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The Full Strength! Magazine Expo at the Arnold Classic

At the Arnold Classic which was held on Friday 6th until the 8th, Manfred Hoeberl put on a strength expo to promote The American Federation of Strength Athletes and Full Strength! The Magazine at the ProLab Booth and on the main stage. Day One involved Gary Mitchell, Curtis Leffler, Berend Veneberg, and a very tall German novice who made his international debut named Uli Schwarz .

As Manfred entered on to the stage, two people dragged a metallic log on to the stage. Manfred told the people about the AFSA and Full Strength!.

Manfred Hoeberl and the ProLab booth women introduce the AFSA and Full Strength! to the public, image copyright McShane Enterprises

The two stage hands moving the log on to the stage, image copyright McShane Enterprises

Manfred then proceeded to introduce the participants in the expo. Representing the United States would be Gary Mitchell (1997 American Strongman Finals competitor, highland games athlete, and international powerlifter) and Curtis Leffler (1995 WSM Competitor and third place at the 1998 Hawaiian Strongman Challenge to Magnus ver Magnusson's fifth place finish) and representing Europe would be Berend Veneberg (1993 and 1997 WSM competitor, the Netherland's Strongest Man) and a very tall German new commer to international strongman exhibitions named Uli Schwartz.

Curtis Leffler enters the stage, image Copyright McShane Enterprises

Gary Mitchell represents America, image copyright McShane Enterprises

TEAM AMERICA, image copyright McShane Enterprises

The first event involved a 550 pound metallic log approximately ten feet long and a foot in diameter. There were two sets of sunken hammer style grips in the log. The event began with the log positioned in between two benches. The bar would be rolled up to the chest and pressed overhead making this event similar to a clean and jerk. The Americans went first with the empty log. Gary had told me before the event that neither he nor Curtis had practiced on the log before and had not even met to work on their team-work. Gary also told me that due to this event's tandem nature, there was a higher than usual probability for injury particularly to the wrist and biceps.

On the first attempt, both Gary and Curtis started out in rhythm, but Curtis neglected to pause at the chest and began to quasi-snatch it. This caught Gary a little off guard, but he was able to catch up to Curtis on the lock out. The Europeans went next. Berend and Uli approached the log. Berend is six foot one and the German novice was easily six inches taller than him. This made for really interesting viewing as the event went on. It became obvious during the first attempt that Uli's height would be a definite disadvantage to team Europe. There was no doubt in my mind that Uli was strong enough, but the extra six inches that he had to press more than Berend would make the event difficult for them both.

All images are © McShane Enterprises

Attempt One=550 pounds

Leffler's quasi-snatch technique caught Gary a little off guard

Uli's height, not lack of strength, would hurt team Europe. Nevertheless, they were able to lock out the lift

Attempt Two=570 pounds

Team USA-no problem

Again, Uli's height hurt team Europe, but they struggled through to lock out the lift

Attempt Three=600 pounds

Team USA-good lift

Uli could not lock it out-no lift

The next event was the farmer's walk or Fergus walk. The four ProLab girls (combined weight with the apparatus of 555 pounds) were paraded around the short course on the stage. Having won the previous expo, the American's went first. Gary Mitchell as in front with Curtis behind. Gary used chalk and Curtis opted not to. Gary seemed to be in his element. At one point, Gary was talking to Manfred during the walk. After two full laps with eight 90 degree turns to the left, Curtis' grip gave out. The Europeans took up the challenge next. They were able to complete two and a half laps. Just as one of the ProLab girls was remarking how this ride was smoother than the Americans', both Berend and Uli's grips gave causing the apparatus to come crashing down. The same ProLab girl then smiled and said "Well, except for that." The other people in the front row and me thought that was pretty funny.



Just as Manfred was explaining his magazine and the AFSA for the crowd, Arnold Schwarenegger decided to show up. Manfred jokingly invited him up on stage to test his strength, but Arnold continued to plough through the crowd with his security guards. All and all, it was a good exhibition. Afterwards, Gary told me that he enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching it too.

The next day's events can be found on Bill Henderson's World's Strongest Man Page

If you would like to hear more about the Arnold Classic, the people I met and the people who you can meet email me and I'll let you know. I definately recommend going. It is a great way to meet your heroes.