The First International Powerlifting Meet

Americans vs. Brits, The First International Meet 1970
September 1970, the Embassy Auditorium in Los Angeles hosted what was described as ‘the first international powerlifting meet ever held’. 

First Powerlifting Meet in HistoryThe British-US Power Meet was held at the Embassy Auditorium in Los Angeles on September 19th and was the fruition of much hard work and planning by Tony Fitton, the 21 year old head of British powerlifting. After Tony contacted Bill “Peanuts” West and expressed his desire to arrange an international meet between the Brits and Americans, local powerlifting star George Frenn took it upon himself to arrange and promote the meet.

With Wayne (of “Superstar Billy Graham” fame) Coleman announcing and Joe Weider providing travel funds for the Brits, it promised to be a spectacular event.

George Frenn 819lb squat 70s powerliftingGeorge Fenn squatted a new American record 819lb in the 242lb class. His 819lb surpassed the superheavyweight record set by men weighing 100lb more than Frenn! George is also a world class hammer thrower and was the current National AAU champion. He was also a teacher in the Los Angeles City School District so his training was limited. George was also the meet director. You can imagine how hectic it can be to hold and organize such a big meet. 

George Frenn Deadlift Bench PressGeorge started with 440lb benchpress and it went easy. But his second attempt with 465 went very slow and hard. He did not take a third attempt. In deadlift he started with 720lb. After that he tried deadlifting 785lb but he failed. He failed two times! His first squat 730lb. He squatted deep down and came up explosive. His second attempt with 780lb went also easy. George asked for 815lb (which weighed 819lb) and made it.

Bill Thurber 355lb bench pressThe American team included such notables as Bill Thurber (who benched an American record 362 as a 148 lber), Molloy (who squatted an American record 545 as a 165 lber), Bill West, Tom Overholtzer (who squatted an American record 705 as a 181 lber) and of course meet promoter George Frenn, who squatted an American record 819.

Ron Collins Powerlifting 70s

From halfway around the world came some very talented opposition: Ron Collins, Precious McKenzie (who would also compete at the IWF Worlds), McHugh, Mike Shaw, and Eddie Kershaw among others, several of whom would set lifting records that day. When it was all said and done, three Americans had bombed out and the Brits handily defeated the Americans.

Record setting performances aside, not everything came up smelling roses at the Embassy Auditorium. According to Tony Fitton (who not only judged but actually stayed at meet director George Frenn’s residence while in LA), there were a few “irregularities” that bear mentioning. For example, the “star” of the meet weighed 20 lbs over his class limit the night before but was never required to make weight! In fact, according to Tony, only the British lifters had to make weight that day! Then there was a judge named Bob Packer who was given the boot by Frenn for throwing too many reds! He’s the guy that Tony replaced.

The judging was inconsistent: many squats were high (one notable exception being Frenn’s), many of the benches were bounced with butts in the air, and miles and miles of bandaging were ignored.

This is how things were apparantly still being done in parts of California, far away from the scrutiny of the AAU-Hoffman camp. 

Despite its problems, the British-US Power Meet was particularly significant as a call to action for Bob Hoffman and his AAU cohorts. 

Bob Hoffman made big plans to host an international event in 1971 that would pull the rug out from under Weider’s feet!

US vs British Meet Results
U.S.A (bodyweight, bench, Squat, Deadlift, Total)
Remler 114lb BP: 230lb SQ: 235lb DL: 350lb
Dominguez 122lb BP: 165lb SQ: 365lb DL: 345lb
Hooker 130lb BP: 190lb SQ: 350lb DL: –
Bill Thurber 148lb BP: 362lb SQ:425lb DL: –
Joe Molloy 165lb BP: 300lb SQ: 545lb DL: 555lb
Tom Overholtzer 179lb BP: 425lb SQ: 700lb DL: 575lb
Bill West 198lb BP: 425lb SQ: 575lb DL: –
George Frenn 241lb  BP: 465lb SQ: 815lb DL: 720lb
Dick Allen 283lb BP: 420lb SQ: 700lb DL: 550lb

Great Britain (bodyweight, bench, Squat, Deadlift, Total)
Precious McKenzie 123lb BP: 285lb SQ: 420lb DL: 470lb
Mike McHugh 132lb BP: 255lb SQ: 440lb DL: 480lb
Mike Shaw 147lb BP: 310lb SQ: 500lb DL: 575lb
Ron Collins 164lb BP: 365lb SQ: 550lb DL: 635lb
Bob Memery 181lb BP: 350lb SQ: 440lb DL: 560lb
Mike Davies 195lb BP: 400lb SQ: 630lb DL: 580lb
Tony Elvin 240lb BP: 350lb SQ: 600lb DL: 600lb

