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January 21, 2013

Powerlifting plays big role in life of 80-year-old White

NORMAN — Bob White, environmental engineer. Bob White, champion weightlifter. Bob White, weightlifting and strengthening trainer. At 80, he isn’t slowing down, keeping up his business, his personal training schedule and the training of young men and women.

It was just 17 years ago, recovering from cancer surgery, that he decided to go to a gym and build up his strength.

“On that first day, I found that I could lift five pounds,” he recalls. “But I met a guy named Shane Hamman. He liked me. I liked him.” White began to work with Hamman, an American Olympic weightlifter and powerlifter.

As his strength grew, so did his desire to have his own gym. “I built a facility to train me,” he says. It is an Olympic style weightlifting and strengthening center that utilizes every inch of the two-car garage. It is better equipped than any in the area. “You would have to drive 700 miles to get to a gym with some of this equipment,” he said.

He worked diligently on his own strengthening, “and people started to hear about it.” He invited some in to use his equipment, “and for the past 16 years, I have been training young people.”

White uses the word “training” casually, but he can’t hold in his pride over having developed many champions in not only weightlifting but in preparation for other Olympic and NCAA sports.

“I have a dozen lifters on full scholarship,” he said, naming such institutions at the Air Force Academy and Dartmouth. Others who started training with him as teenagers are playing football or are competing in lifting competition.

He takes on new students by referral, and the door is open to them late afternoon seven days a week.

“They come and change into their clothes and then start working,” White said.

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