To Top

Powerlifting Legends Of The Golden Era: Full Exclusive Interviews With Vince Anello, Jan Todd, & Rickey Dale Crain

Under the leadership of the new owner, Denny Kakos, Iron Man Magazine is returning to its glory days by featuring the sport of powerlifting on a regular basis. To demonstrate our commitment to powerlifting coverage, we are interviewing legends of the sport that competed during The Golden Era of Bodybuilding. All three of these exceptional athletes were the best of their time, and they were featured in the book Inside Powerlifting written by Terry Todd and published in 1978. Just as these interviews inform and inspire readers, they also serve as a “where are they now” as we take this opportunity to honor those who paved the way for subsequent generations of powerlifters worldwide. Interviews by B.C. Vasquez

Vince Anello Interview


B.C. Vasquez: I want to personally thank you for this opportunity to interview you on behalf of Iron Man Magazine. You were among the champion athletes featured in the book Inside Powerlifting that inspired me when I was introduced to the sport as a teen.


Vince Anello:  It’s an honor. I loved reading Iron Man Magazine, and I have hundreds of issues in my garage. I’m glad to hear that Iron Man is covering powerlifting again.   


B.C. Vasquez: Would you please share some biographical information with us? What is your current occupation?


Vince Anello: I was born and raised in Cleveland, OH. I was born in 1947. I was a Phys Ed. teacher for a while. I’ve been training people as a personal trainer since 1968. I did it part-time on the side until I opened Anello Body Fitness in 2000. Opening Anello Body Fitness was my one big goal. Since the pandemic, I train all of my clients mentally and physically online. I train people for everything. I train athletes and senior citizens. I help athletes of all different sports. I help people gain weight, lose weight, I help people with everything.


B.C. Vasquez: Did you participate in any sports as a child or in college? Were you always exceptionally muscular and strong? What drew you to the sport of powerlifting, and when did you start competing? 


Vince Anello: I played football and wrestled in high school. I was pretty well-developed in high school, but that’s not what got me into lifting. I wasn’t muscular or strong. The reason that I started lifting was because I was a short little fat kid that was bullied in elementary school. I started lifting in third grade because I got bullied. It was so bad that I would go against the building at recess and cry. I started training in third grade, and I never stopped. In third grade, I also started reading about bodybuilding in magazines because girls liked the guys in bodybuilding. I began powerlifting in the late 60’s at Vince’s Gym in Cleveland OH. Vince, the gym owner, encouraged me to get into powerlifting. When I made a 350-pound deadlift, he said that it was great. He also encouraged me to train all the body parts like a bodybuilder to help me with powerlifting. He also got me into mental training, too. I still use the techniques that he taught me. Psychology was my minor in college. Vince got me started in the late 60’s, and I won my first world’s in 1972.


B.C. Vasquez: With the growing popularity of bodybuilding at the time, did you ever consider competing in bodybuilding? If so, why did you or why didn’t you compete in bodybuilding? 


Vince Anello: Yes. I did compete in bodybuilding, before and after my powerlifting career. Before powerlifting, I had some success in bodybuilding. I won Mr. Cleveland a few times, I won 3rd most muscular and best arms in 1967 Mr. Teenage America, I won states and other shows, but I didn’t really pursue it like I did powerlifting because I had a lot more success in powerlifting. You have to change your diet to get into bodybuilding. I couldn’t do bodybuilding and powerlifting at the same time because of different diets. For strength, you are going to have a different diet than for getting cut. After I retired from powerlifting, I went into bodybuilding again. I won Mr. Cleveland and other shows after I retired. I have over 500 trophies.


B.C. Vasquez:  In your youth, did you have any heroes or role models that inspired you to excel?


Vince Anello: Bob Peoples and Larry Pacifico were my role models. Larry also told me how to grow my business.


B.C. Vasquez:  How long did your powerlifting career span?


Vince Anello: I competed in powerlifting from the late 60’s to 1996. Towards the end of my career, I switched from conventional to sumo deadlifting and my hip was starting to hurt. I decided to retire from powerlifting competition because of injuries. In 2003, I had one hip replacement, and in 2016 I had another hip replacement. 


Let me tell you a story. We went to this gym after my hip replacements a few years ago, I was doing slow and controlled repetitions. This guy made a 405 deadlift, which is good. He’s trying to tell me how to train. He said, “pick a weight you can do for 10.” I responded with – sir, I train the way that I want to train, and it’s my way of training. He says “I’m trying to tell you what to do. Pick a weight you can do for 10.” I was warmed up, so I told him okay sir, let me try this… So I took the 405 and did 10 with it. So he said – “who the hell are you?” I told him that I was just some old man trying to get some aerobics, I would never have done that, but he just kept pushing it.   


B.C. Vasquez:  What were your best lifts, both in training and competition?


Vince Anello: My best squat was 750 weighing just over 200 in training and 705 at 220 in competition. My best raw bench press in training was 500, but I don’t recall my best official bench press. My best deadlift was 880 weighing just around 200 in training and 821 at 198 in competition. 


B.C. Vasquez:  What titles did you win? What records did you set?


Vince Anello: I won five world titles and even more national titles. I won 1972, 1977, 1978, and 1980 IPF World Men’s Powerlifting Championships. I also won the 1987 APF Master’s World Powerlifting Championships. I won the best bench press at the Master’s World, and that’s my least favorite lift. I set 20 world records in the deadlift with my greatest lift being 821 at 198. 


B.C. Vasquez:  Are there any other feats of strength that you would like to share?

Vince Anello: “Crazy” Bob and I did strength acts. We did strength exhibitions for the kids, and we also performed in prisons. The acts included breaking bricks with our bare hands, bending bars, blowing up hot water bottles, doing backlifts with people on a table, and breaking handcuffs. 


B.C. Vasquez:  What did you think of the top bodybuilders of the time – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, etc.? Did you ever train with any of them?


