Tommy Kono: Though it’s easy to say that the newer lifters are the best there have ever been, because they’re bigger and stronger than anyone in history. Making the mistake of confusing the best of the modern era for the best of all-time fails to take into account the lifters today have the benefits of all of the innovations made by the champs of the old school to draw on, which gives them a significant advantage even before the subject of food, supplement, and pharmaceutical advantages play in.
With that in mind, one of the greatest bodybuilders and weightlifters of all time is a name you might not have ever heard- Tommy Kono. For about a decade, Kono dominated two separate sports, bodybuilding and Olympic weightlifting. He set world records in four different weight classes in the same decade that he won the Mr. Universe four times. To put that into a modern perspective, it would be as if Dmitri Klokov had won the Classic Physique Mr. Olympia four times in the same decade that he competed in three Summer Olympics.
Born in 1930 In California, Tommy Kono spent most of his teen years in a Japanese-American internment camp. While there, Kono joined a weightlifting club, and he continued lifting after graduating college. By the time he was drafted into the army for the Korean War, Kono showed so much Olympic potential he was exempted from service. Within two years, Kono had won his first Olympic gold medal in Olympic weightlifting, which he duplicated in
As a light heavyweight weighing 175lbs, Tommy Kono could double 420 on the front squat, strict press 300, and bench pressed 380. The consummate all-around strength athlete, Kono wasn’t happy with simply being aesthetic, brutally strong, or quick, so he combined everything into a package that only the aforementioned Klokov could emulate. After setting 26 world records and 7 Olympic records, Kono retired to produce the world’s first knee sleeves, which are still in production unchanged from the original design- TK knee bands.