GW: I started as a high school football player. I played running back and line backer. During my high school career I scored 36 touchdowns and averaged 18 yards per carry rushing. Every year in high school I made All-State. The amazing thing about this story is that I only weighed about 100 pounds, but even then I could bench about three times my body weight.
TM: After you graduated high school what became of you football career?
GW: After graduating I went to Troy State University where I had plans to play football. I knew that I would have to gain some weight to be able to play college football so I started lifting with the football team. This is where I first got interested in powerlifting. Soon I was concentrating more on powerlifting and less and less on football. I eventually gave up football for powerlifting .
TM: Now you have become one of the best know bench pressers in the world. Tell us about some of your accomplishments since you started competing.
GW: I have competed in the 148 pound and 165 pound weight classes in the USPF, ADFPA, APF, and IPF. I hold the USPF National Bench Press record and the IPF World Bench Press record. I have also had lifts in ADFPA single lift meets that are more than the bench press weights on the record books.
TM: In your history of powerlifting competition, which of you many meet stands out the most in your mind?
GW: Though I was a little disappointed in my performance, John Inzer’s Greatest Bench Press in America was the best. I had plans to be the lightest in history to bench 600 pounds. Regardless, I lifted 550 pounds and came close to 575 pounds on my fourth attempt and I only weighed 162 pounds.
TM: In lifting such tremendous amounts of weight have you ever suffered an injury.
GW: I suffered an injury to the pectorals last year. I tried to lift through the pain, but I finally had to go to the doctor. The doctor told me I shouldn’t lift for a while. But I kept on lifting anyway and probably made it worse. It’s hard for me to take time off. I have also been suffering from a minor shoulder problem. But I work around it by training with a bench press shirt.
TM: Speaking of equipment...this seems to be a pretty hot topic in powerlifting. What are you views on the use of equipment in powerlifting?
GW: If I had used my bench press shirt that day, I would have never injured my pecs last year. I plan to continue lifting for many more years and look for the bench press shirt to help me stay healthy and get bigger and bigger poundages on the bench press. Many historians today think powerlifting should stay as it was by snubbing the gear and competitions that might excite the spectator. Powerlifting didn’t get anywhere like it was, so why go back.
TM: Why do you think some of the old lifters are pushing this RAW issue so hard?
GW: Many of those wanting to step back don’t want to see their old records broken. I believe people want to see exciting big lifts, in great venues. They don’t want to go to some little high school gym. We need more meets like Inzer’s Greatest Bench in America for powerlifting to gain more popularity.
TM: What exactly was it about this meet that was any different from other meets in the past?
GW: Because of all the publicity it received in the different magazines, it brought powerlifting to the attention of others. People who attended, liked the spectacular venue and the showmanship incorporated into the competition.
TM: Besides your Inzer bench press shirt, what other kind of equipment do you use to press all that weight?
GW: I use wrist wraps. With my grip, I put the bar a little further back on my hand than some people and the wrist wraps keep my wrists from bending back so far. When I lift I turn the little finger toward my face, with the thumbs out. The support the wraps give me make me feel more comfortable. Shoes are a very important item. My favorite shoe is made by Otomix. I feel this shoe helps me grip the floor better. When I lifted at Inzer’s contest, I left my favorite shoes at home and had to lift in another brand of shoe. I felt I did not get the grip on the floor I needed.
TM: Another volitile issue in the sport of powerlifting is the use of drugs. What are your views on drug use by some of our lifters?
GW: I don’t care what people do. If they take drugs, they should lift with people who take drugs. If they don’t, they should be able to lift with people who don’t use drugs. I know there are people who talk about all the drugs I’m supposed to be taking. They said I’m going to die pretty soon. I don’t care what they think, I am not taking drugs like people say I am. I am planning on going to mostly drug free meets just to show them I’m not on all that stuff.
TM: Tell us a little bit about how a world class lifter trains his bench.
GW: I presently train five days a week. Two days a week I will bench heavy for doubles, one day I will work legs, and the other two days I will bench close grips and heavy lockouts. I work my way down each week going up in weight and down in reps. For assistance exercises, I do heavy lock outs and triceps curls. I also work my shoulders a lot and go heavy on the reverse grip bench and dips.
TM: What are your future plans in the great sport of powerlifting?
GW: I will be competing at the 1997 USPF Nationals and hope to bench press 600 pounds drug free. My biggest goal is to be the first in history to bench press four times his bodyweight.
TM: Many feel that diet is the key to success in weightlifting. Is there any special diet that you follow?
GW: I don’t follow any special diet, but I do try to eat well. On a typical day I usually eat five pieces of toast, Cream of Wheat, apple juice, milk and coffee for breakfast. I might have something like fried chicken, peas and corn for lunch and maybe baked ham, macaroni and peas for dinner. On Friday night I can usually be found at the local Mexican food restaurant.
TM: What is your real life like aside from all the glamour of powerlifting?
GM: I am an environmentalist. I run the water treatment plant for the City of Clayton, Alabama. I recently got married on September 7, 1996 to Rebecca, who I met at a gym I owned. We live in Clayton with our two dogs. In my spare time I enjoy gardening and raise tomatoes and peppers for my special salsa recipe.
TM: Could this be the real secret to your great bench press strength? Do you think we could possibly get you to share this recipe?
GW: I would be glad to oblige. However, this recipe is suited to my own taste. When you try it, you may want to experiment a bit with the peppers to make sure you don’t get the salsa hotter than you can stand.
• Wash enough tomatoes to equal one gallon when crushed
• Place tomatoes in a single layer in a baking pan and broil until the peel cracks and slightly browns
• Broil the following just enough to heat through (there should be some brown pieces)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup jalapeno peppers (seeded)
• Blend tomatoes, onions and pepper
• Boil for about 10 minutes
• Put in a sterile jar and refrigerate.
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