Featured Lifters

April 2018 Featured Lifter: Belinda Carraway Raines 


















Belinda’s story and her struggle with MS while continuing to be a competitive powerlifter is very interesting and motivational for all.

She has overcome several obstacles along the way. Below is Belindas’s Story in her own words.

Belinda Carraway Raines
Originally from Houston,Texas
Mother /grandmother/wife

Moved to Mississippi in 1986 senior year .Married ,had 2 children (Brandy and Dustin) Diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis at age 33 .
Spent first couple of years in and out of hospitals,emergency rooms,doctors offices and work.
Was left to raise 2 kids on my own at this time.I decided to never give up on anything ever because of them .
I suffered horrible migraines,low blood pressure and was so weak and fatigue to where I wasn’t able to get out of bed at times.
Developed depression,anxiety,stress.Started working out to build strength.

Remarried again to my husband now (Randy )
April 3 2015 had a mild heart attack.Recieved nitroglycerin to stop from being a major heart attack. Laid up for several months again.
I was determined to keep going. Needed a second job and started working for Family Fitness of Philadelphia, Mississippi owned by Jay Gomillon .
Jay discovered my Texas strength he would say.Two weeks before a meet he said I should compete .
So I did ,breaking state DEADLIFT record on first pull.I began to train then on.Struggling with MS everyday.
Competed in Saint Jude Meet and competed in strongman competition The Iron Warrior placing 7th women half my age.
I wanted more of the APA. Wanted a World Record.

Was on way to Fulton, Ms on Nov.3 2017 to compete and had major car wreck ,breaking foot and bruised up really good . Still determined.
Competed in March 2018. Broke my state DEADLIFT record first pull. Broke World DEADLIFT record on my 2nd pull.

My inspiration comes alot from my family but mostly God.No matter what battles I have ,I will avenge with all the strength I have .

Moved to Long Beach, Mississippi and train at Top Guns Gym where I am sponsored and recognized as first world record powerlifter put on the wall.
I am also sponsored by my company Storage Choice in Long Beach.

Powerlifting has given me a direction to achieve goals, build confidence and find strength everyday to help in a tremendous way to overcome Multiple sclerosis.
No matter the struggle you can always find your strengths.
Will add this MS gets harder as I get older but the more I train the more my body will fight to beat the complications of this disease.

November 2016 Featured Lifter: Nathan McCage:


On November 5, 2016 Nathan won the Raw 275 lb. Class at the APA West Texas Championships held in El Paso, Texas. He ended the day with a 610 squat, 370 bench press, and 660 deadlift – just missing a 700 deadlift. This was only his 2nd powerlifting competition!

Nate is a very interesting person with a very interesting background. Here is a little about Nathan in his own words:

I began training for the sport of powerlifting at the beginning of 2016 when I found out a meet (2016 APA Sun City Classic) would be held at Ft. Bliss.
As a trainer working out of Scott Warman’s Pro Gym, I asked Scott Warman himself for advice with my training.
I had no idea he would become my coach and help me as much as he has. It’s thanks to him and his experience in the sport that I have done this well so far.

As for training for any sport, though, I began when I played football. I played offensive lineman for the University of Texas at El Paso and for the PLFA Warsaw Eagles.

Since then, I’ve been a Graduate Assistant Strength Coach for UTEP and a Head Strength Coach for the Warsaw Eagles, and I am now a Personal Trainer working in El Paso, Texas.
Having had my share of injuries playing football, I found out how important putting in work in the training room and weight room were as an athlete and developed that into a career during my time in Poland.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing Polish athletes that have played for their National Team, that have made it to the NFL, and even some that have never played football before they met me.
Now that I’m back in El Paso, I have really shifted gears and train many different types of people.

I have the privilege of training people that want to get in shape, people that are fighting chronic health issues, and even veteran senior citizens looking to improve the quality of their life.

As no one I train now is interested in competing, I get to learn from every trainer at Warman’s Pro Gym in seeing them work as well.  I intend to continue competing to have purpose in my training and now for the love of the sport itself.

October 2016 Featured Lifter: Matt Gaechter

Matt won the Raw 198 lb. Class at the 2016 WPA World Championships held in Portland, Oregon.


