IAWA Award of Merit


This is the highest Honour the IAWA can bestow upon its members
Internationally, for outstanding service and achievement and World Wide
enhancement of the organisation. The Award is presented by the current
IAWA International President:

  • 2010: Award Presented to: Art Montini of the USA
  • 2012: Award Presented to Steve Gardner of the UK
  • 2014: Award Presented to Frank allen of the UK
  • 2014: Award Presented to Frank Ciavattone of the USA
  • 2018: Award Presented to Steve Andrews of the UK
  • 2018: Award Presented to Denny Habecker of the USA
Denny Habecker receiving the Award of Merit from IAWA President, Al Myers

At the 2018 IAWA World Championships Award Banquet, one of the highlights was the presentation of the IAWA Merit Awards. The Merit Award is the highest honour one can receive in IAWA.  The Merit Award goes “way beyond” just being an outstanding lifter.  To earn the award you must be a major contributor and leader in the organisation for many years, and have given a lot of yourself to our sport of All Round Weightlifting to make it a better organisation. The IAWA Merit Award is a Presidential Award, chosen and given by the IAWA President on behalf of the organization. It was my honour to have this responsibility, as I’ve always considered Denny as my role model in IAWA/USAWA.

I’m honoured to be able to present Denny Habecker with this very prestigious IAWA Award. This is the highest award the IAWA has to present, and only a few have received it in the past. I have known Denny for many years, and throughout the year we spend lots of time with each other. I often jokingly refer to Denny as “Uncle Denny” as he seems like family to me.   We have travelled to many overseas IAWA meets together through the years, and I’ve spent many a nights at his and Judy’s house in Pennsylvania.  I’ve enjoyed many fine meals at their place, but I should recognise Judy for that instead of Denny!

In looking over the many accomplishments Denny has had in the IAWA, it made me realize that I would need to narrow down the list or this speech would get too long. So I’m going to just hit a few highlights of Denny’s involvement and accomplishments.  Here it goes – Denny started training in 1957 when in high school to prepare himself for high school football. Competed in Olympic Lifting competitions in the early 60’s, as well as a few bodybuilding competitions (I’ve brought a few pictures along to confirm this as I’m sure some are doubting – so see me afterwards if you want to see a picture of Denny all oiled down and posing) He was inspired to get involved in All Round Weightlifting in 1989, by the great John Vernacchio.   Denny was part of John’s Valley Forge Lifting Team and also entered many Masters Olympic Lifting Meets, including many Pan American Championships and World Championships

Denny has been the  IAWA World Championship Meet Promoter 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2016. He has placed in the Top Ten Overall at Worlds many times – 6th in 2017, 4th in 2016, 6th in 2014, 4th in 2012, 8th in 2011, 9th in 2010, 5th in 2009, 8th in 2007, 4th in 2003, 6th in 2002, 6th in 2001, 10th in 2000, 3rd in 1999, 10th in 1997, and 10th in 1996. Denny won Best Lifter Awards in his Age Group in 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009, and 1999. Denny has been the IAWA Gold Cup Meet Promoter: 2006, 2008 and 2013. He holds many IAWA World Records, has competed in over 20 IAWA World Championships, and over 20 Gold Cups. Founder of Habecker’s Gym, Denny has coached many lifters through the Years, as well as serving as an IAWA Vice President since 2004. Denny has served on the IAWA Technical Committee since 1996.

Another thing about Denny I want to mention is I’ve always considered him my role model in All Round Lifting. When I first got started with IAWA Denny was one of the first to encourage me to compete at the IAWA level, beyond just USAWA competitions. I really doubt I would have made that first meet “overseas” without Denny’s support.  For that Denny – I owe you a lot of thanks.  Denny is one of the most reliable people I know. He has given so much of his time and energy to IAWA, more than most realize. I don’t know how many times in the past when we have needed someone to “step up”, whether it’s a promotion or just attending an event that needs supported – Denny is always there and ready to do it. He has been a steady backbone of IAWA with his leadership, which goes away beyond what he has done on the platform. Our organisation wouldn’t be as strong as it is without Denny. Denny, I consider you one of my best friends. It gives me great honour to be able to present you with this award. Thank you for all you have done for IAWA.

Steve Andrews receiving the Award of Merit from IAWA Vice President, Steve Gardner

At the 2018 IAWA World Championships Award Banquet, one of the highlights was the presentation of the IAWA Merit Awards. The IAWA Presidential Merit Award is the highest honour one can receive in the IAWA. It recognises those that have made outstanding long term contributions to the IAWA. Steve has a pedigree of 38 years in weightlifting. In 1979 Steve joined a night school for weightlifting in order to lose some weight. Later, in 1980 he was introduced to the BAWLA All Round Scheme. (in the days before our drug free all round lifting organisation had begun) Steve, who was in his 20’s and had never been involved in sports, was surprised how much he loved the new challenge. At the Leicester club Frank Allen was always an inspiration to Steve, who also improved his ability by watching some of the other excellent technicians in all round weightlifting. The rest is history, this multi-title winning British Champion especially enjoys his Single Arm lifting and is proud of winning the ‘best Single Arm’ title for many, many times over the years. Steve is proud of all his records and hopes to carry on lifting for as many years as his body will allow!                                                                                                                                                           So Steve was lifting in All Round Weightlifting when we formed our International organisation way back in 1985, and without exception (I think) he is the only person who has lifted consistently throughout the last 33 years, even operations on elbows and stuff like that hasn’t kept him away for any lengthy periods, he is like the energiser battery bunny, he just keeps going and going. A competitor at Internationals abroad on occasions too, Steve has not missed many IAWA (UK) National events in all those years. Steve has been a referee for many years, and is always supportive and helpful to new lifters at events, always offering to help out with loading and whatever other tasks arise. Steve has become involved in the Committee work in more recent years, having held position as UK Chairman for some years now. Steve has also been active in supporting Frank Allen in running events and keeping the Leicester Club alive for many, many years too. All in all, Steve’s dedication and unfaltering support to our beloved sport of all round weightlifting and all of those people involved therein is recognised as being outstanding, and deserving of the highest Award IAWA can present …the IAWA Award of Merit. Ladies and Gentleman I give you ‘Steve Andrews’