IronMan, Vol 15, No 2, Page 8, September 1955

Meet Mr. America 1955 - Steve Klisanin

by M Kirchner

ON the night of June 5th, 1955 at the Masonic Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio, a young man by the name of Steve Klisanin experienced the biggest thrill, the biggest night of his life, when after two days' ordeal of posing, questioning and just standing around in suspense, he was acclaimed "Mr. America" for 1955. Probably no one was more surprised at this turn of events than Steve himself, for he had been trying for years to win the Mr. America title, or even win a subdivision, without success. He had won many other titles, as will be revealed later on, but this time Steve had been stationed overseas in Korea, and had but little opportunity to train hard for the event, and the trip to America, as you will see later, was quite an ordeal in itself. Steve was in fine shape but he did look a little tired and drawn. We believe that the scales were tipped in Steve's favor this year by the fact that a different method of officiating was used and different standards for a winner were used.

No longer does the title "Mr. America" designate the one quality, "Superior Physique". It also includes character, insofar as it can be determined, education, personality, and past and present athletic ability. While this method of judging and selecting a winner is quite new and still rather crude in use, with many rough corners to be smoothed off, the leaders in our game feel it is a move in the right direction. We think that quite a few changes and modifications will have to be made before it is wholly satisfactory in practice. Those responsible for these changes feel that a man bearing the title of "Mr. America" should be fully representative of the finest in American manhood in every way. Either that, or the title must be changed to "America's Most Perfectly Developed Man" or some other such thing.

So, as will be shown, while others might have had just as good a physique, Steve has a fine character (and so did others of the top men), he is well educated and has had to obtain his education over many obstacles, for it has been interrupted three times by the Marine Corps. He has a pleasing and likable personality and is an exceptional athlete in many fields of endeavor.

Steve Klisanin was born in McKeesport, Pa. 26 years ago and we doubt very much if his proud parents ever visualized their son some day winning the title of "Mr. America." In the first place there were no "Mr. America" titles to win in those days, and in the second place Steve was nothing outstanding as a boy, though he was never sickly or weak either, just a normal, healthy boy who liked to participate in all sports boys are fond of. He excelled at many of these and at the same time made high grades in his school work.

Nothing very eventful transpired during his early youth to indicate that some day he would receive great honors for athletics and his physique. He was an outstanding athlete in high school, participating in football, basketball and track. It was while he was 17 years of age and in his last year in high school that he started to train with weights. At that time he weighed 135 pounds. He certainly didn't look like any physique champion at this time. However, with weight training he rapidly gained in size, weight and physical efficiency. He weighed 155 after four months training.

As soon as he finished high school he went into the Marine Corps. He was able to continue to train, and in more months was up to 165 pounds and was already shaping into condition for great things to come, and people were beginning to notice his still slender, but very well proportioned physique.

He was discharged from the Marine Corps in late '47 and attended Kiski Prep, where he was a schoolmate of Bob Mathias and was captain of the football team. While here he was also voted "Outstanding Athlete of the Year." He then accepted a football scholarship at Duke University where he was captain and quarterback of an undefeated football team. He attended Duke one year and then because he was offered a very fine job with a mining company in New Mexico, he transferred to New Mexico, where he worked for the mining company and attended the University of New Mexico. Unfortunately he was ineligible to play football in New Mexico that year due to the change, but could have played the following year. While out there he continued to enter physique and lifting contests, winning many new titles to add to those already won and listed later in this story.

It was about this time that he underwent a serious abdominal operation and because he had waited so long he was in pretty bad condition. The doctors told him he would probably never be able to do much again, physically, but with characteristic determination and courage he started working out again with light weights. He completely rehabilitated his abdominal muscles in about 6 weeks with leg raises, and worked on upper body work thereafter until his bodyweight had come up from a low 150 to 205. Only a short time later he was again lifting and made an 800 total.

