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What the Heck is the AOBS and When is its Next Reunion?

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  • Dave Hartnett
    replied
    Mike C, are you going this year? we werent going to go, but with the recent passing of good friend Reuben Weaver, Julie and decided to go after -all to see our friends (like you) that we only see once a year or so...

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  • Nathaniel Brous
    replied
    Hmmm. Somehow I have never received a newsletter from the aobs. I just emailed the address on the site. Thanks for putting this up Mike. Hopefully I'll see you this October.

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  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    I received my AOBS newsletter dated July 2016 the other day.

    It had a nice 13 page or so writeup on the life of Tommy Kono, who passed away a few months ago.

    The next Reunion is at the Newark Airport Marriott Hotel on October 29, 2016.

    They announced two honorees for this year. One is Gayle Hatch, a weightlifting and strength coach. The other is Evander Holyfield. You read that right, four time heavyweight boxing champion. The newsletter said he credits much of his success and longevity in his sport to weight training. I believe he is friends with performing strongman Dennis Rogers, so that would no doubt be part of the connection with AOBS.

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  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    Well, the 32nd AOBS Reunion Dinner was this past Saturday. I went, along with my wife. Arrived late, as we had a problem with TSA concerning Boarding Passes on an i-phone. Some person could not handle two passes under one name, and we missed our plane, the fault of TSA(it was a small airport). So, I didn't get to the hotel until after 4 on Saturday. The good news is that my wife had a good time this time. I think she knew more what to expect, and felt more comfortable with the Stanless Steel Clan (how could the uninitiated be ready for that???!!).

    The two above grip dudes, Richard Cottrell and Nate Brous, both made it for the first time this year. I'd like to think it is as a result of this thread, but that is not the case. It is the first time in over 7 years, maybe more, that people "From the Gripboard" decided on attending for the first time. Been watching that for a long time, and it used to be common, but no more. Nate had a very good and long writeup over on the Gripboard, it would not surprise me at all if there were 2, 5, or 10 newbies next year based on his writeup.

    But the AOBS is so much more than "grip". It is a huge strength "Big Tent" that encompasses some of the best things about the Iron Game. In order for the completely uninitiated to get a better feel for what it is all about, I would highly recommend buying and reading John Fair's book "Muscletown USA". Though not perfect by any means, the whole "York" and East Coast and Hoffman flavor is in the book, and it would give some idea as to what the "manly culture" (author's term) of barbells' history is, as told by the author. Because of its strong editorial and at times cynical view of Bob Hoffman, a flawed book, but by far the best that exists. As the "old timers" pass away, the vibe slowly dissipates, but it is still there. And, as long as Slim the Hammer Man is still alive, kicking, and offering up his take on the world in person at the event, it will remain there.

    Rumor was that the attendance was down, and some, many, regulars were not there this year. But the dinner itself...I am not privy to the number in attendance, but my guess would be 175. Probably the least in over 10 years, but way more than what I figured based on preliminary estimates. It's the kind of thing where it would not surprise me if 250 were there next year, you just never know. Quite frankly, if it were announced say that Bruno Sammartino was going to be there next year, I could see a record being set for attendance. you just never know as I said. The many young guns that used to follow in a pack that I used to call "Disciples of Slim" (of which Sonny Barry, who is not young by any means, but is like a 20 year old 65 year old, is one) seemed to be missing. I heard that the "Rising Stars" afternoon bending performance, which I barely missed, was absolutely fantastic this year. John Decola's acceptance speech probably smashed the AOBS record for length of time, obliterating Ken Patera's or many of Bruce Wilhelm's presentations...but even my wife liked it! He had a folksy approach that worked. Wilhelm was there being Wilhelm. Slim was in very good spirits this time, good humor, offering his advice and take on whatever he felt like sharing. Both of the Mighty Atom's living sons were there this time, with their wives/ladies, Slim's great grandson offered the Pledge of Allegiance, Jedd Johnson had an excellent floor show revolving around super-sized "blobs" and an Inch Dumbbell replica, the Mighty Stephan's beard seemed to be in ZZ Top Territory this time (I prefer a clean-shaven Steve myself), and I sat next to a lady named Ruth whose late husband purchased some tiny dumbbells for her on their first date in the 1940s. Only at the AOBS. Next year, I think my son will be going with me again, and the magic, for me, will have 100% returned. So it was down a few points this time. But where does it get this good?

