B.J. Winchester of Payson has been invited to the World Bench Press and Power Lifting Contest in Pennsylvania. The 2006 Northeastern USA World Bench Press and Power Lifting Championships will be held Nov. 18 through Nov. 22 in King of Prussia, Penn.
He has competed in the championships before, but never in this event.
A number of years ago, Jim Eskew of the Gila County Sheriff's Office, Peggy Miles of Gila Community College and Winchester competed with a group that promoted a drug-free lifestyle. While with this group, he said, he won a national title in Las Vegas.
He is returning to competitive lifting because he was encouraged to the young people he works with and his family. So, he is dedicating his efforts to them, especially his son, B.J. Jr., who was recently injured in a fight so severely he has lost an eye.
"I've been training really hard," he said. "I am better now than I ever was."
He said he has been lifting hard for the past 8 or 9 months and has lost a lot of weight.
"In the past two years, I have come down from 502 pounds to my current weight of 352 pounds. I am hoping to bench more than 700 pounds at this meet and break the world record for my age group, 55 to 65."
Winchester will not be competing only against lifters in his age group.
"I am going to lift in the open age group, because I want to compete with the younger participants and finish in the top five," he said. "I was going to lift in my age group, but there is more competition in the open class."
He said he just wants to make a good showing in what could be his last competition.
"My best bench was three years ago and was 705 lbs. This will be my last contest. My old body is just getting harder to recover from so heavy a lift."
Winchester said he is regularly lifting 700 pounds now and hopes to do 720 lbs. or better in the November competition.
He has been power lifting on a regular basis since he was a young teen, only 13 or 14.
"I lift for stress relief," he said. "If I don't do it three times a week, I go into withdrawal."
Power lifting is also something he encourages young people to pursue. Winchester is involved in coaching the Tonto Apache youth and works at the tribe's recreation center.
His future plans include trying to put together a lifting competition for young people and a training program for those 50 and older.