The National High School Power Clean Championships is a competition held in May in Las Vegas that has been featured in BFS magazine since 2006. In 2008 two of the winners were Pat Mendes, who power cleaned 350 pounds at a body weight of 270 pounds, and Robert Adell, who made 320 pounds at a bodyweight of 207 pounds. Since then both lifters have been recruited by weight lifting coach John Broz, and their progress has been remarkable.
Under Coach Broz’s guidance, in training Mendes (age 20) has snatched 440 pounds, clean and jerked 485, cleaned 529, back squatted 800 (551 for 5 reps in less than five seconds), bench pressed 507, and deadlifted 727 for 5 reps. Adell (age 20) has snatched 341 pounds, cleaned 440 pounds, back squatted 639 and front squatted 529. Both athletes will be competing in the American Open in December. Broz was introduced to Olympic lifting at the age of 10, and during his early years as an athlete he trained at the Olympic Health Club in Cleveland, Ohio. Among his mentors were John Schubert, who coached the last male Olympic weightlifting champion from the US; powerlifter Vince Anello, who deadlifted over four times bodyweight in the '70s; and another powerlifting great, John Black, who went on to open a great gym called Black's Health World.
When he was 28, Broz met Antonio Krastev and became his roommate and training partner for the next three years. Krastev was a Bulgarian weightlifter who in 1987 snatched 216 kilos (476.2 pounds), a record that still stands. Broz made great progress with guidance from Krastev, who taught him his version of the Bulgarian weightlifting system as originally taught by Ivan Abajiev. As proof of his continued passion for hard training, in 2007 at age 39 Broz snatched 153 kilos and clean and jerked 175 kilos, the snatch and total being an American masters record in the super heavyweight division.
Although he continues to train hard, Broz has redirected much of his passion for the sport into coaching. He converted a part of his contracting business in Las Vegas to a gym where he and his small but powerful team of the most promising weightlifters train. They perform a tremendous amount of volume in their workouts, often training twice a day with workouts lasting up to three hours.
Asked what he believes is the most important step that needs to be done to make the US a world power in weightlifting again, Broz replied, “Change the mindset of the lifters and the coaches – they need to change their target goals. It seems that just about everyone in this country thinks that to be a national champion in the US is a great goal, which is really sad. In my gym we only have international lifters on our videos and we only have the world records on the wall. Who cares about the American records? – our goal is to be the best in the world. If you break American records on the way, that’s great, but it’s just one step in the process and it’s not the apex of what the lifters at my gym are shooting for.”
The American Open is scheduled for December 10-12 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the meet director is Chris Cleary. Often many of these national events can be seen live, and links for the broadcast are made available through the USA Weightlifting website, www.usaweightlifting.org.