Vince Anello: I thought that they were all great guys and dedicated to their sport. They all had a positive mindset as a common denominator. I liked Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu because they’re Italian (like me). Arnold was the funniest. I didn’t train with any of them, but I sat next to Arnold at a party following the 1976 Hawaiian Invitational. It was a pleasure meeting him in person.


B.C. Vasquez: What training regimen did you follow as a competitive powerlifter? 


Vince Anello: I changed it up often, and I tried many types of programs. As a powerlifter, I trained all three lifts in one day because that’s how it’s done in competition. I trained three days a week – a day for light powerlifts, a day for heavy powerlifts, and a day for bodybuilding exercises. I also realized the best gains with partial lifts and rack work in all three lifts.


B.C. Vasquez: Some have called you “Mr. Deadlift” because of your amazing strength in that lift. What was the secret of your success?


Vince Anello: I realized my best deadlift gains by doing Negative Accentuated Deadlifts. I would unrack the barbell from the pins (at lockout), do a slow negative, and stop before the positive. I follow a lot of Vince’s powerlifting and mental training even now. I lost my training journals. One of the journals that I lost had when I pulled an 880 deadlift in training. I pulled 750, 800, and I wanted to put 820 on (the bar). They said it was 820, so I lifted it, and it was kind of hard, but I finished it. When I was done, my coach (Vince) told me that he had misloaded the bar with 880. That goes to show the power of the mind. I weighed about 200 pounds at the time.


B.C. Vasquez: How did you approach your diet and nutrition as a competitive powerlifter? 


Vince Anello: I changed my diet so often. I ate 6-7 times a day. I ate a lot of protein. It was a very high protein diet. I was able to eat 3-4 pounds of beef at a time. I would also have chicken, fish, cottage cheese, and protein shakes. I would try to eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. I watched my carbs, but I ate some fruits, vegetables, and grains. My fats came from dairy, meat, and nuts. Despite being Italian, I avoided pasta. When I ate pasta, I would get a visualization of myself as a little fat slob, so I didn’t eat it.


B.C. Vasquez: Of your five world titles, which is the most memorable and why? 


Vince Anello: I loved every powerlifting championship that I won. It was an honor to compete with the greatest lifters in the world. All five world championships were great experiences. I was honored to represent the U.S. among the best powerlifters in the world. It was also an honor to compete in powerlifting, the “world’s strongest sport.” These are the world’s strongest athletes. I don’t consider myself to be better than any of them. I consider myself to be one of them.


B.C. Vasquez: What do you consider the greatest honor of your powerlifting career?


Vince Anello: I have one thing that stands out, but it’s not in a meet. When I was growing up, my parents took me to the York Barbell Hall of Fame. I would spend the whole day reading about the different strength feats of the people in there. It inspired me. It was the greatest honor of my career when I was inducted into the York Barbell Hall of Fame in 1998. That was the ultimate honor. 


Shortly after that, I met my wife Suzanne in 1999, and she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. She was also a Phys Ed. teacher, loved animals, and was dedicated to fitness. She is also very intelligent and has helped me with my business.  I train my wife, and she is in great shape at 74. In better shape than many people in their 20’s. The only problem with training my wife is when I tell her to grab a dumbbell, she grabs my head. 


B.C. Vasquez: I know that powerlifting isn’t your only passion. What would you like to share about your adopted family, those amazing greyhounds?


Vince Anello: Me and my wife started adopting Greyhounds in 2000. I have had dogs all of my life. My wife and I fell in love with greyhounds through her son Jonathan. After that, I decided to adopt greyhounds. These are greyhounds that were retired from racing. We have had a total of 10 greyhounds, as many as 5 at a time. They come to the gym with me, and in 2010 two of them went with me to the York Barbell Hall of Fame to see their daddy. I have loved all animals throughout my life. They all have a right to be here. As a teen, I rescued an owl and nursed it back to health. When I was teaching, one of my students gave me a rabbit that became the class pet. We named him “Bondini.” 


B.C. Vasquez:  How do you believe that powerlifting has evolved over the decades? 


Vince Anello: When I was competing there was only one federation and one world championship. Today, there are many federations and championships. I believe that there should be only one world champion. I also believe that the supportive gear is getting out of hand. With the advances in supportive gear, I believe that muscle development is going down too. I haven’t followed powerlifting much recently, but I’ve talked to people in different federations and they are all nice people who are part of the world’s strongest sport.


B.C. Vasquez:  Do you believe that there are any powerlifting constants that have stood the test of time? 


Vince Anello: The common denominator for success in powerlifting has been, is, and always will be a positive mindset. The common denominator for success in anything in life is a positive mindset. 


B.C. Vasquez:  Do you have any advice for present and aspiring powerlifters?


Vince Anello: Set a goal and use a Pitbull mindset. Bite into it and don’t let it go.


Jan Todd Interview

B.C. Vasquez: Thank you for this opportunity to interview you on behalf of Iron Man Magazine. You were among the champion athletes featured in the book Inside Powerlifting that inspired me when I was introduced to the sport as a teen.


Jan Todd: Thank you for asking me to do this—and also for letting me know the role Inside Powerlifting played in your life. Since Terry passed away in 2018, I’ve had a number of people tell me that reading Inside Powerlifting inspired them to begin lifting and it always makes me happy to think that Terry’s work made such an impact on people’s lives.  As you probably know, it’s become a true collector’s item–which is why I am re-issuing it later this year with an updated introduction. 


B.C. Vasquez: Would you please share some biographical information with us? Where were you born and raised? What is your education and occupation?


Jan Todd: Before I married Terry, I was known as Janice or Jan Suffolk.  My mother, Wilma Yerty, was sent to nursing school by the military during WWII, and my father, James Suffolk,  served in WWII and then worked in the steel mill in Donora, Pennsylvania where my paternal grandfather and uncle also worked. I had an older sister Susan, who passed away when she was 11, and my wonderful, younger sister, Linda Carlisle, is a registered nurse and lives in Plant City, Florida. 