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  • richardcottrell
    replied
    It has been nice reading all this first hand info about this annual event. This year, I will go!

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  • Nathaniel Brous
    replied
    It should be noted that the Marriott still has rooms at the special AOBS rate...as of 5 minutes ago anyway.

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  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    Originally posted by Dave Hartnett View Post
    Something just came up where I cannot attend after-all, hope to see you guys next year...
    Ahh, Bummer Dave.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dave Hartnett
    replied
    Something just came up where I cannot attend after-all, hope to see you guys next year...

    Leave a comment:


  • Nathaniel Brous
    replied
    The wife and I will be attending. Looking forward to meeting a number of people in person finally!

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  • Dave Hartnett
    replied
    Originally posted by Mike Corlett View Post
    Dave, so your first year was the "Dave Draper Year"?

    Mike, yes, that was my 1st year. My plans have changed again (canceled my conflicting trip) so I will be at this years gathering again...
    (SAT only I believe).

    Leave a comment:


  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    Dave, so your first year was the "Dave Draper Year"?

    Leave a comment:


  • Dave Hartnett
    replied
    Nice write-ups Mike... This is the 1st year since I've been going (2007) that I cant make it because of a conflicting trip. But Ill see you next year!
    Tell Andy I was asking about him...

    Leave a comment:


  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    Okay, after a nine month hiatus, I am continuing the long-winded painstaking description of each year's dinner. I'll just stick to my personal experience.

    2010. This one was very different for me. My MILO article on Stanless Steel had been published in MILO (March of 2010), and I was good buddies with Stan. So my brother, my son, Stan, Barbara, and Barbara's sister all sat together, and I was hanging out with Stan some from Saturday afternoon on.
    I brought an extra copy of the magazine and gave it to Slim the Hammer Man. I wanted him to read it, and I would call him a couple of weeks later and see if I had his blessing to write an article on him. That all worked out. It was the last dinner his wife attended, as she passed away the following year. It may have been the last AOBS performance by Slim, and it was just plain magical. I covered it pretty well in the September 2011 MILO, which had a couple of very cool photos my brother took in it. There was a NPR reporter there to cover Dennis Rogers induction, and while he was at it, he interviewed Slim. Ultimately, the fellow got several stories out of it, so he was happier than heck.

    Unfortunately, it was my son's last attendance, as his life got more complicated with having children.

    2011 and 2012. Nope, did not go.

    2013. Went with my wife, who was not, by any means, into the goings on at all. We went to NYC, and had visited with her brother in New England before the dinner. For me, the highlight of the evening was having dinner with Stan. It was interesting in that my wife had seen the documentary on Stan's life, so she didn't know what to expect. When we got home, she would tell people "Stan and Barbara had the nicest skin!". My daughter's response was "it's because they are hard core vegetarians", or someone else would say "good genes". Stan was "way mainstream" around her, which is really quite something if you know Stanley! I loved Bruce Wilhelm's marathon introduction of Ken Patera, and loved Patera's marathon acceptance speech. My wife wanted them to be over. The next day, saw and spoke to Ken Patera about Norb Ski's personality. Ken liked him. I did not speak with Ken "Leo" Da Rosa, hung out for 5 minutes as he spoke to someone else. Unfortunately, he passed away a few months later. And that is the worst part of AOBS. There are guys, great guys, and you never know when the last time you are going to see them.

    2014. As reported here, did not attend.

    2015. I am going! My son is not in a position to attend. Going with my wife. Hoping she has a little better idea this time of what to expect.

    2016. I have big plans. Not sharing them with anyone, but they are big. Looking forward to it. Hint: I am not performing! Ha!

    Will report on the upcoming 2015 banquet as the information becomes available.

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  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    A couple of years after publication, the AOBS Newsletters go on the Internet. Here is a writeup of the 2009 reunion. The issue that comes immediately after the dinner used to have a very lengthy writeup by the late Dr. Ken "Leo" Rosa. He passed away in early 2014. Dr. Ken was a mysterious guy. In the AOBS issue that covered his life, there was not a date of birth, date of death, mention of family, etc. He was even guarded about his racial background, which appeared to be Latin, African, and European. He was absolutely a world traveler, an outstanding musician, and an interesting guy. The photos and writeup here, at Joe Rollino's last dinner, give you a good perspective on the types of people in attendance:


    http://www.weightlifting.org/aobsnew...tterAug092.pdf

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  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    2009 was the first time we slept in a bed on Thursday night. In the past, it was on the airplane. Friday morning, who do I bump into at the restaurant but Joe Rollino. One of the first to arrive at AOBS that year, his last year alive. I was a strength nobody, but he gave a big smile upon seeing me, having recognized me immediately. Went to Harlem that day, visited Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and had ribs at Sylvia's, a Harlem institution. Tried to go to Bill Clinton's office, but could not even get on the floor of his office. Long story better left untold.

