Thursday, June 8, 2017

Baszanowski: The Surprise Champion - Stanislaw Zakrzewski (1962)

Waldemar Baszanowski

The sport of weightlifting is coming of age in Poland. Twenty-six year old Waldemar Baszanowski is the third Pole to establish a world record in the strongman sport. Before him these records were set by his countrymen: Marian Zielinski, at the 1958 World Championships in Stockholm, snatched 248 pounds as a featherweight, improving that record to 250 pounds as he won the world title one year later in Warsaw; and Ireneusz Palinski, Olympic champion in the light-heavyweight class in 1960 and world champion in the middle-heavyweight class in 1961, holds the Clean & Jerk record in both of those categories, as well as the total record for the middle-heavyweight class, 1047 pounds.

Baszanowski attracted little attention in finishing in fifth in the lightweight division in the Rome Olympics, where his total was 815.5 pounds. But less than a year later he made headlines by creating a new world record Snatch in that class. This performance was in London, England. The weight was 283-1/4 pounds, and although it was surpassed a few weeks later, this record lift served to let the sporting world know that a new star was about to shine in international weightlifting. 

Some predicted at that time that Waldemar would be the next world champion, a prediction which came true in Vienna as he achieved the gold medal with a total of 887-1/4 pounds. His individual lifts were 264-1/2 press, 270 snatch, and 352-1/2 clean & jerk, and although this was a good performance, it is still considerably less than what he will do in the near future. His trainer, Augustyn Dziedzic, foresees no difficulties to prevent his pupil from pressing 275-1/2, snatching 292, and clean & jerking 358-1/4, to make a total of 925-3/4 before the end of 1962. I personally believe that he will be able to reach this goal without too much trouble.

New Training Methods

To Augustyn Dziedzic, who is his trainer at the Institute for Physical Training in Warsaw, must credit be given for the new training methods followed by the newly crowned world champion. These are simply a good conditioning program based on track and field events plus practice of the usual weightlifting exercises.

In the conditioning program special emphasis is placed on jumping movements. This includes both standing and running jumps. In addition to the familiar hop, step, and jump event of track competition, Baszanowski practices multiple jumps in series of five or even ten jumps, not unlike a kangaroo. At times he will take off from one or the other foot, and at other times leap from both feet at once.

Hopping up the huge steps of the balcony of the sports arena is a favorite exercise. All of these strengthen the legs. They impart springing strength into his muscles, and of course this helps him in weightlifting. At his height of 5'5" he can do a standing high jump of 4 feet 7-3/4 inches, and a standing broad jump of 10 feet 2 inches. In the running high jump his best is 5 feet 6 inches, and he has covered 100 meters in 11.7 seconds.

Field events such as the discus and shot put also find a place in his program. He is also fond of hurdling. And since he studied at the Institute for Physical Training for four years, Baszanowski frequently participated in gymnastics, swimming, boxing, and games of various kinds.

The new world champion is a very diligent worker. He is a man of inflexible character, one with the determination to overcome many difficulties. He understands what it is to fight with himself, to attack his own weaknesses.

Like any serious athlete, Waldemar Baszanowski pays heed to his diet. He drinks very much milk. The physician of the Polish weightlifting team, Dr. Firsowicz, calls him "the milkman."

No biography is complete without statistics. Baszanowski is of Polish origin, of course, and was born August 15, 1935 in Grudziadz (Graudenz). It was mentioned earlier that he is 5'5" tall. His normal bodyweight fluctuates between 149 and 154 pounds. Expanded his chest measures 41-1/2 inches, normal 37-1/2 inches. At the biceps his arm hits the 15-1/4 inch mark. His thighs are 22 inches, calves 15, and neck 15-3/4.

Several months ago the subject of this article completed his studies at the institute for Physical Training and is now a sports teacher. At the present time he is working on his thesis towards a master's degree, the title of which is "Anatomical Analysis of Weightlifting."

Began Lifting at 22

The first time he saw a barbell Waldemar Baszanowski was already 22 years of age. He was in military service at the time. Encouraged to try his hand, he soon entered his first competition, making only 121-1/4 press, 154-1/2 snatch, and 198-3/4 clean & jerk, for a total of 473-3/4 pounds. The next time out he increased these lifts to 154-1/4, 170-3/4, and 220-1/4 for a 545-1/2 total. His relative excellence in the snatch indicated that he possessed a good deal of explosive power, in spite of the fact that he had not participated in any sports prior to that time.

