TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-5:00 Jose Luis was born on July 10th, 1945 in Bolívar. He came to the US in 1958 at the age of 18, partly because it was hard to find work in the Basque Country at that time and he needed money. He came with four other men from Bolívar. He had originally planned to return to the Old Country after the end of his 3-year contract. His family lived on a baserri up on a hill, and his three brothers had gone to the US before him and ended up marrying and moving to Gernika. After the end of Jose Luis’s contract he had to return to the Basque Country for a time before returning. He got his citizenship in 1967.
5-12:45 Jose Luis began working for the Highland Sheep Company when he first arrived in Idaho and has been working there ever since, about 34 years. He started lifting weights seriously in the US at about the age of 25-26. Interestingly enough, he hadn’t lifted much in the Basque Country. Benny Goitiandia was the other major lifter, and they soon began training and traveling together. They trained at least twice a week. He explains that the first picnic of the summer is in Winnemucca, then Elko, then Gooding and finally Boise. They would start lifting about three months before the Winnemucca competition. He explains about the different kinds of weights and events. The most he ever lifted was the 350 lb stone and he lifted it 4 times in one minute, though he often lifted the 250 lb stone 50 times in 6 minutes. Jose Luis speculates about the origins of the Basque weightlifting phenomenon.
12:45-20:30 Basque people love sports. Jose Luis discusses the ‘Basqueness’ of sports like jai alai and handball. Both Bizkaia and Guipuzkoa have good lifters, though the best heavy lifters are in Guipuzkoa and parts of Navarra. He elaborates on the differences between lifting lighter versus heavier weights. Bigger men can lift heavier weights more easily, but the smaller lifters who lift lighter weights have to be in incredible shape to lift so many times in a minute. It takes a lot of endurance and strength.
20:30-25:30 Jose Luis says that it’s unfortunate that more young people aren’t lifting weights, and hopes that more do. He mentions that Patxi Amuchastegui is a strong lifter and knows what he’s doing. People in Idaho just aren’t as interested in Basque lifting, whereas in the Basque Country you can walk into any bar and find someone willing to lift. He elaborates more on the popularity of handball in Euskadi.
25:30-30:00 To be a good lifter, you really need somebody to help you train and to keep you one track, to push you. Handball can be practiced alone, but with something as physically demanding as lifting heavy pieces of rock it helps to have someone to keep you on track. Once in a while Jose Luis still lifts in Caldwell, and doing so helps him stay in shape. He again discusses Patxi, primarily about how he stays in shape by lifting. John Urquidi is another strong lifter. Some of Jose Luis’ family members have lifted in the past, but Jose Luis himself is one of the few who takes it seriously. There are more serious lifters in Guipuzkoa than anywhere else, though the Biscayans are generally the best at pulling weights. Benny came to the US in 1962 and the two are quite good friends. Benny is about eight years older than Jose Luis, but is a remarkable lifter despite this age difference. Jose Luis more or less ignores peoples’ attempts to goad the two into rivalry.
0-7:30 Jose Luis predicts that weightlifting in Boise will most likely die out pretty soon, since Patxi is the youngest and probably won’t do it much longer. It might live on in Elko, though. Weightlifting is hard on the body. He accentuates the necessity to be careful and keep good balance—without balance, you’ll hurt yourself and not be able to lift much. It was hard to find time to lift and work on the ranch. Do seriously compete, you have to eat really well and avoid drinking or smoking. If you drink a bit the night before a lift, you won’t be able to lift your best the next day. Competition requires eating decent food and staying healthy. He eats steak, potatoes, salads, and lots of breads. The food and training regimen is similar to that of a serious football player. He really enjoyed lifting, and you feel good after you showering after a hard lift. He used to run about three miles a day and lift the weights he had made.
7:30-14:00 He mentions the Elko and Winnemucca picnics as one’s he really liked to compete in. He also talks a bit about some big, strong guys he used to lift with at jaialdi’s. He has visited some of these friends in Gernika over the years. He’s very happy here in America though he loves the Basque Country. In the US you can’t make any money lifting, but in the Old Country one can make a pretty good living competing in the lifts and pulls. Jose Luis went to Emmett when he was 34 years old.
14-19:30 Jose Luis talks about the amount of money one could make lifting weights in the Basque Country while he was still there. There’s nothing wrong with this country, and he likes living here. He’s worked at Highland his whole life in America, though he had never worked with sheep in Euskadi. He flew from Madrid to New York and then to Boise when he first came, and there were many Basque shepherds in the Boise valley at that time. He lists the Valencia Hotel and the Letamendi, Delamar, and Zabala boardinghouses as some of the places where Basque often came to stay in Boise.
NAMES AND PLACES
Amuchastegui, Patxi; good young lifter
Arrieta, Jose Luis
Delamar Boarding House
Goitiandia, Benny; friend and fellow weightlifter
Highland Sheep Company; employer
Letamendi Boarding House
Urquidi, John; fellow lifter
Zabala Boarding House
Boarding Houses, Basque American