Interview with 231lb Pro National Champion Willie Wessels, August 20, 2004
Where is home for you, where do you train, and what is or have been your occupations?  

St. Louis , Missouri . I train at Eagle gym and Wayne 's warehouse. I have been a teacher for 18 years.
Anyone that knows anything about powerlifting knows who you are. But tell us again, what are your all time best lifts in contest?  

1004 squat, 670 bench, 799 deadlift and 2403 on the total.
You were in the 242lb weight class right?  

Yes , but I only weighed 232. I've always had a hard time gaining weight because I train with a really high intensity. 230 is a good weight for me.
They just added the 231lb pro weight class this year to the IFSA organization and you just won its first ever U.S.A. National Championship in Dallas , Texas . That's pretty impressive in and of it self. It's even more impressive considering you just recovered from cancer. If you don't mind, we'd all like to here what you went through dealing with that.  

I was diagnosed with A.L.L. My body weight dropped to 175. When I first got back into lifting I could barely squat the bar.
That's insane dude. You're a freak! Tell us about the competitors that were in Texas. Who impressed you the most and what was the craziest lift of the contest?  

The whole field impressed me. All of the guys there were very good. I would say the medley was the toughest. 280 farmers, 800 tire and a 800 sled. It was nasty. I loved it!
I want to ask you some training questions now. The rumor on the street is that if you want to get your squat up you go train with Willie. I heard Chad Smith squatted 1100 pounds in your gym? You're wife Dione holds a world record in the squat with like 400lbs in the 134 class right? Mike Wortham, the 2002 Heavy Weight NASS champion has added something like 300 pounds to his squat in the last 2 years or so. He trains with you doesn't he? Dude, what is up in St. Louis ? How do you work the squat into a strongman training schedule?  

If you want to get better at squatting you should squat. Bottom line. It is part of your core lifts and will make your whole body stronger.
I see how it is. You don't want to let the secrets out right? Who do you think will be the next NASS athlete to turn pro for the heavies?  

It's hard to make a prediction like that with so many tough guys in the Heavyweight class. I think Josh Thigpen or Mike Wortham might do it. But with the events at this years NASS Nationals in Atlanta Oct. 8-10 th being more static, Travis Ortmayer could have a shot. There's guys out there training in their backyards that are really hungry for a title, so who knows!?
Speaking of Travis Ortmayer; I heard him called 'the Stoneman' once. Is that dude as good of a stone lifter as they say?  

The Stoneman is the real deal. He loaded 5 stones at the Show-Me Pro-Am contest in St. Louis May 8-9 th in 21.8 seconds to take that event win in the NASS heavyweight class. Phil Phister won the Pro's with a time of 21.31 seconds. Travis would have placed 2nd in the Pro's beating Jesse Marunde , Steve Kirit, Don Pope, Karl Gillingham and Geoff Dolan. All of these guys have been to the World Championships and are the best stone lifters in the U.S. The scary part is that he's only 22 years old.
Dione, who you run the North American Strongman Society with, won the women's lightweight nationals in 2002. Check this out; I saw her deadlift a 330 pound power stairs implement in stiletto heals and jeans with no warm-up over in Myrtle Beach last year. She hasn't competed in a while though. To any one that has been to any NASS shows, it's obvious that she is serious about developing and bringing strongman to a whole new level here in America . Is she still training the events for fun or what?  

Dione has been very busy running strongman. I know she would like to compete again but for now she's just training to stay in shape.
I would like to thank you guys for all the time, effort and enthusiasm that you have put into NASS to boost strongman in the U.S. It's so awesome having a president that knows what it's like to compete. You-da-man!  

Thank you. I know we are going to see the sport of strongman grow into something huge. As for everyone else, train hard and listen to your body. God bless you all.



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