Published in Powerlifting USA January 1999

Jerry Tancil Interview

by Tom McCullough


Jerry Tancil has to be one of the most amazing masters powerlifters I have seen in quite some time. Not only is he an outstanding lifter, but he is truly one of the nicest individuals you will ever meet. Jerry Tancil is 44 years old and lives with his wife Suzette in Georgetown, South Carolina where he works as a construction worker for BE & K Construction. When Jerry is in the house, every one has a good time.

TM: Jerry, how long have you been powerlifting and how did you get started in this sport?

JT: I got started about 10 years ago because I wanted to put on some size. One day I wondered into a gym and watched some guys bench pressing. I was impressed at how much these guys were doing. At the time I only weighed about 200 pounds, so when they were done I walked over and put on about 135 pounds and nearly got squished to death. I knew then I need to change make some changes.

TM: Is there any particular person who helped you when you first started?

JT: Yeah, about four years ago a fellow named Dwight Causey came into the gym where I trained and watch me bench 500 pounds on one of my bench press days. Dwight ask me if I had ever competed and I said no I had never really thought about. So before I knew it he had dragged ask me off to an ADFPA meet here in South Carolina. My first bench press was a state record and after that I was hooked.

TM: Is there a particular person who you admire and who inspired your lifting?

JT: Oh yeah, Danny McMillan! He is my hero. All you have to do is just watch him lift some time. He is one of the most amazing lifters I have ever seen. Not only is he a great lifter, he is one of the nicest individuals you will ever meet in your whole life. I met him in my second contest and he was just too nice. He is a great lifter and a great person and is now one of my closest friends.

TM: I sure can see where Danny's personality has rubbed off on you. Jerry, I realize you have accomplished quite a bit since you first day in the gym, but out of all of this what are you the most proud of?

JT: It has to be my 630 pound bench press I did in Georgetown, South Carolina at the APA Southern States Bench Press Championships earlier in 1998. It was a WPA/ APA Drug Free World Record.

TM: What other titles have you won?

JT: I hold about 8 current WPA/APA World and American records right now in both the drug free divisions and untested divisions. I also hold records in the masters (40-44) and open divisions in both the 275 and 308 weight classes. I have also been listed in Powerlifting USA for the last three years as the number one ranked masters bench presser in both the 275 and super heavyweight weight classes. I also set a WDFPF World bench press record last year and hold American records in the USPF, AAU, and ADFPA. I hold a record in every federation that has come around this area.

TM: Those are some pretty impressive accomplishments! What has been the biggest challenge to your lifting success?

JT: Well, I had a heart attack in March of 1997 which slowed me down for a hot minute. So for the last year I have been trying to come back from that and just get back to where I was.

TM: That is a big hurdle to have to jump, but it looks like you have done it. What are some of your future powerlifting goals?

JT: I don't believe in setting goals that are unrealistic. My current goal in the bench press is to hit the 700 pound mark and hopefully be able to hit 650 without a bench press shirt.

TM: How do you train for contests?

JT: I never change anything. I do the same reps year round regardless of when I go to a contest. I always train very heavy on the chest and go lighter with more reps on all of my assessory training. A few weeks before a contest I'll put n my bench press shirt and get an opener for my contest.

TM: Speaking of equipment, what are your views on powerlifting gear?

JT: I tried a raw meet a few years ago and to be honest, that was the first time I had ever hurt myself. It just about destroyed my shoulder. I couldn't lift much for about 4 months. It scared me because I thought I would never be able to train again. There is definitely a safety benefit in using the bench press shirt and had I been wearing it that day, I might not have ever been injured. I thought I was bullet proof and found out that when you reach my age (44) you need all the extra support you can get. I just got to have it.

TM: What particular gear do you wear?

JT: I am an Inzer boy! A few years ago I went to Texas and visited the Inzer Advance Designs factory. I say a gray color I had never seen and ask them to make two shirts. I have been happy with them every since.

TM: Any special techniques or secrets in using the bench press shirt that you would like to share?

