Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dr. Ken Remembered - By Jim Duggan

    It would be difficult to overstate the impact that Dr. Ken Leistner had on the world of Powerlifting, and Strength Training.   As a chiropractor, strength coach, writer, and gym owner, he influenced countless Lifters, and Iron Game devotees over the years.  Earlier today, I received the sad news that Dr. Ken had passed away, at the age of 72.
     Several of us from Bruno's discussed the impact that Dr. Ken had, not only on us, but on the world of weight training.  Chris Newins put it best when he said: " He was a mentor and friend to so many."  Truer words were never spoken.  He certainly had an impact on my life insofar as it relates to training.  There will undoubtedly be numerous tributes to Dr. Ken over the coming days, and rightfully so.  I think it is accurate to say that he was one of the most influential figures in the world of Strength and Lifting.
     My first introduction to Dr. Ken was through the pages of Powerlifting USA Magazine.  His column, "More From Ken Leistner," was a regular feature.  It was also one of the first things that I would read.  His no-nonsense, straight forward, no bull style of writing was perfectly suited for those of us who love to lift.
     Dr. Ken wrote for many magazines over the years.  Just about every Muscle/Lifting/Strength publication benefited from his expertise.  And readers like me were all the better for it.  His own publication, "The Steel Tip," was years ahead of its time.  I'm glad that I have a complete set of back issues,  which he generously gave to me.  One of my favorite articles of his appeared in Muscular Development magazine.  It was titled "Unorthodox Power Builders."  It described how one can become brutally strong by lifting odd objects.  Back then, lifting I-Beams, Anvils, or Torpedoes was not something that was generally done by trainees. This particular article was focused on lifting heavy anvils.  It must have made an impression on me since I am the proud owner of nine ( yes, nine) anvils ranging in weight fro 50- 206 Lbs..
     The first time I ever met Dr. Ken was in the Winter of 1992, when he opened the world famous Iron Island Gym.  I had the pleasure of speaking with him for about twenty minutes. At the time, I was 27 years old, and I thought I knew a lot about lifting.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn, and I could not have have picked a better place to learn, nor a more knowledgeable person to learn from.  You could just feel his passion about all things strength related, and he wanted to provide the very best facility for those who shared his passion.  I think if you ask anybody who trained at Iron Island, you will get the same answer:  It was the best lifting gym that any of us had seen.  The atmosphere, equipment, environment, and energy of that place could inspire anyone.  I have often said that if you couldn't get motivated at Iron Island, then you ought to be embalmed.  Dr. Ken and Ralph Raiola created a gym that was second to none.
     My first experience with High Intensity Training was through Dr. Ken.  At the time, he was writing articles for "Hardgainer" magazine. He was kind enough to give me a stack of back issues.  Looking back, Hargainer was one helluva training magazine.  And, just as with PL/USA magazine, his column was the first thing I would read.  Incidentally, during the mid 1990s, Hargainer could boast of having Dr. Ken, Bob Whelan, and Brooks Kubik as regular contributors.  Imagine, three of the most knowledgeable and talented Iron Game writers on the same magazine at the same time!
     I can't begin to imagine just how many lifters and Strength coaches have been influenced by Dr. Ken.  I certainly learned a lot from him.  I still have his monthly "Iron Island Insights," that he wrote for the members of the gym.  As I've often said, quality training information never goes out of style.  In fact, I still have a hand-written Deadlift program he wrote for me in 1993.  It was a program that helped me to a personal best of 688 Lbs., which I pulled at a meet at his gym.  The trophies he gave out were made from actual I-beams.  I cherish the program, and the trophies I received to this day.  More importantly, I will forever cherish the memories of a great gym, and a man who made a difference in the lives of those who benefited from his talent, passion, and wisdom.  I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family, relatives, and many friends.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Ken. And Thank You. 


Editor's Note: Thank You Jim for the great tribute to Dr. Ken. I had a great deal of respect for him. He was an Iron Game legend and one of the best strength/ muscle writers in history. He will be missed but his influence on weight training will long remain with us.
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