IronMan, Vol 13, No 2, Page 10, September 1953

1953 Mr America Contest

by Peary Rader

Excerpts from "National Lifiting Championships and "Mr. America" Contest"

WE WOULD LIKE to tell you all about the big events this year in this one article so that we can give you a complete word picture of everything as we saw it. I hope that I will be able to describe this great show so that you will feel you have been there in person.

We left Alliance by auto June 1st and finally reached Chicago the 2nd where we spent two busy days investigating engraving plants for we plan to install our own plant soon and already have a man in training to operate it. While there we visited with Irvin Johnson and talked over the fine work he is doing at his gym. We also visited with Norbert Grueber at his great sporting goods store in Chicago. He has one of the most complete sporting goods stores we have ever seen though his place is too small for the thousands of articles he stocks, from barbells to table tennis. Just now the lady champion lifter, Edith Roehder is working at the store and they plan to open up a special advisory service to ladies soon. Edith looks great and she could probably break all her old records with a short period of specialized training.

We left Chicago and finally after a few other business stops we arrived in Indianapolis early the day of the 5th. We soon found the Hotel Severin where we had reservations. There were three of us, my wife and I and our 16 year old son Jack. Incidently, we drove very carefully this year as Jack had just obtained his drivers license and so was fresh on all the latest traffic laws and regulations and with his eagle eye open for all traffic signs, it is a wonder we arrived in Indianapolis in time for the show. It is surprising how slowly we had to travel at times. Jack was much inspired by the meet and vowed that he would really get into hard training. High School athletics (he engages in every phase of them) have thus far kept him so busy that he has had but little time to devote to the weights.

Bill Pearl97
Richard DuBois91
Irvin Koszewski89¼
Steve Klisanin88¼
George Paine88¼
Anthony Silipini88
Tim Leong87½
Tim Sweeny82¼
Dom Juliano82
Malcom Brenner81¾
Vic Seipke79½
Mickey Hargitay79
Gene Bohaty77¼
Harry Johnson76
Dick Garza71¼
Bob Ballard63¼
Ed Koeppe62½
George Jones59¼
John Henderson58¾
John Lyons58¼
Paul Smith58¼
Jack Reardon57¼
Felix Zabensky54
Earl Clark54
Jim Patrick46¼
Don Miller44¾

After refreshing ourselves we went down into the lobby. Since the Severin Hotel was the Official Hotel it wasn't long until in walked Henry Atkin from England. Henry is now on the west coast and will locate there with a gym. Harry "Bosco" Paschall also came in. He had come up from Florida for the show and came down from Columbus with Jack Libertore who MC'd the Mr. America contest. It wasn't long until we were in some hot discussions with Harry about what was right and wrong with the Iron Game. Harry is the biggest heckler in the game and loves to ride someone for something. We certainly have a lot of fun with him whenever we get together, much more so probably than if we agreed on everything. For the rest of the day of the 5th we sat in the lobby and greeted and talked to old friends and made new ones as contestants, officials and fans came in. We also visited the fine gym of Bobby Higgins, who did such a fine job of promoting this show.

It wasn't long until Bob Hoffman came in (he looks as young as ever and I know that makes Bob happy). Our National Chairman came in. He is doing a fine job for our game and is to be congratulated on doing a difficult job well. Charles Smith, looking bigger than ever, made his appearance on the scene. Charlie certainly puts in some long, hard hours for the game. He writes as many as 30 or 40 articles a month. John Grimek came in wearing a short jacket which made him look slender but when we kidded him about it he removed the jacket and showed us his huge arms which looked larger than ever. His young son was his constant companion and showed enthusiasm for everything that happened. John has a large family which is his greatest joy in life.

