By Wade Hanna
I realize it has been a long time since I got an interview up, but I have had quite a bit going on this summer. Some therapy for an injury, the birth of my newest daughter, and just the regular daily grind have nearly paralyzed me from doing the things I enjoy (like writing for Jason and spouting off on the Strength List). Well things seem to be slowing down some so maybe I can get a little more involved.
( Pic above: Don Reinhoudt and Doug Young - 1976 )
This current one is a great pleasure for me. One of my long time heroes and an inspiration to almost all Powerlifters. The man defines the words “class” and “champion” like few others can. I have to admit to a certain sense of awe when I got this large manila envelope back from Mr. Reinhoudt very quickly after my request for an interview. He sent me a great deal of information above and beyond what I had requested, including a signed picture (he sent me like 4-5). His only request was a copy of the interview for his scrapbook. So for your generosity I say Thank You Mr. Reinhoudt, and I owe you an apology for the delay in me getting this published online. With that I will get to the meat of the matter….let you see what Big Don has to say for himself and maybe get a little inspired like I did.
( Pic above: Don Reinhoudt - 1974 )
Thank you very much for your letter and for your interest in my strength from the old days. I’m not sure what happened to the old Don Reinhoudt, but the years have passed so quickly in my life. At least I have many memories from the past and they were all wonderful days in my life. The friendships I made were wonderful and I treasured that the most. We all had dreams and goals and most of us were very close friends and we were very loyal to each other! I had so many idols, even when I was lucky to have had won my World Titles, I still had many idols. I often think of Jimmy Williams, the very greatest bench presser of all time!!!!
( Pic above: Big Jim Williams - 625 lbs Bench Press )
( Pic above: Powerlifting Legend John Kuc - 1974 )
John Kuc, I think is the most powerful PL’er of all time. My very close friend Doyle Kennedy, Jon Cole, and so many great Powerlifters at my time. Doyle and I had a very special bond in the early days. The respect and love for each other, but when it came time to battle, we got it on! When it was all over we would go out and party and continue our relationship.
I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability. All I ask is when you put this on the Internet, could you please send me a copy for my scrapbook. Thank you for taking the time to do this for me and the others. I know it means a lot to us all.
God bless you for your interest of an old fart who at one time was a fairly strong man. Now all I can do is remember the wonderful days I had and the wonderful gift that god gave me.
Your friend always,
Don Reinhoudt "
……do you see what I mean? What a great guy!
( Pic above: Don Reinhoudt Training )
Don has sent me so much stuff that in the interest of not crashing Deep’s server I am limiting what he sent me to his answers to my interview questions. If anyone is interested in the PLUSA articles he included and some other stuff then e-mail me and we will get something worked out.
( Pic above: Don Reinhoudt - 590 lbs Bench Press )
SO: Could you give us a rundown of your best lifts and titles you have won? What accomplishments were the most special to you?
DR: I won the World Powerlifting Championships in 1973-1976. I also won the National titles those same years. My greatest memory was when I took third at the 1972 World’s. I knew I was on my way. I saw John Kuc total 2350 with the greatest lifting. Jimmy Williams took second and benched 675, oooh so powerful. Jimmy took 700 on his third and blew it off his chest like nothing. 3/4 the way up he got stuck. It was so close, in most meets outside the world’s it would have passed. A very long clap, can you think of what Jim would have done with a bench shirt?! The greatest bencher of all time!! I did 850/590/730 for third place. It was a wonderful experience and such strict judging. My best lifts were in 1975 in Chattanooga, Tennessee when I did 2420. I set the world record in the DL with 885.5. It was done at 2:00AM in the morning because the meet ran long. They had way too many lifters, it was the last year I competed in Chattanooga.
( Pic above: Don Reinhoudt Bench Pressing )
In 1976 I squatted 935lbs in Findley, Ohio. I had three meets that I totaled 2350+. I was also, to my knowledge, the only SHW to ever hold a world record in every lift at one time. I held the SQ, BP, DL, and total all at the same time, I don’t think any SHW has ever done that besides myself.
( Pic above: Don Reinhoudt - 832 lbs Deadlift - 1976 )
After I retired from Powerlifting in 1976 I was invited to the 1977 WSM contest. I had just lost 125lbs of body weight from 365 to 239. I was so very weak all I was doing was running and playing basketball. I was on a hard core diet to drop the weight. When I got the phone call I hadn’t lifted in four months and was very weak. I asked the committee if I could train for a year and be invited in 1978 to the big show. They all wanted me very badly so I started training to build back up for the 1978 WSM. I went to a Power meet in NH, the Eastern Open, in the 275’s and set four world records in 1977. At 264 I did 725/525/750 Tot: 2000. I went 8 for 9 that day, I took 800 on my third DL and got the worst cramps in the world. I had it up to my knees then it hit me. At first I thought I tore a hamstring it hurt so badly, luckily it was only cramps. I never competed in Powerlifting again, I put all my energy on lifting for the WSM show. In 1978 I gave Bruce Wilhelm everything he wanted. He left knowing Don Reinhoudt wasn’t just a fat ass as he called me! I was for real and showed that Powerlifters were more powerful!!!!! He had a years advantage on me, in 1979 Bruce never came back to take me on….he knew better.
