VICE Profiles CJ Cummings, “The Lebron James of Weightlifting”

The sport of Olympic weightlifting is definitely going mainstream. As part of “The 16 Project,” a series focusing on teenage athletes, VICE Sports just released a 6-minute documentary about CJ Cummings, the 17-year-old athlete described as potentially “the future of USA Weightlifting.”

Cummings’ coach Ray Jones gets some significant screentime and discusses the moment he realized the young athlete’s talent.

He basically was just a typical kid, but i would say I saw it in the first six months of him training when he was 11 years old and he ended up doing double his bodyweight for a clean and jerk.

Cummings was just 11 years old and made a clean & jerk of 90 kilograms. He eventually parlayed that strength into multiple American records in Olympic weightlifting: a 153kg clean & jerk at the 2014 National Championships, a 321kg total at the 2016 American Open Championships, and a 185kg clean & jerk at this year’s Youth World Championships in Bangkok. That last lift is 2.68 times his bodyweight — check it out below.

Jones went on to say of Cummings,

Everyone says that he has just this unbelievable talent. it’s not just that, it’s also his work ethic. he sacrificed a lot of things to do what he’s doing to get where he’s at.’

If you liked the look of this documentary, check out the 2015 short below, also from VICE, that focused on USA Weightlifting’s Morghan King. King won USAW’s Tara Nott Award for Outstanding Female Senior Athlete in 2016 and finished sixth place in the -48kg category at the Rio Olympics, where she set an American record in the snatch with 83 kilograms (183 pounds).

This video takes a slightly more introductory approach to the sport and spends more time talking about the King’s diet and supplements, which starts around the 4-minute mark.

We’re always glad to see strength sports appearing on more mainstream media, and hope to see more of the same in the future.

Featured image via VICE Sports on YouTube.


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I’m a journalist with over seven years' reporting experience on four continents, with most of that spent covering health-related issues. My experience includes covering cholera outbreaks in Kenya and the clubbing scene in Shanghai, which is also where I wrote my first health article for an English language magazine. (It was on diarrhea.)After returning to Australia to finish up degrees in Journalism and International Relations I wound up in New York City, where I’ve worked for Men’s Health, VICE, Popular Science and others. I try to keep health relatively simple — it’s mostly vegetables and sweat — but I live to explore the debates, the fringes, the niche, and the nitty gritty.