Jon Cole (weightlifter)

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Jon Cole
Born (1943-04-01)April 1, 1943[1]
United States Chicago, Illinois
Died January 10, 2013(2013-01-10) (aged 69)[1]
Occupation powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman, personal trainer
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Weight 235 – 283 lb (106 – 128kg) active
Competition record
Competitor for  United States
World's Strongest Man
6th 1977 World's Strongest Man
Competitor for  United States
AAU US National Powerlifting Championships[1]
1st 1968 110kg
1st 1970 110kg
1st 1972 +110kg

Jon Frederic Cole (April 1, 1943 – January 10, 2013) was a powerlifter, Olympic weightlifter and strongman from the United States. He competed in powerlifting just prior to the formation of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).[3] Having set world records in the squat, deadlift and Total during his career, he was multiple times AAU US National Powerlifting Champion[1] as well as an outstanding Olympic weightlifter, discus thrower and shot-putter.[2] Being the "premier strongman" of the early 1970s for his overall excellence in powerlifting, Olympic lifting and strength-based track and field, Cole was at one time known as the "strongest man in the world" for holding the greatest combined powerlifting/weightlifting super total of all time.[2][4] Jon Cole was not only officially the first man in history to total 2200 lbs,[5] he also became the first man to squat over 900 lbs (raw with knee wraps) as well as the first to total 2300 lbs in competition on October 28, 1972[6] (shortly followed two weeks later by John Kuc with 905 and 2350 lbs on November 11).[7] Today, he is enjoying legendary status in the powerlifting scene and is widely considered to be one of the all-time greatest powerlifters in the history of the sport. His lifts, which are considered as raw by today's standards, are still mostly unequaled in his weight class:[8] He still holds the all-time greatest raw (unequipped) powerlifting totals in the 242 and the 308-pound division.[8] While past his prime as a lifter, he competed in the first annual World's Strongest Man competition in 1977, where he finished in 6th place.

Early athletics career[edit]

Although born in Chicago, Illinois, Jon grew up in Arizona. At the age of 12 and weighing only 97 lbs, he bought his first weight set. From that day forward lifting weights became his passion. Aside from lifting weights, Jon Cole was an exceptionally gifted all-around athlete as well. Apart from running sprints in high school, he proved to do extraordinarily well in the throwing disciplines.[9]

High School[edit]

Cole entered Glendale High School in 1959, where he was All- State in Track and Field two years and High School State Champion in the Discus throw as a junior and senior. He set the National High School Record as a junior and was named to the National High-School All-American Track and Field Team 1961 and 1962.[9]

  • National High School Record in Discus 178 ft. 8 in. (1961)[10]
  • First place in Discus at the Golden West Invitational (GWI) 1962 (GWI invites the top five athletes of the United States in each track and field event)[10]
  • High School Discus throw State Champion 1961 and 1962[10]


Cole graduated with academic and athletic honors, and accepted a four-year full scholarship from Arizona State University. While at ASU he set the School, State, and Conference Records in the Discus and Shot Put, and was named an NCAA and AAU All American in 1965 and 1966.[9]

  • Western Athletic Conference Discus Champion 1965 and 1966[11]
  • ASU school record in Discus 199 ft. 5 ½ in. (1966)[10]
  • ASU school record in Shot Put 61 ft. 11 ½ in. (1966)[10]

After College[edit]

After finishing College in 1969, Cole went on to compete in Track and Field, powerlifting and Olympic lifting at the same time. Besides setting numerous records in discus and shot put, his probably biggest achievement as a track athlete is his first place in the discus throw at the National AAU Track and Field Championships in 1969, where he threw the discus 208 ft 10 in. for a National AAU Discus record and was named the outstanding Athlete of the championships. He even defeated the great discus thrower and Olympic silver medalist Jay Silvester on that day. Some of his track records and achievements are:

  • Holder of record for the State of Arizona in Shot Put 63 ft. 1 in. (1968)[10]
  • Holder of record for the State of Arizona in Discus 216 ft. 3 in. (1969)[10]
  • National AAU Discus record of 208 ft 10 in. (1996)[10]
  • National AAU Discus Champion 1969[12]
  • Selected to the USA Track Team and competed in Europe 1969[10]

Versatile and Athletic Achievements Witnessed and Verified[10]

  • 100-yard dash in 9.9 seconds at a body weight of 258 lbs. in AAU track meet 1969
  • Baseball throw of 435 ft., measured by ASU Baseball Coach Bob Winkles 1967
  • Place kicked a Football 68 yards, witness and measured by ASU Football Coach Frank Kush 1967
  • Javelin throw 241 ft. AAU track meet 1968
  • Discus 231 ft. 7 in. AAU track meet 1972
  • Shot Put 71 ft. 4 in. AAU track meet 1972

