world records in all of the lifts and was one of the pioneers of the squat style of lifting. At the 1954 World Championships, he was credited by many as having made the most courageous attempt in weightlifting history. Asked to lift in the 90 kg. bodyweight category because the US already had another lifter in the 82.5 kg. category (Tommy Kono) Sheppard’s bodyweight was barely over 82.5 kg. during his competition. In an effort to win, he jumped to 187.5 kg. after his first attempt at 167.5 kg. in the C&J, a weight was 17.5 kg. over the World Record in Dave’s true (82.5 kg.) bodyweight division and heavier than any weight ever attempted by a heavyweight at any prior World Championship. Dave actually shouldered the weight but could not fully rise from the squat position.
Dick “Smitty” Smith - Smitty made his first trip to York PA in the late 1930s, to purchase a set of weights. It was a journey that was to change his life. During the ensuing years, he began to travel to York with ever greater frequency, eventually relocating there and becoming employed by the York Barbell Co. An astute observer of the Iron Game, Smitty soon began to assist lifters like Bill March and Bob Bednarski in their training and competitions. He could be seen behind the scenes, and in the background on the stage, in nearly any photo of York’s top lifters during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. World Champion, Joe Dube, and Olympic silver medallist, Lee James, both give Smitty a great deal of the credit for their international successes. And there are countless others who will always thank Smitty for his coaching on and off the platform. He still trains many people today and conducts tours of the York Barbell Company’s Museum. The museum’s visitors couldn’t hope for a better guide.
Frank Spellman – At the age of 85, Frank Spellman is the oldest living Olympic Weightlifting Champion in the USA. After becoming a successful weightlifter in the early 1940’s, Frank served for three years in the military in WWII. When he was discharged at the end of 1945, Frank moved to what was then the weightlifting “capital” of the US, York, PA. The following year he won his first National Championship and earned a bronze medal at the first postwar World Championship in Paris. He trained even harder the following year and was rewarded with the silver medal at the 1947 World Championships. He resolved to dedicate himself even further to improving his weightlifting performances and, in 1948, Frank’s persistence paid off. After winning the US National Championship, he won the coveted gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. He came back to win one more Nationals in 1961. Frank still trains today and is in terrific shape, a shining inspiration to the champions who have followed him.
Milo Steinborn - Milo Steinborn became the National Weightlifting Champion of his native Germany in 1920. He is believed to be the first man to officially exceed 500 lb. in the squat. His world record in the squat of 553 lb. lasted for decades. What makes Steinborn’s squatting exploits even more remarkable was that they were performed without a rack. Milo would generally simply load his barbell to the desired weight, stand it on end, tip it onto his shoulders and squat! On the pro wrestling circuit for more than 25 years, Steinborn became a very successful promoter after he retired from the mat. He settled in Orlando, FL, where his Orange St. Gym became a local fixture.
Leo Stern - Leo Stern began his nearly lifelong career in the Iron Game as a weightlifter. However, after seeing the phenomenal physique of the great John Grimek, in the early 1940’s, he developed a passion for bodybuilding as well. After serving as a physical instructor during WWII, he took up serious training again and won the Mr. California title in 1946. He placed 3 rd in the Mr. America competition the same year. Leo is widely known for his physique photos of the great Bill Pearl and countless others (and as Bill’s trainer in his early years). He produced top level weightlifting teams for much of his career as well, including at least one national champion, Bill Lowrance. Leo and his wife Bettye ran very successful health studios for many years.
Pudgy Stockton - Abbye Stockton was a dominant figure in women’s physical culture, excelling in the physique world, as a weightlifter, as a gymnast and as an acrobat. Variously referred to as “The First Lady of Iron”, America’s Barbelle” and “The Queen of Muscle Beach”, she could be seen gracing the covers and pages of magazines of physical culture for decades. So amazing was her physique (especially for her era), that a one-piece bathing suit could not be used to display it adequately (her mother made her early two piece suits). She and husband Les, were among the pioneers who made “Muscle Beach” a legend and organized perhaps the first AAU sanctioned weightlifting competition form women in 1947 (which Pudgy easily won).
Frank Stranahan - As a teenager, Frank excelled at both golf and football. Frank discovered early on that weight training could help him gain weight and vastly improve his strength. Such training was rare among football players and unheard of for golfers at that time. Although his father tried to talk him out of weight training, Frank persisted and became one of the most outstanding lifters in the US at that time. But golf is where Frank truly achieved amazing results. He won more than 70 amateur championships between 1936 and 1954, including 7 national championships and the 1948 and 1950 British Amateur championships.
