Powerlifters to compete in Salem this weekend

SALEM – With upwards of 70 to 80 competitors expected at the fifth annual Quaker Classic, a 100 percent Raw Powerlifting, drug free championships in Salem this weekend, the big showdown will be between Steve Davis of Youngstown and Steve Thompson of Dayton.

Lonnie Atkins of Salem is the chairman of the Ohio 100 Percent Raw Powerlifting and organizer for the Quaker Classic.

“They’re coming here to meet each other head-to-head,” Atkins said.

The Quaker Classic starts at 9 a.m. Saturday in the United Steel Workers hall.

Atkins, a former state, national and world record-holder himself, will not compete but said the powerlifters will be competing in the classic championship in a number of weight categories.

Competitors range in age from eight to 79-years-old.

Weigh-ins will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 6 to 8 a.m. Saturday.

The event is open to the public for spectating and general admission is $5 with children under seven free.

The USW AFL-CIO Local 1538 Hall is located at 547 Prospect St.

The classic is sponsored by Promo’s Unlimited (main), the Iron Chamber Gym in Canton and Fatland.

Teams will be arriving from New York, Maine, Pennsylvania and Canton, Atkins said, noting the team from the Iron Chamber Gym consists mainly of police and firefighters.

Mike Hart of Pittsburgh will return. He set a new national record in his 165 lbs. weight class with a deadlift of 616 pounds during the 2013 Quaker Classic.

He has since upped that to 628 pounds, Atkins said, adding that the amazing thing about Hart is that one leg is slightly longer than the other.

“It’s an amazing feat to do that,” Atkins said.

A Lisbon couple, William Thomas “Buck” Williams Sr., 77, and Cynthia Louise Willams, 59, will also be competing.

Cynthia said it will be her first competition in the dead lift.

With a combined age of 136 years, Atkins said they are the oldest couple to ever compete in the 100 Percent Raw competition.

“We break huge records here in Salem,” Atkins said, pointing to last year’s Quaker Classic when Brooklyn, New York’s Pedro Mejias, a super heavy-weight bench press champion, set a new world bench press record at 633 pounds.

“That’s the best ever,” Atkins said, “that’s amazing, that’s lifting over 300 pounds with each arm.”

Every single meet we’ve had here, we’ve broken national records, Atkins said, so he’s excited about this years’ Quaker Classic.

Atkins said Davis, a former Youngstown Ursuline football player, just had his number retired while Thompson is a Dayton firefighter. They compete in the 275 pound class.

Thompson, a USMC veteran of 14 years service, holds the state records in the bench press at 485 pounds and the deadlift at 650+ pounds. He was second in the world in 100 Percent Raw competition.

“Both will attempt to go over 500 pounds in the bench press,” Atkins said, explaining that 100 percent raw lifting is drug free and unequipped.

Two Canton youngsters, Roman, 8, and his older brother, Aeden Begue, a fifth-grader, will compete. Aeden is a Quaker Classic veteran.

Roman, competing in the 105-pound category, “plans on setting an Ohio deadlift record,” Atkins said while his brother set an Ohio deadlift record last year.

“He just missed the national record,”Atkins said.

Their father, Jeff Begue, is a retired seven time world champion powerlifter and Stark County deputy sheriff.

Atkins said Quaker Classic registration has grown and commented that once Salem gets hotel, he expects it to really take off.

The American Challenge is scheduled for Salem during the last weekend in June.