Soon enough, June will be the 44th anniversary of the US National Championships/Olympic Weightlifting Trials being held at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. As I rode down to Detroit in the back of a friend’s van I opened my gym bag and found a note which I had taped above my bed during the month preceding the trials with the numbers 319-297-396 on it. I had written this in pounds even though I knew it meant 145-135-180. At the bottom of the page my wife had written “I love you. I believe in you.”
The emotional support felt good – I would be going up against my nemesis Russ Knipp at the Trials. He was a world record holder in the press (no longer a current event) and always tough to catch after he normally built a big lead with his favorite lift. After the 90 mile drive my friend dropped me off at the Detroit Hilton, which was the meet headquarters for the Nats/Trials as well as the state Democratic convention (general election year). The Oakland Athletics were in town to play the Tigers and I saw plenty of baseball players in the lobby as well.
As I checked in, the excitement in the lobby was palpable as this was the big show which would pick the team designated for the Munich Olympics. In those days, at the conclusion of the US National Weightlifting Championships the A.A.U. Mr. America contest for that year would be held afterward, so the lobby was an eclectic mix of weightlifters, baseball players, Democratic precinct delegates, and bodybuilders. Before the specialization that was sure to occur, you would always see bodybuilders walking around weightlifting meets during the lifting. In 1969 I met Arnold Schwarzenegger as he strolled around Chicago’s DePaul University field house with Chris Dickerson.
After dropping my bags in the room, I went back down to the lobby to take in the scene. I visited with weightlifters and bodybuilders alike as the lobby continued to buzz with excitement. Seated on a couch across from me was Ellington Darden, PhD., a perennial mid-level bodybuilder and a skilled author. He was a regular contributor of articles to Strength and Health magazine, which at that time was a bible of sorts for weightlifters and fitness devotees of all types.
My room mate on this trip was Rick Holbrook. We had been team mates five years earlier at the Duncan Y in Chicago. Rick and I were close in age and got along easily while enjoying our favorite pastime of weightlifting. It all worked out pretty well that weekend for us..we both made the U.S. Olympic Team that would compete in Munich.
And now, 44 years later and for the first time that I can recall, a weightlifting meet within the city of Detroit will be held. The 2016 State of Michigan Weightlifting Championships will be held at CrossFit in the D at 150 Michigan Avenue, Detroit 48226. If you have not qualified as a competitor but you love the sport, come on out and take in the scene. We’re going to have a great time!
I was looking for a lifting meet to attend and stumbled onto this. Nice to see that you're still at it Fred! Might just have to stop in even though I'm an old fat fool. I have a photograph of you standing by your final C&J bar at a Y in Detroit. Must have been '67 or '68. Also saw you in PA after that, competing at 181 where you had balance issues and bombed out in the snatch if I remember correctly. Your legs were as outrageous as Phil Grippaldi's arms!
Great memories for sure. If that pic from Detroit is 67 or 68 it possibly could be from a teenage meet or maybe one of the opens that they'd have in Detroit periodically. If you have a way to share that image via facebook or scanning it would be interesting to see. Thanks for the message