Don Reinhoudt: The Mr. Nice Guy

Donald Reinhoudt, of German extraction, was born in Dunkirk, NY on March 6, 1945. Don always admired strong men and strength. As a result of this, Don always wanted to become strong. In high school Don stood 6’2″/187cm and weighed 225lb/102kg. Basketball was his favorite sport. He participated an a winning Varsity team while in High School.

He did not weight training because his school coaches discouraged it. In those days the general agreement was that weights worsen athletic performance. Don attended Parson College in lowa where he studied accounting. He followed his career in his father’s footsteps, getting a degree in Finance.

After leaving college, Don decided to give Olympic lifting a try. He sett up a gym in the basement of his home and like so many other oldschool lifters (Paul Anderson, Bob Peoples…) across this country, Don became also a “cellar lifter.” He lifted for a year and felt that the results were not enough to keep up with it. He pressed 340lb, snatched 250lb, and did 370lb in the clean and jerk.

Cindy Wyatt Don Reinhoudt Wife

In 1966 he met Cindy Wyatt at a weightlifting competition in Columbus,OH. She was attending majoring in psychology and was a spectator in the audience. They started dating and were married in 1969.

1977-1978 she became Women’s National Powerlifting Champ. At 165lb she had best lifts of 415lb/188kg squat, 225lb/102kg bench and 385lb/174kg deadlift.

Don Reinhoudt Cindy Wyatt bench press

She gave him much encouragement and support when decided to try Powerlifting. 1969 Don quit olympic lifting and went to powerlifting. Cindy became Don’s Number one coach and mentor. She could detect the slightest flaw in his technique. Her attention and help was instrumental in his climb to the top. Above you can see Cindy spotting his bench in competition!

Don said, “without Cindy, I would never have reached the poundages I am handling now. She deserves all the credit.”

Jr. A.M.A. Meet Don Reinhoudt

A few months of training, Don squatted 670lb/303kg in the Jr. A.M.A. Meet. Don’s first official total was 1745lb, bench 440lb/200kg- Squat 670lb/303kg – deadlift 635lb/288kg.
After 3 years his total has shot up to 2175 officially. His total was made up with a 580-825-770. Don made this fine total during the summer in an outdoor meet and the weather was very chilly, otherwise his totals could have been considerably higher.

Don worked full time holding down a demanding job as a Public Accountant. He trained four days a week; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. His routine varies as to the goal that he is trying to accomplish. According to Don he needed at least nine hours of sleep a night. As for diet, he ate plenty. This is not hard to understand, for a man weighed nearly 350 pounds did not get his way eating just one meal a day. He consumed one gallon of milk a day with a quart of cottage cheese!

Larry Pacifico powerlifter 70sOldtime Powerlifter Larry Pacifico said this about him:
“Don was Mr. Nice Guy, and I mean nice. Never got real mad and always treated people with the utmost of respect no matter who they were. Don wouldn’t say a word like damn or hell. He would say ‘golly’ or ‘shucks’ but he came on as the biggest and strongest super yet. His 2420 was just recently broken after so many years. He, like me, never put his best lifts together in one meet.”

Don Reinhoudt’s accomplishments

1969 Junior Allegheny Mountain Assoc. Meet (His first Powerlifting Meet)
440lb Bench, 670lb squat, 635lb deadlift. Reinhoudt progressed rapidly and his body mass increased over 300lb.

January 1972 Senior AMA Meet
Bench: 450lb, Squat: 850lb , Deadlift: 700lb. his bodyweight climbed to 340lb-350lb

1972 The Second World Powerlifting Championships

Don had the confidence and willpower to meet and compete against the big Dogs. John Kuc (332lb), Big Jim Williams (343lb), Joe White (298lb) and Paul Wrenn(268lb)! 

The bench came first. Don’s 540lb opener was fast and easy. His wife Cindy accompanied him to the platform and gave him a single person handoff. It bewildered the officials, but they allowed it and it gave Reinhoudt a big psychological boost. Next followed 570lb.

Cindy shouted encouragement as she handed it off. Her exact word – ” Stay tight and blow it up.”

1972 Don Reinhoudt

He lifted the weight up. Next was 590lb and it almost stopped, but didn’t. Don went on to an overall third place finish – 2145 -590 830 725.

Don was in the company of Wolves. John Kuc squatted 900 pounds. He rode down into a deep hole and exploded back up. Next lifter: “The Big Black Bear of Scranton”, Jim Williams. He opened with 630lb bench and it was easy. Then he started a load of 675, also effortless.

