History of IPF Officials

Here you can see the history of the IPF Officials from the last 40 years: IPF OFFICIALS

A special thank's to the IPF Board Member, Mr. Arnulf Wahlstrom, who prepared this list!

Presidents of the IPF

The history of the International Powerlifting Federation

A historical review by Dennis J. Unitt

Fifty years ago there was no IPF - there was no Powerlifting.

Sure, there were the three Olympic lifts - Clean and Press, Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. But Olympic lifting did not appeal to everybody, so around the world there were many strong men unable to, unsuited to, or unwilling to do the “Olympic Three”.

Other lifts were used by bodybuilders as strength builders and among them there were the individual powerlifts and their variations, the squats, bench presses and dead lifts with big poundages performed by very powerful men during the 1950’s/1960’s.

In the USA, Terry Todd was making squats in excess of 750lbs, bench at 500lbs, and dead lifts officially at 730lbs. Ronnie Ray was outstanding with many National titles benching 500lbs at 198lb bodyweight. Dave Moyer with his 450lb squat at 123lbs.

Doug Hepburn and Benoit Cote in Canada, two Superheavies capable of huge lifts in the late 50's and 60s, with Hepburn credited with a 580lb plus bench press and 700lb squat and Cote with his 750lb dead lift.

These lifters had been superceded by individual performances from such notables as Paul Anderson and Bob Peoples. They were the ones who were there when Powerlifting all started and helped set the standards for others to beat.

Over in Australia, Bruce White was pulling 600lb plus dead lifts at 148 pounds, Ron Modra and Ray Rigby were prominent early Powerlifters in the late 1960's.

In America, Olympic weightlifting was declining, while bodybuilding and powerlifting were on the up and up. In 1964, an unofficial American Powerlifting Championships took place in York, Pennsylvania.

The AAU took control and as a result, the AAU finally staged its first national championship in 1965, with the bench press, squat, and deadlift selected as the championship powerlifts.

USA Powerlifting used the same weight classes as Olympic lifting (123, 132, 148, 165, 181, 198, HWT). In 1967 a 242 lb class was added and contested at the American 1967 Senior National Powerlifting Championships.

The "Olympic lifting" let increase weights

The results, in pounds, for this first 242 lb class were:

Name Bench Press Squat   Deadlift   total    
1. George Frenn 400 705 710 1850
2. Paul Yazolino  485 630 630 1745
3. Mel Hennessy  525 590 615 1730


In 1968, following the Olympic Games, the IWF added a 114 lb and a 242 lb. The 114 lb class was also added to Powerlifting.

Back in the late 1950’s Great Britain did have a form of Powerlifting, called the Strength Set comprising the curl, bench press and squat, performed in that order. This test of power brought many lifters to the British lifting scene lifting some very creditable poundages.

This early Strength Set lifting saw many battles between Brian McPeak of Bel¬fast, N. Ireland and Ron Judge of London, both making their best career lifts in 1964. Their totals were 160-325-510-995 for McPeak and 155-300-520-975 for Judge both at 154 pounds. Judge then squatted 543 for a British Record,

Vince Arcari of Manchester squatted 475lb at 140lb bodyweight in 1962, which was surpassed the same year by Louis Ross with 500lb.

Notable lifting came from Eddie Kershaw, the first to squat 700lbs, Terry Perdue first to bench 500lbs and Neil Whillock first to dead lift 700lbs.

Outstanding was Bob Memery from Liverpool who lifted in the 13 stone class winning 5 British titles until 1965. At this time the Curl was dropped and replaced by the dead lift. This was called powerlifting, with the first British Championships being held in 1966.

With both Great Britain and the USA staging national Championships and  Powerlifting becoming more organised an international would be the next progressive step. But the first international was between Great Britain and France, but the French did not do the dead lift.

So in  1968 a team of six French lifters came to Bristol, England for the first international. The next year a team of six British lifters went to Paris for the return match. And won.

Note: no dead lift and on the squat the lifter went down into the squat and stayed there until the referee gave him the signal to come back up again!!