After completing his military service, Waldemar Baszanowski enrolled in the Institute for Physical Training. There he came under the influence of Augustyn Dziedzic. Dziedzic had at one time been a national weightlifting champion in Poland as well as winner of the first Mr. Poland title.It was he who outlined Baszanowski's training program, a detailed plan which after four years made this man into a world record holder and world champion.

Baszanowski's progress had been steady if not sensational. After the Rome Olympics he took a layoff of several weeks. In the latter half of October, 1960, he competed in a sexathlon consisting of the 100-meter run, five consecutive jumps, hammer throw over the head, 50-meter swim, and two lifting events, finishing second in the Polish national championship in this grueling event.

Throughout that fall and winter he trained industriously, primarily for strength. This period lasted until April. He trained five times weekly. Each workout lasted for 2-1/2 hours. Following is the program he followed:

1) Squats - worked up to a top weight of 429-3/4 pounds.
2) Standing One-Arm Presses with from 99 to 132-1/2 pounds (side press).
3) Forward Bend with Bar Across Neck with weights up to 286-1/2 pounds.
4) Seated Barbell Presses with as much as 198-1/4 pounds.
5) Sit-ups on the Incline Board with 44 pounds held at the throat.
6) Lunges with weights ranging up to 407-3/4 pounds.

All of these exercises were practiced in six or seven sets of three repetitions each. In each workout he would attempt to equal or exceed his record in one or the other of these movements, and of course this means a single attempt.

This power course naturally did not include training on the three Olympic lifts, but nevertheless in the Polish championships in April Baszanowski made a total of 799 pounds. A little later he combined technique practice in his program. In addition to the squats and lunges he did power snatches, power cleans, dead hang cleans, presses, and cleans. His program was shortened, but the intensity of the workouts was sped up. Instead of 2-1/2 hours he training for only 1-1/2 hours.

At this point Baszanowski began to lift in competition once each month. Against France he reached 837-1/2 pounds, against Hungary a fine 881-3/4. Three weeks later he repeated the 881-3/4 against East Germany, and then only one week after that scored 870-3/4 in London on the day he established his world record.

Primed for Vienna

All of these efforts were pointed toward the best possible performance in the Vienna world championships. The London event was held at the end of July. Immediately upon his return he went to a mountain training camp for three weeks. Then it was time for final preparation at a training camp on a beach at sea level. Here he remained until the Polish team departed for Vienna in mid-September.

In this final training period Baszanowski worked to increase both strength and technique. Each Friday - because he was to lift on Friday in Vienna - he went "all out" in attempting to reach a high total. Each week for six consecutive weeks he succeeded in bettering 881-3/4, five times scoring 892-3/4 and once 903-3/4. His weekly training program was as follows:

Training for technique in the three lifts with up to 90% of his limit.

General power training.

Training for style.


Lifting for a total.

General power training.


Here is the method followed for the technique or style training:
After a warmup the lifter worked on the press. He began with 132-1/4 pounds, pressing it three times. In jumps of 22 pounds he proceeded in this manner until the bar weighed 242-1/2 pounds, at which point he switched to three singles, finishing up with three singles of 264-1/2.

Turning to the snatch, again he began with 132-1/4. The first of his three repetitions with each weight was done from the hang, the second and third lifts from the floor. In the clean his increments were 44 pounds rather than 22 pounds, but otherwise he progressed as in the first two movements.

This training occupied his afternoon hours. Each morning without fail he went through his track and field routine, which included jumping, hurdling, putting and throwing a 15-pound shot in various ways, and some wind sprints.

How well this program paid off in Vienna is history, but in spite of his victory neither Baszanowski nor his associates were completely satisfied. We had expected him to lift at least 898-1/4 to 909-1/4 pounds total. An analysis of his failure has indicated that he must strengthen his hands and wrists, and he is now working on this. His technique still needs polishing, for he does not have perfect position under the bar in either of his quick lifts. His trainer has advised him to take a longer step forward with the leading foot in the clean in order to put more of the load on that leg. We feel too that by strengthening his abdominal muscles sill more that Poland's surprise champion will increase his pressing ability.

It goes without saying that Waldemar Baszanowski is looking forward to defending his world title in the United States in 1962. How much he will have improved by that time only time will tell, but we do feel that a 925-3/4 total will be within his capabilities long before next summer.  

   A Listing of His Records and Several Videos Here:

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