Comeback of the 800-Pound Gorilla

When you've broken the world bench-press record nine times over, you can impress anybody with your strength. Except, perhaps, yourself.

"This is one of my best," he says, rewinding and playing it again. "This was a near-perfect bench."

He's playing the videotape to show what a national competition looks like, but admits to watching it on his own sometimes, when he's feeling down.

Isaac's friend and fellow powerlifter, visible as a spotter on the videotape, is revolted by the sight of his slimmer former self. "Look how skinny my neck was," he says. "Look at my wrists."

Isaac gets a lift from his spotters on the decline bench.
Isaac gets a lift from his spotters on the decline bench.
Isaac gets a lift from his spotters on the decline bench.
Paolo Vescia
Isaac gets a lift from his spotters on the decline bench.

Today Isaac is the heaviest he's ever weighed. He frequently monitors his blood pressure, and admits to being a bit concerned about his health. All muscle or not, 300 pounds is still 300 pounds -- and that's heart attack country at the age of 38. He takes his nutritional supplements, but has no aversion to wolfing down a cheeseburger and fries at Denny's. He has the shallow breathing of a large man.

Isaac has no regrets, however. The extra weight, the injuries to his knees, the hours in the gym, all are part of who he is and what he loves. He says that his suffering has made him a more effective role model for kids needing evidence that strength -- inner strength -- can conquer any external challenges.

He's training for another competition in May. And by the time he's 40, he plans to slim down to 275 and bench 825 pounds -- which would not only set a new record, but also make him the only person ever to bench triple his body weight in a high weight class.

Isaac watches the video. "It's still not back to that level," he says, frustrated.

"It" referring to the left arm that helped him bench 800 pounds.

He sighs. "I'm still not 100 percent."

Contact James Hibberd at his online address: james.hibberd@newtimes.com

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...