This is the cornucopia of accounts of events, anecdotes, stories, etc. about the USPF from various contributors. Let us know if you would like to be a contributor! USPFtheLegend@aol.com
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A pioneer in women's CA Police Powerlifting, Danni Hawks (aka: Danni Hartmann Eldridge) is currently a Member of the USPF Board of Directors and an Inductee in both the USPF CA Hall of Fame & the USPF CA Police & Fire Hall of Fame. She was also Outstanding Athlete of the Year on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Throughout h
A pioneer in women's CA Police Powerlifting, Danni Hawks (aka: Danni Hartmann Eldridge) is currently a Member of the USPF Board of Directors and an Inductee in both the USPF CA Hall of Fame & the USPF CA Police & Fire Hall of Fame. She was also Outstanding Athlete of the Year on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Throughout her champion lifting career (1980-1991) at ages 38-49, she achieved USPF Elite status (both Open & Masters) in 3 weight classes and numerous USPF Records including American, Regional, and both CA & AZ State, plus IPF World. Her Best Lifts: 407 Squat, 270 Bench, 463 Deadlift in the 148 lb. Weight Class, 45-49 Age Group. Danni has also held various other USPF positions: Meet Director (including Nationals), SWP Referee (current), Regional and AZ State Chairs. She was rated #6 in Best Coaches in Cochise County, AZ.
CALIFORNIA POLICE OLYMPICS/USPF ran the meet:
In 1982, I was presented the Luther Russell trophy, “Outstanding Athlete of the Year”, by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Sheriff Sherman Block. In the picture, Sgt. Tommy Harris is holding the trophy that will have my name on it and will be with all the other trophies in the Department’s display case.
It was really a shock to me when they called me over and handed the trophy to me. Then they told me what it was about as I had no clue to what was going on. It was unbelievable, when it finally registered with me, that I beat out all the female/and male athletes competing in the different sports at the Police Olympics. Whoa! (I had the highest total poundage out of all the women lifting plus made an IPF World Record in the Bench Press.) The IPF never sent me my World Record Certificate.
About 34 years later, give or take, I decided to write the IPF and send them copies of my USPF Bench Record Certificates, American and CA State. AR record had typed on it: “made an IPF World Record”. Within that month, I received my certificate from the IPF. Now, that was really unbelievable! They put Eldridge on it instead of Hartmann as I signed my name, Danni Hartmann Eldridge, but I didn’t care. I finally got it! AND they wanted me to write an article about myself and my lifting, which I did. It was published in their IPF magazine.
I met Mike McDonald in 1968 when we were both in the Navy. I was assigned to the USS Paul Revere, homeported in San Diego, and he was a Hospital Corpsman at the Balboa Naval Hospital. At the time, we were both members of the "7 Seas Gym," which was owned by Gene Dickerson, a former Mr. California. The gym was located in a corner of the 7 Seas Locker Club, one of many locker clubs in San Diego. They came to exist because at the time sailors could not keep civilian clothes aboard ship. Most operated soda fountains and sold military uniforms and clothing. It was a real racket. Your locker rent was $10 per month, and we paid Gene an additional $7 to use his gym. With powerlifting being a relatively new sport, I was primarily an Olympic lifter at the time. Many of the Navy gyms on base didn't even have squat racks or benches, just some old, bent olympic bars and a scattering of rusty plates, so the 7 Seas Gym was kind of a Mecca for sailors who were serious about their lifting.
So one night I'm in the gym doing my overhead routine and in comes Mike. He introduces himself, and during the course of getting acquainted, he was from Minnesota and I'm from Wisconsin, he mentions he was a big fan of Mel Hennessy, one of the early bench pressers of that era. Mike asked if I was going to be around, because he was planning to go heavy in the bench, and asked if I could lift off and spot for him.
Of course I obliged and watched him warm up with 135, then 225. When he loaded up 315 I became a little concerned because he did not look like he could do that much. He proceeded to bench that weight like it was a broom stick for several repetitions. He worked up to a single with 405, which was also handled quite easily, and then finished off with some military presses with me. We became friends.
In December 1968 we, and several other lifters from 7 Seas, entered a powerlifting meet at San Diego State University. It was my first sanctioned competition and I believe it was the same for Mike. Back in those days you gave your openers to the weigh in official, and the bench press was the first lift contested, followed by the squat and deadlift. I still recall the official asking Mike for his opening bench, and Mike said 410 lbs.
So the guy shakes his head and said, "No, I need your opening bench, and Mike repeated, "410." There was an exchange of glances between the weigh in guy and some of the others who were in the weigh in area, along with obvious skepticism (back then everyone just lined up and weighed in...there was nothing private about your weight or your openers). I believe Tom Overholtzer, a national champion may have been present, along with Bob Zuver, who had recently been the subject of an article in one of Joe Weider's magazines had his Zuver's Gym team competing.
Anyway, the meet gets started and the weight is progressing upward as it did back then before the rounds system came into being, and the top guys, many of them heavyweights, came in when the weight passed 350 lbs. I recall one of the giants from our gym or maybe Zuver's opening with something like 390, then it was Mike's turn. He pressed 410 like it was nothing and went on to do 430, and he was on the map. All the top guys were coming around congratulating him, and he was beaming...totally self-conscious about all of the attention.
We saw each other for the last time in January 1969 when he was helping out as a loader at an Olympic meet I did in January 1969. I got my PR military press at that meet with 215 in the 165 lbs class. Later that month my ship pulled out for the Western Pacific, i.e., Vietnam, and I understand Mike ended up over there too.
We never saw each other again, but I sure read a lot about him. He was featured in Terry Todd's "Inside Powerlifting," a book about powerlifting and top lifters such as Larry Pacifico, Eddie Pengelly, and Jan Todd. Over the years Mike went on to establish world records in the bench for the 181, 525; 198, 570; 220, 596; and 242 (actual body weight of 230), 635.
Sadly, Mike passed away in 2018 at age 69. In the accompanying photo, he is shown with a cambered olympic bar...one of his inventions.
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