World record raw lifter

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Motivation and a family motto helped Atmore resident Robert Wilkerson fulfill his goal of setting a world record at the Southern Power Federation Nationals on June 6.

Wilkerson’s squat of 975 pounds broke the previous record of 953 pounds set by Mark Henry in 1995.

At the Nationals, Wilkerson’s total of 2,200 pounds of lifts was enough to finish as the No. 1 ranked raw lifter at the meet. Along with his record setting squat, Wilkerson bench pressed 625 pounds and performed a deadlift of 600 pounds.

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Wilkerson said setting the record was surprising because of how easy the lifts felt.

“It felt really good, but it was surprising,” Wilkerson said. “It surprised me because at 910 pounds, it felt like it was just easy. When I got to 975 pounds, the adrenaline was just pumping through me, and I went parallel and stood up with it. I could have done more, but I decided to just stick to my gameplan, which was 975.”

Competing at the Nationals was something Wilkerson had trouble deciding to do.

He recently lost his grandfather and was unsure if he would go on to the SPF Nationals.

Wilkerson said that he spoke with his family before deciding to go on to the competition.

“Before the funeral, I spoke to my family about competing, and they told me to go do it,” Wilkerson said. “That was my motivation to show him that all of my hard work would not be in vain. I knew he would not want me me to stop.”

Wilkerson’s grandfather was a vital part of his life and always wanted his grandson to finish what he started.

Wilkerson said his grandfather’s importance to him helped motivate him to accomplish what he set out to do.

“My grandfather and I were really close,” Wilkerson said. “He was like my father when I was growing up. He was the one I would talk to about things. He was just my motivation because he always wanted me to do what I wanted to do.”

At the SPF Nationals, Wilkerson accomplished the goals he set out to do and felt proud of his performance.

Wilkerson said he felt proud of how well he stacked up against equipped lifters.

“It was an accomplishment for me because my totals were only 500 pounds off of a couple of the equipped lifters,” Wilkerson said. “The guy who was the top lifter only lifted around 100 pounds more than me on his squat.”

For the future, Wilkerson plans on continuing his lifting and trying to meet other goals along the way.

“My next goal is to increase my bench and my deadlift,” Wilkerson said. “I’m also close to hitting the All-Time raw lifting total, so I’m going to focus on making it to those achievements.

If he can hit his goals, Wilkerson said he hopes more people get interested in lifting.

“I want to break those raw records, so more people might want to get involved in all kinds of lifting. That is something that I hope I can achieve for the sport.”

Atmore resident Robert Wilkerson works on his bench press with the help of spotters at Ultimate Fitness on South Pensacola Avenue. Wilkerson set a world record for squatting at the SPF Nationals on June 6 with a lift of 975 pounds.|Photo by Chandler Myers