Possibly one of the best resourced athletes to ever grace the sport of powerlifting was Lamar Gant. He competed in both the 123 lb and 132 lb weight classes and was a dominant force throughout his tenure. How dominant was he? In 1980, he was inducted in the IPF Powerlifting Hall of Fame (ten years before he stopped competing in the IPF World Championships).
What may be Gant’s biggest claim to fame was his impeccable deadlift strength. He’s often considered the best deadlifter of all-time, and is said to rival Ed Coan in earning the nickname the “GOAT” of powerlifting. Don’t get me wrong, Coan is an amazing deadlifter, but it was Gant who made history as the first strength athlete to deadlift five times his bodyweight.
The video below features 123 lb Gant deadlifting five times his bodyweight for the first time with an insane 634 lbs.
What’s also impressive is that Gant pulled most deadlifts conventionally. This silences a lot of folks who argue against heavy sumos as a way of cheating.
To this day, Gant has arguably the best anthropometric advantages for deadlifting, especially conventional styled pulls. For starters, Gant stood at 5′ 2″, which already limits his range of motion. In addition, he had longer arms (check out his wing-span!) and legs, plus suffered from scoliosis, or curvature of the spine.
An article composed by Sports Illustrated in 1984, quotes Robert E. Kappler, chairman of the department of osteopathic medicine at the Chicago Osteopathic Medical Center saying, “I’ve seen nothing in the literature at all like this, in which a person with such an advanced degree of curvature—so advanced that he’d be four to six inches taller without it—is nevertheless a world-class athlete. Most scoliotics are weaker than an average person of the same age. My guess—and it’s only a guess—is that Lamar’s heavy lifting and extraordinary musculature have helped him to be more stable then he otherwise would be.”
All of Gant’s anthropometric advantages aside, it takes an incredible amount of strength to perform the lifts Gant did. The video below features Gant pulling 672 lbs at a 132 lb bodyweight at 1988 Hawaii World Record Breakers.
In this article we only talked deadlifts, but Gant’s squat and bench were almost as impressive. When he started competing in the 1970s up until 1990, he broke and set multiple bench and squat records. His best benches are said to be around 320 lbs at 123 lbs bodyweight (featured above), and 350 lbs at 132 lbs. In terms of his squat, some sources state Gant’s best squats were around 595 lbs at 132 lbs, and 600+ lbs in training.
Throughout Gant’s career he won a total of 15 IPF World Championships from 1975-1990. Not to mention that in 1975 he became the youngest powerlifter to win an IPF World Championship at the age of 18.
Gant’s 123 lb and 132 lb deadlift records still stand today, and beg the question...will they ever be broken?
Feature image screenshot from Lexington Plummer YouTube channel.