If you were to research the heaviest deadlift ever performed in a powerlifting competition, you would come across a lift of 1,015 lbs by Benedikt Magnusson from Iceland on April 2, 2011. In fact, our good friends at YouTube even have a video of the momentous occasion by this mountain of a man:
Sweet. Mother. Of. God.
He makes it look insanely easy and your jaw just sort of drops as you see that bar bend as if it were a plastic straw. It’s incredible. It’s utterly amazing.
And to me, it’s not the world’s greatest deadlift. Not by a long, long, long shot.
See, today I saw the world’s greatest deadlift. It was a full 700 lbs. less than what Mr. Magnusson pulled off. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it?
Here’s the the thing: the lift was from one of my absolute best friends, Sam. What makes it the greatest deadlift I’ve ever seen or been aware of is that Sam has been through an absolute war with leukemia over the last several years. I’m not even sure I can recall how all the rounds of treatment went, but if I’m not mistaken, it was something like:
- Diagnosed with leukemia. Goes through traditional treatment and chemo. Leukemia in remission.
- Leukemia returns a year and a half later. Doctors change the game plan – Sam gets a donor stem cell transplant. The process to prepare for a stem cell transplant is hell – utter and complete hell. Your immune system is essentially wiped out with more noxious chemicals than you can imagine and when you are near death, they give you a blood transfusion with the stem cells. The transplant put leukemia into remission again.
- A year or so later… leukemia returns. Again. A stem cell transplant is currently the closest thing to a “cure” for blood-based cancers, so when remission kicks in, it’s usually a good sign that it won’t be coming back… unless it does. Sam goes through the whole process and gets a second stem cell transplant with the same soul-crushing prep process. Thankfully, it takes and leukemia goes into remission again.
Well, today I have a less-than-stellar lifting session as many of mine have been as I’ve increased my running. This doesn’t put me in a great mood, of course… and then out of no where, a text message pops up on my phone, I see my buddy pulling that damn 315 lbs. up for a single rep and I’m completely, totally amped. Because I know what that single rep means. I know what the struggle has been for him. And I know that while he has pulled FAR greater weight in his time on many an occasion, maybe this one rep was one of the sweetest.
So here’s to Sammy (pictured front left from about… damn… 15 years ago) and the fighters everywhere who inspire us and put our own problems into proper perspective. It’s not about the weight on the bar, but about the fight in your heart and soul.
Way to go, Sammy. Way to go.
P.S. Yes, that is me front right with actual hair. Shocking, I know.