Gone Too Soon

Powerlifting is a sport that I love; an individual sport for the individualist in all of us. The pure raw brutal honesty of man against the bar; the weight does not lie to you. You have a chance to test yourself every time you grab hold of that cold steel. The quest for ever larger numbers drive a person to train harder and push further. In the right light the sport of powerlifting is a great thing.

Too often the sport of powerlifting is presented in a less than perfect light. These men and women in pursuit of ever greater numbers have been driven to the edge of the human limits and beyond. No longer is it enough to bench press 600 pounds as the great Pat Casey once did. A large number of us have chosen to get bigger and stronger by whatever means necessary. The average person in society is not willing to accept or understand the “by any means” methods. All powerlifters are in the same shadow of drugs, high blood pressure and unhealthy weight gain.

A very close friend of mine, Larry, holds many age group records and has been a multi-time age group world champion. Larry told me that he could not out lift many of his peers and he simply outlived them. The message rang very true to me and I looked at Larry and decided that being 148 pounds well into his sixties has given him longevity. Larry was a small man and he became a very fit and very strong small man and lived a long and happy life.

So many of my friends, great powerlifters and genuinely good human beings, have not enjoyed a long life. As a young man I was fortunate to lift in a meet called the Legends Reunion and had a chance to meet many of the founding fathers. I saw them, talked to them, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every one of them.

Pat Casey was a true legend of the iron game and the first man to bench press 600 pounds on March 25, 1967. Pat was a great guy who would sit around and tell stories at dinner after the meet was over. I never lifted with Pat but I was honored to have met him and his autographed picture was on my bedroom wall for many years with the personalized inscription written to me. Pat has since passed away in April of 2005. He lived a good life and while he did live to be 65 years old, I still feel Pat left us too early. I never had the balls to ask him about drug use and abuse. I know Pat was the greatest bench presser of his time, and his time was before all the “equipment” watered down the sport. Pat was a giant of a man long after his active career was over and as such possessed a greater potential than us mere mortals. I have read accounts where he spoke against steroids and I have read the Bruce Wilhelm interview where Pat said Steroids were an individual choice.

Anthony Clark has a special place in my life and I have a personally autographed poster of Anthony in my garage where I work out. Anthony was a friend and I had the honor to lift with him several times and hang out and chat as well as help him with his warm ups and equipment. I also had the opportunity to go out and party with Anthony. The way Anthony treated me people always thought we were much closer than we actually were. I only remember calling him once, but I did have his number. I just didn’t bother the guy unless I had work for him. Anthony was a year younger than me and a really a good guy. Anthony Passed away on May 22, 2005. Anthony was a Christian man and he did openly admit to drug use, claiming to have quit in his later years. Sadly, Anthony did not make it to see his fortieth birthday so he didn’t really have later years. I know Anthony left us far too early.

I recently had the sad experience of reading of the passing of another of my lifting brethren in Jerry Capello. Jerry Capello has lifted with me since 1993 and I counted him as a friend. Jerry and I must have lifted in 40 meets together over all the years. Jerry was a bit older than I am and had just gotten into his fifties when he had a heart attack and died after lifting in a meet. Jerry is gone and missed by many.

I had the opportunity to lift with many others and some of them have passed away. I am constantly amazed at the men that leave us before we are done with them. I think it is time that we as lifters face our own mortality and realize that we need to make better life choices. If you plan to be here to see your grandchildren raised it is time to start living your life for the long haul. Stop take a moment and think about the consequences of moving up another weight class or doing one more heavy cycle. Trading twenty years of your life for another 50 pounds on your personal best may not be the choice you want to make.

Anthony, Pat, Jerry, Ross Phillips, Jack Barnes, Doyle Kennedy, Paul Anderson, Peanuts West and many others are all gone now.

Gone too soon.

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