We moved constantly when I was a kid… from Pennsylvania to Illinois, to El Paso, Texas, then Beeville, Texas, then to Tampa, Florida where my folks split up when I was 12.  My mom, younger sister and I, then moved to Plant City, Florida, where I attended high school, graduating in 1970, and from there I went to Mercer University in Macon Georgia.  At Mercer, I double-majored in English and Philosophy—and also happened to meet an unusually muscular faculty member there named Terry Todd.  We married during my senior year, and after I finished my undergrad degree in 1974, I was admitted to the master’s program and completed my master’s in English and Education in 1976.  Later, after my lifting career was winding down and we had moved to Texas, I took a Ph.D. Degree in American Studies, having decided I wanted to write about the history of strength and exercise and finished that degree in 1995. My doctoral dissertation was a history of women’s exercise in the 19th century and it became my first solo book –titled Physical Culture and the Body Beautiful which was published in 1999. My most recent book (2019) is called Strength Coaching in America: A History of the Innovation that Transformed Sport. It is also Terry’s last book—as he was a co-author on it, as is Jason Shurley of the University of Wisconsin. 


I am now a full professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education.  I direct the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sport that Terry and I founded, and I also direct the Physical Culture and Sport Studies Ph.D. program.  I also continue to direct the Arnold Strongman Classic now that Terry is gone, with help from Steve Slater and an incredible crew of friends in Ohio—including Rogue Fitness.   It’s been a busy life—but I’m not done yet. 


B.C. Vasquez: Did you participate in any sports as a child or in college? Were you always exceptionally strong? What drew you to the sport of powerlifting, and when did you start competing?  


Jan Todd: Because I grew up before Title IX passed, my sports opportunities were pretty limited as a child. I was always physically active, but my high school didn’t have women’s teams—except in swimming—which I did my freshman and sophomore years but then quit when I got involved with the school paper. I played softball one summer on a parks and rec team, but otherwise what I learned about sports was only what I learned in gym class. 


The first time I ever thought about strength was when I was a freshman in college and I went to visit my father—who was living with a new wife near Chicago.  We went to the Field Museum and they had a display of old carnival machines and one of them was a grip tester—where you squeezed the handles as hard as you could and it would register your score in pounds of pressure.  My dad was a fairly big man, 6’, 230 pounds or so, and the manual labor he did in the steel mills had given him noticeable muscles and to my young, untrained eyes he seemed like a really strong guy.  Anyway,  when we tried the grip machine, my grip was better than his.  We both thought it was a mistake…and laughed…but when we tried it again, I still beat him.  Weirdly,  I never thought much more about that after that day because strength was not on my radar yet… but when I  started dating Terry, he tried to impress me one night by showing me that he could bend a beer cap in half with his fingers, using his bent forefinger as the base for one edge of the cap, and then crushing it with his thumb.  I could do that pretty easily it turned out—and so he then told me it was much harder to do if you kept both fingers straight which was how Mac Bachelor, the legendary old-time strongman did it—and to his great surprise, I was able to do that too.  He told me years later it was one of the most astonishing things he’d ever seen in his time in the strength world. And, I can still do it—although now I know what a blessing it is to have good hand strength. 


 As for my start in lifting, that began in 1973, after I married Terry in November of that year.  In the beginning, I was just tagging along to the gym to keep him company, but during the Christmas holidays we came to Austin to be with his family, and he took me to this wonderful gym, called The Texas Athletic Club, where there were powerlifters as well as bodybuilders, and I saw a woman doing deadlifts.  She had lifted as a 114 pounder on their team in an otherwise all-male powerlifting meet, and I was intrigued by how much weight she had on the bar, and so I asked if I could do some with her. We both made 225, and on the way home, I asked Terry about it all and he told me about some of the old-time strongwomen like Katie Sandwina—and when we got to his parent’s house he had a Guinness Book that contained a few women’s lifting records.  I read there that in France, in 1926, a woman named Jane de Vesley had deadlifted 392 pounds and when Terry then said he thought I could probably beat that with training–I thought it would be cool to try. 


 I didn’t plan, however, to become a powerlifter, because there was no women’s powerlifting yet.  I decided to train because I thought it would be fun to say I was in the Guinness Book… which was my original motivation.   


B.C. Vasquez: How would you describe women’s competitive powerlifting when you began in the 70’s?  


Jan Todd: After we got back from Texas, Terry helped create a routine for me—which focused simply on the deadlift.  I did some squats—and hated them—and benched, but because there were no women’s meets, Terry had told me that we’d be doing the lift probably as an exhibition at a men’s meet—which is exactly what happened in 1975 when I pulled 394.5 pounds at the Chattanooga Open in Tennessee and got in the Guinness Book for the first time. At that meet, I also met Cindy Reinhoudt and Rebecca Joubert who had been allowed to enter the meet and compete against the men. This was also probably the first time that more than one woman entered a powerlifting contest—although I can’t really verify that.  Cindy, of course, was the wife of Don Reinhoudt, the reigning super heavyweight champion at the time, and Rebecca was being assisted at the meet by the legendary powerlifter John Kuc.  Many of the women who participated in powerlifting in the late 1970s were brought to the sport by their friendships or relationships with male lifters. Because of the passage of Title IX, however, we began to gradually see women gravitating to the sport from track and field—who’d learned to lift weights in college—and wanted to continue lifting. 


In Chattanooga, Cindy and I talked about how great it would be to have an official women’s meet—and to have real records being kept—but it would be several more years before that happened.  The first “nationally” sanctioned women’s contest wasn’t held until 1977.  It was called the All American Women’s Open. The following year in 1978, we had the first true national championships for women.  The International Powerlifting Federation didn’t sanction a world championship until 1979. 


B.C. Vasquez:  Did you ever consider bodybuilding at any point in your powerlifting career? If so, why did you or why didn’t you compete in bodybuilding? 


