Slim Farman & Mighty Atom Inducted into York Barbell Hall of Fame
This past weekend was incredible. I was thoroughly excited for it ahead of time and the trip to York Barbell totally blew away all expectations!!!
The weekend started out with a trip to my good friend’s house, Jerry Shreck. Jerry is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Bucknell University. We met at Juniata College like ten years ago and hit off immediately. Awesome dude.
We met up at his house, ran to his office to grab some stuff, printed some flyers I had made up on the sport of Grip, and then headed back to his place. Dude cooked up an entire turkey, stuffing, corn stripped off the cob – it was an awesome dinner. I have no idea how to cook that kind of stuff. Finished the night off watching ghost adventures. A couple of the weakest episodes I have ever seen. Usually after watching that show, I am afraid to walk through my house in the dark. I had high hopes of sleeping well until Jerry showed me his guest room and on the night stand right beside the bed was what looked to be a giant coral snake. Freaked me out big time, but I was so exhausted from the drive I passed out anyway.
In the morning, Dave Bellomo came over and he rode with Jerry to York Barbell. If you don’t know Dave, he is an accomplished Kettlebeller. You won’t see his name on any lists, I don’t think, but I have watched him manhandle some of the biggest kettlebells I’ve ever seen. He says he is going to get back into writing, so look for some stuff from him down the line.
We left for York and got there early – around 8 AM. There we met Mike Locondro. I don’t know Mike’s exact title or position within the York Barbell corporate structure. All I know is he is usually the only dude I see in the store when I go there and he loves strength training and strongmanism, which is the strongman performance arts, as opposed to the strongman sport and competition. Mike has followed the history of strength and strongmanism for decades and has a true respect for what they did and the ones who look to carry on the traditions to this day.
Speaking of Mike Locondro, he put a ton of work into the organization of this entire weekend. I went down in order to watch them recognize Slim the Hammer Man Farman and the Mighty Atom by inducting them into their halls. What I did not realize, however, is what all he had in store. Completely separate from the whole Slim and Atom thing was a benefit for the Wounded Warriors Project, which is a benefit for wounded soldiers who return home from battle in their various branches of the armed forces. What a great benefit. I did not even know it existed, but you can be damned sure I will be following them down the line. Mike L’s wife, I think, can clone herself. It seemed like every time I turned around she was either running the refreshment stand or was greeting people. Amazing the amount of effort that went into all of this.
As far as the Wounded Warriors Project, there was also a “Kettlebells for Warriors” event, headed by Mike Krivka. He put on a kettlebell clinic in between installments in the Slim/Atom ceremony. This dude handles a mic better than over half of the WWE lockerroom. Mike is poised and speaks with inflection, and is a pleasure to listen to. His wife, was also heavily involved in the background of this effort, and was running around keeping everything organized throughout the day. She had a stand where she took signed waivers be people who wished to try their hand at the strength challenges (more on that later) and she also set up a basket raffle, for which I donated a few Diesel Crew DVD’s.
Between the opening ceremony and the point at which they were going to do the inductions, there was a space of about two hours time. I walked around and met about a dozen people who visit the website on a routine basis. It is great to know that I have helped so many people out. Helping people be successful at strength training and keeping them motivated to stay healthy and strong is something I just plain love doing and to hear the stories of how I have helped them is awesome. I am so glad everyone came up and shook my hand and shared their stories. Keep up the awesome work, guys!
During this time, I also got to hang out with my buddy, the Iron Tamer, Dave Whitley. Dave is a Master RKC within the RKC and the amount of knowledge this guy has is unbelievable. If you are on my newsletter, you saw that i said there was going to be a showdown between Dave and me. Some people actually wrote me back wondering what he had done to piss me off, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dave and I are good friends and we are actually in talks about some projects we want to work on together to help people increase their strength and to salute the oldtime strongmen at the same time. That will be coming down the line.
Also during this “intermission,” I got the chance to meet for the first time a couple of oldtime strongmen who have not garnered the attention they deserve – Greg Matonick and Sonny Barry. Greg told me some stories about how he came to try his hand at things like nail bending and wrench bending, and it was awesome. I have emailed back and forth with Sonny on many occasions before, but never got the chance to see him in person. His hands are meaty. Crazy meaty. I don’t know how else to describe his hands, except for maybe chunks of meat wrapped in sandpaper. This dude has done some amazing feats. It was awesome meeting him and Greg. Check out their pictures below…
Greg Matonick and me
A Quarter that Greg bent in his mouth for Sonny in the past…
Sonny Barry and me
I also got the chance to hang out with Pat Povilaitis at this time. For whatever reason, I forgot to break out the camera and get a pic with him. Son of a… Regardless, it is always great to hang out with him, although my chances to do so seem to be growing shorter and further apart.
Soon, it was time for the ceremony to begin and Slim had arrived with his wife. Dennis Rogers, Pat Povilaitis, and Dan Cenidoza were all there by now, so I knew the time to get a good seat was at hand and I sat with some friends, EJ Livesey and Mike Krahling.
Dan performed his strength demonstration, a tribute to Slim and the Mighty Atom. Dan has really come a long way in his strength feats. He is doing things with ease these days compared to when I first saw him try them. He did a phenomenal job, I thought.
Next, Dennis Rogers spoke, introducing Slim. Dennis is another gifted speaker. I rarely get the chance to speak with him in person or on the phone, but everytime I do it seems he has something exciting to talk about in the world of strength or an awesome story to share from the past. This past weekend was no exception, as he told me he has been hard at work getting the word out about Tough Guy News, Dennis’ new blog for which I am a contributor.
