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From The Desk Of Clarence Bass

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“The experiences of these men and women aren’t so different from our own. The human body is a wonderful engine. And it wants to be pushed.” Lee Bergquist, SECOND WIND: The Rise of the Ageless Athlete (Human Kinetics, 2009)

“I asked Bass…, What is the difference between [you] and a 70-year-old man in excellent health who walks a little and putters in the Garden? ‘One thing he isn’t trying to do is challenge or improve himself,’ Bass said. ‘It sounds like he’s an old man, and that doesn’t excite me. I think you have to find something that excites you, that motivates you, so you want to get out of bed and get down to the gym.’” Lee Bergquist, SECOND WIND

Bergquist’s Second Wind Captures Ups & Downs of Ageless Athletes

Chapter on Clarence Now Online; see below

For several years now, we’ve been telling you about the upcoming book by journalist Lee Bergquist delving into the lives of older men and women at the top of their sport http://www.cbass.com/News5.htm . He first contacted Clarence late in 2004, and has been in regular contact since then—by telephone, email and in person. Well, the book is finished, it was published in May (2009).

It’s all we expected, and more.

We knew Lee was working on the book long and hard. Still, we didn't fully appreciate the size and scope of his undertaking. He criss-crossed the country talking to and observing an amazing array of elite older athletes. Those profiled—studied in depth—include a female power lifter, a male speed skater, a male shot putter, three male swimmers, a female cross-country skier, a bodybuilder (Clarence), a female all-round track & field champion, a heart transplant recipient who runs marathons, a female Ironman triathlon champion, two male streak runners, a female champion swimmer, a male cross-country cyclist, and an octogenarian who knocks off marathon after marathon. They’re all passionate about what they do.

Lee tells the stories of 18 masters athletes in an informed, curious, and honest way. In addition to being an award-winning writer, Bergquist has a long-standing interest in aging and fitness. He competed in masters track and field in his 40s, and now stays in shape by sprinting, biking, swimming, and skateboarding. He’s a firm believer that “sweat is good.”

Unlike most books of this type, Second Wind looks behind every tree and under every rock. No rose-colored glasses treatment here. Think magnifying glass. Bergquist tells about these athletes, warts and all. He digs beneath the surface to see what makes each one tick, what drives them. Sometimes it’s not so pretty, but it is always interesting and instructive.

Lee explores weaknesses as well as strengths, including personal, financial, and psychological quandaries. Among other things, he probes the use of performance enhancing drugs, feelings of inadequacy, memory problems, childhood troubles, and eccentric behavior traits. As you might expect, he uncovers orthopedic problems experienced by just about everyone. He ferrets out the full and complete stories of these high performance athletes. Most of them have problems of one sort or another, and all of them have inspiring stories to tell.

Lee Bergquist has poured his heart and soul into this book. While his decades as a journalist covered “just about everything but sports,” researching, investigating, and writing this book has earned him the equivalent of a master’s degree in masters athletes. Here’s his concluding paragraph and the bottom line of his master’s thesis: The experiences of these men and women aren’t so different from our own. The human body is a wonderful engine. And it wants to be pushed.   

Amen.

Congratulations, Lee—and thank you for shining a journalistic spotlight on what challenge can do for the aging body.

Fabulous Abs Chapter on Anonymous Blog

Lee Bergquist's coverage of Clarence's life in fitness is the best and most comprehensive to be found anywhere. Importantly, it presents Clarence as seen through the eyes of an independent journalist. Bergquist discovered Clarence in Professor Waneen Spirduso's landmark reference Physical Dimensions of Aging and took it from there. As explained above, he spend several years doing what good journalists do; he studied Clarence in depth culminating in a trip to Albuquerque to observe, talk, and train with him. What he found fills one of the 12 chapters in Second Wind.

To our surprise and delight, the entire chapter popped up August 17, 2014, on the intriguingly named blog The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban, which carries a by-line from Greek literature "My name is nobody and you have one eye" often used by authors who wish to remain anonymous.

In case your wondering, as we did, Dezso Ban was an elite Hungarian Olympic weightlifter who in 1956 emigrated to the US, where he earned a Masters Degree in physics and pursued a career in research and engineering--and his love of weight lifting. Ban was also known for reading widely and an interest in linguistics.

Massively muscled and prolific muscle magazine author Anthony Ditillo wrote: "I would say, without reservation, pound-for-pound he is one of the strongest and most muscular men I have ever met...I myself have seen “Dezzi” shrug 940 pounds for 3 repetitions at a bodyweight of approximately 190."

Dezso Ban passed away on October 24, 2013, at the age of 83.

Anthony Ditillo died a few years ago (2007?), but it appears that Anthony Ditillo, Jr. is carrying on his name and interest in strength and muscle and admiration for Dezso Ban. We are honored that he has chosen to reproduce Lee Bergquist's chapter on Clarence five years after its publication; transcription alone required a major effort. We can't help but wonder about the back story on naming of the blog and reproduction of the chapter from Second Wind.

Whatever the motivation, the chapter is titled "Fabulous Abs." Here's how it begins:

For decades, Clarence Bass (born 1937) has been photographed in bodybuilding poses that trace his transformation from an embryonic weightlifter of 15 to a ripped septuagenarian. The pictures represent a biological time line of how little the human body declines with proper care and feeding. His latest photographs, taken a little shy of his 70th birthday, reveal a man virtually bereft of body fat. He is not so much a portrait of strength, though he is that; he is a model of muscle definition. Everything seems to pop. Tendons and veins rise up out of his skin like tightly drawn cables. He has abs to die for.

"For all the softies of the world," said photographer Laszlo Bencze, who photographed Bass, "the only thing they desire is defined abs. And Clarence has got that in spades." 

Outside the hypercritical eye of the bodybuilding establishment, where no imperfection goes unnoticed, Bass's physique has changed little since 1978 when he won his height class at the Past-40 Mr. America competition. The similarity between age 40 and 70 is all the more remarkable because Bass then was using anabolic steroids.

 Clarence Bass at ages 15, 40, and 70. These photographs clearly show that his muscularity has changed little over time. (Second Wind, page 69)

For the rest of the chapter, go to http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2014/08/clarence-bass-lee-bergquist.html

If you enjoy the chapter on Clarence, now would be a good time to order a copy of Second Wind at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com. You won't find a better book like it anywhere.

 

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