Every sport has a cheerleader. The one person not appointed by anyone in particular that rides the emotions of that particular sport with unbridled passion. When powerlifting took a turn into near oblivion, there was still that one guy who refused to let it disappear into obscurity. He is the Rainbow haired John 3:16 sign waving fanatic omnipresent at 1970’s Los Angeles Rams football games. He is Bill the Beer Man from all major sporting events in Seattle. He is the Valhalla Viking sitting front row, 50 yard line at the Minnesota Vikings football games. In the powerlifting community, that insanely passionate fella is Sean Katterle.
Next weekend at the Ronnie Coleman Classic Expo on April 2nd, 2011 inside the Mesquite Convention Center in Mesquite, Texas, Sean plays host to one of the hottest powerlifting tickets in the country. With dozens of the world’s greatest raw powerlifters all on one stage, how can it not be exciting? More than 3,000 people watched last year’s event live in Mesquite. This year’s lineup is deeper and has even more action packed excitement in store for this year. Let’s hear from the man himself… and I bring you without further ado…. This year’s master of ceremony, Sean Katterle.
BH: Sean, thanks for taking time today to share with us at rxmuscle about your event.
SK: Thanks for giving me the opportunity. For over twenty years, powerlifting had all but faded from the thoughts and focus of the competitive physique community. So I'm very appreciative that a major bodybuilding news site like RxMuscle would take the time and money to get actively involved with the world of strength sports.
BH: You are absolutely right. Dave Palumbo has taken a keen interest in strength sports. We hope to become involved in other programs this year as well. But, about your event… your program is a little different than some others around the country, namely, it being a raw or no assisted meet. Different schools of thought so to speak. Is there a large enough community of lifters interested in competing in this type of event?
SK: There are millions of people around the world who practice the disciplines of the squat, benchpress or deadlift. Granted, most of them follow such a pursuit on a recreational level but it's important to note that the vast majority of them have never and will never employ the use of a benchpress shirt or powerlifting suit. So, our "community" is an ocean compared to the small pond of fabric manipulators who choose to ONLY pursue the lifting of weights through the wearing and utilizing of elastic, industrial strength apparel. There really aren't two schools of thought. There are lifters who choose to accept what they can currently lift under respectable conditions and who have the discipline, dedication and determination to try and increase their own physical ability and mental fortitude and then there is a fringe group of weight lifters who elect to purchase costumes that allows them to pretend that they are stronger than they really are. And I'm referring to the lifters who avoid classic, raw, contest lifting all together. So, instead of being a philosophy or preference, it's simply a matter of accepting reality or choosing to live in a reality created by your ego driven imagination. I'm sure there's a philosophy professor out there who'd like to debate me on this subject but powerlifting's a physical sport that deals with gravity and people's ability to temporarily overcome it.
To date, powerlifting's pinnacle of popularity was reached in the late 1970s. The sport was being featured on CBS Sports Spectacular and on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Bryant Gumbel was commentating with Dr. Terry Todd during the powerlifting world championship on TV. Almost every international bodybuilding magazine was covering the sport and powerlifting was alongside the NFL and Olympic weightlifting for recruiting the participants in each year's World's Strongest Man TV Show. Then the benchpress shirts were forced upon the sport and the powerlifting suits were reinforced to the point of adding 100+ pounds to a person's squat. Soon after, powerlifting fell from the public eye and it remained in relative obscurity throughout the 80s, 90s and through the first half of the 2000s. The gym public and sports fans of the world were simply not interested in how much weight a person could lift with the assistance of high powered, artificial performance garments. But, as of 2005, the "raw" movement has picked up a ton of steam and, as the sport's credibility is returned, its popularity is again thankfully on the rise.
BH: That’s terrific to hear. With your event coming up in the next few weeks, are you having as big a response as you have in years past?
SK: This year our budget was increased to allow us to more aggressively market our professional competition. Through the help of MHP, House of Pain Ironwear and a collection of specialty gyms, we distributed 5,000 event fliers to their collective customers. In addition, we ran a full page ad in Powerlifting USA magazine (15,400 copies per issue) and we mailed out event posters to a hundred "powerlifting friendly" gyms across America. We've also had the good fortune of having RxMuscle, HouseOfPain.com, Bodybuilding.com and IronManMagazine.com allow us to promote online and both IRON MAN and Jeff Everson's Planet Muscle Magazine have done a great job reminding their readers to check out our past and upcoming shows.
We've been fortunate to have had world class competitors on every one of our stages. But this year, our turnout has more super elite lifters than ever before. This year's Ronnie Coleman Classic pro powerlifting stage will feature multiple 600+ pound raw benchpresses, 800+ pound raw deadlifts, 400+ @ 175 pound raw benches and set after set of 10+ reps with 315/405 pounds on the bench and 600 pounds on the deadlift bar. On April 2nd, our contest line-up will include the biggest raw deadlifter of all time, Arnold Classic pro strongmen, a World's Strongest Man television finalist, an ASC pro strongman, and a whole collection of national and world champions from various amateur and professional powerlifting federations. The biggest internet viewing audience we ever experienced was just over 30,000 households (as reported by Bodybuilding.com) and we sold over 3,000 general admission tickets to our 2010 promotion. I'm confident that this year we'll break both of those company records.
