• Jennifer Mecham

Elite #25 John Saldivar

Updated: Apr 21

John Saldivar The Saldivar brothers were a big part of the early years of Diablo. If you have followed this series you have already read David's bio. Here is big brother Johnny or as he was nicknamed "Johnny Big Time" or JBT for short. Johnny was very strong, he just couldn't always get the bar to co-operate. I remember JBT hitting a 635 two board press in training. The next week he missed 455 ona 3 board. I asked him, "what the hell just happened?" He just looked at me and chuckled. That was it. No explanation, no retake, nothing. I'm sure those who trained with Johnny can picture that in their head perfectly. For those who don't know him he was a man of very few words (as was his brother David). In fact for years I thought Johnny just didn't like me...than I realized he just didn't talk.

But he did produce quite a bit of action! He was our first 700 lb bencher at a time when that was still a really big deal. If he had started lifting a bit earlier I have no doubt that he would have been on the map as one of the first to try to chase down 800 in the bench, that was his lift. The squat and deadlift didn't come naturally at all and he really had to fight for every pound on the bar. Ultimately he was able to persevere and achieve a 755 squat to go with his 716 bench and 584 deadlift. A very unconventional path to an elite total!

He was the consummate teammate, he would travel to every meet we did when he wasn't competing to help his training partners. He was always right in the mix, helping to spot and load offering to help (usually via some kind of hand gesture lol). He did this for his entire first run at the club. JBT was a great Husband and very proud Family man and as his career goals changed he wasn't able to continue with us for a number of years. In early 2016 JBT surprisingly made his return to Diablo. I was very excited to have him back as he was not only such a huge part of our roots but always one of my favorites. Johnny had some weight to lose so he got about doing some conditioning. He had a few knee surgeries as well resulting in having to really rebuild his musculature and balance. So he put in the effort on the rehab work as well. In what seemed like a very short time he was morphing back into his old self. He had lost about 25 lbs of fat and had regained a ton of muscle mass. He was on his way. I felt that with his knees we would have to take it slow but competing again at a high level was definitely in the cards. Unfortunately Johnny's work schedule changed and he wasn't able to continue training. I remember leaving it open and believing he would be back in a few months when things got sorted. On June 14th 2016 I received the shocking news that Johnny had passed from a heart attack leaving his always supportive wife Jontue and their two children Josiah and Juliet behind. While I know that somewhere JBT is benching with his buddies and training partners Dan Varela and Oshry Elor, we still miss the void he has left.


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