As discussed in our weight lifting photos segment with the 1984 Worlds photos, Lee Moran had recently spilled a very heavy squat in a meet when one of the collars failed. The meet was the 1984 Sr. Nationals. An account of the spill as given in the Sept. 1984 issue of Powerlifting USA (Vol.8 No.2) on pages 12 and 13. The account was written by Ken Leistner who was also coaching Lee.
Lee wanted the 1003 on his third, a weight he's been priming for all year. One of the most spectacular event to ever occur in our sport began to unfold as Lee stood with this awesome load. The bar whipped terribly, and as Lee tried to steady himself for the signal, one collar popped off the bar, almost as if it were shot from a gun. Hundred pound plates flew off of that end, stressing the other collar, which popped loose as well, releasing plates in that direction and causing spotters and officials to run for cover. The bar, now overloaded to one side rocketed up off Moran's back and flew through the air, a deadly missile which splintered the stage as it landed. Miraculously no one seemed to be injured and Lee was more unaffected than anyone else there. I grabbed him and asked, "Are you okay?" "Ken, what the hell happened?" He was totally non-plussed, and mainly concerned that whatever had happened wasn't his fault and would he get another attempt at it. With another 3rd attempt granted as a matter of course, he asked "Can I do it?" "You can do it." "You're right coach, I can do it." Announcer Tony Carpino whipped the audience to a roar as the bar was again secured. Moran stood with the half a ton, and sunk it. I mean he hit the bottom with at least and inch to spare and shot it to the top. History was made as three white lights greeted the effort, setting off pandemonious celebration.
There is also a recent reference to this event I Ken Leistner's column in PLUSA Oct 1995 edition (Vol.19 No.3) Page 34.
I've attended some big meets around the country and this was the greatest meet I ever saw. I have since visited with several of the lifters who felt so as well. It was held in an outdoor amphitheater during the Oklahoma State Fair, one of the largest in the country. 250,000 people visited the fair that day and many of them spent hours at the powerlifting meet. A photo of the meet cover and a ticket to the seminar given the night before by Larry Pacifico and Terry Todd can be seen in the Miscellaneous Photos Segment. The photo of Mike MacDonald benching in the November 1978 issue of PLUSA is the only photo I have been able to find of the meet..
Following are some accounts from Powerlifting USA. The account is written by Mike Lambert, who also lifted in this meet. The meet was featured in the October 1978 (Vol.2 No.4) issue.
OKLAHOMA GRAND SEPT. 30TH
.....for Richard Peters Meet Director of the Oklahoma Grand, the most important day in his life for the past 6 months had been October 1st ..... that's the day he could quit worrying it was going to rain or not on his ambitious and unique outdoor P/L extravaganza on Sept. 30 .... Rich wanted it to be the best P/L Meet ever and in many respects it was ... certainly the best awards ever in terms of size of trophies.
The article goes on to talk of the battle between Walter Thomas and Dennis Wright at 181.
.. another chapter in the classic scripture of Dennis Wright versus Walter Thomas .. as in Hawaii, Walter started out shaky .. unsure of himself .. lurching in the squat, while Dennis powered up a 710, falling short with a World Record 718 3rd attempt as the previous attempt twisted on his back, taking much out of him ... on the bench Dennis surged again with a sensational 462, while a nervous Walter managed only a consistent but hardly aggressive 429 .. in the deadlift, Dennis's normal downfall, he managed a brilliant 655 for an American Record Total of 1829. .. as in their last encounter Walter was put to the test on the deadlift, but this time he was very sure of himself ... the normally passive Walter openly spoke of being good for 740 before the meet .. and so the 727 he needed to win on bodyweight was his .. and the noble efforts of Dennis the Driver (his nickname) were swept into second once again.
Another section of the article talks about the incredible bench pressing performance of Mike MacDonald.
... all those things .. and others .. would have made the meet a good one .. one that a lot of people in Oklahoma, at least, would have remembered for a few seasons, but there was one other lifter who immortalized this meet .. made it achieve the greatness that Richard had hoped for .. Mike MacDonald is acknowledged universally, even by those covetous of his records, as the greatest bench presser in the world .. somehow we must think of a new accolade after his performance at the Oklahoma Grand .. he had the toughest time of his life in making weight .. not having been at 181 for 5 years; with less than 24 hours to go he had about 7 pounds to go .. with around an hour to go he was still a pound and a half over .. but he made it .. Forget your notions about what Mike looks like at 242 or 220 .. at 181 he is a completely different person .. cut to ribbons ..
Rather than blowing off his first attempt .. as usual, he warmed up so that his first attempt was, in effect his final warm-up .. the World Record opener of 473 (actual weight 476 I think).
Following are some of my comments:
He went on to successfully complete his 2nd attempt (491) for a new WR, then his third (501) for another new WR. He was then granted a fourth attempt, (507) which he also completed for another WR lift.
What made this meet so special was the people. It all came together at a great outdoor site with great weather and a great crowd. Some of the great lifters and others in attendance were; Dennis Wright, Walter Thomas, Mike MacDonald, Terry Todd, Larry Pacifico, Jack O'Brien (an OSU student and strong area lifter who went on to run a gym in Tulsa), Richard Peters (Meet Director who went on to found NASA and direct more meets than anyone in the history of the sport - he actually directed and lifted in this meet ), B.J. Talton (coach of the great collegiate team from Louisiana Tech for many years), Don Jones (great area lifter), Rickey Crain (several times World Champ and proprietor of a lifting supplies business), Mike Lambert (Powerlifting USA editor - lifted in this meet), Lance Childress (area lifter), Clay Patterson (great lifter from Texas), Marlon Fisher & Monte Horton (both helped Richard with a lot of meets later on), Dick Burke (Great Coach and Referee), Dennis Burke (Dick's son, also an international referee), John Pettit (who went on to direct several large meets and be employed in the industry), Terry LeValley (area lifter), Tom Kelchner (meet announcer) and Don Crain (Rickey's dad). These great individuals (and many more) all came together selflessly under one flag (organization) to put on and compete in the greatest powerlifting meet in history.