David Willoughby California Strength and Power HoF inductee 2022

By Strength and Power Hall of Fame

David Willoughby





David was from New Orleans but moved to Southern California at a young age.  David started lifting at 16 and would become the AAU* Champion of Southern California from 1923-1926. He was also the Pacific Coast Champion in 1923 and 1926.  In 1924 David organized the Los Angeles Weightlifting Club. David would go on to author several books including The Super Athletes.


In the early 1920’s David was the California State Representative of the American Continental Weightlifters Association (ACWLA). He was working with George Jowett and Ottley Coulter to try and establish an organization with standard lifts, rules, qualified judges and documented records.  Of the State representatives David created the best organization and held contests according to the rules of the ACWLA which were mostly taken from the established British Amateur Weightlifter’s Association (BAWLA). David’s efforts were not appreciated by the established strength community of the time. David wrote Ottley Coulter in March of 1923. “ I frequently get myself in “hot water” by insisting every detail of a lift be performed in the correct manner…in strict accordance with BAWLA rules; therefore they should be accepted everywhere.”


The May 1923 issue of Health and Life Magazine featured a report on the annual city gymnastics championships at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Lifting was part of the championships held under the auspices of the AAU. David directed and lifted in the competition. While there were only 3 lifters there was strict adherence to rules, qualified judges and all lifts were weighed on a certified scale. This may have been the first weightlifting contest held in the United States under official conditions.


On 4/19/1924 David hosted the first National Weightlifting Championships in Los Angeles. It was also an Olympic tryout for the 1924 Olympics. 7 lifters competed in 3 weight classes which was an innovation at the time. A month later, David hosted the Southern California Championships. The Olympic lifts contested were the left hand snatch, the right hand clean & jerk and the two hand military press. Again, under official ACWLA regulations.


The ACWLA would only last for a few years. However, it was a real effort to establish weightlifting as a sport. In 1929 weightlifting became an organized sport under the AAU.



*The AAU of southern California. Not the National AAU.



All the information in this bio was taken from:

George Jowett, Ottley Coulter, David Willoughby and the organization of American Weightlifting, 1911-1924 by John D. Fair.  2012 Starting Strength




Author: By Strength and Power Hall of Fame | Created: Wed Jun 15 19:24:53 UTC 2022 | Last Updated: Thu Jun 16 11:54:13 UTC 2022