The following was an interview conducted with Lester Maslow on March 3, 1999
ASL:Would you care to share with us some statistical and biographical information?
Maslow: My name is Lester Maslow and I am single. I was born on September 21, 1959. I have competed in powerlifting for at least fourteen years. I am 5 feet 5 inches tall and weigh around 190 pounds. My best lifts in competition are squat 700 pounds, bench 393 and deadlifted 683. My best gym lifts are 700 for two in the squat, 400 for 2 in the bench and 650 for 2 in the deadlift. I have also done 400 for 10 in the squat with no equipment, and 500 for 10 in the deadlift.
I have a four year degree from Ithaca College
ASL: You train with Mark Keshishian and Gary Mitchell. How long has this been going on and what is the atmosphere like when you train?
Maslow: I have been training with Gary and Mark on and off for about three years. I have been very lucky as far as training partners. I have trained with some of the top powerlifters in the United States. To name a few: Steve Elgin and Victor Kennedy. I can be a very intense lifter but I found in Gary that he can be more intense then me. I have learned a lot from both Gary and Mark and that is the sign of good training partners. We try and push each other in every exercise that we do. When we are training real hard and that is every time we train; the atmosphere is so high that the other gym members are not sure what to do. We are constantly talking to the person that is lifting and always encouraging them on. Sometimes the atmosphere is so intense that when I leave I have a headache from working out. Sometimes Bubba will train with us too and he is also an intense lifter. I am the smallest but I am the only one that has rhythm. The nice thing about these guys is that we do things outside the gym together. To me training partners are more then just friends they are like brothers.
ASL: Are you a professional strongman/powerlifter or do you have a business or job also?
Maslow: Since I have not competed in a strongman contest, I am not a professional strongman. I have not competed in powerlifting for about five years. If I could find a contest that had middleweight class then I would do a strongman contest. I currently work for EDS as a computer programmer in the greater Washington area. As Gary Mitchell calls me a "computer geek" HAHAHAHA. Gary is a funny person.
ASL: Were you always and big and strong as you are now? When did you start lifting and competing? Did you play any sports as a kid or in college if you went?
Maslow: When I first starting lifting weights I was about 130 pounds and I was running track in High School. I did not start training seriously until my senior year in college. When I was growing up, I used to play tennis and softball. All through high school, I ran track and played soccer. During my college days, I played intramural softball, and indoor floor hockey. I was lifting, but nothing really serious. I started competing when I was twenty-four years old. I have competed in just about every organization in the powerlifting sport. I started in the 148 pound class and ended competing in the 181 pound class. I was getting ready the USPF seniors as a 198 when I tore my lat squatting. I do not remember which seniors it was. My memory is fading as I am getting older - HAHAHA.
ASL: Who were your heroes/idols when you were growing up?
Maslow: I respect anybody that can get go through the training cycle and then actually compete. I think that the training cycles are the hardest things to do. Those people have to then get up there and have judges critique them. As far as heroes and idols - In the weightlifting sport, I thought that Franco Columbo was the man. He not only did bodybuilding, but he did powerlifting and strongman contest. Some of the feats that he accomplished were amazing. Since I am not a tall person, I wanted to be as big as Lee Priest. It amazed me that someone his height could get that big and hard. As far as strongman competitors... I was very impressed with Gary Taylor again because of his height. I am amazed with the all strongmen competitors overall. Some of the events that these guys do are amazing. Since I started training with Gary and Mark, I have met some of the strongest men in the world. It has been a real thrill to meet and actually talk to these guys.
ASL: Could you name some powerlifting accomplishments or feats of strength that you have done?
Maslow: Like I said before I had competed in powerlifting for at least fourteen years. I have done so many contests that I do not remember the actual dates. I remember starting at 148 pounds and enjoying lifting all this heavy weight. At 165 pounds I competed at the USPF Junior Nationals (held in Virginia ). That was my first national contest and it was a thrill. I also competed at the NASA level and won the nationals. That contest qualified me for the IPF Pan Am games that was held in Canada. I won my weight class at 165 pounds. I never realized how strict IPF judging really is until I competed in that contest. I also placed third at the APF seniors and that was the year that I tore my hamstring. My picture ended up in PL USA and I do not think Michael Jordan could have jumped as high as I did. I think that my best lifting was done when I weighed 181 pounds. I squatted 700 at the APA worlds (that was the contest where Tony Kammad squatted 805). In 1993 at the APF seniors, held in Lancaster PA., was the year that I won. I squatted 670 and benched 393. This contest was the only contest that I went three for three in the deadlift and ended up with a 683 pull. If it was not for Steve Elgin, Gary Mitchell and Mark Keshishian, I would not have won that contest. They were a big help to me. In 1994, I actually did a body building contest (Levrone Classic) and I placed fourth. I lost almost fifty pounds. I can promise you one thing and that is I will never do that again.