Jon Cole also holds the distinction of being the only person in the world to win two National AAU titles in two sports -Powerlifting, Track and Field- and be named the "Outstanding Performer" in both 1969 and 1970.[10] Cole held more than 200 marks in U.S. and European meets in discus and the shot put, according to Sports Illustrated, which ranked him No. 18 on its list of the top 50 Arizona athletes of the 20th century.[12][13]

Olympic weightlifting career[edit]

Due to his focus on powerlifting, Cole competed in only few weightlifting competitions.[2] Becoming a three time Arizona National Champion and totaling up to 1,200 pounds while competing in the super heavyweight division, however, he proved to be one of the best Olympic weightlifters in the United States during those days, in which Ken Patera was the most dominant American super heavyweight lifter with a total of 1,300 pounds.[2]

Meet results[edit]

  • 1st place in the Arizona AAU State Olympic Heavyweight Championships 1967 setting four state records:
Clean and Press: 375lb, Clean and Jerk: 380lb, Snatch: 300lb---Total: 1,055lb[10]
  • 1st place in the Arizona AAU State Olympic Heavyweight Championships 1969 setting four state records:
Clean and Press: 380lb, Clean and Jerk: 400lb, Snatch: 310lb---Total: 1,090lb[10]
  • 1st place in the Arizona AAU State Olympic Heavyweight Championships 1972 setting four records: Clean and
Clean and Press: 430lb, Clean and Jerk: 430lb, Snatch: 340lb---Total: 1,200lb[10]

Powerlifting career[edit]

Cole began to compete in powerlifting during his college time and in 1968, he decided to participate in his first AAU National Power Lifting Championships. Jon, who was an unknown in the national weight lifting scene, shocked the lifting community by winning the heavyweight division instantly; and was named the meets "Outstanding Performer".[9] He continued to show outstanding performances breaking 62 official National, American, and World Records as a Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight.[10] Cole was not only officially the first man in history to total 2200 pounds,[5] he was also the first man to squat more than 900 pounds[6] and the first man to total 2300 pounds and he did it raw with only knee wraps.[7] He deadlifted more than 800 and occasionally got close to 900 pounds – all on a frame of about 280 pounds.[12] Lifters in the early days of the sport went largely without supportive gear, which makes Cole's lifting stats even more impressive. His greatest powerlifting total of 2364 pounds was done on October 28, 1972 when Cole weighed 283.0 pounds.[2] Today it still stands as the greatest raw Total ever in the 308 pounds weight class.[8] In addition to that, he also holds the all-time world record raw totals in today's 242 pound division.[8] Cole performed most of his record breaking lifts in rather small local meets in his hometown in Arizona. There was some rumor that he used "suspect" technique with his 885-pound deadlift.[14] He lifted the bar to his knees, then leaned back and dragged it up his thighs, which he had rubbed with oil. Fellow competing powerlifter Jim Williams called Cole's lifting "Circus tricks" and challenged him to face him at the inaugural AAU World Powerlifting Championships 1971.[14] The oncoming duel between these two powerlifting titans was labeled the "feud of the century". Although Cole had vowed to take the challenge, he injured himself shortly before the championships to the point, where he was physically unable to lift, and would therefore not attend.[14] "Big" Jim Williams did not win the world championships either – it was Hugh "Huge" Cassidy, who became the first world powerlifting champion since the formation of the AAU.[14]

Meet results[edit]

long standing all-time world records are bold

  • 1st place in the AAU US National Powerlifting Championships 1968, 110 kg (242 lb) Class (Los Angeles, California)[1]
Squat: 705lb, Bench: 465lb, Deadlift: 720lb---Total: 1890lb
  • 1st place in the AAU US National Powerlifting Championships 1970 110 kg (242 lb) Class (New Orleans, Louisiana)[1]
Squat: 760lb, Bench: 520lb, Deadlift: 780lb---Total: 2060lb
  • 1st place in the AAU Arizona State Powerlifting Championships 1971 110 kg (242 lb) Class (Phoenix, Arizona)[10]
Squat: 800lb, Bench: 525lb, Deadlift: 815lb---Total: 2140lb[10] (3/14/71 @240.0 lbs, which later weighed out at 2135 lbs (797/525/813))[8]
  • 1st place in the AAU US National Powerlifting Championships 1972 +110 kg (+242 lb) Class (Denver, Colorado)[1]
Squat: 865lb, Bench: 570lb, Deadlift: 820lb---Total: 2255lb[1] (09/17/72 @ 271.0 lbs, which later weighed out at 2259 lbs (869/570/820))[8][10]
  • 1st place in the AAU Arizona State Powerlifting Championships 1972 +110 kg (+242 lb) Class (Phoenix, Arizona)[10]
Squat: 905lb, Bench: 580 lb, Deadlift: 885lb---Total: 2370lb[10] (10/28/72 @ 283.0 lbs, which later weighed out at 2364 lbs (901.5/580/882.5))[7][8]


Jon was invited to compete in the inaugural World's Strongest Man competition in 1977, finishing 6th while being past his prime. Olympic weightlifter Bruce Wilhelm won that year's as well as 1978's competition. These early WSM competitions were still a contest primarily consisting of American athletes.