British in America

But the GB/USA meeting was inevitable and in 1970, eight British lifters went to Los Angeles to take on the American team. Best GB lifter was Ron Collins with 365/550/635 for a 1550 total (705kg) at 75kilos. Then the Bench Press was first in those days. George Frenn made an 819lb squat at 242lbs

With all this lifting activity it was no surprise that Bob Hoffman of the York Barbell Company hosted and financed first World Championships in 1971 in York, Pennsylvania, USA. Only American lifters and GB lifters competed but it set the scene for 1972 Worlds in Harrisburg

John Moody picks up the story: ”You may remember that in the early 1970's, Bob Hoffman, that great American benefactor of the strength sports, used to celebrate his birthday in November each year by inviting teams from outside America to compete against a crack American powerlifting team. The events were always held in the USA and were considered "unofficial world championships". However, because of the lack of universally accepted rules and referees qualified in the new sport, few countries appeared at Bob's birthday bash.

At this time these contests followed the American order of lifts. This was (a) bench press, (b) squat and (c) dead lift. A sequence rather frowned upon by the Europeans. Of the 80 contestants in the 1972 competition, 55 were American.

This was very unsatisfactory in all respects and some action was obviously required to remedy the problem in the future

However, at the conclusion of the 1972 event, a group of delegates from competing countries got together and held a meeting with the object of founding an organisation which would be responsible for the new sport worldwide.

The meeting was held on the 11th November in the Zembo Mosque, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The delegates unanimously approved and founded the "International Powerlifting Federation", which soon became known throughout the world as the IPF.

The IPF was founded in November 1972 although the first official World Championship was held in November the following year 1973.

The elected officials on this day of founding were:-Robert Crist (the AAU Weightlifting Chairman) as President with George Foster (GB),   Bill Gvoich Canada), Howard Hamilton (Jamaica), Gilberto Gonzales (Puerto Rico) and Peter Fiore (Zambia) as Vice-Presidents. The elected General Secretary was Milt McKinney (USA).

The IPF was born

With the founding of the International Powerlifting Federation in November, 1972, meant the first official IPF World Championships in 1973 would be in Harrisburg, USA, same venue as 1972.

Despite the good intentions made on the day of founding, something was still not right at these next IPF Championships in November 1973, where 27 of the total of 43 lifters competing were American. There were 6 Americans in the light-heavy class alone. Once again it was obvious that a good set of rules was required.

In June 1974, an American team, though not truly representative, visited Coventry, England, for an International Match. Memorable moments for British Powerlifting fans as the teenage Rickey Crain weighing 66kilos, squatted World record 232.5kg.

Superheavy Joe White tried a World record  417.5kg squat but couldn’t come up with it. Bud Ravenscroft benched 222.5kg showing the depth of quality lifters from the USA. 

The match was a draw 5 classes each. Things were moving! A successful international venture promoting the ever growing Powerlifting

In November 1974, the World Championships were held in York, Pennsylvania and of the 75 lifters entered, 47 were American. The 90kg. class had 7 Americans lifting. This way was not going to attract many countries into this new sport.

Whereas Britain and other countries had a 52kg class, America didn’t. America introduced the new 100kg class in 1973. Clearly it all needed standardizing and basic procedures set up.
However, the next year 1975 was to herald a fresh start for Powerlifting. Birmingham, England was the host city and Vic Mercer gathered help from the city fathers, local clubs and powerlifters from all over the country. The result was a slick, fast moving, televised Championships held in Birmingham Town Hall.

So good was the promotion of the championship that it established the format on which future IPF events were fashioned. It also gained Birmingham the title of "Mecca of Powerlifting".

Out of the 16 countries represented the USA once again took the title of World Champions, winning 8 of the 10 classes contested. Inevitably, with more countries competing, we would see some challenges to the American dominance.

Hoping for a repeat performance

The 1976 IPF World Championships returned to the USA, again to York, Pennsylvania and most of the countries who had competed in Birmingham in 1975, arrived in York hoping for a repeat performance of the flawless event held in Birmingham.

They were also hoping that with the advent of an IPF rule book and trained and qualified referees, everyone would at last compete on equal footing.