Jan Todd: Bodybuilding for women started slightly later than women’s powerlifting and, frankly, it held no appeal for me.  By the time it began to gain prominence, I had already decided to see how strong I could become…and for me that also meant I chose to gain weight—like men do—so I could be stronger. 


B.C. Vasquez:  In your youth, did you have any heroes, heroines, or role models that inspired you?  


Jan Todd: My mother—first and foremost.  I also had teachers that inspired me in high school—but since I didn’t play sports—and we didn’t see much in the way of women’s sports on TV in my childhood, I didn’t really have sport role models until I went to college and I became aware of Billie Jean King and her work to promote equality for women athletes.  I especially remember when she started Women’s Sports magazine in 1974, which was the same year I really started training.  She published an article in the magazine about her own weight training regimen for tennis—that made a big impression on me—and helped normalize what I was trying to do somehow.  It made me feel it was OK to try hard and really explore strength. 


B.C. Vasquez:  How long did your powerlifting career span?  


Jan Todd: I was in ten years of competition, I lifted in only one meet in which I did not exceed at least one national or world record. I lifted in five different bodyweight divisions and set world records in all of them. .  In front of witnesses in Austin, Texas, in 1980, I lifted 1230 pounds (with straps) in a partial deadlift while training to lift the Dinnie Stones.  My Guinness recognized record in this lift is 925 pounds—done on a TV special in Las Vegas. 


B.C. Vasquez:  What were your best lifts, both in training and competition? What titles did you win? What records did you set? 


Jan Todd: The following is a list of my competitive accomplishments taken from my vita 


Broke the Guinness Book of Records 49-year old record in the two-hand deadlift with a lift of 394.5 pounds in my first competition.  Chattanooga, Tennessee.


First woman to officially exceed 400 pounds in any powerlift with a deadlift of 412 pounds, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. 


First officially sanctioned Women’s Powerlifting Championships, Nashua, New Hampshire—Gold Medal. 


First woman to officially squat more than 400 pounds. 


First woman to total over 1,000 pounds in the three powerlifts (squat, bench press, and deadlift), Stephenville Crossing, Newfoundland, Canada.  This got me into Sports Illustrated where I was featured in a long article called “The Pleasure of being the World’s Strongest Woman.” That led to the Johnny Carson show, etc. 


First woman to total over 1100 pounds in the three powerlifts, Stephenville Crossing, Newfoundland, Canada. 


Lifted the highest total of any woman in the First IPF Women’s World Championships, Billerica, Massachusetts.  However, I was not considered the winner—as the IPF had an A team and B team and I was on the B Team—so Ann Turbyne was called world champion.  But I out-totaled her. 


First woman to exceed 500 pounds in any powerlift: 507-pound squat, Memphis, Tennessee. 


First woman to total over 1200 pounds in the three powerlifts, Atlanta, Georgia.  


Established my greatest world records in the heavyweight division: squat: 545.5 pounds, deadlift: 479 pounds, and total: 1229.5 pounds.  


1981 First athlete (male or female) to establish a world record in the newly formed American Drug-Free Powerlifting Association: 446-pound deadlift at a body weight of 148 pounds, Mobile, Alabama. 

IPF World record deadlift of 474.5 pounds at a bodyweight of 146 pounds. 


American Drug-Free National Powerlifting Championships—Gold Medal.  


American Record deadlift: 463.5 pounds at a bodyweight of 163.


1996 American Master’s Record in deadlift of 425 pounds.  American Drug-Free Powerlifting  Association, Austin, Texas. 


With former men’s world champion, Larry Pacifico, I also set a man-woman deadlift record at 1100 pounds—which I believe still stands. 


From 1975 to 1986, I was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having lifted more weight than any other woman in history and was called by Sports Illustrated “, People, and many other media outlets, “The Strongest Woman in the World.” 


BC Vasquez: What can you tell us about training with Bill Kazmaier while being coached by your late husband, Terry Todd?


Jan Todd: In the winter of 1980-1981 Bill Kazmaier and I trained together at Auburn University with Terry as our coach. We decided to compete in a meet at Georgia College in Columbus, Georgia, where there would be IPF judges who could sanction world records for us—if we made them.  On 31 January 1981, Bill and I both set new all-time world total records. I made my highest squat of 545.5 pounds (247.4 kg) and highest deadlift of 481.5 lbs  (218.5 kg) on that day for a 1229.7 lbs (558.2 kg) total.   Kazmaier set a new men’s all-time total record by squatting a world record 925.9 lbs (420 kg), benching a world record 661.4 lbs (300 kg), and deadlifting 837.8 lbs (380 kg). The biggest moment in that contest is captured in this photo as Kaz became the first man to officially bench 300 kilos (in a T-shirt)—a truly historic moment.  Terry had every right to feel proud of himself as a coach at the end of that day, and Kaz and I knew how lucky we were to have him.


BC Vasquez: Are there any other feats of strength that you would like to share with us?


Jan Todd: I was the first woman to lift the famous Dinnie Stones in Scotland. (In the highlands of Scotland, lifting boulders was one of the rites of passage into manhood, thus they are called “manhood stones.”)  This feat was not matched by another woman until 2018.  


BC Vasquez: What other relevant achievements, awards, and honors can you share with us?


Jan Todd: I was directly involved in the development of the sport of women’s powerlifting.  I drafted the first rules to govern women’s competitions and helped to organize the first national women’s meet in 1977 which was run by Joe Zarella.   When I moved back to the United States from Canada, in 1979, I was officially appointed as Chairwoman of the United States Powerlifting Federation’s Women’s Committee, a post I held until 1984.  I wrote the first constitution for the Women’s Committee of the USPF; and was elected to the USPF Executive Committee (for men and women) in 1979, the first woman to serve in that post.  


In addition, I served from 1979 to 1984 as Chairwoman of the International Powerlifting Federation’s Women’s Committee and helped to draft the international rules for women. 


I was the first woman inducted into the International Powerlifting Hall of Fame (1981). 