Well, those were only a few who appeared. We wish we could name them all, but space forbids this, nevertheless we enjoyed nothing more at the meet than seeing again these old friends and talking over the past, present and future. Leo Stem, George Redpath, Bob Hise, Bill Pearl (who subsequently won the Mr. America contest) all from California, as well as big Malcolm Brenner weighing about 235, Jules Bacon (who is entering the Mr. Universe Contest), John Terpak, Alyce Yarick and their fine team of lifters who later did so well, Karo Whitfield, Bob Hasse (Iron Man Photographer and author) and many others we hope we can name later. Our visiting lasted until about 2 o'clock that night.

After a good night's rest we were back in circulation again about noon when still more men arrived. The show was scheduled to start that afternoon at 2:15 P.M. but did not get under way until 3 P.M.

We arrived at the Murat Theater early but already the crowd was starting to come in. This theater was one of the nicest that any of the Nationals has ever been held in, very beautiful and ideally arranged for such a meet. Bob Higgins had done a wonderful job on the whole meet. Everything ran off smoothly and with as little delay as possible. There was plenty of room backstage for contestants and ample room on the stage for the lifting and posing. The lighting for the physique show was good but more of this later.

[skipping description of weightlifting]

...After the afternoon's lifting was over the members of the National Weightlifting Committee who were at the meet were called into the meeting for a discussion of several important points.

Bob Hoffman made a talk explaining the need for full cooperation of everyone for the good of the game. Your editor expressed the need for uniform officiating in the nationals in every class. He also suggested that the rule book be re-written and more detail be given in interpretation of the rules for the different lifts, conduct of contestants etc.

The Chairman, Mr. Clarence Johnson stated that a new rule book was being prepared and would soon be ready for the printers. We failed to ask who was doing the revision. We hope that it is very complete.

Another member suggested that the point system for judging the Mr. America event be changed to allow more points and more flexibility in judging. This is something we have been working for a long time. However it was pointed out that the international body had adopted our point system and that we should give thoughtful consideration to any change. However just because they have adopted it is no reason why we should stagnate and cease progress. If it is believed that a new system will permit better judging then we should adopt it.

Your editor brought up the question of a pre-judging system in which the judges and contestants meet in the afternoon before a contest for a more leisurely judging where they can have an opportunity to view the men under both normal lights and spot lights and in any other manner they wish. We had suggested this before and Bobby Higgins had agreed to follow this arrangement but the A.A.U. officials would not permit it until the rule book is re-written to allow it. The committee agreed that it would be better and thought it should be brought up at the Annual Convention for some action this year. A good example for the need for it was indicated this year when the men were called back for more posing repeatedly. Then after the judges were finished there was a long period when there was nothing for the audience to do but sit and wait while the judges' points were tabulated before the winners could be announced.

It was also suggested that character should be a very important consideration when making a choice for Mr. America. This was unanimously agreed on by all present in view of some past experiences. Of course, at the present time there are no points allowed for character but judges can adjust other points to compensate for this.

After a further discussion of lifting rules and regulations the meeting was adjourned and everyone went out for dinner so they could be back for another interesting session of lifting and the Mr. America sub-divisions in the evening.

(more weightlifting)

After the last lift in the 181 pound class the Sub-division of the Mr. America contest was run off. There was very little time lag here anywhere and the men were run through smoothly and quickly. Judges for this year's contest were: Peary Rader, Chairman; Charles Smith, Bob Hoffman, Harry Paschall, Bob Hise, Larry Barnholth and Alvin Roy. I had lined all the men up according to their numbers and given them their instructions and as soon as the judges were in their places they began taking their places on the posing platform as the MC, Jack Libertore called their names. They had been told that ONLY three poses would be allowed, a front, back and optional. They were all very careful in observing this rule and as a consequence everything ran off smoothly. The lighting was very good. After they were all brought out and instructed then run through individually, the judges asked for certain men to appear again for judging the different body parts. 26 men participated in this event the first night.