They were not disappointed and the daily audiences witnessed some superb lifting throughout the competition.

All the foreign competitors arrived in York with the intention that this year they would make their presence felt by the all powerful Americans lifting on their home ground.

They certainly achieved their aim, as the lifting at the championships was of the highest quality and with a rule book and well trained referees, the honours were spread far more evenly than we had seen before.

The final result with Great Britain winning the Team title and Finland, Japan and Sweden also showing great potential for the future, told the USA that the rest of the world was now hot on its heels.

Vic Mercer of Great Britain was elected IPF President at the Congress and all national delegates were now confident that Powerlifting was moving in the right direction.

About this time in the mid-seventies, Europe had made great strides in opening up the sport and international competitions soon became regular events.

Scandinavia especially were aiming for the top and Australia, New Zealand and Japan were breathing down everybody’s necks.

Naturally this news filtered through to the USA and reports on how the American top lifters were training hard getting ready for the next Championships kept everyone on their toes.

The 1977 World Championships were  awarded to Perth, Australia, and the selection of Australia was greeted with much pleasure by the rest of the world and promised to bring in many new countries from Asia and Oceania, so by the time Australia held the World Championships in 1977, Powerlifting was growing fast.

Perth was a good choice of venue as it attracted not only the European and American powerlifters but this new region could call upon previously unknown lifters from India and Japan as well as Australia and New Zealand. Television cameras at this Championships ensured the interest was sent worldwide.

Although the USA was still a major force to be reckoned with in Powerlifting, other countries were now making their bid for recognition.

The USA took six of the classes in Perth but with GB, Finland and Japan sharing the other four classes, things were looking up.

The 1978 World Championships were held in the city of Turku in Finland.

The Finns put on an excellent  Championships. Wall to wall posters around the city and TV coverage ensured that the venue was full for every lifting session.  The amenities at the venue covered all requirements and the standard of lifting was superb leading the way for the many future championships that were to follow in Scandinavia.

It was the best ever held both in standard of lifting and organization, and it was a great credit to the Finnish Federation who worked so hard to promote it.

At the 1979 World Championships in Dayton, Ohio USA, 102 lifters appeared on the platform and the event was spread over three days.

This indicates the growth that had taken place in the IPF since its inception and although the USA still won half of the bodyweight classes, there was no doubt that the rest of the world was catching up.

So ended the 70's, a decade in which Powerlifting, as a recognized sport and the IPF as the organization administering it, had become accepted throughout the world.

Powerlifting had become an established sport worldwide and while the stature of the World Champ¬ionships was growing, so were other ventures in Powerlifting.

The Pan-American Championships

In America the Pan–America were formed in 1974 and the 1st Pan-Am American Championships was held in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico in 1975 with the North American Championships in 1977.

The Nordic Championships for the Scandinavian countries in Europe were first held in Norway in 1976.

Next, Hawaii had opened its doors with a prestigious Invitational International.

In Europe there had been several individual international Matches, A British team went  to Finland and Belgium for such occasions.

Within Britain itself the home countries were contesting International matches.

European countries were flooding into the IPF and with the added attraction of their own regional championships, the incentive to get involved was overwhelming and many of the other regions within the IPF were clamouring for their own championships.

So, not only were the six world regions of Europe, Africa, Asia , North America, South America and Oceania sending competitors to the various IPF World Championships but they were holding their very own Regional Championships.

The first European Championships to take place were in April, 1978  held at the same venue as the 1975 Worlds, the Town Hall, Birmingham.

Eleven countries took part in this classic event and the "Mecca of Powerlifting" certainly lived up to it's reputation with another successful event.

By the beginning of the 1980’s, Powerlifting was certainly growing on a World scale and, likewise, the number of com¬petitive lifters.

In 1980 the World championships went back to the USA, this time in Arlington, Texas, where again the USA won the team trophy from the 18 nations taking part.

The next year, 1981, the World scene was moved to Calcutta, India. Drug tests were held for stimulants only but results were inconclusive from this first effort.

