Arnold was enthusiastic meeting Tommy Kono his boyhood idol, who motivated him to start weightlifting early. We need to know where we have been, to know where we are going.
WHO IS TOMMY KONO?
During the 1950's, from the time he won his first Olympics in 1952, Tommy was invincible. He was undefeated internationally until the 1960 Olympic Games, where he took a silver metal. He set a total of 26 world records in 4 weight classes (when there were only 7 weight classes, classes that had been stable for decades). This feat has never been matched by any other weightlifter. This talented phenomenon excelled in physical competitions as well, winning the Mr. World competition in 1954 and Mr. Universe in 1955,1957 and in 1961.
His track record as a coach is also stunning. He was Olympic coach for Mexico in 1968, bringing lifters to the Games from a country that had little history in the sport of weightlifting before Tommy's arrival there. Tommy went on to coach the West German Olympic Team in 1972, and return to the U.S. to coach its Olympic Team in 1976. He continued to be active coaching in the U.S. teams for the next several decades, being selected almost by acclimation to lend his vast experience to the U.S. team at the inaugural Women's World Championship in 1987, a competition that set the stage for the inclusion of women weightlifters in the Olympic Games (which happened for the first time at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.)
As if competing and coaching isn't enough to fill Tommy's rich weightlifting life, he has gained world wide reputation as an official in the International Weightlifting Federation. And last, but surely not least, he has been one of weightlifting's most prolific writers, photographers, and equipment designers. Few readers of the now defunct Strength & Health magazine could ever forget Tommy's seminal training and technique articles (e.g., Quality Training), his photographs ( e.g., Ivanchenko doing high pulls), or the products that he has designed (e.g., neoprene knee bands.)
Along with Tommy's great accomplishments in his life he has also been inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame located at the International Olympic Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was one of the one hundred Golden Olympians invited to the 1996 Olympic Games as a Special Guest.
Some of the international titles acquired and achieved by Tommy Kono are listed bellow:
TITLES - WEIGHTLIFTING
1952 Olympic Lightweight Champion Helsinki, Finland
1953 World Middleweight Champion Stockholm, Sweden
1954 World Light-Heavyweight Champion Vienna, Austria
1955 World Light-Heavyweight Champion Munich, Germany
1958 World Middleweight Champion Stockholm, Sweden
1959 World Middleweight Champion Warsaw, Poland
1955 Pan American Games Light- Heavyweight Champion Mexico City, Mexico
1959 Pan American Games Middleweight Champion Chicago, Illinois
1963 Pan American Games Light-Heavyweight Champion Sao Paulo, Brazil
TITLE - PHYSIQUE
1954 "Mr. World" Roubaix, France
1955 "Mr. Universe" Munich, Germany
1957 "Mr. Universe" Teheran, Iran
1961 "Mr. Universe" Vienna, Austria
INTERNATIONAL RECORDS ESTABLISHED
26 World Record
7 Olympic Records
8 Pan American Games Records
PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS AND HONORS
National & Olympic Coach for Mexico
National & Olympic Coach For Western Germany
Olympic Coach for U.S.A.
I.W.F. International Coach Title
International Referee - Category 1
U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
One Hundred Golden Olympians
INTERNATIONAL WEIGHTLIFTING FEDERATION HONORS
International Weightlifting Hall of Fame
I.W.F 25 Year Service Award
Most Successful Weightlifter
-Olympic & World for 8 consecutive years
-World & Olympic Titles in 3 Different bodyweight classes
-Established World Records in 4 different bodyweight classes
I.W.F. LIFTER OF THE CENTURY AWARD
Tommy Kono's books at the bottom of this page
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE T. K. BANDS
This is Bob Bednarski wearing the T.K. Bands that Tommy Kono gave him in 1966.