Malcolm Brenner won the best arms with 4 votes with Paine a close second with 3 votes. Brenner was lucky to win this as he had allowed himself to get very heavy and hadn't cut down quite enough to get the definition that he had shown before. As a result of this rather smooth appearance and a waist larger than usual he did not place very high in any event except arms. His arms of course are exceptionally large, being around 19 inches. They had good shape and just fair definition. They were without a doubt the strongest arms in the contest so all in all his winning the arms title was justified.

Best chest was won by Tony Silipini of Art Gay's gym in Rochester. This boy has one of the most outstanding physiques we have seen. He had trained down from 252 to about 215. We asked him if he was fat at 252 and he said not, that he was in hard condition. Anyhow he is a swell fellow and has a great future if he continues to train. He received 6 votes for best chest while Juliano was second with 1 vote. Silipini also won the best legs title with three votes while Bill Pearl, George Paine and Richard DuBois each received one vote. Many of the fellows had outstanding legs but those of Silipini had great size, excellent balance and symmetry along with very good definition. Bill. Pearl has perhaps the most shapely legs we have seen though they lack some in bulk compared to those of Silipini. George Paine of course, has very outstanding thighs both in size and definition. In fact, we know of no one who has more definition than this fellow. However his calves are not good. This unfortunately is a characteristic of his race. The calves have the large muscular bulk up too high to make a nice pleasing shape. This is probably the main reason he and his competitor Melvin Wells have never won a "Mr. America" title.

The best abdominal title was again won by Koszewski. This again was very close with Koszewski getting four votes and Paine getting three. These two men are so close in abdominal development that it is almost impossible to choose between them. We fail to see how Paine can miss winning this title some time in the future for he seems to improve each year. Tim Leong won the best back title by a narrow margin of 3 votes. This was a very close one with little to choose between Leong, Klisanin and Paine. Tim has a marvelous physique and photos do not do him justice.

This finished the show for the evening. It was apparent that nearly everyone was satisfied with the selections the judges had made. After going out for something to eat again we retired at a late hour (due to the considerable amount of visiting we did) to dream of a big show the following day.

(more weightlifting)

After the lifting was over at about 6 P.M. the "Mr America" contest began. I must apologize if I have failed to mention any good lifts or events that transpired in the lifting. Due to the fact that I was in charge of the Mr. America contestants and judging, I had to spend much time back stage toward the end of each lifting session in lining up the contestants, etc. However I think I got a peek at about everything that happened.

Two more judges were added to the list for the "Mr. America" contest due to the fact that the high and low scores are crossed out in the tabulating. This leaves 7 scores counted. The judges added were George Greenfield and Herb Lucy.

As soon as the judges were seated the contestants began appearing on the stage for their turn at posing. Each gave a nice demonstration of his posing ability and physique. The lighting was good and every physique showed to advantage. We wish that there were more space in which to comment on every contestant, for with but two or three exceptions, every man was tops. As we have stated before, Malcolm Brenner, who was such a favorite last year, did not possess the definition to place him in the top men this year. Mickey Hargitay who had been built up as a favorite did not place in the top men. I don't quite know why as he has a terrific physique but does not have the definition of symmetry necessary. George Paine is without a doubt one of the muscular sensations of our time but as we stated before, his calves are his weak point. Of course, there is nothing much he can do about this for they cannot be changed. All he can do is develop them to maximum size, which is hard to do for a colored man. In most instances their calves fail to respond to exercise.

Steve Klisanin who won the Jr. Mr. America title has a marvelous physique but still lacks a little of the bulk necessary for a winning physique this year. He has marvelous definition and good symmetry with a nice posing routine. Both his legs and arms could stand a little more bulk.

Vic Seipke has one of the top physiques in the country and although he may never win the top title he is always going to be near the top and who can say that he will not make great improvement and some day be a Mr. America? He has possibilities. As we have said, Tim Leong has one of the finest physiques we have seen. I was surprised that he didn't place among the first five.

