In weight lifting, as in almost every physical contest, a good big man is better than a good little man. The best big man to ever participate in the Iron Game, which is as much a trial of mental attitude as strength, is Paul Anderson, shown in all his prideful bulk on the opposite page. Anderson, who, despite his 310 pounds, cares so little for food that he has only one desultory meal and two quarts of milk a day, is the only lifter in history to get 1,100 pounds overhead in the three Olympic lifts—the press, the snatch, the clean and jerk—and it is expected that he will become the first to lift 1,200. This will depend on his success in the snatch—and at his present streamline he should be more agile in this quick lift.
Although Anderson is a certainty to win a gold medal for the U.S. in the heavyweight division, international experts consider the lightest body weight class, the bantamweight, or 123-pound division, to be the one which will decide the Olympic competition between the U.S. and Russia: no other nation seems likely to win a gold medal. In recent years the bantamweight class has been dominated by Soviet lifters. At Melbourne, U.S. Bantam Chuck Vinci will be meeting the Russian, Vladimir Stogov (right), who is the current world-record holder with a 737 total. Stogov, however, has fared poorly of late while the 4-foot 10-inch Vinci is swiftly improving. If the U.S. gets a gold medal in this class, which has been dominated, of late, by Russian lifters, they will have gained an important psychological advantage.
The featherweight division pits, for the U.S., Israel-born Isaac Berger, a very promising cocky young lifter, against either Ivan Udodov or the 1952 Olympic champion, Rafael Chimishkian. The U.S. is thought to have a 50-50 chance of winning this division. The lightweight class will be dominated by Soviet lifters. The U.S. is entering no one, due to the fact that the Russians have five men who are far superior to America's best. Dr. Peter George, an Army dentist and an unparalleled stylist in the quick lifts, is the U.S. entry in the middleweight division. A 1952 Olympic champion, George is expected to meet the formidable Russian Fyodor Bogdanovsky, who, though a very good presser, is something of a defeatist with a tendency to fold in international competition.
Tommy Kono, holder of seven world records, is the U.S. hope, and a very good one too in the light-heavyweight class. Although Kono is nominally a middleweight, he is entered in this class and eating six meals a day to make top weight in the 181-pound class as a concession to the committee who felt that he would contribute most to the team there. Kono ought to be a shoo-in against the unpredictable Trofim Lomakin if he can overcome a recent and deplorable tendency of failing on his first two of three attempts. The middle-heavyweight division will be a close contest between the American, Dave Sheppard, and the surly Soviet medical student, Arkady Vorobyov. Sheppard, the onetime Don Larsen of weight lifting, is a genuinely rugged individualist. He used to consume as many as eight quarts of beer a day, commencing at breakfast, favors black T shirts, dark glasses and a trench coat instead of a robe. Sheppard, fortunately, is now down to four cigarets a day and in top condition.