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Riverton had its own No.1 'strongest man' back in the day

Sep 5, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

In 1999, Big Daddy Pump was Riverton's strongest man.

He was the original Top Dog.

Many readers know that for 20 years, my wife Tracy and I owned Teton Athletic Club, and we met thousands of nice, wonderful local people during our tenure there.

We took pride that our gym was not just a place for local muscle heads to sling iron.

We had older members and younger members. Many who walked through our doors were just starting their fitness journeys, and we had plenty of support for them.

Others were already weightlifting pros, and we had literally tons of weights and ample room for those men and women, too.

And there were some big, strong men who pumped iron in our gym.

Nobody was stronger than Big Daddy Pump.

Back to 1999. We had toyed with the idea of hosting a bench-press competition for some time. A simple idea really -- you put weight on the bar and see how much you can lift.

More discussion defined the rules. To be eligible for the Top Dog event, our trainer at the time (my great friend Brad Alderman) first certified those members who could bench press at least 300 pounds. Then, if they were interested, they could enter.

And we had plenty of strong guys that wanted in.

The four strongest lifters going into the contest chose their teams. And I recall, we ended up with four teams, each with three big, strong behemoths.

Every lifter would get three lifts, we decided, and the top lift would be that lifter's score, and the team's score was the sum of every member's top lift.

We hosted the event in our aerobics room and rented as many chairs as we thought the room could hold. Word got out. Not only was every seat taken, but most of the Riverton Wolverines varsity football team came to watch, too. They lined up three of four deep on the terrace above the competition space.

They had come to see Big Daddy Pump.

When it was nearly time to start, everyone was in the aerobics room, having picked out their "pump up" music and were ready to go.

Everyone, that is, except Big Daddy Pump, who waited until the very last minute to make his grand entrance.

Did I say Big Daddy Pump was strong? But he never trained his lower body.

"Why do I need strong legs?" fellow competitor Shawn Griffin recalled Big Daddy Pump, who knew how to smack talk, would say. "I'm never going to run from anyone. When you reach 50 and can lift as much as me, come and talk."

The bench press competition progressed, and Big Daddy Pump passed on his first lift. When it came down to the end, Big Daddy Pump needed to bench press 440 pounds for his team to win.

To the uninitiated, that is a lot of weight -- so much weight that the bar actually started to bend.

And Big Daddy Pump threw up 440 pounds like it was like no heavier than a few sacks of feathers.

The amazed spectators burst into thunderous applause.

Riverton had found its strongest man.

Bob Crippen -- A.K.A. Big Daddy Pump -- passed away a few days ago.

Bob worked for the city for some time, and I enjoyed our quick chats when he would stop by to collect our recycling. I last saw Bob while at a convenience store in Cheyenne earlier this year as he was on his way to Colorado for treatments, and I remembered his days as Big Daddy Pump, the strongest man this town has ever seen.

Just like he promised, he wasn't running from his illness.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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2017-09-24