    After the dinner that year, a couple of burly guys were tugging on a bright orange electrical cord that was wrapped around Stanless Steel's neck. It didn't seem like a strength stunt, it looked like attempted murder! One guy on each side, and the cord was plugged into the wall. I said to Slim Farman "Look, the plug is in the outlet!!" Slim deadpanned "Adds to the drama". Slim then went into story telling phase, and talking about Stanley, how long he knew him, the difference between their philosophies of performing, etc. Honest to goodness, it was my 5th year at AOBS and I did not know that Stan was a long time performer. Slim explained how his performance style was to make something look good. Stan's style was to go to failure. He said they would discuss their differences, and Stan would say "Aw c'mon Slim, no one wants to see something look easy..." To which Slim replied "But Stanley, don't you think you could do something IN BETWEEN??!!" It was funny if you were there...

    When we were flying home, I asked my son what was the best part of the weekend this year, and he said "Listening to Tommy Kono talk". Tommy had a seminar, something that cost a small fee, and around 35 people attended. He had photos that were from the 1950s and 1960s. There was one shot in an auditorium in Europe, showing Kono on stage from behind, facing hundreds of people, maybe thousands, in an auditorium. Tommy said "This is what American Weightlifting is all about. It is just you". That was somewhat inspirational to my son, and he wanted to take up Olympic Weightlifting. When we got back, Randy Strossen connected him with a coach and gym about 25 miles from his home. He wanted to use it to increase explosiveness in his Brazilian J Jitsu. At one of the AOBS dinners, my son decided he wanted to be a MMA Fighter, so he took up BJJ. Turns out the place he went in San Jose was at the time, possibly the epicenter of the world for BJJ. Yep, my son can say he "rolled with Cain Velasquez", and be telling the truth. And Hershell Walker for that matter too. Did he "hold his own"? Are you kidding me? No. But he was strong enough and tough enough they threw him in with them and he was not afraid to get thrashed within an inch of his life. So, his Olympic Weightlifting pursuit had the goal of not only the Oly WL in itself, but some functional uses with his BJJ.

    Reflecting on Slim Farman's comments, I contacted Dr. Strossen to see if he was open to my doing an article on Stanless Steel. I had no idea that someone had been filming his life for a documentary for almost 10 years, so the article ended up being a bigger project than I thought, and it led to a long friendship with Stan and Barbara.

    Had my worst failed attempt at Certification of the Number 3 gripper that year. I came darn close in 2008, close as in perhaps 1/40th of an inch away. In 2009, I was 1/8th of an inch off. Richard Sorin was my witness. Richard, with minimal set, closed the gripper. Other than the late Gale Gillingham, I don't believe that any human to date has done that at the age that he was at the time. I was right there, it was impressive.

    I think by this time, my son had made so many friends at these dinners, and would be so busy visiting and having fun, there just seems like less to talk about than in previous years.

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  • Steve Weiner
    replied
    Ben- I am glad you watched the videos. I actually did not practice very much to do these lifts. I actually put more work into thinking about something original that would also be visually impactful. I am sure that many others at the AOBS could duplicate what I did. A challenge aspect would be interesting and Slim The Hammerman has done this before at the AOBS, but that is the only time I have seen this happen. That being said, I do not think that I could duplicate the feat you described no matter how much I practiced. No offense to you and others that enjoy all the typical grip contest lifts, but I actually lose interest in them after I train them a few weeks in a row. I like putting my efforts into other aspects of my training. It is just the way it is with me. I don't know why you think it would be "below me" to watch your videos, bit for the record have watched many of your videos over the years and your feats are impressive. Please post some others. Good luck with your training.

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  • Mike Corlett
    replied
    2008 AOBS. This year was Big. It was the 25th Dinner, and they planned Big. Moved the event to the Newark Airport Marriott to both accommodate more attendees, and to make the event more accessible to out of towers. All the previous honorees were invited, and there were to be no new inductees as a way of honoring the organization and past inductees.

