"In our quest to bring more excitement and entertainment to the Olympia Expo, the producers of the Olympia Weekend in conjunction with Sean Katterle introduced for the first time, The Kings of the Bench contest at the 2006 Olympia Weekend.
It was a return to old school, real deal, power benching and the Las Vegas crowd went wild as this was the kind of strength event that a bodybuilding & fitness crowd would relate to.
Bench press super-shirts and lifters wrapped up like mummies to artificially inflate their abilities was not allowed at this royal rumble. The strength showdown was muscle vs. muscle and the seven supermen who picked up the gauntlet were some of the greatest benchers on the planet, leaving no question who's really the strongest in the sport of powerlifting."
As I'm sure many computer literate iron hoisters know, the internet is a great opportunity to get a bird's eye view of the sport of powerlifting and to anonymously interact with people; debating, applauding and criticizing what you see and read online.
Most big time promoters and many die hard fans have their own site now and you can check out contest results and spend hours flipping thru video clips and photo galleries of the lifting almost the week after it unfolded on the platform.
Normally, what I read and watch gets to me on a minor level from time to time but in the spring of last year, the results and claims of the current crop of contenders really started to leave me unsettled. With the latest generation of super shirts and suits/briefs combos it seemed that a 400 pound bench was nothing and that the 700 pound barrier was something that the junior heavyweights were expected to try and break.
Many seemed to accept that the majority of powerlifters were now "squatting" 200-400 pounds more than they could deadlift (which doesn't have the ring of truth when looking at body mechanics.) The usual suspects would roll out to proclaim "he didn't break parallel!" or "he's a belly bencher!" or whatever no-so-clever-anymore jab they chose to take and then everyone would yawn and move on to the next news note.
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Why Powerlifting (And Not Bodybuilding)?
Described simply, powerlifting is training to maximize one's strength in the squat, bench press and deadlift with the end goal to achieve a PR...
It used to be that the world cared who was the strongest amongst them (the strongest being the person who lifted the most weight.) Then, as the gear got more extreme, it was the powerlifting community that held itself together with self interest and people felt like it was a cult sport that was only appreciated by its members.
Now, even the powerlifting community doesn't seem to care much, unless it's a friend or family member doing the lifting, when a record gets broken (on paper) or a championship gets won.
Everything I've written so far has been said before and in various ways and levels of seriousness. So why the rewrite? Because this year became the year for retro powerlifting and a move was finally made on a world stage.
The Olympia competition was created by Joe Weider when he realized that the sport needed an ultimate championship to determine who really was king of the mountain that year in bodybuilding.
The Mr. America and Mr. Universe contests were both in existence but the same person didn't always win them both and in the 1960s Larry Scott had and Weider needed a new competition for Scott to again rise above his challengers and make cover worthy news.
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Weider had the foresight to recognize that the sport of bodybuilding would never reach its potential without an opportunity for athletes to compete and make a living doing so.
The builders who have won the Olympia, more than once, over the years are the names that everyone in the iron game knows about:
This year, the Mr. Olympia awarded the Men's Division over $500,000 in total prize money! Over half a million dollars on the line and up for grabs by the best of the best after just forty one years of promoting.
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A Look At The Olympia History!
I've put together a list of past Mr. Olympia results, Olympia history, forum member feedback, and much more. Check it out!
And where was powerlifting after it's forty plus years of promotion? The pinnacle of the sport would make enough to cover their travel, gym fees and nutritional supplements for the year if they were lucky. A few had videos out that might bring them a few hundred per month in royalties. Most had to make their living working outside the sport or as personal trainers and sports coaches (and some are in the pharmaceuticals import and distribution business.)
Not one person in the world (unless there's still an Eastern European nation out there who fully sponsors their non-Olympic lifters?) can make a living being a powerlifter full time.
Why such a difference between the two gym sports? An aficionado could speculate about that in writing for pages but to summarize from my point of view, bodybuilding was as raw as you could get in the sense that it's a man standing out on stage, with nothing but his privates covered, flexing for all he's worth and showing what he'd built and chiseled after months of heavy training and highly disciplined dieting.
There was no smoke and mirrors. Aside from some professional stage lighting and tanning methods there was no way to artificially inflate your physique and bodybuilding accomplishment. The sheet was pulled off the statue and your human sculpture was on display in front of thousands of screaming fans, dozens of snapping cameras and for the television audience to judge and marvel at home. If you won the Olympia, you won the world championship! And what of powerlifting?