Left to Right: Rudy Kadlub,  Scott Taylor, Matt Gaechter, Vadym Kotsaga.

A little about Matt in his own words:

My name is Matthew Gaechter and I’m 38 years old.

I am currently working  as a bouncer and a coach powerlifting at Downing s gym. I have always been very athletic and competitive.  In my teens and 20s I skate and snowboarded.

I didn’t start lifting weights until shortly  after turning 30. The first time I walked into a gym, it was obvious that I was stronger than most. In 2010 I started competing in powerlifting and strongman.

I won the IPL open men’s world championship at 198lbs in 2013. I just won 2016 WPA World Championships at 198lbs.

I am also a USPA state level referee and plan on taking my test to be an APA referee.

My best contest numbers are, 672 squat, 396 bench and 661 deadlift, 1719.6 total at 198lbs. 672 squat, 419 bench, and 672 deadlift, 1763 total at 220lbs.


February 2016 Featured Lifter: Drake West

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Drake Dispatching

Drake West began training with Joe Morrow in 2012. By the time 2013 rolled around
the competitive bug had bitten and he began competing.

Drake was born with cerebral palsy. He only has good use if his left arm.

He prefers to compete for a total and after doing some
modifications with lifts Joe devised a way for him to compete.

He has competed in five contests- the unsanctioned State Games of Mississippi and three APA sanctioned meets. He’s posted competition
PRs of: Overhead Press (30 lbs), strict curl (50 lbs), bench press (40 lbs), and even deadlift (50 lbs).

Recently he upped his deadlift at the APA Central Mississippi Championships held February 6, 2016 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Now he is at nearly bodyweight
in the deadlift.

Drake keeps very active with many things. He is also been involved in coaching football in Hatley, Mississippi and is a dispatcher with the fire department and EMT services in Hatley.

Joe has devised a way that Drake can squat and work his legs.

Drake has the determination, drive, and ambition of 10 ordinary powerlifters combined.
The sky is the limit for Drake. We look forward to seeing more of this amazing young man on the platform in the near future.


January 2016 Featured Lifter: Ciara Harmon


Ciara Harmon at age 15 is no stranger to the world of iron. Her dad Kevin is a multi-World Record holder in the iron game and competitive bodybuilder. He mom Eve is a top notch fitness competitor and competitive powerlifter.

They are an awesome family and have raised her well.  She has a quiet nature and is a very humble young lady.

The Harmons own Power Zone Fitness Center in Fulton, Mississippi. It is the best training facility by far in that area.

Ciara was actually playing with dumbells at age 2. She asked her parents if she could come to the gym with them at age 5.

According to Ciara, she would randomly jump on machines and see how much weight for how many times she could do. She didn’t even realize she was working out. In her mind at that age, she was playing.

Her lifting career began in 2008 when she witnessed a boy competing at an SLP meet. She asked her mom why she couldn’t lift because she was much stronger than the boy she was watching compete.  That was it!  She competed in the next powerlifting event that her dad competed in.

Since that time, this incredible young lady has been setting the powerlifting world on fire with some incredible lifting that has constantly improved each time she steps foot on the platform.

In 2008 Ciara took the SLP Tennessee state records for the teenage 13-15 class even though she was only 7 or 8 years old!

By 2010 she was competing in the major league and started competing in APA events. Since that time she has garnished records in the 97, 105, 114, and 123 lb. weight classes.

She holds several Mississippi state records in both the Open, Youth, and Teenage categories. She owns records in both the Raw and Gear Equipped categories. She also holds several APA National records in the teenage category.

Her most recent accomplishment was at the APA Magnolia State Open Championships. She competed in the Women’s 123 lb. class.  At age 15 in that competition she easily squatted 305, bench pressed 145, and deadlifted 285 for a record total of 735 lbs.

This performance earned her Mississippi Women’s Open and Teenage records and also APA National records in teenage category!

Not only is Ciara a great powerlifter – She also excels in several other sports!

I can’t wait to see what this young lady accomplishes during the next few years. She has a bright future ahead of her!

Amit Sapir










Amit Sapir will be competing in our 2016 World Championships!

