A Legend Visits

Rippetoe has a new project he is working on. Years ago, he had his own radio show here in Wichita Falls. I haven’t gotten him to pull out the tapes yet, but I’m sure they are interesting, or at least amusing as hell. Rip has done quite a few audio interviews over the past few years, and you probably have noticed that he drives the topic of discussion. This gave him a pretty good idea: why doesn’t Rip become the interviewer and produce some legitimately interesting interviews for all of you to see?

The project has already started, and these interviews are professionally done in a studio in downtown Wichita Falls. Shane Hamman has already been interviewed. Other big names include John Welbourn, Jim Wendler, and Charles Staley. All of these should be awesome interviews. Welbourn is a hilarious guy but I haven’t actually met Shane, Wendler, or Charles although I constantly hear good things about them from Rip. I know these interviews will be better than anything you have seen before, because A) I have spent hours and hours talking to Rip — his mind is always working and there is never a dull moment, and B) the only interviews you have seen are crappy sportscaster interviews on TV. The good news is that Rip despises these interviews, and is going way the hell outta the way to ensure his interview has nothing to do with that slop.

I left one interviewee off of the list: legendary weightlifter and coach Tommy Suggs who happens to be visiting right now. Suggs was one of the most dominant Olympic weightlifters in the sixties, a member of the original York Barbell Club, editor for Strength and Health, the head strength coach for the NFL’s Houston Oilers, an outstanding Olympic weightlifting coach, and an all around nice guy. Bill Starr paraphrased someone in an old article about Suggs saying, “I never met a man who didn’t like Tommy Suggs.”

He and his wife got to the gym today while I was training the Olympic lifts (the Texas State Meet is Saturday), and within a few minutes Suggs was at my platform ready to talk shop about lifting. At 72 years old he is energetic with broad, muscular shoulders. His thinning gray hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and he excitedly leans forward as he talks about weightlifting. I swear it seems like this is his first time getting to talk about technique, and after 50+ years you’d think he was used to it.

I’ll never forget the first snatch I did when Suggs was watching me, because I didn’t finish my pull and missed the damned thing. A few minutes later, I hit it cleanly. Later I tied my PR with a very nice technical lift, and he eagerly rushed forward, shaking his hands, smiling as he told me what went right. The guy is a joy to be around.

I moved onto clean and jerk, the whole time talking with him about different technique cues. He gave me one in particular that seemed to magically make me rock the hell out of the jerk. Learning from Suggs in this short amount of time is an experience I won’t forget, and his weightlifting knowledge is unmatched. He placed an emphasis on being strong as possible to be a good weightlifter and preached a vertical bar path, especially off of the floor. Being coached by him is one of the most enjoyable experiences in my very short weightlifting career. American coaches in our country can learn a lot from him.

Tommy Suggs coaches me on this 155 kg clean and jerk

Tommy Suggs coaches me on this 155 kg clean and jerk

I feel like I can’t really type anything that will do the man any justice. Just trust me when I say he is one cool dude.