John Kuc ‘The Legend’

Around 1980 John Kuc retired and stopped powerlifting. At this time his best friend Bob Gaynor wrote the following tribute (source PL USA) – Mr. Berg

“It is with a great deal of respect and a tremendous amount of disappointment that I must report the end of an era. It now appears that the competitive lifting world has seen the last of one of it’s greatest champions. John Kuc has pulled his last heavy competition deadlift.

Many great champions will follow and I am sure all of John’s records will eventually fall. One thing I question is if anyone will ever accomplish the same achievements that John has.

Kuc was undefeated from 1972 to the present, including National and World Competition. He was a World Champion at Superheavyweight and 242s. At the time there was only one World Championship. He was the third man in the world to bench press 600lbs. He was the first man to squat 900 (there is some debate on this).

A 4 time World Champion, a 4 time ADFPA National Champion, he has held the 242lb. deadlift Record from 1974 to the present. At the 1986 ADFPA National Championships he was referred to as ‘The Father of Drug Free Lifting’ by Meet Director, Alan Kirshner.

Today it is fashionable to support drug free or tested competition. John made this commitment long before it was the thing to do. In 1980, he staked his hard earned reputation on his promise to produce World Class lifting drug tested competition. He was tested by urinalysis and polygraph for a number of different examiners. He was also tested at different intervals throughout the year, which truly proved he was drug free. John feels his lifting for the ADFPA was the greatest accomplishment of his career. 

He was the first big name to make a commitment to the organization. He made this commitment because he truly believed in it.

The preceding are item that are in the record books for all to see. Although the records are there and even though John has been around as long as any competitive lifter, very few know John Kuc, the man.

I have known and trained with John over the past 20 years. During that time I come home to know John as well as anyone. John is a very private, shy, introverted and extremely humble individual. Some mistake this shyness for conceit, but this is not so. There is not a bit of conceit in John.

John has a tremendous amount of personal pride and self-discipline that allows him to focus his whole life on lifting.

By doing this he has achieved great heights in the world, but other areas of his life have had to suffer. I have seen and trained with individuals with greater natural strength and ability, but I have never seen anyone as dedicated and willing to sacrifice so much.

The term ‘Paying the Price’ can certainly be John’s motto.

Some of us who trained with John often discussed why he rarely suffered the injuries others did. In retrospect, I attribute this to the fact that his whole existence revolved around lifting; so, in effect, he did nothing to interfere with lifting. I also feel that he just plain ignored the normal muscle pulls and strains that we mere mortals suffered. John would go years without missing a workout, and always training heavy.

Even though he has accomplished as much as any lifter, he expects no special treatment because of it. He is just another person in the gym.

John would never correct or offer advice in the gym unless he was asked. He respects others views and opinions and would never use his reputation to make a point.

As a matter of fact, if you could ignore his massive physique or the super heavy weights he handles you would never know he is one of the greatest powerlifters of all time. John just likes to blend in and receive no special treatment.

John has never sought out praise or adulation. Titles and records were not his main concern. I can personally attest to this because in the period 1975 to 1978 he handled training weights that would have won him world championships, but he did not have the desire to compete.

john kuc deadlift

He is just a man who loves to train with heavy weights. He gets personal satisfaction from his workouts, not his titles.John currently operates a fitness store in Wilkes-Barre, catering to weight trainee. He still train heavy four times per week, although not for powerlifting. He weighs about 230 and looks like he could enter a physique contest.

Although he has no thoughts of competitive powerlifting, he occasionally loads the deadlift bar to 700lb and does four or five reps.

John’s life centers around work and training and his hobbies which include gun collecting and attending the movies. He has a rather spartan existence, but it is what he wants.

In any sport or endeavor it is extremely difficult to determine who is the best. In any discussion, much of what is said is subjective, but when you review the whole package I personally feel John was the greatest powerlifter of all time.

Whatever the future holds for John, I am sure the lifting world wished him well, and all hope that maybe he will lift one more time.”

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