( Above pic: Don Reinhoudt misses 904 lbs Deadlift back in 1976 )
SO: When did you start lifting weights and what got you interested? Have you always been a big guy or did you start out mortal?
DR: I started lifting weights when I went to college to play football. I went to a small college in Iowa, a Div. II and weighed in at 6′-3″ and 230lbs. In High School we didn’t have weights, I came from the old days. It didn’t take me very long to get strong and gain size. In four years I went from 230-270. I played Defensive End in college. I was 18 when I started weight lifting. In those days no one knew anything about weights. All the guys did on the team were standing press, curls, DB presses, and some power cleans. No leg work at all, no benches, and lots of curls!
SO: What kind of goals did you set for yourself as you were up and coming? Did you accomplish everything you wished to do?
DR: When I got out of college in 1968 I wanted to compete in Powerlifting. My first meet I did 1750 with a 440 BP, 660 SQ, and 635 DL. Within four meets I was hitting a 1900 total and squatting 800. It took me a long time to get my DL going. I could squat 800 and only DL 675. After my first year I really thought I could be a world class lifter. My goal was to be a World Champion.
I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do. I left a lot of lifts in the gym. I pulled 900×3 in training and at three meets in 1976 I had 904 three times up past my knees and could not lock it out. I think I could have squatted 1000 without the suit. In my days we didn’t have the gear the guys have today. I should also have been able to BP 640-650. I did 620 at the Seniors one year and got two red lights for raising my toe, it just blew up!! Most meets it would have passed. I truly feel I should have totaled 2500, I left Powerlifting a year too soon, I had a lot more in me but I thought it was time to retire.
SO: What kind of training regimen did you utilize? Could you give us a breakdown of what it might look like?
DR: In my day, I had an old cellar below my mom and dad’s house. I didn’t have a lot of fancy equipment. I had an Olympic set with up to a 1000lbs, Power rack, Squat stands, bench, incline bench, and a few dumbbells…that was it. I would train the lower body two days a week, and the upper body two days a week. I didn’t do anything fancy I just lifted hard. I would use the power rack for my deads and a lot of lock outs for my bench. I did a lot of inclines, my best was 575 in 1980. Very simple and basic routines, but the workouts were ball busters!!!
SO: Do you feel that any particular areas of the musculature are more important for optimal performance in PL? How did you feel it differed, if at all, from your WSM training?
DR: For both PL and WSM I hit the lower back and legs very hard. My back and legs were very strong in those days. At the WSM the legs and back were the most important to be strong. I was blessed to have a powerful lower body, to pull and lift the things we did it was a MUST having a powerful lower body.
SO: What components of training do you feel are the most important? (i.e. Mentality, Focus, Work Ethic, Training regimen, Diet, or any others I may have missed)
DR: Dedication/ Determination/ Work Ethic/ Training, Mental/ Fighting through injury/ Diet.
SO: Shifting gears little, were you active in any other sports before Powerlifting?
DR: I played College Football for four years. In High School I was an all league basketball player, All Western New York Football Player, All Western Shot putter and in college I was also on the Varsity Track team.
SO: What got you interested in doing the WSM contests?
DR: I thought I would enjoy the challenge. I thought this would be a true test of a man’s strength. In Powerlifting or any other strength sport, such as Olympic Lifting, you do a couple of lifts. In the WSM contest you have ten events to compete in. It was plenty tough!
SO: How would you describe your WSM experiences and had they been running prior to 1977, do you think you would have gravitated towards that instead of Powerlifting?
DR: No. I loved Powerlifting with all my heart and soul. I owe a lot to Powerlifting. The WSM contest was great and I’m glad I competed in it.
SO: What stands out as the best events/happenings of your WSM experiences?
DR: My 1000lb-girl lift, 2550 car lift, and barrel press of 300lbs, pulling a 20,000lb truck for world record time.
Meeting many wonderful friends, Jon Kolb was, pound for pound, the strongest man at the Big Show. He was my closest friend! Jon was a man’s man and had a heart as big as the world.
Lars Hedlund was another great friend. I had many great battles with Billy Kazmaier (KAZ). Billy was a great strongman and had the body of a Greek god!
I always had the utmost respect for Bill Bruce Wilhelm??? Well…..Great memories and some wonderful friends.
SO: Myself , and some others I have spoken with, were a little ‘non-plussed’ at the way Bruce Wilhelm acted towards you in the 1978 WSM. What are you thoughts about that and was there a real animosity between the two of you?
