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.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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