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  • Pete Giannopoulus

The 66th Annual Iron Man Powerlifting Championships

The Iron Man Powerlifting Championships is the longest continuously running powerlifting meet in the United States of America. 2019 will be the 66th annual event and for the first time will take place on the Central Coast on December 14th at The Lab Paso Robles in Paso Robles, California. After a few years of being unsanctioned the SLO Strong team in charge of promoting this event has worked to get it sanctioned under the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate Banner. With this sanctioning the Iron Man Powerlifting Championship will be the final XPC Powerlifting qualifier for the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. The Arnold Classic is considered to be the premier fitness expo in the country and the XPC is the premier powerlifting meet an athlete can qualify for. We are honored to host this meet and provide this opportunity to California lifters.

Chris Bartl and Andrew Wickham will direct this year’s meet for its first year under the RPS sanction. Both accomplished lifters in their own right, they bring a combined 20+ years of event promotion experience as well as Arnold competition experience to this event. Robert Packer will be assisting with the meet and has run the event for the last 20 years in Fresno under various federations that include USPF, USPA and APF.

The Iron Man Powerlifting Championship and Mr. Iron Man began in 1953 at the Berkeley YMCA Weightlifting Club. Under the direction of YMCA Physical Director Ernest Marinoni, along with better known members of the time like Doug Lindsey, Don Rodriguez, Skip Harrison, and others, they conceived of an idea for a contest that would involve both a show of strength and a display of ones physique. Realizing that most bodybuilders were not skilled Olympic Lifters, they chose a pair of oddlifts, the bench press and squat, as those were lifts commonly practiced by bodybuilders as well as some weightlifters. The event consisted of the squat and bench press from the inaugural event in 1953 all the way up to 1973. In 1973, powerlifting officials decided to include the deadlift to align with the modern powerlifting format.

The first Mr. Iron Man quickly brought notoriety to the event. Famous California Strongman, Olympic lifter, and Bodybuilder, Bert Elliot of Southern California became the first Mr. Iron Man. He was followed the next year by three time Olympian and world weightlifting champion, Tommy Kono. The meet then left the Berkeley YMCA and started to move around to different meet promoters such as Paul Love, the 1969 Mr. California in San Jose. It then went to Santa Cruz under the direction of Ron Morris.

Several prominent names in both powerlifting and bodybuilding won the title of Mr. Iron Man. Bodybuilders such as Ed Corney, Rod Koontz, Gordon Santee, Charles Francellette, Glenn Maur, and many others were added to this list of greats. Powerlifters such as Roger Estep, Brian Meeks, Derek Stockton, James Kegrice, Dolph Pierce, and many others went to garner the Mr. Iron Man Titles for the powerlifting event. In subsequent years, a Ms. Iron Woman was added, along with an Over 40 men’s category.

The event suffered greatly in the early 90s because of poor promotion and lack of interest. In 1995, Bob Packer, who won the Over 40 Mr. Iron Man, lifted in a setting so substandard that several of the competitors went home without completing the competition. Packer had been attending the meet since 1965. Holding the meet in high esteem, he decided to ask to take over the meet in 1996. His request was granted. In just his first year, he drew 94 lifters, up from only 23 the year before. Now in its 66th year, the Iron Man is the longest running powerlifting meet in the nation, regardless of affiliation, and Packer is intent on keeping the history and origins of powerlifting alive as he supervises the next generation of meet officials and athletes.

Meet Information and Entry Form-

SloStrong at 2018 Iron Man-

Other Iron Man footage- , ,

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