New Jersey Weightlifting

Honorees

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Honorees

MEMBERS OF NJ HALL OF FAME
 
Spring 1999
Joe DiPietro
Phil Grippaldi
Frank Capsouras
Brian Derwin
Frank Bates
Butch Toth
Floyd DeSpirito
 
FALL 1999
John C. Grimek
Steve Stanko
Tony Terlazzo
Firpo Lemma
Bill Leardi
Bob Giordano
 
Fall 2000
Andy Jackson
Dick Zirk
Mike Listro

The following athletes have distinguished themselves in the sport and brought honor to the state of New Jersey.  It is fitting that they be honored in the Hall of Fame.

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Joseph DePietro - Paterson

Joe is New Jersey's only Olympic gold medalist, winning in 1948 in London. He is also our only world champion, winning in 1947 and taking 3rd in 1949. DePietro also held world records in the press and snatch. His winning lifts in the Olympics were 231 press, 198 snatch, 248 in the clean jerk. Joe DePietro dominated American lifting in the 1940's and early 1950's. He won the Senior Nationals in 1942, 43, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, and 51 in the 123 pound class. He won the Senior Nationals in 1945 as a 132 pounder. Joe represented the Bates Barbell Club of Paterson and was coached by Frank Bates




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Phil Grippaldi - Belleville

Phil Grippaldi was one of the world's premier lifters from the mid 1960's to the mid 1970's. He came into national prominence at the 1966 Senior Nationals where he placed second and set the first of his five Junior world records in the press.

Phil won the Senior Nationals in 1967, 68, 70, 73, 74, and 77. He was a member of the Olympic teams in 1968, 72, and 76. He was Pan American champion in 1967,1971 and 1975. Phil's highest placing was second in the 1970 World Championships.

Phil was Strength & Health's Lifter of the Year in 1970 and 1974. He has set numerous American records. Grippaldi was originally a member of the Keasbey Eagles and was coached by Butch Toth. He later trained for many years at the Belleville Barbell Club.

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Frank Capsouras - River Edge

Frank Capsouras was one of America's finest lifters of the mid 1960's to the 70's. Frank won the state championship and Best Lifter award in 1964, and then broke onto the national scene with a second place finish and teenage national record clean & jerk at the 1964 Olympic Trials.

Frank's best year may have been in 1969 when he broke the world record in the clean & jerk in the 198 lb. class and won the Senior Nationals. Frank also won the Senior Nationals in 1972 as a 242 pounder and was a member of the Olympic team that year.

Capsouras was a member of the Surfbreakers and was coached by Tom Snelgrove

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Brian Derwin - Cresskill

Brian was one of the country's best lifters in the 220 lb. class from the mid 1970's till the early 1980's. Perhaps his best year was 1980, when he was voted U.S. "Weightlifter of the Year" in Strength & Health Magazine. He won the 1980 Senior Nationals and had victories in three international matches that year: U.S.A. vs. Australia, Shanghai Invitational, and the America Cup Tournament. He was also a member of the 1980 Olympic Team.

Brian was a member of the Belleville Barbell Club and was coached by Bucky Cairo. After retiring from competitiion, Brian moved to Minnesota and was elected President of USA Weightlifting

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Floyd Despirito - Union

Floyd Despirito was one of New Jersey's best middleweights in the 1950's and 1960's. Floyd continued lifting into the 1970's and was active in Master's lifting until his death in 1980. Floyd was a many time state champion and set many state records as a middleweight. He was one of the top 3 middleweights in the country in his prime. Floyd placed third in the 1957 Senior Nationals and second in the 1964 Senior Nationals and Olympic Trials. He also won the North American Championships. Floyd also enjoyed bodybuilding and won the Mr. New Jersey title

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Bill Leardi - Paterson

Bill Leardi was Senior National champion in 1938 and 1939. He won the 118 lb. Class with 3 lift totals of 520 and 525 respectively. He also placed 4th in the 1936 Olympic Trials and Nationals. Bill represented the Paterson YMCA.

Bill Leardi held national records in the one hand snatch(120 lbs.) and two hand snatch(165 ½ lbs.). He was also an expert hand balancer and acrobat. Bill stayed active for many years as a lifting referee when his competitive days were over

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Steve Stanko - Perth Amboy

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Steve Stanko was from Perth Amboy, represented the Shore AC of Asbury Park, and was a national weightlifting champion who later became Mr. America and Mr. Universe, a New Jersey native who moved to York to work for York Barbell just like John Grimek.