In 1982 after the Olympic fever had died down in Germany, the World champs were held in the Olympic Basketball stadium in Munich. Drug testing introduced at this competition, which rigorously followed the principles and requirements of the IOC.  Testing would take place at all future World Championships.

German President Heinz Vierthaler for 12 Years

1983 saw the “Scandinavium” ice hockey stadium in Gothenberg Sweden, hosting the Worlds and in 1984 we were off to the States again, this time to Dallas, home of the Ewing family and the “Dallas” weekly drama.

The election of IPF officials takes place every four years and in 1984, Great Britain’s Vic Mercer had served for 8 years as the IPF President. The new President elected in 1984 was Heinz Vierthaler of Germany and he was to take control of the IPF for the next 12 years.

About this time women were showing an interest in Powerlifting, with many of them athletes of some renown in field events.

First Women’s World Championships

First Women’s World was in 1980 and took place in Lowell, Mass. USA. Further Worlds took place in

1981        Hawaii (USA)
1982        Birmingham (GBR)
1983        Adelaide (AUS)
1984        Santa Monica (USA)
1985        Vienna (AUT)
1986        Hostra (SWE)
1987        Melbourne (AUS)
1988        Brussels (BEL)
1988        Sydney (CAN)

USA winning the team trophy in all championships except Adelaide won by Australia

Junior lifters and Masters lifters appealed for major Championships, so in addition to the Men's Open, further classes of competition such as Junior Men’s, Masters Men’s and Women’s Open were added to the IPF agenda on an annual basis.

It was not long before the first IPF Masters were held in September, 1983 in London, Canada and in December 1983 the first IPF Juniors were held in Florida, USA.

These Championships were important milestones  in IPF history so that by the mid 1980’s Powerlifting was in full flow.

More development when the IPF became a founder member of the World Games Association, the organisation which caters for non-Olympic sports. Powerlifting was first held in the World Games in 1981 in Santa Clara, USA.

T.V. was getting in on the act and these contracts put welcome funds in the coffers.

It's going on also with the Men's

The Men’s Worlds continued to be held all over the World as in 1985 they were in Espoo, Finland, in Den Haag, Netherlands in  1986. Next to Fredrikstad, Norway for 1987, then moving across the World to Perth, Australia in 1988.

1989 was another first when the Men’s and Women’s World Championships were combined and were held in Sydney, Nova Scotia, the venue being the local Ice Hockey stadium. A successful experiment with the lifting taking up the whole week

So far, this history has covered the important years from the founding of the IPF right up to the point of real consolidation in the 80's.

Everything was now in place for the IPF to control the sport of Powerlifting now set to  grow in popularity and rapidly spread across the world.

At the beginning of the 1990’s, the IPF and Powerlifting were now well organised, leaving national teams to prepare for the various World Championships.

At the 1990 World Championships in The Hague, Holland, it was the Finns and the Americans battling for Gold medals with the USA taking the Team trophy.

Still in Europe the next year, the 1991 World Championships in Orebro, Sweden saw that great lifter Hideaki Inaba from Japan bow out from Senior World competition by winning his 17th title in 18 years. His only defeat  was in Dallas, 1984, when suffering from an old shoulder injury, he was beaten by Chuck Dunbar of USA.

It was at this time that America still dominated World powerlifting producing Gold medal winners every year, Kirk Karwoski, the big squatter, was unbeatable in the first half of the decade setting up the current 125kg class World record squat of 455kg in 1995. Dan Austin, Dave Ricks and Ed Coan helped keep the USA at the top.

The next year in 1992, the World Championships came back to  Great Britain, the venue being the newly opened National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
It was at these Championships that the Bench Press shirt was approved by Congress.

Coincidentally, another avenue for lifters opened up in 1992, when the  popularity of the Bench Press encouraged the IPF to introduce a Bench Press single lift Championships, the first being held in Chinese Taipei. Since then this event has been well attended over the years with a World Masters Bench Press Championships starting in 2001.A World Bench Press Championships for Junior lifters has been scheduled for 2009.

With Powerlifting well established and popular worldwide,  it was not long before the East European countries took an interest and by 1996 the Russians lifters were constantly on the winners podium. Konstantin Pavlov of Russia was a regular winner as was Andrzej Stanazsek from Poland. Alexei Sivokon from Khazakstan had six world titles by 2000.

