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The next photo is of a "grand old gentleman" Dick Burke. Dick is best known as the coach of the great powerlifter Walter Thomas. After I got our of college (December 1974) and entered the work force in Perry Oklahoma I became bored. A news clipping about Walter Thomas came out in one of the area newspapers as he was written up about once a year. I had ripped out some of his earlier clippings. I dug them out and noticed it mentioned he was coached by Dick Burke at the Downtown YMCA in Oklahoma City. I got interested in weight training and began to workout with a Sears "Ted Williams" plastic/cement set. As I began to improve I decided to get more serious. I wrote Dick a letter and asked for advice. He wrote me back 14 June 1978 (I still have the letter) saying he had a group of lifters gathering up on Monday nights and there was no charge for his wisdom, except hard work. I began driving to Oklahoma City once a week (80+ miles one way) for the next two years. Under his direction I made great improvements. He also ran a mail order business selling York barbells and other equipment called Royalty House. He was extremely active in area lifting and also helped start strength programs at many area schools. He also published a lifting newsletter called P.O.P. News. When he was quite advanced in age he was stronger than most men 50 years his junior. He passed away a couple of years ago.

I think this photo was taken at one of Holley Evett's meets in Sand Springs in the mid 1980's. The year and a half I was at the OKC YMCA I had the opportunity to train with some super athletes: Walter Thomas and his wife Julie (I was with him in the gym the day they met), Wayne Wells (Munich Olympics wrestling gold medalist), and Sean O'Grady (boxer). I remember two separate incidents of people who did not know who they were speaking to, saying some funny things. One day Sean was playing the speed bag like a piano (the way only professional boxers can) and a guy strolled by and suggested he might try boxing for real (when he was already one of the top ranked boxers in the world at his weight). Another time Walter was lifting some big weights and a guy strolled by and suggested he might try lifting in a powerlifting meet (when he was already a several times world powerlifting champ).

The YMCA sits caddy-cornered to the Federal Building destroyed in the Oklahoma City Bombing. My wife and I went by the Sunday before they demolished the rest of the Federal Building. The YMCA sustained very major damage. All the windows were covered with plywood and I'm not sure if it will be renovated or not. Anyway, here is a great photo of Dick Burke, lifter, coach, mentor, and great individual.

  • Dick Burke dick.jpg 16K bytes

    The next photo is of me, Gary Polson. It was shot by Hans Hurst on Friday 12 August 1983 in the basement of the Stillwater OK YMCA. I was doing some heavy partial squats and on this date completed 7 reps with 1168#. You can see our Okie Grip barbell collars on each on of the bar with not space to spare. They held tight through many workouts of this nature (slight commercial : )

    I had to be quite selective of which bars to use when doing this, as I bent a few and totally horse-shoed one. I was able to straighten them back out by putting them in a power rack and doing isometrics against the pins. I think I'm too old for that now.

  • Me, Gary Polson Doing Partial Squats with 1168# me.jpg 28K bytes

    The next photos are from the 1983 Sr. Nationals in Austin Texas 23-24 July 1983. I shot a lot of color slide film at that meet and had some of the better photos converted to prints. The first photo is of the higher weight classes determining the exact pin height for their squats. The uprights had holes in them for a pin every half inch or so and the lifters would stand under the bar and determine exactly which pin height they wanted to take their squats at. Spotting and loading also involved getting the bar set to the correct height with the built in hydraulic jacks, installing the pin, and releasing the jack pressure to allow the weight to be carried by the pin. That is the ever present Brian Smith, platform manager from London England at the upright on the left side of the photo, John Gamble 275 pound class at the bar, my friend Mike in the red shirt, I think that's Chip McCain meet director in the suit coat, and that's big Bill Kazmier under the American flag. John Gamble went on to win the 275's with a 2270 and Kaz won the supers with a 2298 total.

    Photos of the meet program cover and tickets to this meet are in the miscellaneous photos segment.

    The meet is well covered in the Sept. 1983 issue (Vol.7 No.3) of Powerlifting USA which has a large cover shot of John Gamble. A story concerning John's quick loss of almost 30 pounds in the last 3 days to make weight made Sports Illustrated. Lou Ferrigno (the Incredible Hulk) did a guest posing routine that lasted a couple of minutes to a bunch of loud music and everyone was pretty confused. He had been brought in to try to help in drawing a crowd, but the crowd could not have cared less. They wanted to see the big men lift. This was quite similar to an experience I observed at a National Strength and Conditioning Association Conference a few years later. Universal brought in a hot dog professional football player as a draw to their booth, the coaches could not have cared less, but he had his martial arts trainer with him and everybody thought he (the trainer) was real cool.

    I have a blow up of this photo on the wall in our office.

  • Determining Squat Pin Settings 83 Sr. Nationals height.jpg 33K bytes
    The next photo is of Doyle Kenady getting ready for a big deadlift. He almost pulled the 898 to beat Kaz in the supers. A photo of him at the top of his pull is on page 13 of the Powerlifting USA issue referenced earlier. He ended up with a 2232 total for the day. This photo shows how frightening some of these individuals could be in a dark alley. Doyle is truly massive.

  • Doyle Kenady 898# Deadlift beard.jpg 31K bytes

    The next photo is black and white of Dennis Wright bringing a big one back in to the rack at the Oklahoma Grand on 22 October 1983. You can see the weight listed as 804 in the top right of the photo on our Strength Tech Digital Display. The flash failed to work and the photo was very dark, but some work in photo finish brought it back to life. At the right edge of the photo is a super heavy and a super nice guy, Paul Adams whom I lifted against several times. The spotter behind Dennis is one of his sons (I think). Dennis faced Walter Thomas in many meets in this part of the country and they both moved up in body weight about the same time. Dennis was the best squatter and Walter the best Deadlifter. It brought the day's lifting to a thrilling conclusion.

  • Dennis Wright 804 Squat dw1.jpg 35K bytes

    The next photo is an early day photo of the great Paul Anderson. I believe it came from an old special athletic issue of Life Magazine, but I am not sure. I used this photograph in a 25 Sept. 1985 O.S.U. Biomechanics assignment to determine the center of gravity of an individual in a photo. I located the ends of his joints, then the midpoints, and used a model to determine his overall cg. There also is a photo of Paul signing autographs on this site and I plan to add more in the future.

  • Paul Anderson the Early Years wheel.jpg 66K bytes

    This 1995 photo is of Harold Sharkley, an inmate at South Central Correctional Facility in Tennessee. He is retiring after many years of competitive lifting. His full story appears in the Success Segment of the Corrections Section of this web site. The photo was scanned from a TN State Prison Publication supplied to us by an inmate.

  • Harold Sharkley SCCF TN champ.jpg 78K bytes

    Note! several other files full of weight lifting photographs are reachable from the Photographs page. A link is provided below.

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