BH: I was simply blown away when you announced the lineup of lifters. You have amassed an incredible collection of the world’s strongest and powerful men on one stage. And as I understand it, you will be contesting six different events within benchpress and deadlift. But, you will have varying weight classes and poundage’s for maximum repetitions and maximum efforts?
SK: We are featuring a max raw deadlift contest (super open weight division), two divisions of max raw benching (175.9 Over & Under), a 315 pound raw bench-for-reps (225.9 pound bwt division), a 405 pound raw bench-for-reps (super open division) and 600 pound raw deadlift-for-reps (no specific bodyweight divisions.) Plus some of the competitors are choosing to participate in both the max benching and max deadlifting which means that they'll also be competing for the Push Pull Overall Clash of the Titans Title.
BH: Knowing strength sports do not historically have big pay days, I understand you guys are awarding these athletes with a chance at some quality money. What kind of dollars are you awarding this year?
SK: We're awarding a total of $9,500 in CASH prizes. The biggest bench of the contest wins $1,000. The second biggest bench wins $1,000. The biggest bench in the 175 pound division wins $1,000 and so does the second biggest bench in that weight category. The top two biggest deadlifts of the show each win $1,000 and the lightest man to deadlift 800+ pounds also wins a grand. On top of that, the competitor with the biggest bench + deadlift total of the show wins a thousand dollars. In the power reps rounds, the most bench reps with 315 wins $500, the most bench reps with 405 wins $500 and the most deadlift reps with 600 pounds wins $500.
BH: MHP is the title sponsor for your event. How supportive have they been considering how the entire supplement industry is today?
SK: MHP is the company that makes our promotions possible. MHP also sponsors many of today's powerlifting and strongman stars and they're heavily involved in supporting both pro strongman and professional powerlifting in general. We have a great group of companies that help fund our projects and marketing efforts. Ivanko Barbell is our official weight plate. House of Pain Ironwear is our official clothing line. The Metabolic Doc, Bodybuilding.com, Primo Chalk, Planet Muscle Magazine and MHP all provide us with the prize money we seek. Primo Chalk is the official chalk brand of The Hardcore Powerlifting Federation. And we're lucky to have RxMuscle, Iron Man Magazine, Planet Muscle Magazine, HouseOfPain.com and Bodybuilding.com on board as media sponsors. Plus we get the fantastic experience of working with Brian Dobson and The Ronnie Coleman Classic Expo production crew.
BH: What were some of the most impressive feats from last year’s event? I saw the YouTube coverage of James Searcy pulling an easy 805lb deadlift, raw.
SK: Practically every person who steps on our stage to lift has the potential to be the strongest person (pound-for-pound or overall) in whatever fitness club they walk in to, so they're all impressive on some level. But the lifts that most stand out in my mind from our 2010 competition are Brandon Cass's 800 pound deadlift at 229 pounds bodyweight, Jamie McDougal's 640 pound pull at 175lbs, Holger Kuttroff winning the overall with a 550 bench and 750 deadlift at 305, James Searcy and Travis Ortmayer battling it out on the deadlift and going 805 and 800 respectively, Joe Mazza raw benching 450 @ 175 and then hitting 16 full range bench reps with 315, Chip Edalgo, at 242 pounds bodyweight, getting 26 reps with 315 on the bench and "Big Al" Davis crushing a super strict 635 pound raw bench followed by 19 reps with 405.
BH: Who are some of the big named athletes you expect to see and what kinds of numbers are you expecting? I’ve heard rumor there may be a near 1,000lb deadlifter competing?
SK: You can review our official line-up (names, photos and stats) on my IRON MAN Magazine.com BLOG here: http://ironmanmagazine.com/blogs/hardcorepowerlifting/
BH: Is there an opportunity for anyone interested in lifting to still be able to enter?
SK: The time to sign-up for this particular event has passed. In addition to the competitors listed on my BLOG, we have three more who are verbally committed but who are just now attempting to get their paperwork processed and their travel plans completed. Two of these three individuals were involved with The Arnold Classic and one had a prior contest commitment so they've been on "standbye" for weeks now and we're hoping that they'll be able to join our superb line-up. But we're not taking any more applications for this event as we're just 9 days away from show time.
BH: Thanks Sean for your time and we are really looking forward to seeing you at the Ronnie Coleman Classic and the MHP Kings of the Bench V & Clash of the Titans IV.
SK: Thank you for the interview Bryan. If any of your readers would like to catch up with Hardcore Powerlifting, here is a list of links they can check out:
People can watch the video replay of MHP's Kings of the Bench II (complete Fall 2007 competition) here:
They can watch clips from MHP's Kings of the Bench I (Year 2006) here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0poA2Z71_8 (as part of an expo highlight reel)
The complete contest video for MHP's Clash of the Titans II and Kings of the Bench III (Year 2009) is posted online here:
The entire MHP Clash of the Titans III and Kings of the Bench IV contest (Year 2010) is uploaded on my YouTube page here:
And my two official BLOGs are located on these two websites here:
Promoter, MHP's Clash of the Titans & Kings of the Bench