Ol' Claw Returns

The modern grip world started taking form in 1990 as two guys - Richard Sorin and John Brookfield - pushed the envelope in crushing, pinching, bending and tearing, and IronMind® turned a spotlight on their efforts . . . suddenly, what had been a little-known corner of the iron game gained traction and moved toward center stage.

Richard Sorin's feats with the No. 3 Captains of Crush® Gripper and a beast of his discovery that he named "The Blob" defined the high water mark for gripsters of both those days and the ones to follow. Last year, Richard faced a new challenge, in the form of cancer, but he has battled his way back and IronMind® invited his son, Bert, to describe Richard's return to health and strength.

"After the surgery last April, Dad was in tough shape for a while. He lost 35 pounds and looked pretty beat up, I guess 10 hours on the table will do that to a guy. He waited the prescribed 6 weeks of not lifting anything heavier than an iron, which is torture for a man who has deadlifted over 500 lb. every year of his life since 1967 (17 years old . . . almost 40 years ago)! Well, we kept him away from his toys long enough, and he started easing into it again. He started with basic easier lifts, like Bench and Curls, but soon found he did a little too much too fast, Dad's engine has never been geared for half throttle while training! So we took a little set back, and he kept more hydrated, and rolled into it a little slower, allowing his body to heal. Never too old to learn new tricks!

"Within a few months he started to squat again, the 45-lb. bar was enough to almost shut him down the first day, but he vowed to squat a few sets everyday, moving up in weight incrementally, in true MILO form. Inside of two months he had squatted 400 lb. again, and Halloween Eve he squatted 510 lb. in a pair of jeans, something neither of us knew if we would ever see again . . . it was awesome! He followed it up with a 330 lb. raw bench and he now weighed 272 lb. and was feeling good. Seeing that intensity and an rebirth got me fired up for training again, as my workouts had been lackluster due to life stresses.

"As his body, mind and spirit got stronger everyday, he began to tinker with one of his original loves, his signature realm . . . grip. He began to hover the Blobs again, and started to PR with many of them in different ways . . . variable grips, fingers, positions etc. He then went back to a grip feat that we were introduced to a year or so ago at the AOBS Dinner, pinching the five 10-lb. plates. He was lucky enough to receive the actual plates that were at the dinner, big THANKS to 'Chuckie B' as he is known in the grip circles for sending these to us!

"He worked up to six 10-lb. plates, which we previously thought to be impossible. Then six plates with two fingers and a thumb last week! He went back to the five plates and started adding weight, two fingers etc. He had said for a while that he would love to do it, but did not know if one finger and a thumb was even possible for the five tens. Much like tackling the original Blob in the 1980s, he was sailing in uncharted territory, with no map, or predecessor to show a glimmer of hope to such a feat.

"Last night 1-23-06, after a tough workout, I was sitting in my desk at work, shutting down my computer, when I heard, 'Bert, Bert, Bert, Bert!' being bellowed from the area we know as 'Grip Island,' I dived across my desk, creating a mess I have yet to clean up, to see Dad standing proudly holding the five tens with a thumb and one fingers, as he has been doing for the past 10 seconds. WOW! We were all amazed and very congratulatory. He asked if I could get the camera, he had torn his hand on the last attempt, but thought that he may have one more good attempt in the Ol' Claw. I got into position, and snapped the picture you saw as he elevated the 50 lb. of iron in the most difficult of methods.

"I am really proud of dad, not for any specific grip strength feat, for that is far too circumstantial. I am proud of him for being a pioneer of grip strength, a proponent of life long strength, and having the courage to not go gentle into that good night and hang it up just because of some tough times. He has always pushed the envelope, and even after hearing him say that the one finger, 5 tens maybe his best grip feat to date, I am positive he is already dreaming of new, unconquered lands in the world of strength."

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