In 1981 (Calcutta, India) and in 1984 (Dallas, Texas) I coached the USPF’s Men’s World Championship Team.  Both teams won first place in the world championships. 


I was also head coach in 1981 and 1984 of the USPF Women’s World Championships Teams, both of which won their respective titles. 


 At the collegiate level, my University of Texas Longhorns dominated the ADFPA Men’s and Women’s National Collegiate Championships from 1986-1996.


Honors and Awards Related to Sport 


2019 Lifetime Achievement Award, Presented by the Arnold Sports Festival, Columbus, Ohio, March 2019


2018 Induction to International Sports Hall of Fame, Columbus, Ohio.  Induction Ceremony in March 2018. 


2009      Inducted into National Fitness Hall of Fame, Chicago, Illinois.


2008      Recipient Oscar Heidenstam Lifetime Achievement Award, London, England, for contributions to the field of physical education.


2004       Inducted, Inaugural Class, USAPL Women’s Powerlifting Hall of Fame.


2000      John Grimek Award for contributions to the study of strength training and physical culture, Italian Bodybuilding Federation, Sapri, Italy. 


2000      Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Pan American Powerlifting Federation, Chicago, Illinois.


1992 Lifetime Achievement Award, Old Time Barbell and Strongman Association, September 1992. 


1989 President’s Award, National Strength and Conditioning Association, for contributions to the profession. June 1989. 


1981 First woman inducted into International Powerlifting Hall of Fame. 


B.C. Vasquez: You were married to the late Terry Todd when he wrote the book Inside Powerlifting, and you were the only female powerlifter featured. What could you tell us about Terry, the book, your contribution, and the multitude of people that it inspired?


Jan Todd: Inside Powerlifting was not Terry’s first book. His first was Fitness for Athletes, published in May 1978 by Contemporary Books, with co-author Dick Hoover. Terry was invited to help re-write and complete Fitness for Athletes by the editors at Contemporary Books and his success with it allowed him to pitch the idea of a book on the relatively unknown sport of powerlifting for Contemporary’s “Inside ___” (name your sport) series.  The company was not immediately sold on the idea, but Terry proved persuasive. The end result was not just the first book ever written on the sport, but a book that many believe truly launched powerlifting.   In Inside Powerlifting, Terry chose two men to profile related to squat training: Marvin Phillips and Ricky Crain; two men for the bench press: Mike McDonald and Doug Young; two men for the deadlift: Don Reinhoudt and Vince Anello; and three people for the total: Ron Collins, Larry Pacifico, and me.  


The reason the book had such impact wasn’t just that it lionized the nine of us as celebrities—it was because it contained training secrets and gave precise descriptions on how to train.  And, in the days before the internet, there were also lots of photos (many of which I took) that showed the lifts done sequentially so you could see good form.  The main thing about it, however, was that Terry was such a skillful, funny, and clever writer. You may recall that he covered most of the big meets for Iron Man in the 1970s. The way he covered those meets was different than other journalists…he made the men into characters—and heroes…and so as Larry Pacifico wrote for the introduction to Inside Powerlifting, his voice really mattered.  If I can, I’ll just quote Larry here for a minute… this is written by Larry:  “I truly feel that one of the main reasons our sport has grown so rapidly . . . is because of Terry Todd. . . .  His unique descriptions of powerlifting and powerlifters have literally changed the sport. Rarely, if ever, has a sports journalist been able to influence in a major way the sport he writes about, but that’s exactly what Todd has done. . . .When he shows up at a lifting event, that event becomes more important, because lifters know that what they do with him watching will live on through his accurate, honest words. His presence helps lifters extend themselves—they make lifts they otherwise wouldn’t be capable of just to see how Todd will write about it.” 


B.C. Vasquez: What training regimen did you follow as a competitive powerlifter?


Jan Todd: I began following a basic periodization program around 1979 that really helped increase my strength.  I lifted 6 days a week—and did heavy partial movements in the power rack for squat and deadlift as well as the traditional lifts.  I never did singles in training—even right before a meet, Terry believed it was important to go to a meet without missing—so you didn’t lose confidence.  My routine is included in a book we published in 1985 called Lift Your Way to Youthful Fitness—and Bill Pearl also included it in his book Getting Stronger as his model for powerlifting. 


B.C. Vasquez:  What did you think of the top male bodybuilders of the time – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, etc.? 


Jan Todd: In the late 1970s Terry and I would sometimes come to Santa Monica and train at Golds or Worlds. The only one on the list above I can say I really trained with was Frank Zane—and that was only once as I recall but we obviously knew and admired all four of them, and have been friends with all of them for many years. Since Terry and I began running the Arnold Strongman Classic in 2002—which I’ve continued to run since he passed away–I’ve actually seen more of these bodybuilders from the “golden era” than I have some of the powerlifters of the 1970. 


As for working out with Frank– I had done heavy squats that day and I normally followed those with heavy partial deadlifts in the rack that I pulled from two positions.  Terry and Doug Young were also there as I recall, and Frank became interested and asked me a bunch of questions about what I was doing because my traps were so large at that time. Later, he made mention in one of his articles that he had started doing heavy partial deadlifts to build his traps and that he’d learned it from me.  It made my day, to see that in print. 


I’ve also trained some with Bill Pearl who I have great admiration for, but that’s because Terry and I have stayed with Bill and Judy at their home in Oregon and we’ve also been to other places with them and were able to go to the gym.  


B.C. Vasquez: What did you think of female bodybuilders of the time? Did you ever train with any of them?  


Jan Todd: Cory Everson remains my favorite bodybuilder from the “Golden Era. The evolution of her body was simply amazing.  I first met her when she was still in college on the track team and had not yet started bodybuilding.  Her first husband, Jeff, was a strength coach, and because Terry and I were also involved with that community, we became friends.  She and I have stayed in touch over the years—see each other at the Arnold generally– although I don’t see her as much as I’d like.  The last time I was with her, sadly, was at Franco Columbu’s funeral, when she and Teegan Clive and I all sat together.  It was a very sad day…but made better by the fact that I was with two women I so admired. 


