Antonio "Tony The Tiger" Vernón's Weightlifting Thanks Page
"Have nunchucks. Will travel." - Antonio "Tony The Tiger" Vernón

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Princeton University Club Varsity Powerlifting Club

I concluded my 6 years as an Amherst Tiger (Amherst Central High School and Amherst Junior High School, now Amherst Middle School) by lettering in track and remember weighing myself in the locker room at just over 135 during the season. I was modestly athletic, and in college decided to try lightweight football for the Princeton University Tigers. I often weighed around or just above 140 lbs. Before I leave the topic of Tiger athletics I should mention I believe the most accomplished/famous P.U. Tiger Athlete is (Bill Bradley and the most accomplished/famous A.J.H.S./A.M.S. athlete is (Orel Hershiser. I do not know who the most accomplished/famous A.C.H.S. athlete is, but Orel Hershiser moved and went to high school elsewhere. Getting back to me: I think I chose the wrong position and early in my sophomore season realized that I did not have what it took to play my chosen position. I left the sport and went to the gym fairly regularly. I was easily convinced by Rob Armstrong and Franklin "Roosevelt"/"Roosevelt" Franklin Howard that once I could bench press my bodyweight of barely 140 lbs. I would be considered a strong man (which I may have confused with strongman). After realizing that I passed weightlifting's Mendoza line (135 lbs. bench press), I was ready for the world. Bench press duels with Cortez "Popeye" Smith, witnessed by John Tatum, Joyce Miller, Almetia Fields, Franklin and Rob, sparked a collegiate weightlifting career. I believe the final results on the bench press duels were 155-150 in the first contest and 175-170 in the rematch. Of course, "Popeye" bested "Brutus". To this day I am unsure whether I was sandbagged. However, the results were good enough for Kenneth T. Samuel to recruit me to the sport of powerlifting and for him to dedicate time to teaching me almost every basic technique that I know. By the time he entered me in my first competition at the end of my sophomore year, my bench had reached 100 kilos (approximately 220 lbs.). When he named me captain of the Powerlifting team during my senior year I had come a long way. During my final year I cracked the 300 barrier with a 310 competition lift.

Much of my progress was the result of the encouragement by voice and example of teammates Lorne Keller and Alonzo "Zo" Bell. Seeing the big horses make the weights fly was so motivating for me in my formative stages. I also use to get motivated watching Steve Gerenscer get pumped on the bench. Even though Richie Ferro was a bit of a rival in the 165 lbs class he gave me lots of advice that was very important.

Franklin, my junior and senior year roommate, was in the gym with me on Saturday mornings when no one in his right mind was working out. Often, (but not always,:) his discipline kept me from hitting the snooze bar one more time. Also, he was along side me on the sidelines cheerleading for PU hoops and football. I think Rose and Abby provided some additional motivation to build up my shoulders and triceps so that I could lift them. Rob Armstrong was supportive both in the gym and on the sidelines.

A lot of my weightlifting development occurred in Buffalo at the old 2001 Health Odyssey Gym in the mid and late 1980's. Joe (Visit his first Gold's Gym on Wherle Dr. about a mile from the original gym), Chuck (Gold's Gym) and Noreen hosted my exploits. Several serious lifters contributed to my development at the Powerhouse. Mike Wlosinski (The W is silent although Mike never was. Google results show him listed among the USPF National Officer.), Johnny K., John Gage, Bobby Hong, Steve McGregor (Mr. Buffalo 1987) and Joe Lazzaro, Jr. (Mr. Buffalo 1990, and son of Joe Lazzaro, Sr., Mr. Buffalo 1954), Ron Fedkiw all contributed to the environment. Keith Wofford kept me on a schedule. Raz's encouragement and general demeanor were also appreciated.

I should also send a thanks to the athletic community in general. The wrestlers, football players, runners, swimmers, rowers and others made my daily two plus hours in the gym seem like minutes. Talking with them about my training as well as theirs helped me reinforce my understanding of sports fitness.

I should also note that in addition to Buffalo's old 2001 Health Odyssey I trained at several good gyms in NYC: The Powerhouse on 23rd (92-93), World's Gym at Lincoln Center (93-95) and New York Sports Club (95-97).

Although Tony no longer trains with the intensity that resulted in a 310 pound bench press, 600 pound deadlift and necessitated tailored garb to fit his 44" chest/ 29.5" waist physique (according to the tailor at Riverside Men's Shop), he still religiously works out a couple times a week. His two most relentless sparring partners (Mother Nature and Father Time) motivate him enough to maintain a 42"/32" build and keep his bench press in the 300 lbs. neighborhood. Actually, Tony's rehabilitation workouts with dumbbells started in January 2005 have Tony's summer 2006 chest back to a size 44 even without working his lats. Tony has also miraculously found a cut of Levi's (560) that he can get into a 31" waist. He probably is still a 32, however. FYI, the typical men's off the rack suit is made with a 6-7" drop (coat size minus waste size) and an athletic cut men's suit is made with a 9-10" drop.
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