An interview with Mr. Don Reinhoudt
conducted on July 8th, 1998
ASL: First I would like to thank you for this truly great opportunity to interview you.
ASL: Would you care to share with us some statistical and biographical information [such as your date of birth, your measurements, your best lifts (Squat, bench, deadlift, total, body weight, body height, push press, clean and jerk, snatch, etc.), educational background, are you married?, do you have kids?)
Don Reinhoudt: My date of birth is March 6, 1945. I am six foot three inches tall. When I competed in weighed 375 pounds. My arms were 23 inches. Chest was 61 inches. My forearms were 18.5 inches. Twenty-four inch neck. I had 34 inch legs. My waist????? 51 inches.
ASL: When did you start lifting weights and when did you retire from competition?
Don Reinhoudt: I started lifting weights when I was 18 and went to college to play football. I weighed 225 pounds when I started. In High School, we didn't have weights. I came from the old school of lifting weights.
ASL: Would you care to share with us your career highlights and records that you have set?
Don Reinhoudt: My dream came true November 1973 when I won my first World's. It was wonderful, but, Justin, I really think my big breakthrough came in November of 1972 when I took third at the World's. I totaled 2150. I was scared to death. I competed with Kuc and Williams. Both were legends!!! I proved to myself that I could compete with the best. I just didn't believe in myself until then. I need to prove to myself that I could compete with the legends!
ASL: You are retired from powerlifting and strongman contests; however while you were competing, were you a professional strongman/powerlifter or did you have a business or job also?
Don Reinhoudt: I never had the pleasure to do nothing but lift weights, Justin. I always had a full time job. Many a night, I didn't eat supper until 9 P.M. My job was very physical at times. I worked at a job corps program breaking up fights etc. I have worked for youth for twenty years. My education is in accounting. I worked my first ten years as an accountant and the last twenty as a youth worker. Being as strong as I used to be was pretty cool when you think of the hours I put in before I could come and train.
ASL: Were you always that big and strong? Did you play any sports as a kid or in college?
Don Reinhoudt: Was I always strong? Not any more than anyone else. In High School, I played three sports: football, basketball and track. I was a very good athlete. I had a football scholarship for college. I could dunk a basketball at 6'3" and 225 pounds bodyweight. Needless to say, when I would dunk in a game, the back board would shake. I also received a track scholarship in the shot put and discus. In college, I played varsity football and was on the varsity track team.
ASL: Who were your heroes/idols when you were growing up?
Don Reinhoudt: I had a lot of them. I always loved football. Jimmy Brown was my football idol as a young kid. In weightlifting it was Bob Barnski in Olympic lifting. In powerlifting, it was Jon Cole, John Kuc and my friend Jimmy Williams. Anyone who could bench press 675 the way he did, it just put your mind in another world!!!
ASL: Could you name some powerlifting accomplishments or feats of strength (e.g., lifting cars, ripping phone books in half) that you have done?
Don Reinhoudt: I still do a lot of strongman feats: putting a nail through a board with my hand, ripping license plates, breaking boards with my hands, I also do. I've done a 520 pound teeth lift last year. I've blown up hot water bottles. I bend spikes too.
ASL: Could you tell us the difference you think between today's strongman and powerlifters and those who lifted at the same time as you?
Don Reinhoudt: It's hard to compare and I hate to say a lot, but I'll share this with you. I think the wraps have made the difference. Back in 1974, the IPF took away all wraps. I totaled the world record then without wraps. I squatted 950 at the Nationals without wraps and a belt. It got turned down 2-1 because of depth because I raised my toe. The lifting at the World's and Nationals were very very strict. John Kuc's 2350 total was unreal with very strict judges. Jimmy Williams 675 bench press was unreal. He took 700 on a third and had it 3/4 of the way up. If he had done it in today's meets he would have been credited with it. Can you think of what Williams would have done with a bench shirt?
ASL: Could you tell us the story about your huge milestone accomplishment of a 2400 total?
