Module 22: The Cancer-Proof Physique
Fred: And uh, so it always kind of stuck with me and as I grew older, I made up my, I made my own set of weights. I uh, poured some concrete into a couple of tires andhooked them together with a long pole. I don’t know how much that, oh God, homemade barbell weighed, but it was pretty heavy. I got to the point where I was able to lift it overhead at uh, one point.
MATT: OK. And then at that point, did you kind of continue lifting weights in high school for sports or was it straight into power lifting from there?
Fred: Oh, I just enjoyed lifting. I was a jock. I played every sport there was. I played on the basketball team, track and field, and soccer. And then I went into the Marine Corps and after I got out of the Marine Corps, I went to Southern Connecticut State University. Made the gymnastics team and you know, I played football in the Marine Corps so I’ve been around the block when it comes, when it comes to sports.
MATT: Yeah, no kidding.
Fred: When I was a senior in high school, I entered my first Olympic weightlifting competition which also was Teenage Mr. Connecticut. So I won my competition. The first day out I won Teenage Mr. Connecticut in the bodybuilding show. I was just, I was into it. I was sold.
MATT: Now in those days, you, you’d compete...you lift in Olympic weightlifting and then afterwards they have a bodybuilding contest? It was all the same contest, right?
Fred: That’s how it worked. Yep.
MATT: And you won in that, right out of the gate?
Fred: Yea, pretty much.
MATT: Wow. And then from there, did you, how did you get into power lifting?
Fred: Well, I was in the Marines. Finally got out and went through college. All the way through four years of college and into graduate school. And by the time I graduated you know, I had you know making the Olympic team in ‘72 and again in ‘76 and uh, for some stupid reason I was not able to make the Olympic team. I always thought I was good enough to make the team. I just couldn’t do it on the right day. (Laughs.)
Fred: So I was upset with myself. And uh, so there was a new sport out there called power lifting. And I said, alright, I’m going to give it a try. Well, the first time I tried it you know I was better than anybody. And inside of a year I was breaking world records. So you know, I kind of got hooked into it.
Fred: Yes, the Press was in and then finally in ‘72 the Press was out. After the ‘72 Olympics, the Press was out and that meant that Fred Hatfield was out for good. I was very good at the press and you know, and uh, if I had any chance of making the team it would have been because I was a good presser.
MATT: Sure. And I remember reading, I think Bill Starr said he pretty much lost interest in Olympic weight lifting at that point as well because he liked that part of the event as well.
Fred: Yea, yea. Bill Starr was a good lifter too.
MATT: Yea, so when you were in power lifting, uh, do you compete in multiple weight classes or did you kind of stick with the same one?
Fred: Well, I started out in the 165s cause I was gymnast, don’t forget. And I, you know, so I wasn’t a real heavy fellow .
Fred: And then I went up to the 181s, 198s, 220s, 2- to finally the 275s. And the heaviest that I ever lifted was 265 pounds. Uh so, and but there is a long story behind that. I will make that short, you know. I had a graduate degree and I knew a little about statistics and I read an awful lot of research uh, in my field. I was sitting around with Jeff Everson one day, who was a student of mine, and I plotted all of my best lifts. And I did a line of best fit predicting how much I would lift if I grew heavier and heavier. And lo and behold, it turns out that I should have been squatting well over 1000 pounds by the time I was 260 pounds. And Jeff just laughed, he said, ‘That is all theoretical Fred’. Well, 10 years later I was doing it. It took me ten years but I did it.
Fred: Just because I knew I could.
MATT: Did the dead lift keep pace as you gained the weight?
Fred: You know I was a good dead lifter. I was never able to prove it however. Every...you know. I will give you an example, I was working out with Doyle Kennedy one time up in Oregon. Doyle is one of the greatest dead lifters ever. And he said, ‘Fred I’m going to teach you to dead lift,’ as though I didn’t already know.
Fred: And all he ever saw was Fred Hatfield with a real bad grip problem from, from arthritis in my right hand. And you know I’d pull away from the floor and, uh, by the time I would get to the top, the weight was slipping out of my hand. And uh, I tried everything. I tried a hooked grip. I tried taking an off setter grip on the bar. I tried everything. And I wasn’t able to dead lift more than about 765 pounds, or so, 775 pounds, right in there. And uh, well, but with Doyle, I worked out with Doyle and I didn’t do any squatting or bench pressing beforehand so my hand was fresh and new. It didn’t have any stress on it and sure enough I was able to pull 825 pounds with no trouble at all.
Fred: So, you know in a power lifting competition you gotta do all three lifts and I always had a problem with it, so that was that. You know.
MATT: Sure. So, what kind of...I’m assuming you used dozens and dozens of different routines all those years, but is there anything that kept coming back to or that you felt worked better for you?
Fred: No, there is nothing that I kept coming back to, but I did keep making progress. As, as I tried different things and I noticed their effect over the course of the training cycle I would either change it, I would incorporate it, or I would drop it. I was not a big believer in hanging onto something that wasn’t working for me.
