Interview with Steve Pulcinella
October 10, 1997
Steve and me at his gym, IronSport.
Bill: So Steve, what've you been up to in the strength scene lately?
Steve: I have been
into the Scottish Highland games, it's kind of the sport that strongman
contests derived from. It takes tremendous strength and a lot of athleticism
to perform well. I still lift heavy in the gym along with my throwing practice
on the field. I haven't competed in any strongman contests since the 94 WSM, but I may do some more if something good pops up and the money is right.
Bill: What got you into strength and the idea of being strong?
Steve: I guess I have always been fascinated with being strong and I started lifting
at an early age. In the late 70's when they first televised the WSM contests I
really got hooked and those type of events really appealed to me. I always
wanted to be the strongest guy in every gym I trained at and I am always
looking for any kind of contest I could convince people to go head-to-head
with me in. I always work a little harder if there is something on the line.
Bill: I hold a lot of respect for the fact that you're one of the few lifetime drug-
free strength athletes. How has that lifestyle influenced your career?
Steve: A lot
of athletes limit themselves because they are drug free thinking they can't
possibly hang with the "druggies." I have tried not to limit myself but when
you're drug-free you have to be realistic with yourself. Gains come much slower and
over-training comes much easier. I guess a lot of guys wouldn't even think of
going into big time strongman events drug-free, but I welcome the challenge.
Also being lifetime drug-free always comes in to play when I do exhibitions
for kids I like to spread the message against drugs. But let me go on record
as saying I never bellyached when I lost to another guy who may have used
'roids if I lose, I blame myself and I go back to the gym and try to rectify
the problem there.
Bill: You've really been tearing up the Highland Games circuit lately... what's your
Steve: Prior to turning pro in 95' I had only been in 4 amateur games and
just used my size and strength to beat smaller guys. Being in the pros was
different because I wasn't always the biggest guy so I still lifted very hard
during the season thinking I needed to get even stronger. But my throws
weren't coming up and after 2 seasons I have learned that I just have to get
out on the field and practice the events and pretty much put my lifting in a
"maintenance" mode - it has made all the difference.
Bill: How do you train for that?
Steve: Well I go out to the school near my house every
night after work and I usually throw one light event and one heavy event each
night. For instance, one night I might do stone putting and the 56 lb. for
distance and the next will be sheaf toss and 56 lb. for height. Then the next
night I'll do heavy hammer and 28 lb. for distance. There is no set workout
schedule I just go by instinct. My main goal is not to have giant throws in
practice but to work on making my form technically sound so then I can go out
in the contests and really put some muscle into it.
Bill: What muscle on your body are you the most proud of?
Steve: I would have to say my
"glutes"...just kidding. I would have to say my back without a doubt, it's
something I was born with. I have always been good at deadlifts and
power-cleans and I believe that if you have a strong back, you can
compensate for other weaknesses. Just look at all the successful strongmen
like Kaz, Jon Pall, and Magnus - they all have unbelievable back strength along
with overall body strength. But look at guys like Forbes Cowen or Marko
Varalahti - their backs are definitely what got them to the top.
Bill: What would you cite as your most impressive feat of strength ever?
Steve: Turning the
car at the 94' WSM even though I didn't turn in a great time (mostly due to
inexperience). It's just one of the things you can tell people you did it, and
they freak out.
Bill: How did you feel when you got man-handled in Sun City at the 94 WSM? Describe that experience...
Steve: Man-handled? Thanks, Bill! All I can say is that I was kind
of a last minute participant. They didn't tell me I was going until 3 weeks
prior, and I had never been to a big-time contest like that before so my lack of
experience showed. But I was thrilled for the invite and I tried my best but
that showing is no indication of how good I really am, I don't feel. But it's
the only one people see on TV so I took a lot of razzing.
The qualifying heats are tough because people don't realize it's not really a
contest as much as it is a TV show. So we sat around all day and did only 2
events a day for 2 days while they worried about lighting and cameras, so it's
tough to get your head into it when you kind of hang around all day during all
I'm pretty good all around so I wish I could have got a chance to do 8 events.
I think I could have done alright.
I tore my trap muscle doing the car roll, it got all black and blue, so that
put damper on the rest of the trip for me.
Bill: How do you think a guy like you would do in the Ultimate Fighting
Steve: Some of the strongmen would probably cause a lot of damage, but
I have never fought or wrestled so I don't think I would be much of a match for
those Olympic wrestlers.
Bill: Would you ever consider that?
Steve: Hell no!
Bill: Have you ever bent nails or horseshoes or any of that kind of stuff?
Steve: I have
been tearing phone books since I was 13 years old, I know it's not really that
hard to do but when I do it for kids at demonstrations and I throw them the
spine of the book, they go nuts for it. I do all these really hard lifts at
these demos but all the kids care about is the phone book ripping, it's
hilarious sometimes. I have ripped decks of cards and I have done IronMind's
#3 grippers but no nail bending or horse shoes, I'm not really into that.
Bill: You run a gym called IronSport. When did you decide you wanted to commit to that?
Steve: My brother and I pooled some cash together and started it in August '95 and
it's been going good ever since. It's just a 1600 square foot gym and we run it
like a key club, guys can come 24 hrs a day 365 days a year. It's a real blast.
Bill: You also run a printing business, if I remember correctly. What does your job involve?
Steve: Well I don't run the printing shop, my father and my brother handle
that, I do customer service mostly over the phone.
Bill: Of everything you've ever done, what are you most proud of?
Steve: Probably not one
thing, but I'm proud to be able to balance having a wife of 10 years, 2
daughters, a full time job, a gym, my lifting and my highland games career
(which includes 15 contests a year).
You hear a lot of guys who quit the gym when their wife has a baby or if they
have to work 40 hours a week, but I guess I do it all because I love it all so
Bill: What are your current goals for your strength career?
Steve: My current goals are to
keep pushing my highland games throws up there and to compete in the world's in
that sport and also I would like to break the world record in the 56 lb. weight
Bill: One last question: Pulcinella vs. Holyfield - could you kick his ass?
Steve: Well if
I couldn't, I would take a bigger bite out of him that Tyson did!
Bill: That's a good answer. Thanks a lot, Steve.
If you'd like more information on Steve and his gym, check out the IronSport Gym page.
Or to find out more about the Scottish Highland Games,
check out the NASGA Scottish Games Page.