JT: The most important thing is getting the right fit. Most people get a shirt that doesn't fit properly and just keep it. I always make sure mine fit exactly like I want it. The Inzer people never have a problem taking back my equipment and making necessary adjustments. Make sure you are use to training in your equipment. I always want to make sure I bench exactly the same in the gym as I do in a contest.

TM: What changes have you made in training gear since you started lifting?

JT: I'm excited about some of the new things I've seen! At the WPA Worlds is saw a few people using some of those new Velcro shirts. I don't know........but I sure do like those things. The better the gear the more longevity we will have in the sport and the safer and more injury free you will be. I think gear is hear to stay.

TM: Let's talk about food. Tell us a little bit about your diet and the supplements you use.

JT: Food? I like food! I eat anything and everything. I don't care what weight class I enter, whether it is the 275's, the 308's or the SHW's. I just go in and lift. I try not to worry too much about what I weight or how much I eat. I just try to stay full. As far as supplements go. The only one I have found that works is creatine. Occasionally I will use it. However, nothing works any better than good food and lots of hard work. I'm not really too big on supplements. It seems like there is a new supplement out every week. It's kind of hard to keep up with all of that and unless you have some pretty deep pockets you can't afford to try them all, especially with the results you get from using them.

TM: What has the sport of powerlifting done for you and your life?

JT: In the gym you learn how to set realistic goals and accomplish them. If you can apply this same thing to life and are able to do anything you want to.

TM: What do you like and dislike about the sport of powerlifting?

JT: You know, you hear a lot about the different federation problems and the politics, but people are still going to lift weights. It doesn't matter what these federations do, because there are still going to be people lifting weights in the gym and having a good time doing it. Despite all of the fighting, we can all still have fun in the gym and no one can take that away.

TM: So what changes would you like to see in our sport?

JT: Quit all of this bickering! We are all powerlifters no matter what federation were are a member of. As long as we are just out there lifting, it doesn't really matter what federation we are doing it with. We all start in the gym, we all still have to go to a gym to train. The rest doesn't make a difference. Just have fun!

TM: Would you like unification or do you like several federations?

JT: Unification would be great! But I'm still going to lift regardless of whether or not we ever unify. All of the people I know feel the same way. While I would like to see one world champion in the future, I'm not going to worry about it if it never happens. If Joe Schmo over here has a World record and I have a World in a different organization I'm not going to worry about it until the day comes that we are all in the same ball game. I have no problem with being a World record holder in the WPA while someone else is a record holder in another federation. Good for them. More power to them! I'm still going to be lifting. So who cares.

TM: Do you actually believe powerlifting can make it to the Olympics in the near future?

JT: Man....I can't believe it's not. People have been fascinated with strength forever. Even if we just had to go with an individual lift like the bench press, squat or deadlift or even combined, I can't believe it's not already in the Olympics. It's hard to believe. I don't see what the problem is. People have come up with lots of excuses, but I don't believe them. Equipment is one, but every sport uses some kind of equipment so I don't see what the problem really is. Every sport buys the best equipment money can buy, so I don't see that this is an issue. As far as the drug issue goes, you are just not going to make it to the Olympics doing drug. They test! So if you are doing drugs, just don't plan on going to the Olympics. If you are using them, have fun where you are.

TM: Do you have any advice for lifters just starting out in powerlifting?

JT: Yeah....have fun! Find a federation to compete in where you are still allowed to have a good time. That is what going to a meet is all about. A few years ago I started lifting in the APA and love it. It's fun...... it really is. I really have a ball going to their meets and that what it's all about. They have a good set of rules, they don't give you anything, but they are not barbaric either. I have been in meets with other federations where they were so strict and so picky, that it wasn't fun. If I don't have fun, I just don't go back. And I never lifted in that particular federation again. It's got to be fun, that's the bottom line!

TM: As usual it has been a pleasure talking with you are there any final comments you would like to make or people you would like to thank?

JT: First off, I would like to thank my wife Suzette. She is my number one supporter and is behind me 100%. Without her I wouldn't be able to have as much fun as I do. I would also like to thank Allen Bremner, Dave Barino at the South Carolina Barbell, and Danny McMillan and his wife. I would also like to thank Mike Lambert and PLUSA for making this opportunity possible.


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