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Three local powerlifters return victorious from world championship games


STRONGMEN :  Ian Smalley (left), Alan Best, and George Beckham (right) practice heavy metal magic at Estrada’s Gym in SLO; Best stands over a 771-pound bar, his world-record deadlift. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • STRONGMEN : Ian Smalley (left), Alan Best, and George Beckham (right) practice heavy metal magic at Estrada’s Gym in SLO; Best stands over a 771-pound bar, his world-record deadlift.

Ian Smalley, George Beckham, and Alan Best never envisioned themselves as powerlifters three years ago. “When we were in high school, I don’t think anyone of us would have thought about starting a sport like powerlifting, and now we hold world championship titles.”

The three local athletes just returned from the World Powerlifting Federation World Championship in Las Vegas where more than 200 competitors from 13 different countries vied for the gold. Powerlifters concentrate in one, two, or all three aspects of the sport, including the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Each is allowed three to four attempts per lift, and the order of the lifts is squats, then bench press, and finally the deadlift. In the case of these three locals they brought home gold and silver medals.

 Templeton native Smalley, who’s 32 years old, took first place in the 181-pound division for deadlifting 512 pounds, and second place for bench pressing 409 pounds. Beckham competed in the Junior category of the 275-pound division, for men and women ages 20 to 23, and took second place for deadlifting 673 pounds. Best, a 26-year-old Marine Iraq veteran who’s survived life-threatening cancer, set a world record for the 275-pound division—and took first place—for deadlifting 771 pounds, beating the former record by 11 pounds. And Best took second place for benching 644 pounds.

 “It’s a coincidence that three athletes should happen to all live locally and bring back these titles,” Smalley added. Smalley, Beckham, and Best train at Estrada’s Gym in San Luis Obispo, where they teach the fundamentals of powerlifting. Their team, Violent Hero Powerlifting, trains on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for one to two hours.

 “My philosophy in life is to always maintain balance,” Smalley explained. “Powerlifting is no different. You need plenty of food and sleep to help recover and rebuild the strength and nutrients you lose. We use some supplements to help with recovery but we don’t go crazy with them. It’s necessary to the recovery process to get plenty of sleep and rest because we’re specifically training for that one moment of incredible strength, to push the physical boundaries of our bodies, and then we become completely exhausted.”

 Anyone can become a powerlifter, according to Smalley: “I started by reading all the powerlifting magazines at the gym that dated as early as the ’80s. I would have never guessed that I would be holding a world championship title three years after I started.”

 Smalley, Beckham, and Best constantly promote the sport. “Someday we would like it to be in the Olympics,” Smalley said. “We encourage anyone who is interested to come to the gym and try it.” Estrada’s Gym is located at 216 Pismo St. in San Luis Obispo. Anyone interested in learning more about Violent Hero Powerlifting can sign up as a fan on their Facebook page.

Fast facts

 Congregation Beth David will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Dec. 13 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the synagogue at 10180 Los Osos Valley Rd. in SLO and invites everyone to attend the event, which will include olive-oil and wine tasting, music, a silent auction, raffle prizes, and holiday food. Call 544-0760 for more information

 Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter and  Prado Day Center urgently need donations of everyday necessities for the influx of community members who have lost their homes. Blankets, rain gear and jackets of all sizes, tarps, sleeping bags, socks and underwear, backpacks, towels and pillowcases, and laundry detergent are requested, along with coffee, snacks, and peanut butter. Winter approaches. Drop off donations or contact Dee Torres at 786-0617 or [email protected]

 Intern James Woodward wrote this week’s Strokes&Plugs. Send business and nonprofit news to [email protected].

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