Richard Sorin's visit with the Zuvers

By Bob Zuver,

I want to share with your readers a recent visit I had from the great Grip Master, Richard Sorin. He is a man who loves iron history. He wanted to know more Zuver’s Hall of Fame History, so I invited him to come to the west coast to learn what he could from me. Richard was our guest for four days here at our home in California. He is a gentle man who impressed me many times in the past when talking on the phone. His passion for the historic iron is the highest I’ve seen in a long time, and his strength is amazing for a man in his 60s.

My wife and I wanted to show him what the Zuvers were all about. Richard expressed great pleasure in meeting my mother, Jean Zuver, at her home in Orange Country. We went to lunch and Richard got to know her a bit.

I’ve got to say the real joy for me was when I opened the door to my home workshop and for the first time in 20 years showed someone my stash of the famous Zuver’s Hall of Fame Gym Muscle Plates. The look in his eye was pure joy. I thought I could see a tear in the corner of his eye.

He stood there in the door entrance for what seemed like an hour. We spent many hours that first night, looking taking pictures and talking about those plates. He was in love.

The next day the temptation got to him — he had to play with them. Being the Grip Master, he just had to grab on and try to lift one of the 150-pounders with four fingers. Up it went with ease, not once but several times.

Richard was the first man to close the #3 Captains of Crush Gripper back in 1991. This is a real casting of Richard’s right hand and is on display in the museum at the Stark Center in Austin, Texas. After all, he is the Grip Master!

After that, I used a fork lift to pull out my pallet of the monster 200-pound plates. He took lots of photos, and then fondled those plates with joy. Finger-lifting a 200-pound plate was tough, even for Richard, but he did get that baby off the ground with a few more fingers. It’s something he will always remember, as will I.

His visit wasn’t all about Zuvers, either. We took him to the desert floor to see some giant metal art work.

On our last day together we had some fun with him. Could the Gripster lift a famous giant rock from the original Zuver’s Gym entrance? I’ve kept that rock all these years, and was eager to see if he could hoist it.

It took some doing, but the big guy did it. Maybe he will tell the story one day.

His visit was a pleasure for Jan and me, and my mother, Jean. And I hope you enjoy these pictures of my visit with the Gripster Richard Sorin.

He loved spending time enjoying the life I had to show him. We spent the evenings on my porch late into the night looking at pictures and talking, with our iPads clicking away.