Guest Lifters U.S.A
Joe Klostergaard 181lb BP: 385lb SQ: 490lb DL: 565lb
Jack Barnes 180lb BP: 350lb SQ: 650lb DL: 580lb
Ernie Doe 241lb BP: 500lb SQ: 560lb DL: 705lb

Bob Hoffman’s big plan

Bob Hoffmann father of liftingJoe Weider played a big part in the First International Powerlifting Meet held at Los Angeles Embassy Auditorium. Bob Hoffman had seen a lot of changes during his long lifting patronage, chief among them the rise of American weightlifting after WWII and its zenith during the mid 1950’s. 

Bob Hoffmann vs Joe weider powerlifting AAUWith the decline of American weightlifting during the 1960’s / 70’s and the ascendence of Weider’s sensationalistic brand of bodybuilding, Hoffman had little choice but to fully embrace the only “winning” game still left to his beloved AAU: the relatively young sport of Powerlifting. But Weider wouldn’t relent, even in that fledgling strength arena: He had George Frenn and Bill West penning power articles for him. He took every opportunity to criticize the AAU’s treatment of powerlifting and Bob Hoffman (see above). As it had been since the late 1940’s, it was still a matter of pride for both men to upstage each another – witness Weider’s sponsorship of the 1970 LA International meet and Hoffman’s forthcoming reaction.

Hoffman would have his first official World Championship meet in 1971 even if he had only the AAU to sanction it. As he loudly proclaimed in Muscular Development, this epochal event would occur in York Pennsylvania and timed to coincide with his birthday.

First International Meet held by AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), 6 Nov 1971 (promoted by Bob Hoffman!!!)

First Powerlifting Meet competitors 1971 Powerlifting gained additional prestige with the First World Championship in 1971, also held in York. A huge credit should be given to Bob Hoffman for making the first World Powerlifting Championships a reality! 

198 lb class Vince Anello vs. Larry Pacifico vs. John Kanter
Vince pressed 360lb, grooved 380lb, but barely drove 385lb off his chest. His squats were smart choices, and got all three: 550lb , 575lb, then 590lb. Even with his tremendous Deadlift he was too far back to overcome the deficit.

Vince Anello 750lb deadlift powerlifting Vince humped up to 750lb (above picture), jumped to 800lb, and got it knee high. On his final try with his stiff-legged, round-back style, it didn’t budge. He got third place at 1720. 

John Kanter Bench Press 70s powerliftingJohn Kanter benched 460lb, but there was a butt raise. His repeat went. Then he tried 475lb but it was too heavy.
Larry Pacifico opened with a 625lb squat. He came back for 660lb and made it. John Kanter squatted 660 and 680lb. In the third attempt he was stuck on the bottom with 700lb.

Both men had identical super total of around 1140lb. Larry had the advantage of being the lighter in body mass. Kanter opened with a 650lb deadlift, but couldn’t get his shoulders back, thus no lift.

Larry Pacifico 660lb deadlift Larry took the same poundage and got it. He increased  to 660lb and it went easy. Larry lifted the same weight and thus they had the same total, 1800lb. But Larry was the lighter man and he won.

John Kanter 680lb deadlift 70s powerliftingIn the final attempt John Kanter tried deadlifting 680lb but he couldn’t ripp it off the floor. Larry had won the title and did not try his final attempt in the deadlift.

Larry Pacifico Vine Anello John Kanter 70s powerlifting242lb Class Joseph Weinstein vs. Carlton Snitkin

Joseph Weinstein Carlton Snitkin 70s powerliftingOnly two men there: Joseph Weinstein, Staten Island, NY. He competed against Carlton Snitkin of Oakdale, CT. 

Snitkin began at 420lb. Joe opened at 435lb. Carl duplicated that weight with his second. He tried 440 which fell short. Joe leaped in front with a well executed 450lb. He tried 460lb, and it was a close miss. The order reversed after that. Weinstein dunked his initial 630lb. He sat shallowly with 650lb, and also carried the bar too far down his back – no lift. His final try also was nullified for insufficient depth. Snitkin eased himself into the driver’s seat: 630lb, 670lb, 685lb – all acceptable lifts. 

Snitkin had a 40lb supertotal advantage. To begin the pulls both men cranked up 630. Snitkin extended his lead with 655. Weinstein attempted 665lb, but it was incomplete, so he walved his third (1710 total) and had second place. Snitkin, having already won, tried 665, which remained grounded.