by Tommy Kono I never had knee problems until I gave an informal demonstration at a Boy Scout Jamboree near Dover, Pennsylvania. I performed a Split-style Snatch of 135 lb. My best Snatch at that time was 297 lb. using the Squat-style so you would think that a measly 135 should not bother me. Well, evidently my forward knee, the right one, must have flexed a little out of alignment for it did not feel right after I gave the exhibition. I did not think anything of it and went on to Warsaw, Poland for the '59 World Weightlifting Championships. At the Championships I tried a World Record lift of 374 lb. in the Clean and Jerk. I shouldered the weight but failed the overhead portion of the lift. The very next day after spending some waking hours moving around, I tried to sit on a chair and found I could not bend my right leg enough to sit correctly. It was stiff and the knee looked swollen. From then on I had a knee problem. Because my right knee was bad I started to favor it and use my left leg more in all my movements, even transferring much of my training load to my left leg. Yes, you guessed it. I had a problem with my left knee too. I was plagued with both knees being bad going to the 1960 Rome Olympics. My once thickly muscled legs, especially right above my knees, started to shrink in size for I could not perform the full knee bends or tax them without being in pain. Sports medicine was unknown and especially in Hawaii such a thing as arthroscopic surgery was nonexistent. I suffered through 4 more years but in early 1964 I created a support for my knees that worked wonders. It kept my knees stable, warm and provided good support. I used it every time I used my legs and that meant for Olympic lifting, of course. It was like having a new pair of knees! If I had these knee bands earlier it would have prolonged my weightlifting career...and I may have even won my third gold medal at the 1960 Olympics. When I was coaching in Mexico I gave a pair to Bob Bednarski at the 1966 World Weightlifting Championships that was staged in East Berlin. He took it back to York and used it in training. It was used by Tommy Suggs, then editor of Strength & Health magazine, and Bill Starr, the assistant editor. It was common for all three to take turns using it because they had only one pair between them.
When I developed the knee band, I called it T. K. Knee Bands. When Bob Hoffman of York took over the marketing, he renamed it B. H. Knee Bands.
Now, for the first time since then, the original design and material are now available to keep your knees in top shape. These specially developed knee bands are not your typical knee sleeves, knee supporters or knee braces. When you wear them, you know you have something that will protect your knees from injuries. After you have used them in your training and remove them, your knees will feel as if they are well lubricated and feel like new. Your knees will actually be sweating.
TO ORDER CLICK Add to Cart OR CALL TOLL FREE 1-888-669-6316
T.K. BANDS (medium)
T.K. BANDS (large)
Mr. Kono, I am writing to thank you for the TK Waist Band and TK Knee Bands. Without your Bands I could not have accomplish my goal of losing 100 lbs. in bodyweight. I have used other bands and wraps on the market but your bands stands alone. They are the very best! I attach my "before" and "after" photo and the story behind them. Please feel free to use them to support your great products. A very sincere thanks again. Your name and your TK bands stands out head and shoulders above in the field of other similar products.
As a Power Lifter I trained to get big and strong and I thought nothing of eating a whole family pizza followed with a half gallon of ice cream by myself in one sitting. I loved Power Lifting because I could eat to my heart's content and become big and powerful! I had a physical checkup by my family doctor two months after turning 50 years of age. At 5 feet 11 1/2 inches in height I weighed 316 pounds and my blood pressure was too high so the doctor prescribed blood pressure medication for my condition. I told him I did not need it because I would drop my bodyweight. He countered by telling me that losing weight would not do it. He was thinking I meant 20-30 pounds but I was thinking in terms of losing 100 pounds. I left his office with the blood pressure medicine in hand but with a definite goal in mind -- that of losing 100 pounds of body fat by following a sound diet and an exercise program geared to lose body fat. My background as an athlete in Power Lifting helped me set definite goals so my plan included following a good nutritional program I picked up from (Power Nutrition) articles in Powerlifting USA. Cardiovascular exercise was included too so the increased circulation prevents loose skin from forming as fat would disappear. The cardiovascular movements such as jumping rope, biking or jogging meant constant pounding on the knee joints and to prevent wear and tear and to keep stability and warmth in the knees, I used the TK Knee Bands. The pounding affects the lower back and spine as well so I wore the TK Waist Band that kept my back warm and gave good support to the lower back. The one thing that helped me lose inches around my waist was the TK Waist Band. It is common to lose 3 pounds or so in exercising from sweating and all this can be gained back by hydrating yourself but what most people do not understand is that the TK Waist Band helps generate heat and that in turn improves blood circulation. This, in turn, helps metabolize this area faster.