Next, Slim came and gave his acceptance speech, saying all he needed to say. You could tell he was supremely moved at this solute in his direction, and he was even more proud that his mentor and close friend, the Mighty Atom would also be enshrined in the York Halls right there beside him.
Now that the induction ceremony was over, I was under the impression that we were done, but nothing could have been further from the truth. As I had said, what I expected of the weekend was only a fraction of what happened. Next Mike Krivka addressed the audience and introduced Scott Adams, one of the Wounded Warriors, himself. Scott served his country by completing multiple tours of duty and shared an incredibly moving speech. I can not imagine going through the kind of pain he went through in his accident, and to complain about the bumps, bruises and muscle pulls that I do, really makes me feel like a complete heel compared to what he and probably hundreds of other soldiers are going through right now due to things that happened while they served the country and preserved my way of life. Don’t take my word for it, listed to the man himself:
At this point, the formality of the day was over. Now it was time for the fun stuff. Brian Lauer and Tim Bonitz ran an outstanding Grip strength challenge they called Strength Fest. They brought out some rubber mats to the parking lot along with a variety of Grip Training apparatus and had people give them a try. I brought hand-outs that I printed the night before and gave them out to everyone that I could find. The handouts were simple explanations of Grip Sport. I’d been meaning to do this for years and just now finally did it. I hope that people find them helpful. I am going to make it into a PDF and make it available here and at the GripSport.org website as well.
There were so many people trying to lift stuff at the Grip challenge, that I was unable to meet everyone, I failed to see most of it, and I failed to record what is to this date the number 2 most impressive thing I have ever done in the world of Grip – I performed a Double Inch Dumbbell Deadlift. A gent by the name of Wayne Mealy brought his Inch and Blob and I was amazingly able to deadlift them once. I have not trained this recently – most of my training has been on recovery from my injuries and developing my base strength again, however as I mentioned a couple months ago, thick bar was my primary training emphasis in preparation for the Arnold and Mighty Mitts. This just goes to show you that if you get hurt, if you stay patient and come back wisely, you can essentially come back stronger than before you got hurt.
However, my feat was promptly blown away by the weapon of grip destruction, himself, Andrew Drrniat, because he bent down and not only picked up both Inch Dumbbells, but he also proceeded to take a stroll with them down the hot macadam driveway for a distance of 40+ feet. I say 40+ because nobody attempted to measure the mark, even though one gentleman went to his car and grabbed a perfectly good tape measure. I can say for sure that it did not look like he got to 60-foot mark, because it was a bit less than the distance from home plate to the pitching mound in baseball, but it was still a heck of a lot further than a hop, skip, and jump. To top that all off, Andrew gathered himself, brought the Inches back into position, and then picked them up again and nearly made it back to the pad. I was awesome to watch!
Shortly after that, it was time for me to go, as I had made plans with Brent Barbe, Mary Anne McKeague and Andrew Durniat to head over to my buddy, Niko Hulslander’s gym, Vision Fitness, in Brogue PA for a Grip Training session. I am really sorry for just jetting. I didn’t want to be rude, but we were planning on leaving at 2:30 and we did not get out off there until 3:30…
When we got there, Niko immediately put us through his Grip Gut Check, which started with an enormous 190-lb Anvil followed by a dumbbell he crafted from two giant engine blocks. I have never seen anything like this device. It is amazing. It is like pulling a one-hand deadlift from an enormous deficit, only you don’t get the benefit of the arc in the barbell because the dumbbell handle is only 6 inches long or so. None of us could lift the anvil nor the engine block dumbbell with a normal grip. We did, however, lift the challenge dumbbell with a hook grip, which makes a huge difference.
From there, we headed over to the Hex Dumbbell rack and tried lifting dumbbells like block weights by the top in a vertical position. We each got the 50-lber easily. When we moved up to the 55-lber, we had a tough time at first and then Brent and Andrew dominated it. I failed horribly at first and then got it fairly easy after trying other lifts such as a softball grip lift and some really hard hub lifts.
After all of that stuff, then it was time to lift on the Two Hand Pinch apparatus. This was the first time Niko, Paul Tompkins, and the other dudes from Niko’s gym had put their hands on the real deal Euro-Pinch, but I think they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Niko’s hands are like catcher’s mitts. The development in his thumb and pinky pads is ridiculous. Paul has some serious potential. He has submitted videos for a variety of Grip Strength Challenges, and I think he could do well in Grip with specific training. The other guys are no slouches either. I’d love to hold a leg of the WSH series or a regional qualifier at Niko’s gym sometime. I will talk with him about it…
Incidentally, my camera never came out for any of this stuff at Niko’s, but his wife filmed a lot of it. If I see it up on YouTube, I will grab it and post it here…
After the 2HP, we were all beat. It was time to wrap things up and head for home. I was exhausted! I have never struggled to get home more than that trip. It was an intense car ride home, but thankfully I didn’t hit any deer like the last road trip I had.
Post-Training Pic at Niko’s
I hope you guys liked my write-up and enjoyed my videos. If you were there and want to add something, please leave a comment below. I understand a lot of other stuff went down at York Barbell that I missed because I left, such as unbolting one of the Museum barbells so that they could be lifted. AWESOME.
Have a great week and all the best in your training.
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