Don Reinhoudt: My 2420 total was unreal and the highlight of my strongman life! I had to make my 885.5 pound deadlift to hit the 2400 total. I did the 885.5 at 2:00 A.M in the morning in Tennessee in 1975. The meet took forever and being the last lifter was tough. Can you think what I might have deadlifted if it was done earlier? Oh well, maybe I wouldn't have done as well either. Jon Cole had the total and deadlift of 2370 and 882. I wanted it so bad.
ASL: What is it like to lift at during the beginning of the great sport of powerlifting?
Don Reinhoudt: To be a pioneer of powerlifting was a honor and a thrill of my life. In the superheavyweight class, we had GREAT role models which it was an honor to want to be like them: Pat Casey, Terry Todd, Bob Weaver, Don Cundy, Hugh Cassidy, Jon Kuc and Jim Williams. All GREAT lifters and indeed the reason powerlifting is what it is today: a great sport. They paved the way for people like myself, Kaz, Paul Wrenn, Doyle Kenady and others.
ASL: A lot was made about the rivalry between you and Bruce Wilhelm at the World's Strongest Man when he repeatedly insulted you. Would you care to comment upon him or this rivalry?
Don Reinhoudt: Bruce and I were very close personal friends. It was too bad he said the things he did. He tried to show that the Olympic lifters were better athletes than the powerlifters until I came on the scene. He had a year's advantage on me at the show, but I have always been a hard worker and I trained like a bear. When I started to beat Bruce, he came at me with a lot of insults trying to take my edge away. A lot has been made out of this, but Bruce brought it on himself. He did insult me very bad and when I got run over with the 8000 pound tram and he laughed at me, well that did it. I was hurt very badly and had to soak in a tub of ice for over an hour I was so badly injured. I thought that was pretty shitty. I set the world record in the tram, but I got hurt very badly. The guys started turning on him because he was getting shitty. I always had the utmost respect for him as he was a great athlete. His lifting and the track part speaks for itself. He was great and very smart, but I was a good athlete too and I felt it was very wrong the way he treated me. He left knowing he had a battle on his hands.
ASL: Could you tell us about your World's Strongest Man (WSM) Competition experience?
Don Reinhoudt: My experience competing at the WSM was just wonderful. I had the chance to compete with the very best. Billy Kazmaier was indeed the strongest of all. As I told Billy last weekend, he was so strong and powerful and developed into a legend. I had so much respect for him. We all should have respect for each other. That's part of life: having someone better which makes you work harder to stay ahead. Lars Hedlund-one of the all time greats. He was so powerful and talk about a great competitor. A man that never said. "I couldn't!" Bruce Wilhelm and Jon Kolb. Jon Kolb-pound for pound one of the very strongest of all time. Think of what he did at 270 bodyweight. If he had the time to train like I did. Shit I didn't know if I could beat him. I have never loved or admired a man as much as Jon. Jon Kolb is a man not only on the football field, but in life. I had the honor to meet such wonderful people. I was blessed to be able to have competed with such great athletes.
ASL: One of the most amazing feats that I have ever seen in the WSM Competition was your 1000 pound squat. Would you care to relive it for the fans?
Don Reinhoudt: My 1000 pound girl lift. It was great and wonderful. I wished I could only have dated them. They were so very beautiful! It was a wonderful feeling. I needed this lift very bad as Billy Kazmaier was so tough. It was a great feeling and a thrill to be the first to officially make a 1000 pounds.
ASL: Is there any message or greeting you would like to give your many, many fans out there?
Don Reinhoudt: I would just like to say that I'm very thankful for what powerlifting did for me. It gave me a chance to meet a lot of wonderful people and travel. It also gave me a lot of self-esteem and made me feel good about myself. It gave me a chance to grow as a person. I also gave me a tool to work for our youth. I just hope that the others who are carrying on the great sport of power can continue on as myself, Kaz, Pacificio, Anello and many other greats did back in the 60's, 70's and 80's to make powerlifting what it is today. We all had the love of our GREAT SPORT and tried to give back. I also would like to thank the many wonderful fans who followed my career and for those who were with me win. lose or draw and my biggest fan MY GREAT AND LOVING WIFE, CINDY!!!!! without her this dream would have come true.
ASL: Thank you very much Mr. Reinhoudt. It certainly is true that a nicer man than Don Reinhoudt, you cannot meet. Best of luck to you in the future.