What Makes A Few Of Us More Dedicated And Goal-Oriented Than Others?

September 25, 2022 at 7:41 p.m.


When I was in my late teens living in Pittsburgh, Pa., I spent a lot of time at the local YMCA practicing my jump shot and using the swimming pool. The gym was attached to the weight room stocked with a variety of body building equipment and machines.

Each time I went to the gym, I saw the same young man in the weight room grappling with the bar bells and other apparatus. When we first met, he was built like I was, somewhat thin and not at all muscular. His name was Bruno Sammartino and we attended the same high school.

I still remember hearing his grunts and groans, and the thud and banging from heavy metal being dropped to the floor. It seemed he was ever present in that room, year around from just after school until the gym closed. I lost contact with Bruno when I was in the Army, but knew that he continued to work on his weightlifting.

Bruno’s Career

Bruno  began to make a name for himself by performing strongman stunts in the Pittsburgh area. The highlight of Bruno's weightlifting career came in 1959 when he set a world record in the bench press with a lift of 565 pounds.  This was astounding considering that he was a relatively small man, under 6 feet tall and a trim 260 to 270 pounds, with bulging pectorals and biceps.  

Bruno went on to become a professional wrestler.  He was called "The Italian Strongman" and "The Strongest Man in the World" early in his career.  Later, Sammartino  earned the title "The Living Legend." Known for his powerful bear hug finishing move, he is widely regarded as the greatest professional wrestler of all time.  Sammartino  passed away at age 82 and was described as a soft spoken, gentlemanly connoisseur of grand opera especially Verdi.  Few individuals, if any, were as dedicated or committed to his craft as he was.

Others

I did know that other individuals involved in sports were somewhat similar to Bruno Sammartino in terms of work ethic; and as examples, include the Williams sisters (tennis) or Tiger Woods (golf). Many musicians may also qualify.    

But in my lifetime I didn’t believe I would learn of many others.  Surprisingly, that was until I met Bryan Wong, and here in Warsaw. He is another rare example of someone totally committed to self improvement, someone who enjoys the process it takes to achieve a goal.

 His day job is design engineering at Medtronic where he is developing a manufacturing process using robots to bend spinal rods used to treat scoliosis.  He is an honor graduate from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute.  Bryan is married and he and his wife have two young children.  He works out most every day at the CrossFit building in Warsaw.  

According to the CrossFit website, the company has thousands of independently owned gyms in 155 countries around the world. Each gym is unique but united by a shared commitment to world-class coaching and the development of a strong, supportive community.  

Games

CrossFit  holds games each year for all age classes and this year there were more than 30,000 entrants. The games are designed to find the fittest person on earth determined by age group and testing  includes  power lifting, aerobics, swimming and agility exercises. None are announced in advance.  Bryan began entering the games in 2016. The ranking improved each year thereafter.  This year he came in first place in his age group – an astounding achievement.  He had to train for multiple scenarios and be prepared for any exercise present in CrossFit.

 Winning

To win first, Bryan had to be the best in his class in each of the workouts, including hand walking across a room and up a flight of stairs.  I asked Bryan if he had a role model and he surprised me when he said Rocky Bleier, a name few younger people would recognize.  

Rocky was a running back who played football at Notre Dame.  He went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, enlisted in the Army during the Viet Nam war, suffered serious leg injuries,  yet came back to play professional football for many years during the halcyon days enjoyed by the Steelers in the late 1970s and 1980s.  He was a model in courage and won several medals during his service time.  Bryan called him someone who overcame extreme adversity to achieve fame.

Final Thoughts

You've probably heard of the 10,000 hour rule, which was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell's blockbuster book “Outliers.” As Gladwell tells it, the rule goes like this: It takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin. I am certain that Bruno and Bryan far exceeded that time practicing as does anyone who becomes the greatest in his or her craft.   

Max Sherman is a medical writer and pharmacist retired from the medical device industry.  His new book “Science Snippets” is available from Amazon and other book sellers. It contains a number of previously published columns.  He can be reached by email at  [email protected].  