B.C. Vasquez: I know that powerlifting isn’t your only passion, as you have researched and written extensively about iron game history. Could you please tell us about the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports?  


Jan Todd: When Terry was a doctoral student he wanted to write about the history of strength and weightlifting and quickly realized that libraries in the 1960s were not buying weightlifting books or magazines. Because of this, we later decided to begin collecting materials on strength and training—and over the years have built a research library, archives, and museum dedicated to the history of strength and fitness.  Many of our materials are online for free—including all the back issues of Iron Game History, the journal we began publishing in 1990.  Go to Stark Center and you will be surprised at what you will find.  I should add that without Joe and Betty Weider we would not have been able to build the Center.  They were early and important donors and allowed us to create the Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture. The entire center is named in honor of Lutcher Stark (also a weightlifter and a regent at The University of Texas) whose foundation provided the primary funding for our project. 


B.C. Vasquez:  How do you believe that powerlifting has evolved over the decades? 


Jan Todd: I’ve written about this in a series of articles in IGH which people might want to read as I discuss the breakup of the USPF, the rise of the use of gear, and so on.  You can find them through our Stark website for free.  While I generally admire the Libertarian position that suggests we should all do what we want as long as it isn’t hurting someone else, I still wish we were all in one unified sport, with one unified set of rules.  The current landscape of powerlifting is confusing to the general public and has robbed our sport of having a clearly defined set of records and champions.  I’m just not sure that having to have record certificates that specify “raw” or “equipped” really helps our sport’s stature. 


B.C. Vasquez:  Do you have any advice for present and aspiring powerlifters?  


Jan Todd: Advice?  Probably just what I try to pass along whenever I talk to women about strength…and that’s that we should not allow physical strength to be considered the sole domain of males — any more than we would speed, or flexibility.  Strength is in all humans—yet it’s only really been in the last 40+ years that we’ve seen women try to see how really strong they can become.  We need to honor that choice—and applaud those women who continue to push down strength’s barriers.  I find myself constantly blown away by the modern records set in powerlifting and by what pro-strongwomen are now lifting. The truth is we have no idea how strong women can truly become…

Just imagine how strong women might be if we also had had centuries of records and training and role models to look back on for inspiration– as men do.



Rickey Dale Crain Interview


B.C. Vasquez: Thank you for this opportunity to interview you on behalf of Iron Man Magazine. You were among the champion athletes featured in the book Inside Powerlifting that inspired me when I was introduced to the sport as a teen. Would you please share some biographical information with us? What is your current occupation?


Rickey Dale Crain: I was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1953. Though my family is from Oklahoma, I was raised in California, Colorado, South Dakota, and back to Oklahoma. I’ve had the same job for 43 years. I started my business in 1978 as a mail-order company selling not only powerlifting products, but strength training products, and a few bodybuilding products. We expanded a few years later to have a training center, and sell other people’s products while manufacturing our own product line, too, The business began as Crain Power Plus in the beginning, and we use Crain’s Muscle World on our gym, and we use just Crain ( on our mail order.


B.C. Vasquez: Did you participate in any sports as a child or in college? 


Rickey Dale Crain: My dad (Don Crain) has involved me, my brother (Randy Lee), and my sister (Gayla Sue) in all sorts of sports – Baseball, Football, Track & Field.. Primarily those (sports) I would think. In high school, I not only ran track, I played football, and I ran track one year in college. Before it was changed to a 100-meter dash, I did run a 9.9 100-yard dash. I was actually better at the 40-, 50-, 60-yard dash. I ran a 4.3 40 back in “the day” when these guys are doing it now. So I was fairly good at track.  I kind of was involved in all sports all the way through junior high, high school, and college. I also did a bit of weightlifting and bodybuilding. 


B.C. Vasquez: Were you always exceptionally muscular and strong? What drew you to the sport of powerlifting, and when did you start competing? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I don’t know if you could say we were always strong. We had good genetics to start with, good DNA, and we trained quite a bit for somebody that age, not only on powerlifting, but we did Olympic lifting and my dad would have us do track and field with that. My dad was our reason for getting into powerlifting, and why we were even lifting weights at all. He started me and my brother training in powerlifting and Olympic lifting when we were 2, 3, 4 years old. Later, he also started my sister around the same age with the same approach.


Our first competition was an Olympic lifting meet in 1963 at the Berkeley YMCA, and it was a boys weightlifting meet. I was 10, and my brother was 8 at the time and we both won our divisions and did pretty good. At the same age, I did a 200-pound deadlift weighing 66 pounds, and my brother did a 150-pound deadlift weighing 50 pounds. My brother and I competed in our first powerlifting meet two years later at ages 12 and 10.


B.C. Vasquez: With the growing popularity of bodybuilding at the time, did you ever consider competing in bodybuilding? If so, why did you or why didn’t you compete in bodybuilding? 


Rickey Dale Crain: As we grew up and became serious about powerlifting, my dad would take me and my brother to the Berkeley YMCA on weekends. In the late 50’s and early 60’s, the Berkeley YMCA was the place (to train) if you were a powerlifter, a bodybuilder, or an athlete. I mean Jack Lalanne trained there sometimes. All of these famous Olympic lifters that were in the Bay Area trained there, like Tommy Kono. People from all three sports (bodybuilding, powerlifting, and weightlifting) trained there. I gravitated towards powerlifting because I was better at it to begin with and when you are like 8 or 10 years old you can work out like crazy and not have a lot of muscle to show for it. I wasn’t really aimed at bodybuilding even though I knew the bodybuilders in the area, I watched them train. Also, powerlifting was good for sports. We participated in a lot of sports so we would use powerlifting to help us get stronger and faster for our sports. Since my dad did a few (bodybuilding competitions), I had a little bit of affinity for watching it. The reason that I did anything at all is because I always tried to keep my bodyweight down whether I was in the 148 or 165-pound class. I would train 10 or 15 pounds over that, and then I’d cut back to those weight classes. When I cut back those last few weeks, I was doing dieting and lots of things that would help get you ripped and cut-up. I would make weight in the powerlifting meet and find out that I didn’t look too bad. I was kind of ripped up. South Dakota at the time had their first Mr. South Dakota competition in the mid-70’s. We wanted to have a decent turn out for the first show, so we had our state powerlifting meet that day, and then that night we had our first Mr. South Dakota bodybuilding championship. Probably three fourths of the people in the show were powerlifters who competed in powerlifting. I ended up winning the first year they had it. Then I came in second place the second year they had it. That was it, Those were my two bodybuilding shows. I decided that it was alright, but I’d rather stick with my powerlifting.   