Borstein is a very nicely built fellow from Higgins' gym who has a very good physique but still needs some work to place him among the top men. Irvin Koszewski is better than ever. In my opinion he is about the most perfectly developed male in the world today. He is not massive but every part of his body is developed in perfect proportion. You can't pick a weak spot anywhere. With a little wider shoulder girdle and heavier bone formation I don't see how he could help winning the title. He is not as bulky as some of the others but he has marvelous definition and his abdominal formation is perfect. He has a nice back, his arms are very good and his legs are ideal. He is one of the best at posing, and has a beautiful tan.

George Jones has a very fine body, well developed and proportioned all over. Harry Johnson is well built but needs more definition. Silipini is a superman. If he can bring down a naturally wide waist he will stand a much better chance at the title. However he has a huge chest box and this naturally tends to give him a wider waist. For a herculean physique he certainly would win the title. Juliano has a fine physique but his pectorals are out of proportion to the rest of his physique. Bohaty is very good but could stand some work on his legs. Dick Garza needs more definition.

DuBois needs more definition but all in all has a very nice physique. He will show great improvement in the future.

George Paine won the "Most Muscular" title almost unanimously. He well deserves this title for it would be hard to imagine anyone more. muscular.

We have left the new "Mr. America", Bill Pearl, until the last. We had never seen Bill but from what we had heard and from photos we had guessed that he might have a good chalice to win the title. Each year we made such a guess for our cover just before the Nats. For the past two years we have guessed right. Just now I haven't the slightest idea who we will guess on next year. We will probably be wrong tho. Anyhow we feel that the choice of Bill Pearl for the new Mr. America was one of the most popular decisions ever given. We heard no complaints whatever about first choice this year. You read Bill's story in last issue but let us tell you a little more about him. First, Bill is very retiring and modest like we are told all Mr. Americas are. However, there is no kidding about Bill. He is one of the finest fellows ever to win such a title and will surely bring it nothing but honor and respect. He is now in the Navy and is a very sincere Christian and a member of the Baptist church. He feels his responsibility as the new Mr. America and his greatest concern is that he won't be able to live up to all that he feels such a title demands in character and clean living. We have every confidence in Bill tho, for we have never known a young fellow with more determination and sincere intention of doing his best to live up to what he believes is his obligation.

As for Bill's physique, we believe he won because of his perfect symmetry and proportion rather than for any other reason. Bill has large measurements but no single part of his body stands out above the others. He does not appear large and bulky. There is a harmony of proportion that Bill possesses that you must see to appreciate. You can't find a single weak spot in his physique. I believe that the fact that he didn't win a single sub-division is a compliment to his perfect proportions. You didn't feel that he had best arms or best chest or best anything else. You just knew that he was the best man. He was a picture of perfection. There must be contrast to win in the subdivisions. Some body part must stand out above all others. There is no such contrast in Bill's physique. He has good definition, plenty of bulk and is well developed everywhere. He has a good posing routine and pleasant personality.

Leo Stern should be given much credit for bringing Bill to the top for he has spent a lot of time, thought and money to help Bill with his training, traveling to contests and giving him the best of advice.

The next four or five men who placed under Bill, who won by a margin of 6 points, were all close. It was difficult to pick the best men for the different places. It was only here that there was any variation of opinion and this was not great since all the men were so close.

I want to thank all the judges for their fine cooperation. I have every confidence in them and know that they did their sincere best to render a just decision as they saw it. Being a judge at a physique contest such as this is not an enviable task and most men accept it reluctantly as a duty they are called on to perform to the best of their ability.

We cannot fail to mention the special acts used to fill in during the slow periods of the meet. One old time strong man named L. Carson gave a very interesting display of strength, agility and balance. George Greenfield and his daughter presented a nice balancing act. Gloria Short, a beautiful contortionist showed what real flexibility is. James Park, last year's Mr. America gave a demonstration of posing that indicated he is as good as ever even though he doesn't have much time to train now. Gloria Martin a young lass of 15 demonstrated that the gals can be strong by doing an easy dead lift with 300. She expects to make a new world record shortly on this lift.