My waist came down from 44 inches to 34 inches and I did lose 100 pounds in body fat in 7 months' time. If you check my shoulder and chest area on the "after" picture, I have not lost any size or shape there but the waist has impressively trimmed down. Incidentally, my blood pressure reading is perfect and I do not take anymedication. They say with age comes wisdom and I find this to be so true. In the lower photo you see me wearing what I call the TK Suit of Armor for my exercise program....prevents injuries of the knees, lower back and trims the waist. The support and warmth created by the TK bands on the joints is critical especially for a heavy person who perform any repetitive movements. I strongly advise anyone who wishes to lose bodyweight to wear these TK Bands as a protective measure against stress and strain of the joints that will under go constant pounding. If your joints go, so does you cardiovascular exercises and the high metabolic rate!
MY SUIT OF ARMOR at age 51
TOMMY KONO WAIST BAND
WEIGHTLIFTING, OLYMPIC STYLE by Tommy Kono is the most practical approach to learn and to improve on Olympic lifts. Information contained in this book is priceless for beginners as well as advanced lifters, this book will be the most valuable tool to learn the correct way to lift, train and focus in a positive direction. Read and see if it doesn’t change your attitude toward Olympic lifting…….and toward life.
Price $44.50 plus S/H $6.75
TO ORDER CLICK Add to Cart OR CALL TOLL FREE 1-888-669-6316
TOMMY KONO - WEIGHTLIFTING, OLYMPIC STYLE
by Tommy Kono
I won two Olympic gold medals, one silver, was eight times world champion, set 26 world records spread over 4 bodyweight classes, was not subsidized, did not have fancy training quarters, coaches, or any of the things of today. How did I do it? How did I beat the world? I knew that lifting is more than muscle power. It is mental power. My second book tells you how to increase your mental power to make yourself lift at the championship level. As the following brief story explains, you’ll learn that I was not a gifted or talented child nor born to a wealthy family. I had many “ups and downs” while growing up and during the developmental years of my weightlifting career. Nothing came easy for me. When I was in grade school I often wondered why I was a victim of asthmatic attacks when none of my friends or classmates had asthma. My three older brothers were robust in health and so were my parents. Why was I missing almost a third of my school days? I missed so many days of school that I was placed in the slow learners class. I grew up in the 1930s depression era in the lower end of Sacramento, California and when WW II broke out, my family, along with all the other Japanese-Americans on the West Coast, was interned in relocation camps. With 3½ years behind barbed wire compound with military sentries posted in watchtowers and living in barracks, I felt socially out of place when I returned to my hometown after the war. I was 15½ years of age and returning to “civilization” was almost like an immigrant setting up a new residence. Camp internment did improve my health, and it was in camp that my new next-door neighbor, who was into weight training, introduced me to barbell and dumbbell training. Before returning to my hometown, I had a year of weight training behind me so my strength level had improved and filled out to some extent my skinny body that gave me more confidence. Training with weights and reading the monthly Strength & Health magazine did much to influence me in a positive way during my high school and Junior College years. From the senior year of high school when I entered my first weightlifting contest, I improved so rapidly that within 26 months, at the Pacific Coast Championships, I had made the highest total (780 lb.) in the world of anyone in my bodyweight class. The 1950 World Championships was won with 777 lbs. I missed making the 1950 U.S. World Championship Team because 3 days before the Team Try-out, my mother passed away; so instead of competing in the Trials, I flew back home. The following year I was determined to improve my lifting even more but the Korean Conflict called me to military service. This curbed my weightlifting training completely for military “Basic Training” allows no time for any other activity for 11 weeks. After my Basic Training, I took the option of becoming a cook in the Army so I could cook every other day and be able to train on my off duty days. This worked fine until the North Koreans started to target the cooks. The U.S. Army was known to “move on its’ stomach” and without warm food it was assumed the army would be demoralized. I reported to Camp Stoneman where