B.C. Vasquez: In your youth, did you have any heroes or role models that inspired you to excel? 


Rickey Dale Crain: Jerry Jones was sort of my favorite powerlifter. He was from Minnesota. He was the first guy to squat 800 under 200 pounds bodyweight. He was unconventional. He had long blond hair and then a wig later on. He had sparkly stuff on his shoes and his belt. He played Led Zeppelin as he was walking up to the platform. Every teenager’s dream was to be like Jerry Jones in the powerlifting field. I guess when you’re a 16 year old kid, you kind of gravitate toward people like that. Plus, he was an incredible squatter at the time, one of the best in the world for a number of years. That was another reason that I gravitated towards him since I was a really good squatter. When I started my business in 1978, I had my brother, who’s a fairly good artist, draw me a logo based on Jerry Jones, and I still have that same logo now. You can look at the logo for Crain’s Muscle World for the last 42 years and there’s a little JJ on the guy’s belt. 


B.C. Vasquez: How long did your powerlifting career span? What were your best lifts, both in training and competition? 


Rickey Dale Crain: Well, my first meet was 1963 and my last meet was 2004, so 41 years. At 165. my best squat in competition was 800, and my best squat in training was 810. In the bench press, my best was 460 weighing about 170 in competition, which is better than I did in training. I also bench pressed 440 at 165 in a three lift meet. I did that in the same competition that I did the 800 squat. On my deadlift, the best in competition was a 733 weighing about 170. Around the same bodyweight, I did 738 in training. My best competition deadlift at 165 was 716, which was a new IPF World Record set at the 1983 USPF Senior Nationals. I pulled my first 700 deadlift in training while dropping to the 148 class. I weighed 152 at the time


B.C. Vasquez: What titles did you win? What records did you set? Are there any other feats of strength that you would like to share? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I’ve been a 3-time IPF World Champion, 2-time WPC World Champion, and an AAU World Champion. I’ve also set a bunch of national, international, and world records throughout my career. I don’t know if you’d call them feats of strength, but I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff. After retiring from powerlifting competition, I started climbing 14,000 foot (mountain) peaks in Colorado. There are 54 of them, and I’ve climbed 18 or 19 of them so far.


B.C. Vasquez: What training regimen did you follow as a competitive powerlifter? 


Rickey Dale Crain: It was basic periodization which is what everyone has used for 50, 60, 70 years. Pretty much, we would do upper body twice a week and lower body twice a week. Like right now, Monday and Thursday we’re doing bench press and all the upper body exercises that go with it. And on Tuesday we squat and do the supplementary work that goes with it. And on Friday we deadlift and do the supplementary work that goes with it. We do any miscellaneous training like pulling sleds and cardio on Wednesdays and Saturdays so it doesn’t interfere with our powerlifting training.


B.C. Vasquez: What was your secret to a big squat or deadlift?


Rickey Dale Crain: It’s kind of funny because personally, I think that the internet, social media has destroyed our sport, I really do. There is just so much junk on YouTube. Everybody thinks they’re an expert. The people that can probably tell you the most, don’t want to put stuff on there because they’d have to put up with a bunch of keyboard warriors, and it’s not worth it. Most of the people that are giving the information spout off a bunch of intellectual stuff with large names, big words, and routines they don’t even understand half the time.


No secrets.. We started off with just basic periodization; there wasn’t a whole lot of supplementary stuff, just a little bit of basic supplementary stuff. The whole idea was train hard, and you train well. You get serious about it and focus, no distractions. Do the best you can to supplement your body with supplements and nutrition to build back up what you tore down. It was pretty basic stuff which is what most of the lifters in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s… that’s the way they trained. There were some incredible athletes in the 70’s and 80’s that even now they are only reaching some of these numbers again.


B.C. Vasquez: How did you approach your diet and nutrition as a competitive powerlifter? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I didn’t want to get big because I was trying to maintain weight in classes. Nowadays, I use aminos because there are virtually no calories in them, but I can get a lot of protein out of them. So back then they had things that were just showing up on the market in the 70’s and 80’s like liquid protein and predigested protein. It was nasty tasting stuff for sure. These supplements would give you high amounts of protein with low amounts of calories. The diet, of course, I can remember for about a two-year period I ate nothing but tuna fish and eggs two to three times a day to keep my body weight down and keep my body fat down. I always took a lot of supplementation. My father had us from the time we were 2,3, or 4 years old taking lots of vitamins and mineral supplements. You know, there weren’t that many things available back then. We would take the germ oils, and he would take stuff that we didn’t want to take like liver and yeast tablets. We just ate quality foods like chicken, fish, turkey, and lean beef. I grew up in a house where there were no soft drinks, candy, cookies, alcohol… Nothing like that was in my house. I never had any until I was 16 years old when I could drive a car and indulge in it on my own. What they consider clean nowadays, my dad just thought it was sensible eating back then.


