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Ken Patera

Athlete

Before becoming a professional wrestler, Patera was a highly decorated Olympic weightlifter. He won several medals at the 1971 Pan American Games (including gold in the weightlifting total), and finished second in the 1971 World Weightlifting Championships just behind Vasily Alekseyev. On his native soil, Patera won four consecutive U.S. Weightlifting Championships in the super heavyweight class from 1969 to 1972. He was the first American to clean and jerk over 500 lbs., which he accomplished at the 1972 Senior Nationals in Detroit. He is also the only American to clean and press 500 lbs., and was the last American super heavyweight for years to excel at weightlifting at an international level. At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Patera was expected to be a serious competitor to Vasily Alekseyev, but he failed to total and was not among the medal recipients. Vasily Alekseyev even stated to the media that Patera was even stronger than him, illustrated by a 550-pound overhead push press (off the racks) that Patera had allegedly done in practice. Nevertheless, when it came to competing, Alekseyev was always the winner. After the clean and press (a lift in which Patera was disproportionately talented) was eliminated from competition, Patera retired from weightlifting.

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Before becoming a professional wrestler, Patera was a highly decorated Olympic weightlifter. He won several medals at the 1971 Pan American Games (including gold in the weightlifting total), and finished second in the 1971 World Weightlifting Championships just behind Vasily Alekseyev. On his native soil, Patera won four consecutive U.S. Weightlifting Championships in the super heavyweight class from 1969 to 1972. He was the first American to clean and jerk over 500 lbs., which he accomplished at the 1972 Senior Nationals in Detroit. He is also the only American to clean and press 500 lbs., and was the last American super heavyweight for years to excel at weightlifting at an international level. At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Patera was expected to be a serious competitor to Vasily Alekseyev, but he failed to total and was not among the medal recipients. Vasily Alekseyev even stated to the media that Patera was even stronger than him, illustrated by a 550-pound overhead push press (off the racks) that Patera had allegedly done in practice. Nevertheless, when it came to competing, Alekseyev was always the winner. After the clean and press (a lift in which Patera was disproportionately talented) was eliminated from competition, Patera retired from weightlifting.

Patera was an integral part of the Heenan Family in the AWA (1982–1983), and later in the WWF (1984–1985). While in the AWA, he feuded with Hulk Hogan, Greg Gagne, and Jim Brunzell. During Heenan's absence in 1983, caused by a back injury, Patera joined forces with manager Sheik Adnan El-Kaissie and formed a tag team with Jerry Blackwell known as "the Sheiks" (with Patera calling himself "Sheik Lawrence of Arabia"); both men wore Arabian-style garments and feuded with the High Flyers (Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell) over the AWA World Tag Team Championship, winning the belts in June 1983. Patera and Blackwell later lost the titles to Baron von Raschke and the Crusher. In the WWF, Patera resumed his feud with Hogan, and also assisted Big John Studd in his feud with André the Giant, helping Studd cut Andre's hair after both had attacked him.

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