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The P.R. Department: An Intro To Powerlifting.
What is powerlifting? Lots of people ask about the sport... I will answer this question and explain the basic aspects of what powerlifting really is.
How many layers was his gear? Did he really break parallel? Who were the officials? Was their shaky camcorder footage of the lift? Who conducted the drug testing? Was he using a new age super shirt? What federation was the lift done in? Did he really lock it out? And on and on to the point that there's over 20 federations in the USA alone all claiming national champions, national record holders and or world champions and record holders.
No one really buys into any of it and most people can't make out what to be amazed or annoyed at when they read today's headlines. So, how to get back on track? How to get back to really finding out who the strongest really is? How to again find our true Samsons, Hercules, Thors and Atlases?
The answer? Tear down the curtains! Knock down the smoke machines and mirrors, strip off the layers of armor and again do battle where it's man vs. iron!
For months I did my research, calling lifters and promoters, posting up questions on the forums, talking to the federation officials and expo organizers and asking the general gym public what they all thought should be the outline for this ultimate bench challenge.
It quickly became apparent to me that the production costs were going to be high and that organizing the event and keeping the audience entertained and in attendance was going to be a challenge worthy of a first rate team of promoters (thankfully I was able to enlist just such a group to guide me along the journey.)
The drafting board finally read as such:
- 3 Weight Divisions
- No Bench Shirts
- 24 Hour Weigh Ins
- Quality Platform Set Up
- World Stage
- Very Limited Roster
- Action Oriented Judging Standards
- And A Full On Rock N Roll Stage Presence!
And who would the iron gladiators be? It wasn't much of a surprise when the shirt technicians shied away from the opportunity and the lifters who generally avoided a true open class wanted nothing to do with the event as well. We were taking away every safety net that they had and their claims to fame were in jeopardy.
Who answered the call was some of the sport's current champs that most recognized as truly being, or on their way to being, greats in the iron game. With our support base in place, the Olympia stage made available for our battle and the prize money secured were ready to head to Las Vegas to make history and move the sport one step closer to the professional status it so very much deserves.
The inaugural Kings of the Bench (Olympia Expo 2006) was a smashing success!
There was classic sports action drama in every weight division. Joe "The Benching Machine" Luther and Joe "The Italian Stallion" Mazza tied dead even in the lightweight division by both benching 420 pounds at exactly 165 pounds bodyweight.
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The Inaugural Kings Of The Bench Was A Smashing Success!
In the middleweights, Jeremy Hoornstra broke his own all time biggest bench record by pressing a staggering 615 pounds at only 240 pounds bodyweight! (Only 3 men in history have ever benched 600+ at 242lbs bodyweight or less.) And in the heavyweights "Benchpress Brian" Siders nudged out Nick "Hoosier Daddy" Winters on bodyweight as both benched 625 pounds but Siders was the lighter man.
This year we teamed up with Ed and Betty Pariso to add the first exclusive Kings of the Bench qualifier; The Clash of the Titans which was held at The Super Show Expo. Not only was this competition the classic style bench showdown, but we also added old school squat, deadlift and powerlifting total divisions where powerlifting suits were banned and only wraps and belts were allowed. And we finished off the power packed weekend with a 405lbs strict bench for reps challenge.
Here are the results from The Clash of the Titans and also below is the breakdown of who's qualified for this year's MHP Kings of the Bench (again, being held on the main expo stage at The Mr. Olympia Weekend) and who's officially accepted the invite, who's declined and who's undecided.