When I was in my late teens living in Pittsburgh, Pa., I spent a lot of time at the local YMCA practicing my jump shot and using the swimming pool. The gym was attached to the weight room stocked with a variety of body building equipment and machines.

Each time I went to the gym, I saw the same young man in the weight room grappling with the bar bells and other apparatus. When we first met, he was built like I was, somewhat thin and not at all muscular. His name was Bruno Sammartino and we attended the same high school.

I still remember hearing his grunts and groans, and the thud and banging from heavy metal being dropped to the floor. It seemed he was ever present in that room, year around from just after school until the gym closed. I lost contact with Bruno when I was in the Army, but knew that he continued to work on his weightlifting.

Bruno’s Career

Bruno  began to make a name for himself by performing strongman stunts in the Pittsburgh area. The highlight of Bruno's weightlifting career came in 1959 when he set a world record in the bench press with a lift of 565 pounds.  This was astounding considering that he was a relatively small man, under 6 feet tall and a trim 260 to 270 pounds, with bulging pectorals and biceps.  

Bruno went on to become a professional wrestler.  He was called "The Italian Strongman" and "The Strongest Man in the World" early in his career.  Later, Sammartino  earned the title "The Living Legend." Known for his powerful bear hug finishing move, he is widely regarded as the greatest professional wrestler of all time.  Sammartino  passed away at age 82 and was described as a soft spoken, gentlemanly connoisseur of grand opera especially Verdi.  Few individuals, if any, were as dedicated or committed to his craft as he was.

Others

I did know that other individuals involved in sports were somewhat similar to Bruno Sammartino in terms of work ethic; and as examples, include the Williams sisters (tennis) or Tiger Woods (golf). Many musicians may also qualify.    

But in my lifetime I didn’t believe I would learn of many others.  Surprisingly, that was until I met Bryan Wong, and here in Warsaw. He is another rare example of someone totally committed to self improvement, someone who enjoys the process it takes to achieve a goal.

 His day job is design engineering at Medtronic where he is developing a manufacturing process using robots to bend spinal rods used to treat scoliosis.  He is an honor graduate from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute.  Bryan is married and he and his wife have two young children.  He works out most every day at the CrossFit building in Warsaw.  

According to the CrossFit website, the company has thousands of independently owned gyms in 155 countries around the world. Each gym is unique but united by a shared commitment to world-class coaching and the development of a strong, supportive community.  

Games

CrossFit  holds games each year for all age classes and this year there were more than 30,000 entrants. The games are designed to find the fittest person on earth determined by age group and testing  includes  power lifting, aerobics, swimming and agility exercises. None are announced in advance.  Bryan began entering the games in 2016. The ranking improved each year thereafter.  This year he came in first place in his age group – an astounding achievement.  He had to train for multiple scenarios and be prepared for any exercise present in CrossFit.

 Winning

To win first, Bryan had to be the best in his class in each of the workouts, including hand walking across a room and up a flight of stairs.  I asked Bryan if he had a role model and he surprised me when he said Rocky Bleier, a name few younger people would recognize.  

Rocky was a running back who played football at Notre Dame.  He went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, enlisted in the Army during the Viet Nam war, suffered serious leg injuries,  yet came back to play professional football for many years during the halcyon days enjoyed by the Steelers in the late 1970s and 1980s.  He was a model in courage and won several medals during his service time.  Bryan called him someone who overcame extreme adversity to achieve fame.

Final Thoughts

You've probably heard of the 10,000 hour rule, which was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell's blockbuster book “Outliers.” As Gladwell tells it, the rule goes like this: It takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin. I am certain that Bruno and Bryan far exceeded that time practicing as does anyone who becomes the greatest in his or her craft.   

Max Sherman is a medical writer and pharmacist retired from the medical device industry.  His new book “Science Snippets” is available from Amazon and other book sellers. It contains a number of previously published columns.  He can be reached by email at  [email protected].  



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