Dennis Tinerino - Dennis Tinerino had one of the great physiques of the 1960’s through 1980’s. He won the Jr. Mr. USA and Teenage Mr. America titles in 1965 and Mr. USA in 1966. He won the Jr. and Sr. Mr. America titles in 1967 and the NABBA amateur Mr. Universe title in 1968. He came back to with the Pro Mr. Universe title in 1981. This multi-time coverman for Strength & Health not only had a fabulous physique, but he was an accomplished athlete as well. He had little trouble earning his athletic points for the AAU Mr. American competition, as he became an outstanding Weightlifter after pending only a short time in the sport.
Jan Todd (r.) - One of the pioneers of Women’s Powerlifting, after winning her bodyweight divisions in the first women’s national powerlifting event in 1977 (Joe Zarella’s All American Women’s Open) and the first Women’s World Powerlifting Championship, Jan Todd continued to write the powerlifting record books. Her records included her highest lifts in the heavyweight division of a 545 lb. squat and a 479 lb. deadlift. She and her husband Terry (see below) established the Todd-McLean Library (now the Stark Center), which houses the largest collection of Physical Culture publications in the world.
Terry Todd (l.) - Terry Todd began his career as a weightlifter, winning the Jr. Nationals in 1963. Shortly thereafter he devoted his energies to powerlifting and won the first AAU National Championships in Powerlifting in 1965. A former editor for Strength & Health Magazine, Terry authored 5 books in the area of weight training, has been a TV commentator for a wide variety of strength events and has had countless articles published in magazines like Sports Illustrated. He and his wife Jan, developed the largest collection of physical culture publications in the world (see above).
Two-time Olympic champion Chuck Vinci
was one of the most successful lifters in US weightlifting history and one of
the most hard working. His training endurance was legendary, displayed through
such feats as training 8 hours straight, or making a world record in the C&J on
his 10 th
competitive attempt. Across his competitive career, Chuck won 7 National
Championships and 2 Pan American Games. He also set multiple world records in
the snatch, C&J and total. He had
David Webster - Founder of the International Highland Games Federation, Dave Webster has been involved in virtually all facets of the Iron Game for many decades. A prolific author on the history of strength and training methods, Webster has been active as a coach and administrator. He was Director of Weightlifting at he Commonwealth Games (later Chief of Mission for the entire Commonwealth Games). He has been an official for the International Weightlifting Federation and a consultant to the organizers of at least one Olympic Games. In recognition for his lifelong contributions to the sport, Dave was honored with the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Malcolm Whyatt – Malcolm Whyatt (r) is known worldwide as a physical culture historian, researcher and writer.He was formerly the publisher of Health & Strength Magazine, the oldest continuously published Iron Game magazine in the world (founded in 1898). Malcolm has also been recognized as a historian for NABBA. Whyatt was an intimate friend of Oscar Heidenstam, Mr. Britain in 1938, Mr. Europe in 1939. Oscar served the NABBA in various posts, including secretary and president between 1956 and his death in 1991, so became one of the most revered administrators in the world. When Oscar died, Malcolm founded the Oscar Heidenstam Foundation in Heidenstam’s honor, with it’s associated Hall of Fame and annual awards dinner (a British counterpart to the AOBS dinner) that attracted the greatest names of the Physical Culture worldwide to its grand evenings, the last of which occurred on March 15th of 2008.
Bruce Wilhelm – Bruce Wilhelm has excelled in virtually every strength sport. In wrestling, he was the bronze medalist at the 1965 AAU Nationals in Freestyle Wrestling, and 4th in the Greco Roman Championships the following year. He was ranked in the top 10 in the US in the shot in 1967 and in 1969 through 1973. His personal best with the shot of 66’ ¼”, performed in 1972, still ranked him 251 all-time worldwide in 2009. He won the 1975 and 1976 US Nationals in Olympic-style weightlifting and placed 5th overall at the Olympics, winning a silver medal in the snatch competition of the World Championships held simultaneously with the Games. He went on to become the first American in history to snatch 400 lb. In 1977, he won the inaugural World’s Strongest Man competition and he successfully defended his title the following year. Bruce was ABC’s color commentator for weightlifting for Wide World of Sports and became a prolific writer on the Iron Game, having published countless magazine articles and written books on Pat Casey and Ken Patera.
Yorton - Chet discovered weight training after suffering two broken
legs and other severe injuries in an automobile accident that he had as a
teenager. He went on to win numerous bodybuilding titles, including the
prestigious IFBB Mr. America and NABBA Mr. Universe titles in 1966. Always an advocate of natural
bodybuilding, he had a successful career as a gym owner, as well as a number of
movie roles. Chet pioneered a natural bodybuilding magazine and some of the
first natural bodybuilding competitions. He has been "rediscovered" by
bodybuilding fans worldwide in recent years, who see him as living proof that a
continuous dedication to natural bodybuilding enables one to remain in
tremendous condition throughout ones life (as the picture to the right
demonstrates - it shows Chet in 2010, at the age of 71! ).