    My "boy" (then just shy of 27 years of age) and I went to the Bronx Zoo, and got back before Friday night dinner time. My brother, a very serious Iron Game enthusiast and amateur historian and "amateur" photographer (he is quite good) was attending for the first time, and had arrived while we were running around NYC. When we arrived at the hotel around 6ish, the lobby was packed unlike I had seen it before. Many attendees, many early attendees, people who perhaps not gone in years, were there already. New attendees as well. Like I said, it was big. I went up to my room to shower, and when I came down, I wanted to point out David Prowse to my son, the actor who depicted Darth Vader in the first three Star Wars movies, as well as a British weightlifting champion, who was there. My son had already had his picture taken with Prowse by my brother!

    Kim Wood was particularly exuberant that night, as there were some guys he knew there from WAY back (Big Jim Flanagan for one), and was in great form. I met multiple Olympic WL coach Jim Schmitz, and most importantly, the legendary team of Dave and Julie Harnett, who I believe were at their Second Dinner. There was an odd mix of around a dozen of us who spontaneously decided to have dinner in the on-site restaurant, which was nice but a bit pricey. No one in the group knew half of the others, and someone asked David Prowse if he wanted to join us, which he did. So there were three Corletts, two Hartnetts, a Prowse, and roughly half dozen others. Prowse was relatively quiet, and I was sitting across from him. At some point I asked him about the original Thomas Inch Dumbbell, which he owned for roughly 30 years. I figured it would be silly and inappropriate to ask about "Star Wars", and he obviously was into the Iron Game, so what the heck. He spoke at length about the first time he saw it, his buying it, his selling it to Kim Wood, etc. His recollections that 2008 evening are somewhat inconsistent with what has been stated and written by others (acquisition date for example between what David Horne has written and what I heard), but nothing "materially" different or inconsistent.

    My favorite Prowse story though was the subject of Bruce Wilhelm. By his low-key nature, David looks pretty bored much of the time. Meet him and mention "Bruce Wilhelm" to him, and his face just lights up. He told a story of his brief "training" of Wilhelm in California over a period of days or weeks. Side-splittingly funny. My son had the pleasure of hearing Wilhelm's version of their meeting from Bruce himself the next night in the bar. Since then, I have seen excerpts from a later autobiography of Prowse's on the Internet. Let's put it this way: The stories don't completely reconcile, except for two things: Bruce slept a lot from being tired from workouts Prowse put him through, and there was a trip to the Pink Poodle, a Strip Club in San Jose, California. You had to be there, but, trust me, it was entertaining to hear.

    Slim Farman performed at the Saturday Dinner. He had had cancer surgery a few years early, and had not performed in public since the 2005 dinner. I figured it was his last performance. Turns out I was wrong on that too. It was pretty impressive, and "felt" like you were witnessing history.

    The next day, my son and I were riding the shuttle towards the airport (we were going to Yankee Stadium to attend a game at the last year of the old stadium), and AOBS Honoree and Olympic Heavyweight Silver Medalist Jim Bradford was riding on the shuttle. He had a legendary "inspirational sports moment" in the 1950s where he had a lock on the World Championship Gold, and didn't take his last lift as his friend and teammate John Davis' unbeaten streak would be broken because of an injury suffered towards the end of the competition. Bradford did not want to win that way, so he passed, took a Silver, and Davis got the Gold. I made small talk with him and his wife, he explained his lifetime home of Washington DC ("ah, you're not missing much" he said to my only having been there twice), how he got started in weights (YMCA). He and his wife were very nice very kind people. A few months later, I read the best seller "Rome 1960: the Olympics that Changed the World" book by Pulitzer Prize winning David Maraniss (now associate editor of the Washington Post) that made a cosmic case for how special the 1960 Olympics were, and Mr. Bradford had more than a few pages in it. The best part was when it described his riding around in a limo owned by Olympic Champion Weigtlifter Yuri Vlasov, which had a dedication on the front passenger dash "Presented to the President of the United States of America". It was to be a gift to President Eisenhower, but America's "U-2 Incident" caused the gift to never be made. A WEIGHTLIFTER ended up with the car instead of the American President! And like the story in the Bible of the Devil tempting Christ, Yuri was talking big to Bradford to defect to the USSR. When I said goodbye to Mr. Bradford, I knew he was never coming back to AOBS again, but I had not heard the wooing-of-him-to-defect story. Mr. Bradford passed away in 2013. If I knew then what I know now, I would not be able to resist asking the question "Did that REALLY happen?". As it is, I can say that I can attest that Jim Bradford was a decent and wonderful man.

