Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jon Cole, Part Two - Herb Glossbrenner (1994)

Part One is Here:

Jon decided to skip the first World Powerlifting Championship that transpired November 6th, 1971, at Harrisburg, PA. In Cole's absence Hugh Cassidy won a hard fought bodyweight victory (2160) over Big Jim Williams (2nd) and John Kuc (3rd). During the year Jon increased his overhead lift total: 400-315-400 = 1115 at 242.

Jim Williams, Hugh Cassidy, John Kuc 

 Olympic lifting came in 1972. The lure of Munich reawakened that old yearning. Jon weighed his options  - Track and Field or Weightlifting - two separate opportunities for an Olympic team slot. With limited training he qualified for the trials in the discus with 206'1". Bad luck reared her ugly head once again. Days before the qualifying event he ripped an inner thigh muscle. Again denied his moment in the sun held one ace - to be played at an appropriate time.

That year on March 14th Jon qualified for the Olympic Weightlifting trials. The marathon ordeal dragged on for nine hours. He weighed 251 at its start and 241 at the conclusion. Cole hoisted a total sum on the triathlon of 1200 (430 press, 340 snatch, 430 clean and jerk). He didn't expect to beat U.S. kingpin Ken Patera, but history shows the U.S. nearly always took two Superheavies to the Olympics.

He was in good shape at the U.S. Nationals. Others used the knee kick heave-ho style to get maximum "Press" poundages. Cole stood ramrod straight and executed a perfect Press with 408. 


He also muscled up 435 in impeccable style but moved a foot, which nullified the lift. The audience knew they witnessed areal feat of strength and gave him a standing ovation. On to the Snatch - Jon elevated 314 like a breeze and went for 341. He swooped under it stumbled when the platform shifted beneath him. He tweaked that old thigh muscle injury. Rather than jeopardize future exploits he wisely decided to forgo further attempts and dropped out. He sat dejectedly on a chair behind the stage. His handlers hovered around him offering encouragement. "You need only 286 for 3rd and could probably do enough for runner up." Jon felt the others deserved their moment. He refused to steal their thunder. A real class act in my book. This memorable deed of unselfishness is an indelible memory to this very day. 

The last time Jon threw in competition came months later. At an AAU even in Tempe he uncorked a big one - 216'2". It surpassed the winning gold medal toss that came two weeks later at the 29th Olympiad. In retrospect his throw was the world's fourth longest of 1972. In 1990 it would be ranked among the world's 10 best throws for that year, impressive to say the least.

With his Olympic hopes shattered Jon now pointed to the 1972 Senior Power Championships and the long awaited showdown with Williams and Kuc. Denver was a neutral site with strict, impartial officiating. Jon wanted to negate the negative innuendos circulating regarding the credibility of his lifts. He put an end to it once and for all.

885 in 1972

The Pennsylvania pachyderms petered out so big Jon put on a one man show. what a show it was with 570-865 (actual 869) - 820 for 2255! He finished 860 but got reds for riding it in the last few inches. Bill Starr wrote in his Weightlifting Journal: His first two benches looked like he could have done them for reps. His controlled squats looked like yo-yos." Bill labeled Jon as a strong, intelligent athlete with dynamic charisma. His success would give powerlifting national attention and breed more success, exactly what the sport needs.

This was just the tip of the iceberg. With his wife due to deliver their second child, Jon picked a meet near home. Because of the pre-meet ordeal with his wife (in labor for 19 hours), he almost missed the competition. On October 28th, he rewrote powerlifting history. Cole was in great shape and getting stronger every day. I wasn't present but reviewed the videotape of his lifts many times. He benched 555 and 580 easily. 600 stalled inches from lockout when those mighty triceps stalled out. When the gas tank goes dry, that's it! He negotiated 850, 885, and 905 squats with pure power (actual 901.25, a PR and the most by anybody in competition). Reports that he could have done 930 were no exaggeration. There was much more left. His deadlifts were hauled up with monstrous strength - 820, 860, and finally 885 (actual 882). Jon crashed the 2300 barrier for the first time in history - 2305, 2345, and finally 2370. Just think of it . . . this happened in 1972 . . . Unbelievable!

The 1972 Worlds may have been Jon's biggest claim to fame. Some suggested he was avoiding competition; others said his ego was too big to risk his reputation. Absurd allegations! Jon lifted best when pushed. Unbiased officiating was a concern. The truth of the matter was that he felt he'd proved he was the best powerlifter in the world, and it was time to move on. He wanted to give his new business ventures his full attention. The stress involved to get his training center going left little or no time for his own training. He was also tired of trying to live up to his own expectations as well as what others expected from him.

I think Jon erred in not going. Bob Gaynor once wrote that it wouldn't have mattered, that Kuc was unbeatable that day. I disagree. I was there and saw the battle of the giants. I had the best seat in the house. In fact, I was the side referee in the bench press.

I believe that Jon would have not only won, but would have done it by over 50 lbs. Here is the basis for my hypothesis. In preparing this article I did a biorhythm profile on all of Jon's major competitions. Not once in his career did he compete in his high cycle. He was at the bottom of physical and emotional cycles on October 28th, the day of his 2370. The Worlds came two weeks later, and Jon would have been at the very peak of both cycles. After carefully scrutinizing the videotape of his big Phoenix meet I can testify as to the clean manner in which his lifts were executed. One of the spotters that day was Bruce Wilhelm, who is a stickler for lifts being done in accordance with the rules. Bruce told me unequivocally, "Jon would have annihilated them. Absolutely no question about it."

I believe that Jon would have done 940, 600 minimum, and with a "mere" 825 deadlift opener could have put the contest out of the reach of Kuc's mighty mitts. He'd have pulled the 875 Kuc missed and maybe gone 900. We're looking realistically at 2440!

Exaggeration? Not the slightest. I refereed at the 1972 Worlds in the SHW category. I was just as impressed as anyone. I take nothing away from the magnificent lifting that the Kingston-Scranton giants etched in the history books that day. Kuc bequeathed us a star-studded career to marvel at. Williams will be remembered as a bench press behemoth who blasted his pecs into immortality. I just have firm convictions that Cole would have reigned as king that day. All the hypothesizing in the world cannot change history. Maybe Thomas Mann summed it up best when he once said, "Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them."

Now that we have covered the illustrious career of a strongman with diversified talents, it is time to examine more. The facets which reveal the complexity of a man are a hundredfold.

Continued in Part Three . . .    

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