She has done 335 without much trouble. She is from Marion, Indiana. We cannot fail to mention Miss Jean Chappell who was on hand to pose with Bill Pearl for the News Reel Cameras. She is the present "Miss Marion County" and is now training for the "Miss Universe" contest. The unusual thing about it is that she is using weights to prepare herself for this title attempt. Those of you who feel that weights are not for women should see this beautiful young miss. You would feel like voting that every woman immediately start weight training.

The evening after the show Dr. Myles S. Barton, Secretary of the A.A.U. and a very hard worker for all sports, invited quite a number of officials and A.A.U. members, as well as Mr. America, to a wonderful dinner at the Athletic Club. A very enjoyable time was had by everyone. Bill Pearl and Leo Stern had to rush through it though to appear on Television, Radio etc. and then had to make a special rush plane trip to Chicago for the same purpose.

Thus ended a wonderful meet. Bobby Higgins told me afterward that he lost $180 on the meet, which, though regrettable, is not too bad. One should expect to lose on such shows and at best break even. Too many people feel that surely a man must make a fortune on a lifting and physique show but such is not the case. You'd be surprised what it costs for such a show. There are many, many hidden expenses that you would never dream of. Anyhow we must congratulate Bob on doing a wonderful job. Incidently he looks terrific-a regular little giant. I've never seen anyone with so large a neck and shoulders at his height.

We went back to our hotel and made our farewells to so many good friends who were leaving that night such as Irvin Johnson, Clarence Johnson and many of the lifters. We regret that we didn't get a complete list of all the officials of the lifting or all the men who helped in other ways. Martin Frederick did a good job keeping scorekeepers, Alyce Yarick and Mabel Rader aware of the lifts because they could not hear the announcements back on the stage.

Next year's meet will tentatively be in California unless circumstances make it necessary to change. See you all there!


- This photo shows STEVE KLISANIN the new "Mr. Jr. America" and Fourth place man in the "Mr. America". This fellow has a marvelous build with good proportions, excellent definition and a good posing routine. With a little more bulk he would be difficult for anyone to beat if he can retain his definition. His arms and legs need it most.

- BILL PEARL certainly has an outstanding physique and won his title by a consierable margin in points, gettin 97 points to 91 for DuBois. Though he stands 5'9" and weights about 200 for contests, his perfect symmetry makes him appear lighter and more slender.

- TONY SILIPINI of Rochester is one of the most herculean men of our time. He trained down from 252 to about 215 for this contest. He won the best chest and the best legs trophies. Photo below shows his fine, powerful legs.

- TIM LEONG has one of the finest physiques at the show and won the best back title with the fine, muscular development shown here.

- IRVIN KOSZEWSKI is still winning the best abdominal title tho his competition was very close this year with George Paine. Irv is small boned and does not have as wide a pair of shoulders as some of the other fellows. Otherwise he could surely win the title for he has about the ost perfectly developed set of muscles in the country.

- Here is a lineup of top men in the physique contest with SIEPKE from Detroit on the left. The next man is unidentified. Next are KLISANIN, PAINE, and BRENNER. Brenner was huge but lacked the definition he had last year.

- Photo at bottom shows our chairman CLARENCE JOHNSON congratulating BILL PEARL for winning the title of "Mr. America".

- This front pose of TIM LEONG of Hawaii does not do justice to one of the nicest physiques at the show. He has just about everything for the perfect physique.

- The photo at top of GEORGE PAINE is a little dark but shows a part of his fine physique that won him the "Most Muscular" title again. Many fellows feel more honored at winning this title than the "Mr. America". This photo also gives evidence of his fine abdominals that almost won this title for him. Photo below is another of BILL PEARL receiving his trophy from Miss JEAN CHAPPELL. Jean is "Miss Marion County" and is training with weights for the "Miss Universe" contest. She is a very beautiful young lady with a sparkling personality.

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