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Sanford Veteran Hopes To Set Powerlifting World Record, Again.

Greg Stott practices powerlifts in his training room in Sanford.
Jillian Clark-Ramey

Sanford resident and world champion powerlifter Greg Stott is not your normal weight-lifting competitor. He’s a 50-year-old used car dealer, father of two, and a former Army Ranger whose military career ended in prison.  He’s a piano player and self-identified evangelist. And he’s manic depressive.  In October, he’s slated to compete in the 100% Raw (meaning drug-free and without the use of belts or supports) World Championships in Las Vegas and hopes to set a Master Powerlifting Total World Record. A film production team led by his son, Nicholas Stott, is documenting the endeavor and is currently raising money on Kickstarter to turn their footage into a feature film.

A Master Powerlifting Total World Record, for the uninitiated, breaks down like this:

  • Master is the age class that includes everyone over 40 years old.
  • Powerlifting is a competition with three separate weightlifting categories: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift.
  • Total means the combined weight of all three categories. Winners are declared in each of the three lifting categories, as well as the total combined weight.
  • And a World Record is just that.

Greg Stott is not new to the sport. He’s been lifting since middle school.  When he was 13, he took a bus 80 miles round trip to train with a mentor. Three years later, he started competing. He won the national and world championships for 100% Raw Powerlifting in 2000, and was the national champ again the year after. When he was 39, he set a world record for lifting the most for his weight class (total weight lifted in all three categories was 1780 pounds, the equivalent of a ’67 Volkswagen Beetle. Stott weighed 275.). Since then, he’s competed as a strongman, a different realm of the weightlifting world that involves lifting boulders and flipping cars, among other things.

Greg Stott at 16 years old, when he first started competing.
Credit courtesty of Greg Stott
Greg Stott at 16 years old, when he first started competing.

It’s been over ten years since Stott has competed as a powerlifter, but that doesn’t’ deter him from attempting a new world record. When asked what his motivation is, he’s blunt.

“Anyone who does it is pretty masochistic. There’s nothing fun about it,” he says. “But there’s the mountain-climber aspect to it. I’m sure when the guys on Everest, when they get to the top with the wind howling, they are thinking, ‘this is not fun.’  The same thing applies. It’s because I can. It’s fun to see that you can conquer something.”

Stott’s training center is built right into his used car dealership building. The walls are lined with newspaper clippings and photographs documenting his accomplishments. His barbells and weights rest on the floor. He calls the wait room the “weight room,” for obvious reasons.

“When I open that door, I tell people it has that feel of ‘come in to see my chocolate factory,’” Stott says. “I feel like Gene Wilder.”

Stott weighs 255 pounds and is five foot seven. His neck measures 20 inches around, the same circumference of his arms. He says he doesn’t look like any other 50-year-old he knows, and he’s grateful for what his strength allows him to do. While other people his age might strain themselves lifting heavy boxes, Stott lifts cars for fun.

"Anyone who does it is pretty masochistic." - Greg Stott

For next month’s competition, he says he’s going to start with a 640 lb. squat, a 420 lb. bench and a 650 lb. deadlift. Each round, he’ll lift more. He says his mantra is DFD: discipline, focus and determination, something that has helped him deal with his manic depression. It hasn’t been easy, he says, and he iterates how proud he is of his two kids, who had to grow up with the “craziness.”

Stott’s colorful history is partly what inspired his son, Nicholas, and daughter-in-law, Jennifer Sanchez, to start filming him. They call themselves iXL Productions.

“We may be a little biased because we’re family, but he tells these stories that sound like they’re from a movie,” says  Sanchez. “It’s very cinematic and very unreal.”

Despite their relation, her assessment of Stott’s stories might be accurate. He’s lived through his share of challenges, from a mental disorder to a prison sentence (Stott says he went to prison on assault charges that resulted from his mental disorder; he was later pardoned).  Sanchez says the film will explore those parts of his life, just as much as it covers the competition. And as a piano-playing, evangelistic, business-owner, husband of 30 years, Army Ranger combat veteran powerlifter hoping to set a world record, they might just have some film-worthy material.

You can watch a teaser for their film here:

UPDATE Sept. 3, :  The film team decided against using Kickstarter after their initial launch and are instead using this website to raise money for the film.

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.
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