Steve won the Junior and Senior Nationals in the heavyweight class in 1938. He later became the first lifter in the world to total 1,000 pounds in the 3 lifts; the press, snatch, and clean & jerk. He may have become one of the greatest lifters of all time except that World War II caused a suspension of the Olympics, and Steve became afflicted with phlebitis, a leg ailment. The phlebitis eventually ended Steve's lifting career, but he then moved to the sport of bodybuilding, where he became Mr. America in 1944 and Mr. Universe in 1947.

He remained active in the iron game through his association with York for his entire life

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Frank Bates - Paterson

Frank Bates spent his whole life dedicated to weightlifting. He began the Bates Barbell Club in the 1930s. The team finished as high as third in the 1939 Senior Nationals.

Frank coached Olympic champ Joe DePietro , national champ Firpo Lemma, and Olympic team member Dick Zirk.

Frank was also a long time administrator and referee in the sport. He accompanied national teams overseas and was well respected throughout the country. He was many time state meet director and also hosted the 1966 Teenage Nationals. Frank Bates is also a member of the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

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Firpo Lemma - Paterson

Firpo Lemma won the Senior Nationals in 1938 and 1939 in the 112 lb. Class. His total in 1938 was 561 while his 1939 total was 530. Firpo represented the Bates Barbell Club and was coached by Frank Bates.

The account written of the 1939 Sr. Nationals stated Firpo made a perfect press with 205 lbs. At a 112 bodyweight but was disallowed by the judges. It would have been the greatest press in proportion to bodyweight in history up to that time

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James Toth - Keasbey

James "Butch" Toth was a lifelong lifter, coach, and administrator in New Jersey. He was also inducted into the USAWeightlifting Hall of Fame.

Butch was a good heavyweight lifter whose love of the sport led him to form the Keasby Eagles Weightlifting team; a group which dominated the state lifting scene and also won the Teenage National team title. When his clubhouse was razed to make room for a highway, he later formed the Woodbridge Recreation team.

Butch was meet director for many state and teenage state championships. He was also the coach of many state, teenage national, and junior national champs as well as Olympic team members and world class lifters Phil Grippaldi, Rich Shanko, and Lou Mucardo

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John C. Grimek - Perth Amboy

Long known as the world's greatest bodybuilder, the only two time Mr. America started his career with the weights as an olympic lifter.

John Grimek's first contest was the NJ State Championships in Newark, January 1934. He won the heavyweight class with a 710 total.

His next contest was the 1934 Senior National Championships in Brooklyn, NY. Again lifting as a heavyweight, he pressed 242.5, which exceeded John Mallo's American record by 11 lbs. However, due to inadequate training on the quick lifts, Grimek bombed out.

At the 1935 Senior Nationals in Cincinnati, Grimek placed second to Bill Good with a 1072 (five lift) total.

With the 1936 Olympics approaching, Grimek decided to train with the team in York, PA. It is unclear whether this was before or after either of the Tryouts.

The Eastern Regional Olympic Weightlifting Tryouts (run by the German Oak Sport Club) were held June 14, 1936 at Miller Stadium in West New York, NJ. Grimek (representing Shore AC of Asbury Park) placed 3rd in the heavyweight class with 770 (253+214+302).

The Combined Final tryouts were held July 3-4, 1936 in Philadelphia. They also served as the Senior Nationals. Grimek placed first in the heavyweight class with 786 ½ (258+220+308). He weighed 183 ½ and again lifted for the Shore AC of Asbury Park. He made the 1936 US Olympic Team.

At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Grimek placed ninth at heavyweight with a 782 ½ total. He succeeded with a 253 press.

Grimek returned to New Jersey and again won the NJ State Championships on November 6, 1937. It seems likely that he permanently moved to York in the summer of 1938.

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Tony Terlazzo - Hoboken

Tony Terlazzo was born in Italy, but moved as a child to Hoboken, where he was raised.

Tony was a member of the first US weightlifting team to take part in an Olympics. He participated in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. As a featherweight, he placed third, returning to Hoboken with the bronze medal.