ASL: Do you plan on doing strongman contests?
Maslow: I would like to do a strongman contest but there are not that many with weight class. I was not ready for the contest in St. Louis. I went to it and I was fascinated by it. I am geared up to try a contest. My height is a hindrance as far as some of the events and trying to put weight on. I have been as heavy as 200 pounds. I will continue to look and hopefully so one will put on a contest that has a middleweight class.
ASL: Do you have any powerlifting or strongman competitions or contests coming up?
Maslow: At this very moment I have no contests in mind. We are getting ready for the strongman contest in Helsinki which Gary Mitchell go invited to. So if you want to see some intense training come to the gym and watch us lift. When one of my training partners is competing it is like I am competing too. I try and train just as hard as the person competing.
ASL: Could you tell us about your APA national championships, your 700 squat at 181-pound bodyweight and the WPC worlds?
Maslow: I squatted 700 pounds at the APA worlds. I was competing against Tony Kammad. I just squatted 660 for a second attempt. Kammad decided to try 805 pounds and the judges decided it was a good lift. At that point I had nothing to lose and Steve Elgin (at that point he was my training partner) said let us go for 700 pounds. I had never attempted that much in a contest but I said sure. On the previous attempt I heard something pop in the top of my knee. People in the stands told me to cut the squat, but I was attempting 700 pounds at body weight of 181. I went down and the top of my knee popped and some how I was able to squat that much weight. That was a first for me. The 93 APF Seniors is a day that I will never forget. To me that was like winning the Super Bowl. My training cycle was real good, but I had to diet. I had to sit in the sauna to loose two or three pounds. One thing about powerlifting is that it does not matter what you start with but what you end up with. I lowered my opener in the squat and that ended being the key factor because half the weight class bombed out. I think that I squatted 660. I only missed one attempt and that was my third attempt squat. I benched 390 and that was the most I have ever done in a contest. It is a good thing that I can deadlift. I actually went three for three in the deadlift and pulled 683. That had to be the longest pull of my career.
ASL: I have heard crazy stories about you such as the time that you tore a lat while squatting and also the time when you tore your hamstring. Could you please share them with us?
Maslow: I was getting ready for the USPF seniors and I thought that competing at the APF seniors would be a good warm up. I always wanted to do both seniors in the same year. So, I went to the APF in weighing 165 pounds. For the hamstring injury during the deadlift...I do not remember if it was my second or third attempt but I was attempting around 640 pounds. My form was terrible and as I was pulling I felt a pop in my leg and I jumped. People tell me that I jumped really high. I did not want anybody to call the ambulance but they did any way. When I got into the ambulance the EMT person asked me if one of my competitors aced my leg because the wrap was so tight. I also remember Steve Elgin asking the ambulance driver to turn on the lights and the siren.
Lester on the way down after he tore his hamstring.
The above image is © Lester Msalow. All rights reserved.
The other injury (the lat tear while squatting) was a real tear jerker because I was one week from the USPF seniors and my training cycle was the best that I have ever had. I just doubled 400 in the bench and I pulled 660 deadlift. My deadlift form was poor the whole cycle and that kind of led to my injury. My goal for that day was to double 700 in the squat. My form that day up to my heavy set was good. I put the straps up for my heavy set. The first rep felt good so I went down for the second rep and the bar rolled down my back. While I was coming up, I tried to roll the bar back up when all of a sudden I heard something tear. I was able to finish the second attempt. I fell to the ground. Gary Mitchell was sure that it was my suit so they took if off. The only problem was that it was in the gym. So I laid on the platform without my suit. Unfortunately it was not my suit but my lat. I was unable to compete at the seniors.
ASL: You have also pointed out on the Diesel Power Forum that you feel that there is a need for more middleweight strongman contests. Would you care to elaborate?
Maslow: After going to St. Louis [the Strongest Man Alive Contest] and coaching Gary and Mark; I realized that I would like to compete in a strongman contest. I would like to see more strongman contest with a middleweight class. I know that the Europeans do not have a middleweight class but maybe in the future they could. If not then I will continue to train and get Mark and Gary ready for their contests. I am trying to encourage other meet promoters to have a middleweight class.
ASL: Is there any message or greeting you would like to give your many, many fans out there?
Maslow: I am not sure that many people even know who I am. I did not do much as far as competing on the national level to have a fan fare. I am hoping that the strongman will not have so many organizations like powerlifting where it actually ruins the sport. To me when I first started competing in power lifting is when I had the most fun. There was only like two or three organizations. Now there are so many that a person can get confused. Each organization had a membership card and that got to be expensive especially if you wanted to lift in more than one organization. I would like to thank Gary and Mark for letting me join the training group. We train hard but also have a good time. Each of us helps the other person out. I would like to thank you, Justin for giving me this opportunity to show off what I have accomplished.