B.C. Vasquez: What did you think of the top bodybuilders of the time – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, etc.? Did you ever train with any of them? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I think that we probably thought a lot more of them than some of the powerlifters think of the bodybuilders nowadays. I liked Franco Columbo because he was around my height, he can deadlift pretty good, so I thought he was cool. Arnold and Franco did other sports before they became bodybuilders, so I guess there was more of a connection with them than with some of the guys nowadays. Bill Pearl is a top of the line guy. Dave Draper was one of my favorites. I’m still pretty good friends with Dave Draper. He was on a lot of the TV shows that we saw. He was on the Monkees, the Beverly Hillbillies, and the other shows. So we would see him on TV or with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello on the beach movies. I don’t believe that I trained with any big name bodybuilders, but one summer I trained alongside Mike and Ray Mentzer on the East Coast. I was training early in the morning and they trained at the same time. Sometimes we would talk, but these guys were just fanatics. They would do two sets. The first set was maybe a high rep set with heavy weight. Then the next set would be complete to failure with a heavier weight. They were both very interesting. This was in the mid-seventies, so I wasn’t at my strongest, but they noticed a 150-pound 21 year old squatting and deadlifting in the 500’s. They could barely squat or deadlift 500 at the time. I liked Tom Platz because he was an amazing squatter. He actually bought a pair of squat shoes from me. Fred Hatfield (Dr. Squat) recommended that Tom buy the shoes from me.      


B.C. Vasquez: Of your five world titles, which is the most memorable and why? 


Rickey Dale Crain: It was my first world title because I was trying for a couple of years to win one. I won the 1980 IPF World Men’s Powerlifting Championships in Arlington, Texas. It was the third world championship that I’d competed in, but the first that I won. Prior to that, I was probably the best in my weight class, but something would happen. I’d get hurt, I bombed out, I got sick – it was two or three things that went on. I had to pull 22 pounds over the existing world record deadlift to beat this lifer to win my first world title. Second and third place on the platform were the two previous year’s world champions. That meant a lot that I beat the best in my class and I broke the world record deadlift, squat, and total in order to beat him. It was also by far my best because my whole family came down, and I had a lot of friends from Oklahoma that drove down to Texas to watch it. Everybody was watching it and I cared about watching it, and I had to do something quite spectacular at that point in order to win. It’s not that the other world titles weren’t great too, but they can’t match up to that one in my mind.


B.C. Vasquez: What do you consider the greatest honor of your powerlifting career? 


Rickey Dale Crain: Being inducted into the York Barbell Hall of Fame and USPF Hall of Fame has got to be right up there. It may be that last deadlift that I pulled to win my first world title. There were like 2,000 people in there and CBS taped it for Sports Spectacular, it was on TV on Saturday afternoon.  That may be my ultimate right there and my family got to watch it. Also, my sister won the 1981 IPF World Women’s Powerlifting Championships with a record-breaking performance. I believe that she broke all of the existing records. As far as I know, we are the only brother and sister that have won IPF Open World titles. My father set IPF Master’s world records, so all three of us held IPF world records at one point.


B.C. Vasquez: I know that powerlifting isn’t your only passion.  Would you care to elaborate on the Crain family’s musical prowess? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I’ve always been – be good at one thing because it’s hard to be good at more than one thing. Really, I still say that because I have people that want to bodybuild and powerlift or Olympic lift and powerlift or something like that, and you can be fairly good at two things but you can never be the best at two things. It happens once in a great while, obviously, but usually you must let one thing go for the other to flourish. 


I guess that it (musical talent) is something that just ran in the family for a number of years. My father was a trumpet player on the Oklahoma University Marching Band that played at the Cotton Bowl. Even my aunts, uncles, and grandparents played a musical instrument. It started showing up to a higher level with my brother, maybe me, and my sister somewhat. I played guitar and sang at coffee houses and other venues to pay my way through college. I was the only one in my yearbook to have photos of me playing guitar and winning the National Collegiate Powerlifting Championship. After college, I focused on powerlifting, and my brother became a Rock n’ Roller in the 70’s. One of the bands that he played in had a top 40 hit back then, and his band was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. Though he stopped competing, my brother still trains to this day.


B.C. Vasquez: Do you still train the powerlifts today? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I still train today as I have for 40 or 50 years, not quite as intense, but I still try to cycle three to four times a year to end up with a fair amount of weight. 


B.C. Vasquez: I understand that you have had bilateral hip replacements, but continue to train heavy. How much are you squatting these days at age 68 and at what bodyweight? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I had bilateral hip replacements resulting from bone disease, not usage. It was a bone disease that my dad also had, avascular necrosis. The bone just died, but I’ve built it back after that. I’ve squatted 500 at least once a year since I was 19 years old, and that’s my goal for next year. For my 68th birthday, I recently squatted 500×2 weighing 164 or 165. 


B.C. Vasquez: How do you believe that powerlifting has evolved over the decades? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I’m glad to see that more people are participating in it. Back in the 70’s and 80’s there were many people participating in it. Then it kind of fell off, and now I think that it has come back quite a bit. Some of it has to do with more Olympic lifting being done in this country, there’s the Crossfit craze, those sort of things. The good thing is that we are getting more people involved in weight training because of this. The bad thing is that people aren’t learning to do the lifts the right way. In Crossfit or Strongman they don’t really do true powerlifting sometimes. They use training straps or specialty strong bars. It’s like any way that you can get the weight up counts. A lot of people think that it’s powerlifting. It may be a powerlift, but it’s done with perverted rules or something. YouTube is showing many crazy lifting practices. 


B.C. Vasquez: Do you believe that there are any powerlifting constants that have stood the test of time? 


Rickey Dale Crain: I don’t know how much of this is being practiced, but the people who follow what we were doing 30 or 40 years ago are doing better than a lot of people do, and that’s one. You get on a consistent routine. The way that I was taught was if you are going to do this on a certain day, then just do it. Planning, consistency, and focus on form, style, and technique are constants that have stood the test of time. 


B.C. Vasquez: Do you have any advice for present and aspiring powerlifters?


Rickey Dale Crain: It is best to find some guys who are powerlifting, and jump in with them if they seem to know what they are doing. It is best to find somebody who is experienced and knowledgeable to mentor you. 


Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Blog Post