A Few More Sutherland Comments and More About Equipment
Titan Support Systems founder Pete Alaniz and Ken Leistner back in the early 1980′s..
Memphis lifter Steve Baldwin in the 1980’s, deadlifts on a York barbell.
Fortunately, as the sport evolved, so did the barbell, allowing for safe training. In a famous quote made to me in 1978 by York Barbell Company President John Terpak regarding the York power bar, he made very clear the “state of the art” of barbell manufacturing. We were both spectators at George Turner’s Heart Of America Powerlifting Championships in St. Louis, held in December of that year. We were discussing the rather tremendous weights used in the squat by numerous highly ranked lifters who were competing that day, some among the best in the world. With Kaz, Mike Bridges, and Marvin Phillips on the platform, that trio alone would test the quality of any bar and I said something along the lines of “I hope these new York powerlifting bars hold all of that weight.” In a display of candor that reflected the relationship I had with him, Mr. Terpak looked at me and said, “Well, manufacturing bars is a lot like baking cookies. Some batches are really good, some aren’t.” He went on to explain that he too hoped that “the ends don’t fall off of any of the bars” and if I choked a bit, it was out of surprise to hear “York’s guy” make this statement. He told me that they had been informed of an incident where a sleeve had broken off of a York power bar recently and came to this contest in part to observe the performance of the York equipment as well as the top level lifters. Up to this point in time, despite almost twenty years of training, I had not given a lot of consideration to the quality of my bars and certainly never thought one could literally break. Despite living very modestly due to family responsibilities, my personal collection had through my years of training to this point, included a York Olympic bar, the York Swedish steel bar noted in the January 2010 column, and a Mav-Rik Olympic barbell. The Mav-Rik bar was manufactured in the Los Angeles area by long time Olympic lifter and official Bob Hise Senior and my relationship with him led me to purchase his bar. As a metallurgist, Bob was as expected, well versed on the various technical specifications of every bar on the market and I learned a great deal listening to him when we conversed. I also had a few pairs of his bumper plates whose composition later had to be altered because, for those who remember, when dropped to the platform, they would at times bounce as high as chest or neck level.
Mention of York’s Swedish steel bar brought a number of e mails to the Titan Support Systems office. There are guys out there, and ladies please allow me to use the term “guys” because there were so few women involved with training until the 1980’s and the “old days” are my reference point, that are equipment nuts like I am. They know the various manufacturers, the differences in tubing gauge from one brand of equipment to another, and are truly into the nuances that make the knurling on one type of bar a bit different than another. These are the ones asking and the York Swedish steel bar was not a widely sold item so there is an interest. Once again I turned to Jan Dellinger and Reuben Weaver and even to my surprise, learned that this specific bar was sold for a much longer period of time than I had recalled. According to this dynamic duo of historical knowledge, the earliest ad located for the Swedish steel bar appeared in the April 1966 issue of Muscular Development magazine. For those who are too young to remember, Strength And Health was the “house organ” for York Barbell Company and their many products. They were considered by most serious trainees, and certainly anyone who considered themselves Olympic weightlifters or “real lifters” as the only magazine worth reading. The emphasis, as the title stated, was upon the sport of Olympic weightlifting but also offered articles related to nutrition, supplements, bodybuilding, health, and sometimes goofy things like controlling dandruff, all considered to be part of a “healthy life style.” When odd lifting began to morph into the official sport of powerlifting, York immediately jumped on the bandwagon to take commercial advantage of this and began publishing Muscular Development in 1964. They specifically placed their emphasis upon powerlifting because they realized there was a void in the field and filling in with some bodybuilding allowed them to present a very enjoyable publication.