From a Single Suitcase to Gold Medal Glory

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

The soldiers came and told everyone to pack
up and leave immediately.

They were allowed a single suitcase for every

When they left their house under the watchful
eyes of the soldiers, they carried everything
they owned - and each person had a single
suitcase that held it all. They left everything
else behind.

The soldiers put them into trucks - and took
them to the camps.

It was 1940. Japanese American citizens up
and down the West Coast of the United States
were rounded up and sent to camps for the
duration of the War.

He was a boy when it happened. And like all
the others, all he had in the entire world was
inside the small suitcase.

When they got to the camps, they went to
work in the fields. It was hard, hot, sweaty,
back-breaking work.

But even so, they tried to stay in shape. The
boys and young men saved their coins, pooled
their money, and bought a basic barbell set
from the York Barbell Co. in far away Penn-

It arrived by truck.

They carried the box into a tent used for
laundry, and that became their gym.

And that's where the boy began barbell training.

A dozen years later, he won an Olympic Gold
medal in weightlifting.

He went on to win a second gold medal four
years later - and a silver medal in his third
and final Olympics - along with six World

His name was Tommy Kono - and he was one
of the greatest weightlifters who ever lived.

I was reminded of this because I saw an on-line
photo gallery with photos of some of the camps
and the men, women and children who lived in

One of the photos shows the inside of a tent that
housed a family of four. You can see the suitcases
on the top of one of the two bunk beds. I wasn't
kidding about the suitcases.

Photo no. 6 in the series shows a muscular man
wearing a t-shirt from the Sacramento YMCA.

They don't give his name, but that t-shirt made
me stop and think long and hard.

You see, after the War, Tommy Kono's family
moved back to Sacramento. Tommy had enjoyed
his barbell training at the camp, and he joined
the Sacramento YMCA so he could keep on
lifting weights.

One day, an older lifter named Mits Oshima
talked Kono into entering a weightlifting contest -
and the rest, as they say, is history.

Was that Mits Oshima in the photo?

I don't know.

Perhaps it was. Or perhaps it was the man who
got Mits Oshima started in his training - or maybe
it was a man who helped both Kono and Oshima
when they were training after the War.

Whoever it was, he might very well have helped
Tommy Kono as the young man began to learn
the art of Olympic weightlifting.

In other words - he might have helped Tommy
Kono go from a single suitcase to the top of the
Iron Mountain.

You can see the photos right here:

Anyhow, we've been talking about younger
trainees and how to get them started - and
I think this is a good example of how to do

After all, you never know how far that skinny
kid in the corner of they gym might go.

As always, thanks for reading and have a
great day. if you train today, make it a good

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. John Davis was another legendary lifting
champion - with two Olympic gold medals and
six world championships. You can read about
John Davis and his training in Black Iron: The
John Davis Story:

P.S. 2. My other books and courses are right
here at Dinosaur Headquarters:

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "The iron may be
all you have, but it's all you need." - Brooks