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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

THE SPORTING SCENE

Young Mr. Boston

By Hiller B. Zobel

Weightlifting, according to its devotees, is the greatest hope for the little man since someone kicked and in the puny face of Charles Atlas. Dynamic tension notwithstanding, nothing can get you fit faster than a good session with the trusty barbells.

Not content merely to participate and talk, weightlifters, will even pay to see their conference in action. Three hundred of them, including this 145-pound weakling, chipped in $1 apiece Saturday to watch a "strength and gymnastic exhibition," climaxed by the contest for the title of Mr. Boston, 1950.

Great was the joy of the throng when one of their own, George Messier, a practicing weightlifter, muscled past 17 other contestants to cop the crown and the handsome gold-plated statuette that went with it.

Even the ladies in the crowd, though presumably not weightlifters, cheered when Massioa was pronounced the winner. George, who would disclose only that he stood 5 ft. 0 in. In his tights and welghed 185 pounds, took the plaudits of the crowd like a true champion, though declining to reveal the secret of his success.

But he didn't fool anybody. Men, women, and children--they all watched him begin the four-hour program with a demonstration which included every phase of the weightlifter's art. During the course of this exhibition, George attempted to break his personal military press record on 240 pounds. But instead, the bar slipped halfway up, and Massios almost broke his foot, instead.

To regain some of his lost lustre, Massios then went on the "clean and jerk" 300 pounds, while the assemblage beamed. Though master of ceremonies Bob Jones warned that George's form wasn't quite up to competitive standards, the crowd was happy: after all, a lift is a lift.

Jones, incidentally, drew almost as much attention as Massios. He is a balding, bespectacled gentleman whose mild manner belies his reputation as "the first man show, and during a lull in proceedings emptied his pockets of loose change and gave a demonstration of head and hand balances, including, of course, his specialty. After a couple of trials, he was able to remain two or three seconds on his thumbs, which are normally quite ordinary.

Having cleared his system with this series of inversions, Jones then went on to announce the contestants, none of whom presumably could even do a handstand. While the audience sat in darkness, each aspirant mounted a spotlighted platform in turn flexed his pectoral, and assumed three poses: front, back, and optional.

Each man had his own (co-ed) cheering section, but there were several anatomically-minded spectators who vocally appraised every hopeful as he posed. The five judges, though, retained dignified Atlantic City-like attitude throughout, conscientiously scoring the contestants on such varied points as symmetry, physique, pose, and skin.

After the decision was announced, Massies stood quietly on the platform, flanked by his two runners-up, each of whom received a smaller trophy. Some might sat he was thinking ahead to the coming battle for Mr. America honors. I'll bet, though, he was considering the debt he owed to weightlifting.

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