A Tribute to a Great (Strong) Man
Curtis Leffler has passed away this year on September 4th, 1998. Curtis Leffler was 36 year old and was survived by his parents, his brother named Christopher and his son named Curtis Leffler Jr. He was in the midst of preparing for a contest and died of a heart attack.
Curtis as many of you may remember was a competitor in the WSM in 1995 in the Bahamas. He caught a lot of guff from everyone when it seemed that his grip strength was not up to par in the farmer's walk and had some difficulty with the McGlashen Stones. I just wanted to point out a fact that he shared with me at the 1998 Arnold Classic. Not a big man for excuses, Curtis, nevertheless, told me that he had been invited (more like begged) to compete in 1995 less than 2 days after the NPC Nationals. He was extremely dehydrated and not in the best physical condition having practically starved himself for over a week to get down to "super freaky cut condition." So, here he was fresh off a plane from the New Orleans competition into another competition that he had never even seen before. He quickly found out how dehydration and 100 degree temperature could sap one's strength.
To place his "nay-sayers" thoughts to rest, a month before the Arnold Classic 1998, he took part in the 1998 Hawaiian Strongman Challenge in which he placed third ahead of Magnus Ver Magnusson (a fact that he was very proud of).
At the Arnold Classic, he teamed up with Gary Mitchell to compete against Berend Veneberg and Uli Schwartz in an expo. It looked like a lot of fun and Curtis surely did dispel any rumors that he was not on par with the other strongmen.
After his expo, I had the pleasure of meeting him. It is true that he is a very soft-spoken and kind man. Unlike some of his other colleagues, he didn't have a large sign at the Tribe Quest booth announcing his presence. He met me with a strong and firm hand shake, a big hello and a smile. I didn't introduce myself as American Strength Legends, just as Justin McShane, a fan. He took a good deal of time out to talk to me about his strongman aspirations. He talked about the tough choices he had to make soon because he said that he loved strongman, but was afraid that he could not achieve all he could because of his bodybuilding commitments. He was stuck, he said. I like the most annoying fan on the planet asked him for a picture with him. I started to get out my wallet expecting to pay 10 or 20 dollars that many of his colleagues were charging. He said, "Justin, I don't charge for my friends." I was impressed because autograph signing and picture taking is a major, major source of income for many of his colleagues in the bodybuilding world. I'm glad that I got the picture.
It is a great tragedy and a great loss to both bodybuilding and strongman. I will remember Curtis Leffler for a long, long time NOT because of his strongman and bodybuilding performances, which are memorable, but because of the 45 minutes he took out of his busy life to talk to a stranger about his life and treat me with respect. It takes a lot to impress me and I must say that Mr. Leffler did impress. I am sure that I share all of our sentiments when I say that our prayers are with his family and friends at this time.
I had entered into communications with him to be profiled at American Strength Legends and unfortunately we never had the opportunity to do a formal interview.
His favorite saying was "Life is too short to be small." No one ever accused Curtis of being small.
See Curtis at the Arnold Classic
The above images are thumbnails. Click on them to enlarge them. They are © Tribe Quest Nuitrition Corporation. Reprinted with permission. No unauthorized copying is permitted.
The above image is of Curtis when he was in high school and was provided by Cindy who went to school with Curtis. Thank you very much for the photo.
Some of his competitions include:
1995 NPC National Men's Championships September 30, 1995 at New Orleans, Louisiana-5th Heavyweight
1995 World's Strongest Man Competitor
1996 NPC USA Mens Championships-June 28-29 at Long Beach, California-10th Heavyweight
1996 North American Bodybuilding Championships - Mens September 6-7 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 7th Heavyweights
1998 Hawaiian Strongman Challenge-3rd beating Magnus Ver Magnusson