In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.
Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. Later this month, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.
With unconventional mechanics and an absence of gear, plus a thick beard that drew even more attention to his massive physique, Jon Cole became a legend in the world of powerlifting during the 1970s.
Simply put, he was one of the strongest men in the world, busting out of what was usually no more than gym shorts and a T-shirt.
But the Glendale product was also an exceptionally well-rounded athlete who ran sprints in high school. He won two NCAA titles at Arizona State and an AAU national title in 1969 in the discus throw. He held more than 200 marks in U.S. and European meets in discus and the shot put, according to Sports Illustrated, which ranked him No. 18 on its list of the top 50 Arizona athletes of the 20th century.
Cole made three Olympic teams, and inspired awe in the powerlifting world. He was known to squat more than 900 pounds, and deadlift more than 800, on a frame of about 280 pounds. Lifters in the early days of the sport went largely without supportive gear, but Cole made the best of his body.
Then, as a coach, Cole made the best of other athletes' bodies, too. He worked as a strength coach at ASU, helping the Sun Devil football program to prominence in the 1970s, and later consulted with several Phoenix professional teams with his own Scottsdale-based firm, Jon Cole Systems.
By the numbers
Cole's record powerlifting total (combined total of squat, bench press and deadlift)