DR: It’s too bad what happened at the 1978 WSM with Bruce. He and I were very good friends up to that point. I don’t think Bruce thought that I was that good of an athlete, I knew he thought I was strong, but he took me for granted. I gave him everything he wanted and then some. I always had the most respect for Bruce, he was a great athlete and very smart. He wasn’t really that strong, but very smart and a wonderful athlete. He really did piss off a lot of the guys with his nasty attitude. Most of the guys could not stand him because he was so cocky. He tried to get into my head with his shitty ways, but couldn’t do it. I was too much of a competitor for that. I just kept my mouth shut and did my thing. For a big man I was very quick and I never quit. It’s funny, after 21 years people still get pissed off with Bruce. Last year I got inducted into the World Hall of Fame in York and the guys still talk about what an asshole Bruce was to me. I wanted to be remembered as a good person, a hard worker, and someone who gave back to our great sport of Powerlifting.
Bruce will always go down as a cocky person who pissed off a lot of the guys and John Q. Public. It’s a shame because Bruce was great in both Track and Olympic Lifting. He thought he was better than anyone else. I always gave respect to everyone because everyone deserved respect. Any one of the guys was the best and could have won. Bruce and myself weren’t the best, we were both lucky and should feel we were honored to be there. As far as I’m concerned, everyone was a winner as all the guys were great. Too bad Bruce will go down as a cocky and nasty person, I still feel bad about this, but Bruce brought it upon himself.
SO: What athletes have you competed against ( PL or WSM) really stand out in your mind as greats? What makes them so special in your eyes?
DR: I have many memories of the guys who I thought were great both as athletes and as people. My number one would be Jon Kolb of the Steelers. Jon was the most powerful man for his size of anyone I ever knew. He was also the greatest person and friend I have been blessed to call friend. It is no wonder the Steelers were the best team winning four super bowls. Jon had the most powerful arms I’ve ever known, I used to train with Jon in Pittsburgh. I had very powerful arms and hands myself, yet Jon could pull a towel out of my hands and I could deadlift 900 for reps without straps and I was 100lbs heavier. Jon weighed about 270 and was pound for pound the strongest man as far I’m concerned.
I feel Billy Kazmaier was the greatest, and built like a Greek god. Billy was strong, quick, and never gave up. Jimmy Williams was great and John Kuc was unreal. My very close friend Doyle Kennedy was a real winner in PL and one of my best friends. Lars Hedlund was a great competitor who never quit; he was built like Kaz and so strong.
I have truly met some very powerful people in my time. What I have enjoyed the most in my days of being a strong man is making friends, meeting some very wonderful people and being able to travel. My memories have been wonderful and I’ll go the my grave thanking god for letting me have the honor of being able to compete and see some of my dreams come true. In my life, as I’ve said before, I’m no different than anyone else. I think god put me here for a reason. That was to show that the real strength isn’t muscle or strength, but the love from within our hearts & souls and trying to make people happy.
SO: Have you continued to follow Powerlifting and/or WSM since you were actively competing? If so, what athletes between now and then have impressed you and why?
DR: I haven’t followed PL like I should to be very honest with you. I do read as much as I can when time permits me. I keep very busy with my job as the youth director for my county of Chautauqua. I work with thousands of youths and it keeps me very busy. From what I have heard from last years Hall of Fame, things have changed a lot. The guys don’t have the fellowships that we used to have, I do know the numbers have gone up in the BP and SQ. I still rank Jimmy Williams and Billy Kazmaier as the best benchers of all time. They didn’t have the bench shirts just raw power. I guess the wraps are unreal in today’s world of powerlifting. We had just thin Olympic belts, one year we didn’t even have knee wraps back in 1973. I squatted 950 at the nationals without the knee wraps, no super suit, and a thin Olympic belt. It didn’t count, I was about 1 inch high…had I done it at any other meet it would have been a world record without knee wraps.
SO: How do you feel about the equipment being used in current PL competitions?
DR: When you think what Kuc, Williams, John Cole, Billy Kazmaier, and myself did without these wraps, we were pretty strong. What would we have done if we used all these suits and wraps? I’m glad I didn’t, it made my 2420 total pretty impressive 24 years ago.
SO: Mr. Reinhoudt, I would like to open it up to you if there is anything I have missed or you would like to comment on please feel free to do so.
DR: Wade, I want to thank you again for taking the time to do this for myself and the others. I just want to add by saying I’ve been very blessed in my life. I only hope I added something to the great sport of strength. The strongest man of all time is god. No one can put anyone ahead of our lord. The second strongest man is Paul Anderson, was not only a great strongman, but also a very good person! I have always put the lord ahead as without god, we would have nothing in our lives.
SO: I would just like to conclude by saying a sincere “Thank You” and what an honor it has been for me to speak with you. I’m sure I speak for many when I say you have been a great inspiration and we sincerely wish you all the best in your future endeavors!