Going back to 1993, the Men’s and Women’s World Championships were held in Jonkoping, Sweden and in 1994 went to Johannesburg in South Africa.

1995 saw them in the European hotbed of powerlifting in Pori, Finland, moving in 1996 to Salzburg. The next year, the city of Prague held the Championships and then in 1998, moved to the cold of Cherkasy in the Ukraine, before they were held in Trento in Italy in 1999.

Women’s World Championships continued to be popular with World Championships held in India and Gent, Belgium. These were separate Championships except that in 1993 they were held with the men in Jonkoping in Sweden. Other venues since were as far apart as Tokyo to Buenos Aires, then Canada, Chicago and 2005 in Ylitornio Finland.

Over these years the Russian lifter were winning all the bodyweight classes, exceptions being Raija Koskinen of Finland fiercely competing in the 44kg class every year.

At the other end of the bodyweight scale Chen Chao of Chinese Taipei won many World titles in the 90+ class from 1992 onwards.

Presidents working for more successful World Games participation

During this time we had a change of Presidency. Heinz Vierthaler from Germany had served as President of the IPF for 12 years but 1995 saw Graham Fong of New Zealand elected as President in Pori, Finland standing for four years. Another change came in 2000, when the incoming President was Norbert Wallauch of Austria who worked hard and long for the IPF before standing down in 2007.

The new and current President is Detlev Albrings, from Germany, the former General Secretary of the IPF

Being aware that although the number of competitors for the Men’s and Women’s Open Championships were increasing every year,  so were the World Championships for the Juniors, so much so that the SubJunior Championships  were introduced in 2001 to cater for the Teenage lifters .

Again with more older Masters lifters, the Masters Championships for Men had age groups for the Over 40’s ,Over 50’s and over 60’s. Women Master Lifter had Over 40’s and Over 50’s age groups.

Into the 21st Century and the year 2000 saw the World Championships in  Akita, Japan held in the venue that was to be used the next year for the 2001 World Games Powerlifting.
In 2001, the World Games was a huge success for Powerlifting and four years later in 2005, this success was repeated in  Duisburg, Germany. 

The next World Games is scheduled to take place in 2009 in Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei and with the IPF sending more lifters than previously, the lifting programme will be extensive and a showcase for Powerlifting.

Going back to the World Championships held in the late 1990’s it was Russia and Ukraine along with Poland taking most of the Gold medals and team trophies.

This pattern of winners from Eastern Europe continued on through World Championships held in Sotkamo, Finland in 2001 moving to Trencin in Slovakia in 2002 and Vejle, Denmark in 2003. One of the regular competitors was Jaroslaw Olech of Poland, who after coming second three times emerged as a perpetual winner from 2002 to 2007.

South Africa were hosts to the World Championships again in 2004, this time in Capetown and in 2005, the sunshine state of Florida, USA held the Championships in Miami. Powerlifting was certainly being held worldwide.

In 2006, the World Championships came back to Europe and this time went to  Stavanger, Norway, the Men’s and Women’s Championships were held together, a well run Championships and a model for the future. Notable absence were Russia and the Ukraine, both countries banned for a year for drug offences

Last year, in 2007, the World Championships were still in Europe, this time moving south to the mountains of Austria in Soldon, where Emanuel Scheiber and his crew had set up for a well organised and enjoyable Men’s and Women’s Championships

This year, the Canadians are putting on the now established Men’s and Women’s World Championships in St. John’s, Newfoundland. We look forward to it.

This abbreviated history of the IPF brings us up to date and now in 2008, a matter of thirty-six years after its foundation, Powerlifting has achieved worldwide recognition and popularity that could only be dreamed of in those heady days of the 70’s.

Long may it continue!!

“A short History of the Sport of Powerlifting” by John Moody
“British Powerlifting” magazine  -  Issues 1973 to 1979
“International Powerlifter” magazine  -  Issues 1980 to 2006
“The International Powerlifter” magazine  -  Issues 2007/2008

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