The recipient of the 2001 Brother Bennett Award was our hard-working Vice President, Dr. Larry Maile. He is well deserving of this year’s award since he has done it all: coach, administrator, lifter, meet promoter, and leader. Many know him for his work as a coach for the dominant Alaskan Iron Maidens, Bench Press World Team, Women’s Open Team, and Junior World Team, thus his being last year’s Coach of the Year. He has taken on the thankless tasks of Alaska State Chair, Coaches Committee Chair, USA Powerlifting VP, and North American VP. One of our Nation’s top lifter’s, Leslie Look, has been quoted numerous times saying, “He is the best thing to happen to women’s powerlifting!” Oh yeah, and last year on the side he won the Master World Championships. He has put in countless hours towards the USA Powerlifting and it’s mission of being the premier drug-free powerlifting organization. I had the honor of asking him a few questions about his award.
KF: At this year’s Men’s National Championships in Nebraska, the NGB voted to present you with the prestigious Brother Bennet Award for your service to the Federation and for helping to promote Drug-Free Powerlifting. Tell us a little historical overview of this award, and your reaction to receiving it.
- LM: It is a great honor to have received our founder’s award. It is presented annually in the name of Brother Bennett (Bishop), who founded the ADFPA in 1981 in response to the growing drug problem in powerlifting. Recipients of the Brother Bennett Award have generally been long time members of USA Powerlifting, and have served in a variety of positions, which demonstrate their commitment to keeping our platform as clear of drug-using athletes as is possible. Past recipients have included administrators, national meet promoters, and athletes who have had an unwavering stand in support of both our athletes and who have embraced the philosophy of our organization as originally defined by Brother Bennett.
KF: With regard to Brother Bennett’s founding philosophy and the fact that there still seems to be a large void between US powerlifting federations, what responsibilities does the USA Powerlifting have as the premier drug-free organization? Also, how do those responsibilities influence our relationship with the IPF?
- LM: I was recruited directly by Brother Bennett to be the first Alaska State chair, in 1984. Over the years, I spent some time with Brother Bennett, in person, and on the phone for hours at a time. He had been a meet promoter in the AAU and later the USPF, promoting nationals in Mississippi. He was not an individual who was out of the mainstream of powerlifting, but central to it in the United States. His decision to break away from the established powerlifting federations was a decision based on the damage he was seeing which resulted from use of anabolics. Even during the founding of the ADFPA, he remained on good footing with many of the members of the other organizations. During our conversations, Brother mentioned many times his desire to both clean up powerlifting, and in his later years, to reunify our sport in the U.S. But he was unwilling to compromise his stance on drug use. Rather, as he demonstrated in other aspects of his life, he chose to forgive and forget. That is to say, he stressed cleaning up rather than suspending and alienating.
- Our role in U.S. powerlifting should remain true to Brother Bennett’s vision: to clean up powerlifting, to reunify the various factions of our sport, and to remain true to our original mission. I see USA Powerlifting as continuing that tradition. While there is some anxiety as members return to USA Powerlifting from other federations, we must keep in mind the vision articulated, and the dignity of our founder. If we are unable to agree on drug free lifting, we must remain on good terms with those who make other choices.
With regard to the IPF, I see our role as following from the original mission of the ADFPA. It is our job to, first, police our own members, and to demonstrate that drug free athletes can be competitive internationally. We have growing influence internationally by virtue of our having done so. In addition, we have been supportive of the IPF, open to friendly competition, and have participated with large, well-behaved teams. Our members have been willing to work to further powerlifting internationally, as well as at home, and the world is noticing.
I see our future role in the IPF expanding, when the aftertaste of our predecessors wears off, and our good will becomes appreciated further. We will further this when the IPF comes home to America for World Championships in the coming years.
KF: Thank you, Dr. Maile. It has been a pleasure working with you on and off the platform. Congratulations on this honor!