He was again recalled to the Marines and again his education was interrupted. He was discharged again in '52 and reentered the University of New Mexico only to be called back in the Marines again in 1954. He was sent overseas the first part of July, where he remained until the Marine Corps finally decided to send him back to enter the Mr. America contest. He was able to train in a limited manner over there, but from the time he prepared to come back, until the contest, he had very little opportunity to get in any heavy training. He left Okinawa May 21 after numerous delays, and went to Japan until the 26th, then to Midway the 27th and to Hawaii the 28th. In each stop it seemed that he was not going to be able to come on through in time for the contest, due to much red tape connected with the armed services (any of you who have been in the service will understand this). He finally got out of Hawaii after he had opportunity for one workout, and reached San Francisco the 31st. Upon arrival here he encountered more difficulties in getting a plane East, and found that the money he was supposed to receive for the trip had not come through, and since he had very little of his own money he was barely able to purchase a ticket east. He left for Pittsburgh the 1st of June, just two days before the contest would start in Cleveland. Arriving home in McKeesport (just outside Pittsburgh) he immediately set out for York, where Grimek gave him some posing advice (several of the Mr. America contestants had been training in York), then back home again, and at once taking a plane again for Cleveland, where he arrived in time for the contest. You can see that he had very little opportunity either for training, rest or proper food. By the time the contest was over he was elated but very tired. He promised to come to the hotel Monday morning for an interview, but knowing how busy he was we doubted if he'd be able to make it. However, early Monday morning we received a phone call from the lobby of the hotel that he was there ready for an interview. When we remarked that we hadn't really expected he would be able to make it, he said that it was one of the rules of his life to always be on time for any appointment and to keep any promises he makes. This is just one indication of the very fine character of this ideal of young American Manhood we have selected to wear the crown of King of the muscle men for 1955. We know that he will bring honor and respect to the title and will be a true representative of ideal American Manhood which we can all be proud of. The bearer of such a title has a responsibility thrust upon him that can tax the ability of the best, a responsibility that many are either not aware of or are not willing to accept. We have no qualms about Steve in any respect.

Steve is still single, though he has had some close calls with matrimony. When he is again discharged from the Marines he hopes to go back to college and get his master's degree, then perhaps playa little professional football until he has enough money to open a health studio in Pittsburgh. He is much more interested in conditioning and rehabilitation than he is in a strict muscle building studio.

Steve tells us that after football. lifting is his favorite sport. He has trained chiefly for lifting and has done but little specialized bodybuilding in preparation for physique contests, in fact, he has never been much interested in physique contest work and only entered at the urging of friends. It has never been a very great ambition to win a Mr. America title, he would much rather be a World Champion lifter, but since he had a fine physique he could see no reason for not entering and winning, if possible. He is not a man of extremely massive build but still has plenty of muscle, as his photos will show. He has unusually fine shape and proportion and outstanding definition. His arms range from 17 to 17 1/2, usually depending on his bodyweight, which usually remains around 185. He is 5'10" tall, which makes him one of the most slender men to win the title, still he does not look slender. He is very strong and has won many weightlifting titles. He feels that the squat is the greatest single exercise in existence and uses it a great deal when training for lifting. Favorite exercises are the press and a special exercise called the rotary flying exercise on bench.

Steve's best lifts are 260 press (270 in training), 262 snatch and 342 1/2 clean and jerk. Had he made all these lifts at one time they would give him a total of 864 1/2, which is very good for a lightheavyweight. Here are a few of the many lifting and physique titles Steve has won: Mr. Pittsburgh in 1949; Allegheny Mt. 181 class championship in 1947 (lifting); Mr. Allegheny in 1949; Mr. Pennsylvania in 1949 (also winning 5 subdivisions in this contest, which was the first time he had ever competed against Jim Park; Allegheny Mt. 181 lifting tItle in 1949: same in 1950; Best Back in 1950 Mr. America contest; Tied with Jim Park for 7th place in the 1950 Mr. America; 1951 Mr. Albuquerque as well as Mr. New Mexico and Mr. Southwest. He was the Rocky Mt. 181 champion in 1951; second to Chet Spittle in 1952 National Collegiate contest with 800 total. This was right after his recovery from his operation. He won best arms and best chest in the 1953 Jr. Mr. America contest. He also won the Jr. Mr. America title in 1953 and took 4th place in the Sr. Mr. America contest that year besides winning the Mr. Health title and 5 trophies at Norfolk, Virginia. At this latter contest he won lifting honors of which we have no record at present. In 1954 he won the Mr. Virginia title, the 198 lifting title at Norfolk, the 181 class in the Washington D. C. championships and was second to Jerome Schemansky in the 198 class at the National YMCA championships. He won the Mr. Delaware Valley and at Wilmington he won the 181 class title with an 830 total. He won the 198 lb. class at the Junior Nationals in 1954 with a total of 845. .

The above are only part of the titles he has won since about 1948, and constitute quite a record as you can see. In closing we wish to congratulate Steve Klisanin and wish him the best of everything for the future.


- This outstanding front pose taken during the posing routine of Steve Klisanin at the Mr. America contest gives ample evidence of his muscularity, definition and proportions. This, like the rest of the photos with the Mr. America and Sr. Nationals reports was taken with normal available light, in this instance, a single overhead spot, which left some parts of the body in shadow, but gave a dramatic photo.

- In the photo above we see Steve on the victory platform with some of the other fellows in the background. Left to right they are: Schaefer, Seipke, Klisanin (Van Fleteren behind Klisanin) and Johnson.

- Below is a flash photo by Calvin showing Steve standing with Iron Man Editor, Peary Rader, left, and John McWilliamss of the Iron Man Staff, the man with the world's largest muscular arms. On the extreme right is Joe Pasternack, who assisted Joe Raymond with the meet.

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