    Just riding in an airport shuttle at AOBS can be a moving and historical experience.

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  • Ben Edwards
    replied
    Originally posted by Steve Weiner View Post
    Here are some examples that you are welcome to try yourself. If you have any questions about the weights of anything you see in the videos, you are certainly welcome to ask. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Yjin9EZdhE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdT5De5J_R4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltko5rhyvEc
    I did watch these videos. Although I suspect that if I had included some of my own videos, you wouldn't deign to watch them. The way you worded the "examples that you are welcome to try yourself" made me chuckle a bit though. It seems like you "forget" what forum we're on. There are quite a few members on this forum who have a few very strong pet lifts/feats that they are proud of. Like you. And me. Although I'm smart enough to not challenge a performer (usually) on their pet lifts/feats, because it makes sense that if they practice it enough - they will be better at it than I am.

    You would have about as much success matching my pet lifts/feats (when I was at my strongest, and actually training vertical bar) as I would have matching yours. That's part of what makes grip and other strength shows so interesting to me though.

    You (Steve) "are welcome to try yourself" to match just one of my pet lifts/feats from an impromptu stength show I put on for a small group of strength athletes back in 2010. I used Olympic weight plates so nobody had any questions about the weights of anything they saw in person. Or if they did have any questions, all they had to do was add up the weight of the 45lb plates and - voila! - they knew how much weight was being lifted. A big plus is that it's easy to get a hold of seven 45lb plates and a single 10lb plate. Then stack them together on a 1" diameter vertical bar. I used a Fat Bastard Barbell Company vertical bar. The empty bar weighed about 6lbs. Total weight on a digital scale (some plates were overweight) was about 337lbs.

    This is half of the preparation for this feat. The other half was my certification #3. RGC-rated at 146lbs, for the record. So not the easiest #3 out there, definitely not the hardest. About an "average #3." Carefully balance the #3 on top of the 1" vertical bar. Or you can just hold onto it. For now. Keep it close though. You'll need it for what comes next.

    The feat is pretty simple. Straddle the vertical bar. Using one hand, grab the vertical bar (not lower than the non-painted surface on the FBBC bar) and pull the 337lbs off the ground until both of your knees are locked out. You probably won't be fully upright, but that only makes it hard to breathe when holding onto 337lbs - with one hand. Which is just a fun part of the challenge. As soon as you achieve the locked out knees position - TNS (table no set) close the #3 - while continuing to hold the locked out knees position, at least until you feel the handles touch on the #3. Then you can lower the weight back to the floor. And at the same time let the #3 urge your hand open again.

    Great job. You're halfway done with the feat.

    Now switch hands. If you TNS closed the #3 with your right hand a few moments ago, just switch the #3 to your left hand. And the same with the vertical bar.

    It's probably not as visually appealing to the general public as what you and Pat are doing though. So I guess I'd be safe from having it duplicated very often by a "couple of middle age guys
    ."

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  • Ben Edwards
    replied
    Originally posted by Steve Weiner View Post
    As for calling the strength feats a carnie show? Everybody has their own opinions, but I am certainly proud of what I did there along with Pat Povilaitis.
    Yep, it's my opinion. Notice I never said that my opinion was what everyone thought of it. Besides, I happen to like carnie shows - any strength show, really - so I'm sure it (AOBS) would be plenty interesting to watch. Especially if the strength performers threw out open "challenges" - where the performers openly invite ANYONE in the audience to come on stage and try their pet feat of strength. That would liven things up quite a bit for the crowd. And probably for the performers. It would also humble a few here and there - both performers and challengers - along the way. The featured performer could charge a small fee for the opportunity of attempting the challenge in front of an audience. Of course the challenge would vary based on what audience the performer was entertaining. That makes it even more interesting to watch.


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  • Ben Edwards
    replied
    Originally posted by Steve Weiner View Post
    Ben,
    I have had the honor of performing a few times at the AOBS dinner and have had the honor of watching many others perform as well and some performances are more entertaining than others.
    I was more impressed with your strength feats (visually) than the one you included of Pat. P.

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