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
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.
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
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
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
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
Stanko - Perth Amboy
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
(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.
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
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,
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.