image by John Watts-Robertson
Interview conducted via representative of British Drug Free Power-lifting Association
Can you tell us a little about yourself
It is well known in the media that I have terminal osteosarcoma
(bone-cancer) and have battled this for many years. I am a practitioner
of nutritional and functional medicine and have applied naturopathic
techniques to enable me to live, practice, function, win marathons and
triathlons and latterly power-lift for the last sixteen years. I
currently work with patients suffering all manner of ill-health, both
acute and chronic and use food, and its properties - not drugs - to
stimulate and enhance the body’s innate healing system. I am based in
the West Midlands and have World-wide clientele. I am a health lecturer,
writer, researcher, on-line nutritional course provider and currently
involved in producing my biographic and inspirational book for cancer
patients and people who care for them before my own time elapses.
Explain a little about drug-free power-lifting.
Obviously, this is self-determinate - one lifts without aids which are
deemed strength enhancing (steroids). It expounds what one is capable of
without extraneous assistance.
What are your best lifts?
The sad bit is that before the cancer took hold I could squat 87.5
(World BWLA event 1994), benched 55kg and dead-lifted 130 kg at 42 kg
b/w - now a shadow of my former self - life and lifting are a lot
tougher as I endure multiple organ problems - known side-effects of
surviving this type of cancer. A serious accident late 2005 broke a lot
of bones, double dislocated left shoulder, produced a clavicle and lung
tumour and generally weakened me enormously. I am presently working hard
to make up the lost ground.
What titles do you hold or have held?
Held many BWLA titles since 1994 World event. Fifteen years consecutive
British Masters’ Champion with BWLA. Currently since lifting with BDFPA
in 2005 am acknowledged with weight/age related lifts.
What records do you hold or have held?
See above. BWLA World age record in 1994 and European win in 1995.
BDFPA, West Midland, British, European Champion with BDFPA
What is your training regime?
I train for short periods six days per week. Training is presently
painful so this is the only way I can achieve any sort of results.
How long have you been power-lifting?
Switched from marathon training to bodybuilding and thence to
power-lifting in 1989
How important are training partners to you?
Never had any - train alone in my gym!
What made you become a power-lifter
Bodybuilding coach suggested this could be a good decision!
What is your favorite assistance exercise?
Unfortunately all exercises are exceedingly painful nowadays, hence have
to restrict to just three lifts.
What is the biggest mistake that beginners make?
Likely ‘walking before they can run’ - it takes time, patience and
dedication to improve oneself long- term.
What is your advice for beginners?
Adopt a routine which provides a solid strength foundation and evaluate
what you achieve consistently.
What are some of your most memorable power-lifting experiences?
Achieving highest echelons at BWLA Worlds and European events and
retaining my British Master’s BWLA title for the last fifteen years.
Pulling 100kg dead-lift consistently in 2005 for both BDFPA and BWLA
(before September 05’s serious accident) when prognosis was just week’s
What is the craziest thing you ever seen in power-lifting?
I’ve seen people take enormous risks in training - but not so much in
competitions. ‘Crazy things’ do not often provide optimal results!
What are your future goals?
2005 - and it’s accomplishment has been a major goal! for many a year -
I have achieved that and now every day is a bonus! - Cheated out of both
BDFPA World events during 2005 because of major accident resulting in
several bone-breaks, two news tumours and a double dislocation - a
major goal is to compete at 2006 World event in Ireland.
What do you think is the most important factor when it comes to upping
Upping my lifts as it appertains to me personally seems relatively
impossible, given my situation! - Just hanging on to what I can perform
is enormously tough! For others a consistent training method and
application of effective mental strategy are the minimal requirements. I
am trying my hardest to improve!
Do you think power-lifting should become an Olympic sport?
This would be good to establish our sport, but there maybe downsides also.
How do you see the future of power-lifting?
Maybe an amalgamation of all the best aspects from the combined
Associations would be a good place to start - less backbiting and more
What does your diet consist of?
Being vegan for forty years and virtually raw for the last fifteen - not
your average ‘power-lifting diet’ for sure - but it keeps me mostly
ahead of the cancer situation.
What makes the difference between an average lifter and a champion?
The ability to conceive, believe and achieve. Total mental focus and
dedication to belief.
What training style do you think works best?
Whatever works for the trainee! Applying sufficient overload and
subsequent individual recovery periods to effect consistent results.
Do you think bodybuilding exercises should be in a power-lifters’
Coming from a background of bodybuilding, I am slightly biased in this
regard! Though I have personally achieved good results without
performing such exercises (mainly as they are too painful now to
execute). Off-season I would obviously endorse these as a method of
increasing strength, endurance and increased hypertrophy.
What are your favourite supplements?
None used in the accepted sense, though when not in remission I need far
higher amounts of nutrients than even organic, raw vegan foodstuffs can
What has power-lifting taught you?
Fear no-one and respect everyone. Always treat others as you would
expect to be treated yourself. Listen to other peoples points of view,
you will probably learn a lot. The difference between the impossible and
the possible, lies within a person’s determination. Thorough preparation
makes its own luck. Never stop learning. When you think you know it all
is the time to pack it all in. Ultimately, lead by example.
What does power-lifting mean to you?
In a strange sort of way, the dogged determination to consistently
achieve success in this sport also helps greatly with my ultimate though
potentially intractable task of down-regulating my genetic cancer
status! Every day I awake, breathe and lift is a fantastic bonus for me!
STOP-PRESS! I DID, INDEED, WIN THE WORLD CHAMPION POWER-LIFTING
CHAMPIONSHIPS AT 44k b/w IN KINSALE, IRELAND, NOVEMBER, 2006