Tony moved to York after the 32 Olympics and competed for the York team for more than ten years. He won America's first weightlifting gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a featherweight. Tony won several national and world titles before retiring from lifting. He is a member of the USAWeightlifting Hall of Fame.

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Bob Giordano - Belleville

Bob Giordano was one of the best 220 and 242 pound lifters in the country from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s.

The highlights in Bob's career are many. He placed third in the 220-lb. class at the 1978 Senior Nationals. He moved up to the 242s in 1979 and nearly came away with the national title as he placed a close second at the Nationals. He repeated this second place finish in 1980 and was named to the 1980 Olympic squad.

The one time owner of an Italian restaurant, he was billed as the world's strongest pizza maker. Bob began his lifting career as a member of the Belleville Barbell Club. He later opened his own gym, encouraging and helping many local athletes in the sport of Olympic style weightlifting. Bob continues to help the community, as he is currently a practicing attorney in the town of Belleville.

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Andrew W. (Andy) Jackson - Springfield

Andy Jackson (born 1905) founded the Jackson International Barbell Company in 1932 and was owner and often sole employee until it closed down in 1975. Although York Barbell held the lion's share of the Olympic bar market during this time, aficionados knew the highest quality Olympic barbells were made by Andy Jackson of Springfield, NJ. Jackson Olympic sets were always known as the strongest, finest and best calibrated on the market. Eight-time World and Olympic champion Tommy Kono says, "He did make the best Olympic bars at the time. I never met the man but I knew of his workmanship and his reputation in making great Olympic bars." Andy personally made his bars in his fully equipped machine shop in the basement of his home in Springfield. His plates were cast in a foundry in Hamburg, PA, and then shipped to Springfield. Andy would carry the weights down to his basement, machine them, and then bring them back outside and put the finished weights and bars together. He then took the sets to the freight agents to be shipped to customers. Incredibly, the Jackson International Barbell Company was essentially a one-man show for much of its existence.

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Dick Zirk - Caldwell

Dick Zirk's rise to the top as one of the World's best heavyweights was meteoric, but like a meteor he left the scene quickly as well. A football star at Caldwell High School, Dick was able to jerk 270 lbs. after only two months of training. Originally a bodybuilder, he turned to weightlifting in 1958 and did most of his training at Frank Bates Barbell Club in Paterson. In his first contest in 1958, he pressed 240, snatched 245 and clean and jerked 330 for an 815 total. Thirteen months later, Dick totaled 990 to win the State Championships. He also won the Junior Nationals that year with 955, and placed fourth in the Senior Nationals. In 1960, Dick made 1005 at the Philadelphia Open and only six weeks later at the Wilmington Open he amazed the lifting world with 335, 320 and 410 for a 1065 total. Dick placed third at the 1960 combined Senior Nationals and Olympic Trials, making a 1035 total, and was selected as an alternate on the 1960 Olympic Team. In 1961, he placed second at the 1961 World Championships, making 341, 319, 386 for 1047. Shortly after the Worlds, Dick made his lifetime best press of 352 and totaled 1052 to win the USA vs. Poland match

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Mike Listro - Belleville

In a career spanning twenty years, Mike Listro established himself as the New Jersey's premier middleweight weightlifter. From 1984, when he won the Teenage Nationals, Listro pursued the national senior championship for five years, winning the middleweight titles in 1989 and 1990, following bronze medals in 1985 and 1987, and the silver in 1988.

In 1978, fifteen year old Mike Listro began weightlifting in his hometown of Belleville, New Jersey. Over the next six years, he won four National Junior Olympics championships, and four US Regional Junior championships. After winning the Junior Pan American title in 1984, Listro toured Europe in 1987 with the USA Under-23 Team, competing in Sweden, France, West Germany, and England.

Listro competed as a member of the USA National Team in the Montreal Cup in 1987, then in the Moomba International Tournament in Australia in 1988, placing fifth. He placed third in the 1988 US Olympic Trials in the middleweight division. In 1989, Listro won the US Olympic Sports Festival. Retiring from national competition after the 1991 national championships, Mike Listro returned in 1997 to win the silver in the 83 kg weight category.

During his career, Listro competed for the Belleville Barbell Club, and later for East Coast Gold. A proponent of the Bulgarian school of weightlifting, Listro achieved great success in applying its principles to his training and competition lifting.