Fred: And...or...in fact, I wasn’t even a big believer of hanging onto something that helped me stay the same. I wanted to improve. So I don’t care if was by one pound, if I had an increase, whatever it was that gave me that increase, I wanted it and I kept it or I improved upon it. One or the other. That’s the way I was through out my weightlifting career. I had, I gave uh, complete and total attention to detail. I was a priest to what I did.
Fred: You know how people talk about being in the zone. Athletes, right?
Fred: You’ve heard that phrase, ‘he is in the zone’. Meaning he executed a peak performance of one kind or another, depending upon the sport. Correct?
Fred: Well. All right. So I you know, being a...you know, having a Doctorate of Social Sciences of Sport I knew quite a bit about Sports Psychology. It was one of my areas of expertise and I determined I was going to figure out what that zone was all about. So I talked to people. I had talked to athletes. And I read and I read. Finally I came across an obscure research talking about mind chatter. I don’t know if you ever heard of a fellow named Greg Justice. Does that ring a bell?
MATT: It does not.
Fred: OK, well...he is a contemporary writer in Sports Psychology. He just got done doing a book called Mind Chatter [Mind Over Head Chatter: The Psychology Of Athletic Success]. It’s a Sports Psychology book. He just...he did a beautiful on it. When I read it, I was I was floored. I had always wanted to write a book just like that because that’s my field. I never got around to it but Greg did a wonderful job. And a long story short, here’s what I learned. I had to figure out how to focus.
MATT: Yeah, makes sense how that could carry over.
Fred: Clear all of the thoughts from inside your mind, all of the competing thoughts, all of the negativity, every thing else has to go and what you’re thinking about is going down and coming up one time. And that’s all there is to it. That’s called, that’s called being in the zone and that gave me a tremendous advantage over my competition, tremendous advantage. Nobody else knew how to do that. But I could do it at will. And I still can actually.
MATT: So that’s actually pretty interesting. I’ve competed in power lifting as well. No where to the level that you do but I just had a meet a few months back and I did terrible. It was a terrible meet for me and I came away knowing that I did terribly because just mentally it didn’t happen that day. So I’m very interested in this topic. I was, I would say out of the zone if that is a phrase.
MATT: Well I’ll find it on Amazon. I’m an Amazon junkie. So, no worries.
Fred: Yea. And go to the last chapter. That’s the one that I’m talking about. He just did a remarkable job on it.
MATT: OK. I will. Thank you for that. So, let’s talk about at your, in your hay day of power lifting, what kinds of numbers did you hit?
Fred: You mean, in competition?
Fred: OK. My best competitive lift for 1014 in the squat, 550 there about, I forgot exactly how much in kilograms in the bench press, and then 775 in the dead lift, give or take. Right in those ranges there.
Fred: I remember Memphis for 1014, you know how many people ask me ‘how much did you squat?’ So, I remember 1014.
Fred: I’ve done quite a bit more than that. In fact one week after I did the 1014, I was doing an exhibition in Madison, WI and I squatted 1050 with no trouble.
MATT: Sure. And in those days, were you wearing equipment and if you were, it was basically cheap single ply, right?
Fred: Yea, the cheap single ply...nothing like what they are wearing nowadays. They are wearing double ply denim for heaven’s sakes. I can’t, I’m so upset about that, you know. I really am, Matt. To me, they meaning, they meaning the powers that be, the people that that control all of the various organizations that call themselves power lifting organizations. They are all compete against one another. Every body wants to be king.
MATT: Right. Yea, I compete in the raw competition.
Fred: If you don’t think the people watching power lifters lift the bigger weights than they are able to lift because of the ‘supportiveness’ of their garb. You don’t think people realize that are saying to themselves, ‘Let’s see. He isn’t lifting that, the damn suit is lifting that’. Of course, they are saying that and it’s a black eye. It’s really, it’s really a black eye and it’s hurting the sport immeasurably.
MATT: I couldn’t agree with you more.
Fred: They tell me, “You know, Fred, the sport is changing. And every body’s got the same handicap or the same advantage. They can wear the suits if they want, and blah blah blah.” That’s not the point. Where am I going to meet a guy that can actually walk up to me face to face and say to me, ‘Fred, I just broke your world record’? And I will shake his hand if he did it with a single ply. Like I did it.
Fred: But if he is wearing double and triple ply denim wraps that are like, you know, steel girdles, you know, I’m not going to shake his hand. I’m going to say, ‘That’s great! You know, I’m glad’. Then I’ll turn around and walk away. He will not get my adulation. He will not get my congratulations.
MATT: Yea, I heard a similar story with another lifter from the past, I can’t remember his name. But the same situation happened where somebody walked up and said, ‘Hey I just broke your record!’ and it, you know, they did it wearing triple ply or whatever. And the guy just said, ‘You didn’t break my record!’ And that’s they way I feel too. It should stand until somebody comes along and does it under the same conditions that you did it.
Fred: Well, they, you know, and every body, you know, you know, there’s all kind of
MATT: Yea, you know for pole vaulting.
Fred: I mean, what are you going to do?
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