The 33 year old bodybuilder is the son of a career officer in the Israeli military. Now residing in Canada, he was born in
Israel where military service is mandatory. Women serve two years, men three.

Amit has quite a history in the iron game. He was twice the champion of Israel in Olympic Weightlifting. He qualified to compete in Athens in the 69 kg class as a world class weightlifter for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Despite sustaining a severe infraspinatus tear in his shoulder just before the Games he went anyway.

He is the most successful Israeli bodybuilder in the IFBB to date. He earned his pro card in 2010 and has since placed top 3 in several pro shows. He competed in the 2011 Mr. Olympia show.

Amit is especially known for his incredible raw squat and deadlifts.  Some squats he has performed raw in various
events are 783 lbs at 195 bodyweight, and 744 lbs at 181 bodyweight. He has moved up to the 220 class and we can’t wait to see his lifts in the 220 class!

Amit believes the two biggest advantages that his background has given him, are that all of his big compound movements are done with perfect technique and full range of motion. This keeps him flexible and helps avoid injury.

We look forward to seeing him on the platform at the 2016 World Championships which will be held in the USA for the first time in several years! The 2016 WPA World Championships will be held in Oregon.

Here is a video of Amit on the powerlifting platform performing some incredible RAW squats video


The Amazing Success story of Lillian Danzer

Lillian Before

Lillian – January 2014

Lilian Today pic

Lillian – National Champ September 2015

Here is Lillian’s story in her own words:

“In January 2014, I walked into the gym being significantly overweight and unhealthy. (picture in the yellow shirt)
During my first workout with my trainer, I squatted 65 lbs and then had an asthma attack doing body weight walking lunges.

As I continued to workout and change my nutrition, my bodyweight and body fat percentage went down, slowly.
Once those numbers got to a desired place, we (my trainer and I) started working on building my strength.

We started this transition at the end of November of 2014. With some encouragement from my trainer and
some of other trainers at the gym, I entered my first APA-WPA competition in January 2015.
In my 165 weight class, I won my age division, the open division, and I won overall best female lifter.

I completed my second competition in June of 2015 where I again won all three areas and broke some
American and World Records. On September 5, 2015, I competed at the APA-WPA Nationals where I again
broke records and became the National Champion with a 310 squat, 190 bench, 380 deadlift (pictured), and a 880 total.
It’s amazing to see what a year and half can do… I don’t even know where my inhaler is”.


Gage Peterson is now the Worlds Strongest 10  year old.  Lifting at APA Nationals in McAllen, Texas on September 5, 2015 at a bodyweight of 119.2 lbs he posted a 585 total with a 225 lb squat, 115 lb bench press, and 245 lb deadlift! Congrats Gage! Here is a video of his lifting


A big congrats to John Courtenay. Competing at the 2015 APA Nationals on Sept 5 John bench pressed 820 pounds lifting in the 275 class at a bodyweight of 273.8

This lift set WPA World Records and APA American Records in both the Master and Open Unlimited Gear Categories!


12 Year Old Brodie Scott Sets National Records

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 Brodie wrestling  brodie5

Brodie Scott (12) competed in powerlifting for the first time this year on June 15. His total was 370 pounds. Powerlifting was in his veins after that. On August 1 he returned to the platform and totaled 390 in his second competition. On September 5, he made the trip to McAllen, Texas to compete in one of the sports oldest, established federations Nationals. The APA.

At the APA Nationals, 12 year old Brodie totaled 435. That’s a 65 lb. jump in a very short time on the platform for anybody. For a 12 year old, with a bodyweight of 101 lbs. that is incredible! He broke National Records in the Squat and Deadlift and tied the National Record in the Bench Press!

Brodie is no stranger to being a competitive athlete. He joined youth wrestling at age 5, tackle football at age 7, and has been doing strongman sled drags, sled push, front carry, OH squat, OH tire throws, tire flips, farmer carries, husafell stones, and atlas stones before his dad Corey even put him under a bar.

Brodie’s father has degrees in athletic training/sports medicine and physical therapy. It is his contention that kids should not only move, jump, run, and climb – but also LIFT!

Brodie is also a competitive wrestler. This young man has a great future ahead of him in the sport of powerlifting. We look forward to watching his progress over the years.