Two of Australia’s top powerlifters — Patrick Morrison and Zoe Raymond — have said they will boycott Global Powerlifting Committee (GPC) affiliated events due to comments made by the GPC Australia President Markos Markopoulos.
Per initial reporting by NITV News, their decisions come in response to GPC Australia President Markopoulos’s Facebook comments about the renaming of Cheer Cheese — a product manufactured by Saputo Inc., the top dairy processor in Australia. The product’s original name, which lasted for 21 years, was “Coon Cheese.”
Morrison, who is the number one ranked powerlifter in Australia at 100 kilograms, is of Wiradjuri and Kokatha heritage — two Aboriginal Australian groups from central New South Wales and the state of South Australia, respectively — according to NITV News. According to her Instagram, Raymond’s heritage is Yindjibarndi and Pinikura, which are Aboriginal Australians from the Pilbara regions in North-Western and Western Australia, respectively.
NITV News reported that Markopoulos’s Facebook post “took aim at ‘a minority group of trouble-makers,'” and questioned “what sort of spineless executives bow to a minority,” and referenced a “victim mentality.” The post has since been deleted.
Markopoulos issued an apology saying, “…my post…offended some people. That was never my intention, but if it has, it’s my fault. If my words or actions offended even one person, then I shouldn’t have written it. I unreservedly apologize to anyone and everyone I hurt. My judgment was off.”
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In a post on his Instagram page, Morrison specifically addresses Markopoulos’s Facebook post:
“Yesterday the President of GPC Australia created a Facebook post…about why he won’t be buying ‘Cheer’ after it was rebranded from ‘Coon’. To quote him, “a minority group of trouble makers made a fuss” and “what sort of spineless executives bow to a minority.”
The comments on the post supported Markopoulos’s sentiment, which Morrison found unsurprising “given the culture of casual racism in Australia.” Morrison wrote to Markopoulos to confront him about his post. Per Morrison’s caption, the GPC Australia President responded, “Do you realize that’s your opinion?”
That did not sit well with Morrison, who has decided to take a stand. In that same post, Morrison wrote that he will “no longer compete in any comp[petition] that is affiliated with Markos Markopoulos.”
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Morrison made his competitive powerlifting debut with a second-place finish at the 2014 GPC Push/Pull at the age of 24, according to Open Powerlifting. Thus far, Morrison has competed in 16 sanctioned events in his relatively short career and won 13 of them (a win percentage of 81 percent). His three blemishes include two silver-medal finishes and a sixth-place finish at the 2018 United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) Kern US Open.
Here are his competition best raw lifts:
- Squat — 305 kilograms (672.4 pounds)
- Bench Press — 180 kilograms (396.8 pounds)
- Deadlift — 352.5 kilograms (777.1 pounds)
- Total — 800 kilograms (1,763.7 pounds)
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Like Morrison, Raymond shared an Instagram post that confirmed she would no longer participate in GPC affiliated events after directly messaging Markopoulos. In her post, she wrote, “I will still be moving forward from the federation and pursuing a community where I feel safe and supported as the strong, Indigenous woman that I am.”
Since her competitive powerlifting debut at the 2016 GPC TJMEBD Nationals in the 75-kilogram class, Raymond has stood on the podium in six of the seven events she has appeared in, three of which were wins. Her competition best lifts with wraps are:
- Squat — 170 kilograms (374.8 pounds)
- Bench Press — 80 kilograms (176.3 pounds)
- Deadlift — 160 kilograms (352.7 pounds)
- Total — 400 kilograms (881.8 pounds)
BarBend has reached out to GPC Australia for comment and will update this article as more details emerge.
Featured image from Patrick Morrison’s Instagram page: @manletmorrison