the troop gathered to be sent overseas, but, in reporting for duty, I was informed that I was taken off the list because I was “a candidate for the Olympic Team.” I suspect someone like Coach Bob Hoffman must have put in a good word for me in Washington, D.C. that gave me the opportunity to make the 1952 U.S. Olympic Team. Evidently the U.S. Army thought I’d be of better service to the U.S. at the Olympic Games than “up front” as a cook. Anyway, what could have been hazardous duty of war was now turned to a mission of representing the U.S. on the international stage at the Olympic Games. I won the gold medal at the Helsinki Olympics, but my military orders received just a few days before my competition date notified me to be stationed in West Germany for the remainder of my military term to fulfill my overseas duty. I made the best of the situation while in Germany by giving exhibitions as a “guest lifter” to the German “league competitions,” a weightlifting competition among the various weightlifting clubs that was held on Saturday evenings. I learned much from taking part in these weekly lifting sessions and it helped me understand and refine the training process for improving continuously. I was fortunate to have an Olympic lifting set where I was assigned but nothing else… no squat racks or a lifting platform and the Olympic set had iron plates. Yet, by being resourceful and innovative in my training, every time I performed on weekends, I equaled or exceeded the Olympic record total of 880 lbs. With an Olympic gold medal and many exhibitions and a few international contests behind me, I returned to the U.S. to get discharged from the Army and was more confident in myself than when I left for Helsinki for the Olympic Games 10 months before. My basic personality did not change because of the added experiences and exposure, but I did learn one thing; we should all strive to keep improving ourselves no matter what happens and that adversities and objects are there to challenge our mettle and to make us better, stronger persons. It is in accepting that challenge that makes us persevere for the bigger goals of life. Making excuses or looking for excuses get you nowhere, but finding the solution to a problem is what weightlifting (and life) is all about. My first book, Weightlifting, Olympic Style, is what I consider a textbook on the Olympic lifts and it covers lifting technique to training programs and contest preparation with examples and stories related to actual performances. The second book, Championship Weightlifting, covers the mental and psychological side of Olympic weightlifting and expounds on the approach to overcome the barriers that hold us back from progressing. Originally intended for coaches and elite lifters, I realized that the mental approach must be nurtured from the very beginning; so after several years of writing, I decided to rewrite some of the previous materials so it will be helpful to beginners as well. In Championship Olympic Weightlifting, 50% is mental, 30% technique and 20% power. Most everyone has this in the reverse order of importance and spend too many hours in hard physical training but hardly any time in grooming his or her mind for the sport. The second book emphasizes how important the mental aspect has on Olympic weightlifting.
“In his essay Self Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson asked who is the master who would have taught Newton; I ask who is the master who would have taught Tommy Kono? Again he shares with us his vast knowledge and expertise; we are so fortunate . . .
Lou DeMarco, Senior International Coach
“I can’t think of any athlete or coach who wouldn’t benefit from reading Championship Weightlifting, and most will benefit a great deal. There are many very useful and profound points made by Kono. They are particularly useful because they are points about mental preparation, the importance of quality training and technique mastery that are often mentioned in passing but seldom addressed in detail in the weightlifting literature.” “In summary, this book is incredibly helpful on its own, and in combination with Weightlifting, Olympic Style, captures a lifetime of learning from one of weightlifting’s most outstanding participants and astute observers. I recommend it highly.”
Artie Drechsler, Author of “Weightlifting Encyclopedia”
“Championship Weightlifting, along with its predecessor, Weightlifting, Olympic Style, is destined to be among the great classics in weightlifting history. Tommy, our sport’s alltime greatest competitor, passes on knowledge that only he is qualified to do. If you’re a fan of Olympic weightlifting you must have both of these volumes in your personal library.”