Joseph Weinstein Carlton Snitkin

Superheavyweight

1971 powerlifting competitors Jim Williams John Kuc Joe White 70s powerlifting

Only USA men entered. Jim Williams from Scranton and John Kuc, of Kingston. They were joined by Joseph White, from Columbiaville, NY and the present Senior champ, Hugh cassidy, from Oxon Hill, MD. 

Don Cundy was also there. He was a triple Senior Champion (1968-70). He even skipped the Seniors in 1970 to prepare for this competition.

Don opened with 480lb bench press. And did 510lb and then 520lb. John Kuc (271lb bodyweight) benched 500lb and 530lb easily. He tried 550lb, and pushed it only halfway. 

Hugh Cassidy 570lb benchpress 1971Hugh Cassidy uncorked 530lb bench, 550lb and 570lb. All good lifts!

Jim Williams Bench press psycho legend 70s powerliftingThe Scranton “Superman” or “Bear”, who had the biggest benchpress. Jim Williams was in this time the american record holder in the Bench 628lb. He opened with 630lb and blew it up. This stirred the crowd. He increased to 660lb. It was slower to complete at the top. The crowd chanted for 700lb. Jim took 680lb. Up it exploded and stopped just shy of a lockout. Every was wide awake and alert after that.

Hugh Cassidy 800lb squatAll were strong in the Squat. Don Cundy made 700lb, 740lb but couldn’t complete 760lb. Joseph White came in at 760lb, got dizzy and failed it. He lost his repeat, when the three minute time limit expired on the clock. Joseph increased to 765lb and made it to stay in the hunt. Hugh Cassidy (see above pic) sat way low and roared up with all three: 750lb, 780lb and 800lb.

Big Jim Williams Squat 70s powerlifting

Jim Williams cruised thorugh his first two lifts: 780lb, then 800lb. He handled them like toys. He was far out in front on subtotal (1460), 90 up on Cassidy. Believing he had a safe enough lead, Jim bypassed his final lift. It proved to be a big tactical error. 

White totaled first, negotiating 650lb and 670lb, but couldn’t finish 680lb. His 1920 total would mean fourth. 

Jim Williams 700lb Deadlift 70s powerlitingJim Williams deadlifted 675lb, then 700lb easily but he missed 720lb. It came off the floor easily but at the lockout it stopped abruptly. Jim’s total 2160lb. 

The two others had to pull enormous weight to chase Jim Williams.

John Kuc 820lb deadliftHugh Cassidy opened with 750lb deadlift. Hugh’s current total 2120. John Kuc pulled the same weight. Kuc’s total 1935lb.

Hugh Cassidy 790lb deadliftThe big surprise occured. Cassidy pulled out all the stops, jumped straight to 790lb. During the lift someone from backstage ran right out onto the platform to shout encouragement to Cassidy to make the lift. There was so much excitement that they didn’t have time to eject the intruder. When the bar snapped into lockout position, the lights flashed! Three whites. 

Don Cundy 800lb deadlift 70s powerliftingThe meet continued: Cundy opened with 800lb, and humped it knee high, with none completed in all 3 tried, and he was out of the contest.

John Kuc 875lb deadlift 70s powerliftingJohn Kuc was going to unleash his mighty weapon: the deadlift. He lifted 820lb and had a total of 2105lb. Kuc decided to try to win it all. The bar was loaded up to 875lb. The crowd went nuts. When he approached the bar, it became DEAD SILENT. The enormous weight broke the grasp of gravity and inched upwards. Everyone held their breath. At knee height it hesitated, wavered, and crashed back to the platfrom. The crowd erupted into tumultuous roar. Hugh Cassidy was the champion and not Big Jim Williams

Hugh Cassidy Big Jim Williams John Kuc 70s powerliftingThis powerlifting meet was the milestone for the popular sport we know today as POWERLIFTING.

First Powerlifting Meet in History 1971 AAUBob Hoffman and his team and troubles to held this competition in “William Penn Highschool”. The national championships in 1968 was held there too. Damage was done to the stage. There was such a huge crowd, hundreds standing that Hoffman barred from there for 3 years.
Don Schlosser and Eichelberger their Assistant Mayor had to bat for their that they got William Penn auditorium for this contest. 

This competition turned out very well. They had more than 200 people present. They were standing in the aisles, and many were find seats, and many were sitting up front taking pictures, but most were just watching.

Hoffman and this team tried hard to make it a truly international event, but there only two countries were represented. It seemed Powerlifting was at this time a poorly represented world sport.

Sources:
PL USA
Muscuar Development
Strength and Health Magazine

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