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Bill Kazmaier
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The main ASL Bill Kazmaier page

Bill Kazmaier pictures when he was inducted

Sunday, June 28th, 1998

The final inductee

Bill Kazmaier and his son, Eric age 11 at the York
Barbell Company. Image © McShane Enterprises
No duplication is permitted.

Jan Dillinger of York Barbell: Now on to the next recipient...Maybe once in a generation someone comes into a sport who so transforms the standard for that sport. This next gentleman was that for the superheavyweights. Not only was his lifting to the next level above and beyond everybody else, he also had a physical presentation-a physique if you will. They usually don't say that in the same breathe with a superheavyweight. He had a physical build that commanded attention. I was fortunate enough to see him win a world championship. I was fortunate enough to see him compete four times in these World's Strongest Men contests. You have no idea how grueling that is. I don't know. He'll tell you first hand, I'm sure, but you can watch them over the five day events, you can watch them wilt. I mean, you can tell how they are going to place after the first day. On the second day, you can see them fall by the way side. Run out of gas. Bill Kazmaier never ran out of gas. He had more gas than anybody. (The audience laughed) I mean that from the stand point of physical prowess. (Jan paused and looked at Bill. He just realized what he had said and looked a little scared) I will be leaving now.... (The audience laughed) No, seriously, I've seen Bill at two World's Strongest Man contests and you literally have no idea how grueling that is. You can see them between events putting ice on their deltoids. The bar bend, the log lifting... They tear hamstrings. They are hobbling around with ice and ace bandages on their hamstrings. I have immense respect for Bill that he could even survive this. Anybody to survive this, but to win and win for as long as he did and set the standard in powerlifting like he did. He was a fierce competitor. Bill?

(The assembled applauded and really cheered for Kaz as he received his plaque)

Bill Kazmaier: Thank you. It is truly and honor for myself. To come to York- a place that I have never had the opportunity to visit through my prime. It's really a remarkable experience for myself. To see the toys in the museum. If only, as I said when I first came in, if only I had seen those in my prime, I would have enjoyed playing with those. (The audience laughed) But now to finally be here and to see the museum and all those pictures of people of 100 years ago that I tried to achieve some of their standards, some of their lifts and some of their careers. As you may know, my lifting career began in powerlifting and I was fortunate enough to excel in a fairly rapid rate. If I could just take time to thank a guy like Tony Fitton who before me lifted a great deal of weight and really learned how to lift and what to do to be as strong as you could be. He helped me get a long ways in a short amount of time. I realize that in some of my first competitions, I met guys like Don and Larry. Although Don was only a year or two older than me, when I met him at the World's Strongest Man Competition, he was so hard to reach because he was at such a high level. I can remember, and I told someone this today, that in the car lift, I really just about broke myself in half to beat Don by five pounds. I didn't realize what he was doing when he was saying, "Go ahead and have it if you want. Go break your back for five pounds." (The audience laughed hysterically) The very next lift, he did 1000 pounds in the squat and I took third or fourth because I had blown my wad. (Lots of laughter) With big guys like that as your mentors and people you look up to in your life, it really helps me a great deal to excel in those first couple of years.
The first time I went to powerlifting meet and saw Larry, I think he was probably six or seven on his World Championships and he was pretty much-how would you say?-a god in powerlifting. He could go to any class that he wanted to. He could pretty much lift whatever weight on the day he wanted to. And for a gentleman like himself to realize why he is as great as he is. Here's a gentleman who at 40 some years old-about 40, right? (The audience chuckled) He gets up at four o'clock in the morning and what he has done and each of these guys: Vince, Ruthie. They have done one thing that is so phenomenal to me is that they have given back. They have given to others. Larry gets up at four o'clock in the morning and trains people all day and somewhere during the day, he has an opportunity to train for himself and to do some of his own training, but that's really one of the remarkable things about a lot of these guys that you may be emulating or chasing some of their records and their standards, is that they have shared what they have learned with other people and that's one of the reasons probably that I excelled so rapidly.
I made a real simple deal. I put my head down and my hands together and I looked up and that was back in 76 and I said, "Hey! If you make me..." (pause) Well, I didn't really say hey. (Laughter), but I got His attention. "If you make me the best, I'll be helpful. I'll share with others and be down to earth" and within just two years I was the strongest walking around and I really had a great experience. I am really happy to be here today and it does mean a great deal to me to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Although, I have a couple of pictures in the Hall, it's kind of neat and I fell like maybe I've already been inducted, I don't know. I really want to say that in the Hall, there are some really great lifters through history and it's truly an honor. I want to thank York for brining me up here. Like I said, if only I could have been up here ten years or so ago, it really would have been a lot of fun. It really means a lot to bring my young boy Eric who's just about 12 to see this area and to meet all of you and to see you guys lift and to watch Paul Sheedy (the winner of the strongman contest) today who I trained with and who I competed with in Canada. Paul's a pretty phenomenal lifter and helped me to win. We won the team competition of the Le Defi Mark Ten a few years ago and to see guys like him still right on top like that... It's been a great day and a great weekend. To meet all of you and to be able to spend a little time with each of you even if it's just a minute or two for a hand shake and to give an autograph, believe me it's really a great honor. I think that my boy and myself are so surprised really that so many people came to see us and really enjoyed seeing us. I just want to say thanks a lot. It's really been a wonderful experience for me

The assembled gave a really warm standing ovation to Bill as he left the podium.