Retirement and age are no deterrents for Leon Stinson to keep adding trophies and medals to his full trophy room.
Stinson, who retired from the Steubenville Police Department in 1999 and turns 76 in August, won three gold medals at the 2014 Ohio Police and Fire Games in Clermont County in June. Stinson has been competing in the Ohio Police and Fire games and the International Police Olympics since 1972. He recalls his first weightlifting meet came before the police department and even before a stint in the Marine Corps.
"Ernie Nagy from the YMCA used to take us to the Olympic lifting events. My first contest was in Cincinnati. I finished second. Now, 54 years later, I went back to the Cincinnati area and got my redemption," he said.
Stinson medaled in strict curl, deadlift and powerlifting, with a total of 890 pounds. Stinson set an Ohio police and fire games record in 1988 that still stands, with a 1,575-pound total in the deadlift 220-pound golden master division. And, among his prize possessions is a copy of the January 1984 USA Powerlifting magazine that includes a mention in a column touting good form to younger lifters, saying good form can lead to pulling 650 pounds like Leon Stinson of Steubenville, who is pictured doing the lift.
Other Stinson Ohio Police and Fire games records that still stand include strict curl, 90 pounds set in 2012; raw (no supportive suit) deadlift, 465 pounds set in 2010; and double-ply (support suit) deadlift, 530 pounds set in 2006.
He figures he's missed only about five police games since starting in 1972.
"That first police games I did was in Columbus at a health club, with five or six guys. Now it's a two-day event just for the weightlifters," he said.
In addition to weightlifting, the games include police staples such as marksmanship and K-9 handling (where Wintersville's Art Fowler and K-9 officer Ali won a gold and a bronze medal this year), cycling, archery, track and field, billiards, bowling, motorcross, golf and more.
Stinson noted that area natives Herb Dorsey of the Sharonville Police Department and his brother, Jon Dorsey of the Bucyrus Police Department, also won weightlifting medals. Herb and Jon won gold in strict curl and Herb also won gold in push-pull. Both Dorseys won gold in bench press.
Stinson's deadlift during the 2014 games of 425 pounds drew big attention from the crowd, and he has video showing him completing a 440-pound deadlift, but he didn't get credit. The video shows the crowd going wild after Stinson locks out his arms on the lift, but the judge didn't wave the lift as complete.
"The judge had his hand up still and I put the weight down. I got caught up in the moment," Stinson said. Still, he was honored by those in attendance as an inspiration.
"After the meet, people were coming up and taking pictures with me and asking to talk with me. It's the first time I felt like I was a celebrity," he said.
Stinson lifted 300 pounds in the squat and had a 165-pound bench press. He said a shoulder problem keeps his bench press totals low.
He credits his trainer, Reed Blanchard, with keeping his training regimen going as well as serving as chief cheerleader.
"I have to give him off-the-chart thanks," Stinson said.
Stinson remains open to training and new techniques. He said retired Dr. Santiago Ching worked hours with him perfecting his weightlifting form, and Nancy Vecchione of the YMCA Wellness Center at the St. John Arena with getting him started in yoga before the meet.
"She keeps me loose. She only weighs 100 pounds, but sometimes I'd rather do two hours down here lifting than 30 minutes of that yoga, because I can't move when I'm done," he said. "We started just a couple of weeks before the contest. She gave me a lot of confidence. now I can get down into those positions and all the little muscles are stronger now.
"With Dr. Ching and Nancy combined, I'm better than ever. I don't see any end to it."