So I’m on Facebook a few days ago, wasting my time and looking at pictures of what people are having for dinner, when I see an announcement that the Bad Mother Open is coming up again. It always puts a smile on my face when I hear about this meet, partially because the name was my idea. You see, the Bad Mother Open was created in 1995 by me and a Calpian teammate of mine from the old days named Al Reed. We ran it together until I left Washington and moved to Arizona in 2004, and other lifters from the Calpians have taken it over since then. It’s 2012 now, which means this is the eighteenth BMO, if my math is correct. It freaks me out to think that this quirky idea we had for a meet has lasted almost two decades.
Here’s the basic history of the whole shebang. Al and I were twenty-two years old, breaking into some of the big years of our weightlifting careers. We were both national championship competitors, but we still loved the local meet scene as much as when we first started lifting. We were sitting in a friend’s apartment in Portland one weekend, talking about how much fun it would be to have a weightlifting meet that was…different from all the rest. At first, we thought it would be cool to have the competition platform surrounded by fireworks, strippers, dangerous animals, midgets doing cartwheels and whatnot, and a live band playing some gnarly devil music. But we dropped most of these plans right away because neither of us had any money to pay for that stuff, and we knew John would never let us do it anyway.
However, we came up with some ideas that we were pretty sure we could get away with. We wanted it to be an outdoor meet with our favorite jams playing loud, followed by some BBQ and tasty beverages. We also wanted to give out wacky awards that were unlike anything you would get at another competition. In a nutshell, we wanted it to be 50% weightlifting and 50% fun, getting some good lifts and having some laughs at the same time. I was reading a magazine while we were talking about this, and there was an article in it about an amateur boxing tournament in the south called the Bad Mother Contest, which was basically a disorganized festival of white-trash idiots getting drunk and beating the piss out of each other with absolutely no athletic strategy or intelligence. The Bad Mother Open seemed like the most perfect title in the world for our meet.
We held the first BMO right in front of John’s house, where we completely demolished his driveway by dropping weights on it all day. For the awards, Al and I gave out certificates with our pictures on them. It was a so-so meet and people had a good time, but we knew we could do better. So in the following years, we held it in the Auburn Game Farm Park. This was a beautiful outdoor area with a big amphitheater that we used for the competition. I believe this park was the home of the BMO from 1996 through 2003. Sam Maxwell brought his stereo system to the meet and played his specially crafted music mixes while he emceed the contest. Al and I made a trip to Goodwill every year to buy the awards. Here were some of the names:
– The Bad Mother “Master of the Iron” Award- This was an actual iron, like you use on your clothes, bolted to the top of an old trophy. It was the highest honor available at the meet, given to an athlete who exemplified the qualities of toughness, competitive fire, intensity, and outstanding performance.
– Best Male Lifter- We gave out a large sausage for this one.
– Best Master- An old VHS instructional video on how to live with arthritis.
– Best Sound Effects- Some kind of kiddie music instrument, like a plastic tuba or something. We gave this to the person who screamed and grunted the loudest while lifting.
– Best Supporter- This was the award for the best fan. It was an athletic supporter (a jockstrap).
– The “You Should Be Kicked In The Head For Lifting Like That” Award- This was the award for the worst performance, usually a bombout or something. It was a large cowboy boot.
You get the idea. This meet had a rebellious attitude, much like our whole club back in those days. I think we always thought it would be a small affair, just a group of lifters from our local crowd getting together to have a fun Saturday meet and eat some grub together afterwards. None of us knew that it would eventually turn into something with a national reputation, where people traveled from all over the country to get in on the action.
Trique asked me to write something for this Calpian blog, so I figured a short article about the Bad Mother would be timely and easy to do. But now I think I want to say a little more than I originally planned, so this will be the first chapter in the Bad Mother Open Chronicles. There’s more on the way, so stay tuned.