Being the oldest national powerlifting federation in the U.S., the USPF has a rich heritage of powerlifting and touts a legacy of the world's best powerlifters in history.
This page contains bits of history, photos, and our historians' blogs about the USPF. Click on images.
Enjoy these incredible journeys & memories!
All submissions are the accounts and opinions of the writers and not the USPF.
Many thanks to our contributors for their time, info, and helping to keep the Legacy of the USPF alive!
The USPF maintains a strong endurance of established existence and boasts an unparalleled lineage of all-time greatest legendary powerlifters that have competed to the highest standards of lifting. With its renowned world class status and reputation for excellence, the USPF is still the premier powerlifting federation.
The United States Powerlifting Federation came into existence in the early 1970's as a "branch" of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and under Bob Hoffman. According to York's Museum/Hall of Fame, "the AAU relinquished the governing rights to powerlifting in 1978 when the United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF) was formed." Joe Zarella was its first President and it was also the U.S. affiliate to the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation). The USPF started "breaking away" from the AAU around 1980 and gained total independence from the AAU in 1981. (Official Corporation paperwork first filed in NH in 1981.) Official USPF documents still had "USPF of the AAU, Inc." printed on them throughout the early 1980's.
Around 1998 the USPF became an affiliate to the WPF (World Powerlifting Federation) until 2017. In 2019, under the new President, Sheri Hartmann, Superior World Powerlifting -SWP was created and approved. It is a subdivision of the USPF to offer an opportunity to once again lift in a World venue and allows the USPF to maintain its independence.
The United States Powerlifting Federation is the oldest U.S. federation devoted just to powerlifting still in continuous existence today and keeps the same high standards of powerlifting, from rules to judging, as in its earliest years.
This was provided by Steve Zarella (son of the first USPF President, Joe Zarella). It is the first USPF Corporation filing.
Shown is a replica patch of the first USPF logo.
Single Ply Powerlifting (Full Power with all three lifts) was the only available Division offered in the beginning. Single lift divisions, MultiPly, and Raw were not yet created.
Single Ply was more like Raw in the early years as the gear was in the early stages.
The first USPF President, Joe Zarella.
(Followed by Conrad Cotter, Sandy King, Peter Thorn, Jan Shendow, Peary Rader, David Jeffrey, Lance Karabel, & Sheri Hartmann)
The first Women's Nationals was in 1977 and the first Women's World Championships was three years later in 1980. Thank you, Joe Zarella, the "Godfather of Women's Powerlifting." (Photo provided by Steve Zarella.)
Jan Todd (pictured on the Johnny Carson show) was a pioneer in and instrumental in implementing women's powerlifting. She was the first women elected to the Executive Commitee.
Click here for one of many articles about Jan Todd.
In 1980, Danni Hartmann Eldridge (front right) was the first female officer to compete in any type of CA Law Enforcement Olympics powerlifting events. Since there was no category for women, she had to compete against the men and placed a strong fourth place in her weight class.
Danni went to the CA Police Athletic Federation to settle this discrimination but was told a female division would only be created if she brought a team of women to compete. She recruited and/or trained a group of women for the next CA Police Olympics and the Women's Division in powerlifting was created in 1981.
The following year Danni was awarded Los Angeles Sheriff's Department’s “Outstanding Athlete of the Year” presented by Sheriff Block. (She may have also been the first female to receive this prestigious award.)
Click here for Danni's webpage.
In 2022, Jimmie Brownfield was the first appointed USPF Teen Ambassador. She was also the youngest USPF Referee in USPF history.
Click here for our Memorial Tribute to Jimmie Brownfield.
On February 10, 2024, Paisyn Crain, who just turned 9 years old, is the youngest lifter in USPF history. She deadlifted an incredible 105 lbs at a bwt of 52 lbs. Paisyn is also 4th generation in the Crain powerlifting legacy.
Bill "Peanuts" West
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