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 secret?

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 that confusion. 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 Championship?

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 much.

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 for height.

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.