The Clash Of The Titans Results
Final Squat Results:
- 1st Place Brandon "C4" Cass 800 @ 228 Won $300 Cash
- 2nd Place Jon Grove 770 @ 321
- 3rd Place James "Pitbull" Searcy 760 @ 350
- 4th Place Chip "Big Hoot" Edalgo 655 @ 252
- 5th Place Dustin Gibbons 550 @ 262
Final Deadlift Results:
- 1st Place James "Pitbull" Searcy 840 @ 350 Won $300 Cash
- 2nd Place Brandon "C4" Cass 705 @ 228
- 3rd Place Jon Grove 705 @ 321
- 4th Place Dustin Gibbons 660 @ 262
- 5th Place Chip Edalgo 630 @ 252
- 6th Place Trey Scott 605 @ 269
- 7th Place Jeremy Brinkley 585 @ 231
- 8th Place Lynne Boshoven 465 @ 165 Only Female Competitor
Final Benchpress Results:
- 1st Place Chase Martin 380 @ 174 Won $300 Cash
- 2nd Place Adam Zehr 340 @ 139
- 1st Place Rock Lewis 580 @ 244 Won $300 Cash
- 2nd Place Russell Kitani 550 @ 264
- 3rd Place Chip "Big Hoot" Edalgo 535 @ 252
- 4th Place Gunny Green 530 @ 225
- 5th Place Dustin Gibbins 500 @ 262
- 6th Place Anthony Cooper 490 @ 245
- 7th Place Geoff Butia 485 @ 223
- 8th Place Brandon "C4" Cass 455 @ 218
- 1st Place Al Davis 605 @ 291 Won $800 Cash
- 2nd Place Ben Graves 580 @ 279
- 3rd Place Dave Marchant 550 @ 370
- 4th Place Brad Tripp 485 @ 325
- 5th Place James "The Pitbull" Searcy 430 @ 350
405 Pounds for Strict Reps Bench Challenge:
- 1st Place Al Davis 18 Reps Won $250 Cash
- 2nd Place Chip Edalgo 15 Reps
- 3rd Place Rock Lewis 14 Reps
Official Olympia Expo MHP's Kings Of The Bench II Roll Call
Olympia Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, Nevada
The weekend of September 28th, 2007
The Kings Of The Bench II
Lightweight Division (175lbs and Under Bwt.)
- Joe Mazza (tied for 1st place in 2006 with 420 @ 165) Accepted
- Joe Luther (tied for 1st place in 2006 with 420 @ 165) Accepted
- Chase Martin (1st Place Clash of the Titans 380 @ 174) Accepted
- Adam Zehr (2nd Place Clash of the Titans 340 @ 139) Declined
- Ray Hickman (VIP Invite) Accepted
Middleweight Division (176-275lbs Bwt.)
- Jeremy Hoornstra (1st Place in 2006 with 615 @ 240) Accepted
- Matt Kroczaleski (2nd Place in 2006 with 505 @ 247) Declined
- Levi Van Dyke (3rd Place in 2006 with 450 @ 248) Declined
- Rock Lewis (1st Place Clash of the Titans 580 @ 244) Accepted
- Russell Kitani (2nd Place Clash of the Titans 550 @ 265) Unknown
- Chip Edalgo (3rd Place Clash of the Titans 535 @ 252) Unknown
- Gunny Green (4th Place Clash of the Titans 530 @ 225) Unknown
Heavyweight Division (276lbs and Over Bwt.)
- Brian Siders (1st Place 2006 625 @ 337) Unknown
- Nick Winters (2nd Place 2006 625 @ 355) Accepted
- Al Davis (1st Place Clash of the Titans 605 @ 291) Accepted
- Ben Graves (2nd Place Clash of the Titans 580 @ 279) Unknown
- Dave Marchant (3rd Place Clash of the Titans 550 @ 370) Unknown
- Brad Tripp (4th Place Clash of the Titans 485 @ 325) Unknown
The above list fills the 18 open positions for this year's bench championships (the number of competitors is based on available main expo stage time.)
If any of the above lifters don't officially commit by September 1st, 2007, then the following alternate lifters (in order) will be given the opportunity to sign up to compete:
- 1st Alternate - Dustin Gibbons (5th Place Clash of the Titans 500 @ 262) Declined
- 2nd Alternate - Anthony Cooper (6th Place Clash of the Titans 490 @ 245) Unknown
- 3rd Alternate - Geoff Butia (7th Place Clash of the Titans 485 @ 223) Unknown
- 4th Alternate - Brandon Cass (8th Place Clash of the Titans 455 @ 228) Unknown
- 5th Alternate - James Searcy (5th Place Hwt. Clash of the Titans 430 @ 350) On Hold
- 6th Alternate - Travis Rogers (Hwt. and 6th Alternate by Request) On Hold
- 7th Alternate - Horace Lane (Hwt. and 7th Alternate by Request) On Hold
- 8th Alternate - Holger Kuttroff (Mwt. and 8th Alternate by Request) On Hold
- 9th Alternate - Rene Imesch (Mwt. and 9th Alternate by Request) On Hold
Sean Z. Katterle
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