1973 IPF Men’s World Powerlifting Championships
His bodyweight has gone as high as 365lb. He was the meet sensation. All his lifts looked effortless. It was the year of no wraps and he took 950 down and stood, but received two reds for depth: Don recalls: “I usually sink a couple of inches lower when I stop – the weight pushes me on down. On this day I just stopped and stayed there. I came up and knew I was high. I was never that strong and made it. “Don did 900, 560 and 780 for 2240lb.

Clarence Bass of “Ripped” fame wrote in Iron Man, “He’s for real, not an ounce of prima donna in him. He signed autographs during the competition. With his wife Cindy as his No.1 fan and coach, he was a perfect gentleman on and off the platform.”

1974 IPF World Championships: Don Reinhoudt vs. Doyle Kenady!
He did 904 562 832 for 2298. He topped newcomer Doyle Kenady by over two hundred pounds. He almost lost his balance on his 904 squat at completion. Hits bench was disappointing. Don considerd the ’74 to have been a bad year for him. ’75 was equally disappointing.

1975 Men’s Senior National
Don was called on his opener 832 squat for carrying the bar too far down the back. This was something he had never encountered before in all his competitions.
Somehow, Don – while still in position to squat – rolled the bar up an inch or two, but then, instead of being given the signal to squat, he was told to re-rack the weight. Don is one mellow fellow and it was a rare occasion when he became agitated. No! He was more than that. He was just plain “pissed off”. He dumped it off his back and the platform shook like an earthquake when it crashed with a splintering thud. He came out for it again, got another hassling, but made the lift anyway. Next came 904. He executed a textbook perfect lift and got two reds. His expectations to go over 2400 at the Nationals went right out the windows.

Don endured a tragedy. He lost his father and thus he was stressed and depressed. They were very close and it was a difficult time for the gentle giant.

Don’s last competition: 1976 IPF Men’s World Powerlifting Championships
It was Don’s last inernational competition. 804lb and 859lb squats were easy. He buried 914lb and stood, but his old nemesis, instability, flared up and he staggered at completion, nullifying the lift. Conserving energy, Don dumped it behind. Everybody scattered. In bench he repeated his 540 opener. Equally easy was 562.

He took these “light” benches to save himself for what he hoped would be hist last official contribution as a superheavyweight…a deadlift with 900lb! He was well prepared for this task, having made 880 pounds in training. He began by doing 755, and went on to 826lb, which went ridiculously easy. Then, Don called for 904 pounds. 

As Larry Pacifico took the microphone to explain to the audience that they were seeing the last of this extraordinary man, the crowd realized that dual significance of what was happening. Don walked out, chalked up, bent down and wrapped his enormous hands around the bar and began to pull.

The ponderous weight left the floor and traveled to knee height, where it stopped. The crowd cheered and stomped, whistled and shouted.
After the weight had crashed to the floor, Don looked over the audience and waved, the man power fans said goodbye to one of the best men the sport ever had.

Life After Powerlifting
The “1976 Worlds” was Don’s last competition. He said: “I had four World Titles, but I felt unchallenged and bored with the lack of really though competition, plus my despondency over losing my father. I had done it all. There were no more mountains left to climb

Young Don Reinhoudt 70s powerlifting star

“What I have enjoyed the most in my days of being a strong man is making friends, meeting some very wonderful people and being able to travel.  My memories have been wonderful and I’ll go the my grave thanking god for letting me have the honor of being able to compete and see some of my dreams come true.  In my life, as I’ve said before, I’m no different than anyone else.  I think god put me here for a reason.  That was to show that the real strength isn’t muscle or strength, but the love from within our hearts & souls and trying to make people happy.” – Don Reinhoudt

For ten years, from 1968 through 1978, he worked as a public accountant. For the next six years, he worked for the Cassadaga Job Corps as a youth counselor. He used his background as a strongman and powerlifting champ to serve as a positive role model for young people. He stressed the importance of a good education, high moral values and having a good relationship with parents, teachers and everyone. He preached against the use of drugs and alcohol, but most of all – to be the best you can be.

Today he is enjoying his life to he fullest. He still does strength feats like teethlifting. 

Doug’s message to the powerlifting community

Don Reinhoudt Strongman

“Train for true power and abandon all the artificial support gear. Share friendship with your peers and competitions. Enjoy your lifting. Live up to your true potential. Be the best you can be – win or lose. And, finanlly, never quit.”

1 thought on “Don Reinhoudt: The Mr. Nice Guy”

  1. I met his wife in the queue to see the world powerlifting championships in Birmingham,. Cindy was also a strong cookie and a very nice person. I sat next to a television camera man on one of his spare chairs. I had an 8mm film camera and looked at the TV camera, it was massive. Don was sitting with his team of athletes, stood up and went to get a snack, I thought it was going to be a share out, but no he ate the lot along with a dozen cokes. His wife told me that he had to eat every hour to keep his weight up. A very nice couple. May he rest in peace.


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