Life after competition[edit]

In his later years, Cole used his knowledge as a strength prodigy to help others improve as well. He worked as a strength coach at ASU, helping the Sun Devil football program to prominence in the 1970s.[12] Jon Cole became a successful businessman with his own health club called "Jon Cole Systems", based in Scottsdale.[2] He has been strength consultant to the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix RoadRunners and many other professional athletes residing in the Phoenix area.[12]

Jon Cole died of lung failure in January 10, 2013.[15]

Personal Records[edit]


done in official competition[6]

  • Squat: 901.5 lbs (408.9 kg) raw with ace-bandage knee wraps (905.0 lbs @ 283.0 lbs, which later weighed out at 901.5 lbs)[7]
  • Bench Press: 580.0 lbs (263.0 kg) raw
  • Deadlift: 882.5 lbs (400.3 kg) raw (885.0 lb. @ 283.0 lb., which later weighed out at 882.5 lb.)
  • Powerlifting Total: 2364 lbs[8] (901.5/580/882.5) raw with ace-bandage wraps (2370 lbs (905/580/885) @ 283.0 lbs, which later weighed out at 2364 lbs (901.5/580/882.5))[16]
    • 2364 lbs (901.5/580.0/882.5) @308 lb class[16] (1972 Phoenix, Arizona) (AAU)
    • 2259 lbs (869.0/570.0/820.0) @275 lb class[16] (1972 Denver, Colorado) (AAU)
    • 2135 lbs (797.0/525.0/813.0) @242 lb class[16] (1971 Tolleson, Arizona) (AAU)
→ current all-time raw (unequipped) powerlifting total world records in the 308lb class[8] (have never been surpassed since the early 1970s)


  • Snatch: 155 kg (341.7 lbs)[2]
  • Clean and jerk: 195 kg (430 lbs)[2]
  • Olympic Lift Total (modern): 350 kg (771.7 lbs)[2] (snatch + clean and jerk)
  • Clean and press: 195 kg (430 lbs)[2]
  • Olympic 3-lift-Total (old): 545 kg (1201 lbs)[2](clean and press + snatch + clean and jerk)

Combined Lifting Total[edit]

  • combined weightlifting/powerlifting Super total:
350 kg + 1072 kg = 1422 kg* / 771lbs + 2364lbs = 3135 lbs* (originally 3141 lbs before weigh-out)
  • 5-best-lift total:
168 kg + 195 kg + 409 kg + 276 kg + 400 kg = 1435 kg* / 370 lb + 430 lb + 901 lb + 580 lb + 882 lb = 3163 lbs*(originally 3170 lbs before weigh-out)
→ former all-time highest combined Supertotal as well as 5-lift-total in history for over 20 years (1972 to 1996*);[4] still the 3rd best in history

* both surpassed by Mark Henry in early 1995[4]

  • 6-lift total:
168 kg + 195 kg + 195 kg + 409 kg + 263 kg + 400 kg = 1630 kg* / 340 lb + 430 lb + 430 lb + 901 lb + 580 lb + 882 lb = 3593 lbs* (originally 3600 lbs before weigh-out)
→ all-time highest 6-lift "Superman" total in history (the third Olympic lift (clean&press) was removed as a competitive lift after the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Jon Cole Powerlifting statistics (incomplete)". Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Fernando, Ron (2011-01-30). "Jon Cole: A Forgotten Legend?". Iron Game. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Wangrin, Mark (1995-02-??). "Austinite muscles his way into powerlifting history" (PDF). Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2012-09-25.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b c Strauss, Bob. "Are We Really Getting Any Stronger ?". Bob Strauss. - Fitness and Exercise Resource. Retrieved 2012-10-01. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d "900 Pound Unequipped Squat Hall of Fame - All-Time Historical World Powerlifting Records & Rankings". Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vasquez, Johnny. "Men's All-time Raw World Records". 
  9. ^ a b c d "THE HISTORY OF JON COLE & THE JON COLE SYSTEM". The Jon Cole Systems Star. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Jon Cole Fact Sheet". The Jon Cole Systems Star. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c d e Pascoe, Bruce (2011-08-02). "Cole a powerhouse in powerlifting". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c d Marty Gallagher. "Iron Icons Kuc & Williams, II" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  15. ^ "Jon Cole gone at 71".