Doyle Kenady? What did he do that was really impressive?
Sgt. Rock should know who he is?
It’s a little known fact that the eruption of Mr. St. Helens, and the continuing subterranean growls in the area, are purely mythic. What really happened up there in the land of perpetual rain and majestic mountains was that Doyle Kenady took a heavier than normal deadlift workout. It’s not a coincidence that those after-rumblings ceased on a certain day in April of this year.
You see, Mountain Man (a.k.a “Saskwatch” or Grizzly Bear”) Kenady finally made good on his pledge of several years ago by becoming the first quasi-human to show guts enough to pull over 900 pounds from Mother Earth’s unyielding grasp, under official record-breaking scrutiny and, O’l Mom was ticked at being beaten.
However you view the volcanic episodes in Oregon, it’s certain that Kenady’s mighty feat of strength had something to do with it. It had to. But let’s take it from the top… and I don’t mean Mt. St. Helens’.
First, stop a moment and think about this amazing lift. How long did NASA, with all its intelligence and funding, work to move that sort of payload two feet off the ground? I mean, let’s keep a proper perspective!
Doyle Kenady isn’t your average powerlifting person. His laid-back demeanor and easy going manner are offset by 305 pounds of rug-covered muscle that accented by a back a couple of axe handles wide. When he’s on the lifting platform he’s dead serious, as in deadlift.
Most importantly, he’s not particularly suited for deadlifting, except for that back, of course, because great deadlifters typically have short torsos and monkey-like arms. Doyle has to pull the weight up to his crotch, for example, while other great deadlifters like Jim Cash and Lamar Gant only pull to slightly above the knees before they’re fully erect.
That’s not to say that deadlifters like Cash and Gant aren’t worthy of our praise. They are, but there can be only one Doctor of the Deadlift, and that’s the guy who pulls the most weight, under official circumstances. The one creature in all creation meritous of that distinguished title, Dr. Deadlift, is Doyle Kanady.
Oh, there will be some detractors who will claim that pound-for-pound there have been better deadlifters. Some of them may be remembered a few years from now, but no one, friends, no one will forget the man who pulled the greatest official record deadlift in history.
The date: April 6th, 1986. The place: Waikiki Beach. The occasion: Gus Rethwisch’s annual affair, now called the Budweiser Record Breakers Invitational Powerlifting Championships. Present: Some the greatest powerlifters, prettiest girls, and best built men in the world today; all peaked for the performance of their respective specialties.
Some great lifts were made in the squat and bench at this meet, but as the immortal Rickey Dale Crain, on of powerlifting’s colorful champions, once said “The contest ain’t over ‘til the bar is on the floor.”
There are so many asides to this story; it’s going to be hard for me to finish it. I’ll tell you just two of those asides. The first one had to do with how most great lifts are performed, and how Kenady’s differed from all of them.
Take Ted Arcidi’s massive bench press of 705 pounds. As it happened, that bench, which was heavier by a staggering 28 pounds than any ever done in history, was basically done as a single lift. Aricidi did token squatting and deadlifting just to stay in the contest, in accordance with the rules. The point is that Aricidi’s bench was the only lift he did with any intensity.
That bench really turned the crowd on that day back in 1985, and it set the lifting community on its ear. It was truly a great lift, but Doyle’s lift will take a special place in the history of great lifts because he did his record buster after massive attempts in the squat and bench press only minutes before. His deadlift was done under the most trying of circumstances possible, under near crippling conditions of fatigue.
Moreover, it was his third attempt that cracked the 900 pound barrier. Imagine! Two attempts in the squat, one of which was over 900 pounds; three attempts in the bench press, all over 500 pounds; then two attempts over 830 pounds in the deadlift before pulling the heaviest, official record breaking deadlift of mankind to an erect standing position.
I tell you, if an updated version of the Old Testament were ever written, Doyle’s name would take the place of Samson’s, so prodigious a feat was his third attempt.
A stunned, almost quiet crowd of 3500 spectators watched as Kenady bent his huge frame forward, characteristically rolled the massive Appollon wheels back and forth a few times and then stood up with the weight in his hands as easily as you or I would stand up out of a chair. Moments later they roared. Doyle in his usual and inimitable fashion gave the crowd a half-wave and strode nonchalantly offstage.
Time for the second aside that I promised.
Several weeks earlier, I happened to take a workout with Doyle. I had spent the weekend with my friend and colleague, Dr. Pat O’Shea at Oregon State University, and Doyle traveled over to say hello and grab a workout at the University’s well-equipped weight room.
Spurred to push harder than ever in my deadlift by the presence of one of history’s greatest and most knowledgeable deadlifters, I loaded 825 pounds on the bar, hoping that I wouldn’t hurt myself, make a fool out of myself, and perhaps get a few words of wisdom from Dr. Deadlift on how I may improve my historically abysmal pull. To my surprise, I pulled the 825 easily. It was a full 25 pounds more than I had ever pulled before. Most importantly, Doyle said it looked pretty good technically.
Then came the real surprise. Happy with my performance, I sat down and watched while Doyle finished warming up on the same weight I was proud to pull. Then, after successful sets of three reps with 850 and 880, Doyle loaded 895 on the bar. Dam! Bam! Bam! Tree reps! It was then that Mount St. Helens began to get a bit squeamish, or so Local folk believe. I know better.
So how come Doyle couldn’t do more than his record – shattering 903 deadlift in Hawaii? Surely three reps with 895 equate to more than a single with only eight pounds more! Notwithstanding the fact that when he did his triple with 895, that’s all he did – no squats or benches before hand to sap his strength levels.
Back in Hawaii, Doyle requested a fourth attempt. The loaders obligingly (though somewhat perplexed) loaded 920 pounds onto the bar. Now, Doyle isn’t one to make excuses for missing a lift, so let me take this opportunity to gripe a bit for him. First, he had to follow himself, which means that according to the rules he had to take his fourth attempt before he was even close to adequately recovered fro the 903 pull. Couple that problem with one of the official’s loud countdown of the seconds remaining on the stopwatch, and you can see why Doyle’s concentration wasn’t there, and thus the 920 only went slightly above Doyle’s knees.
No matter that he missed the 920. He had already exceeded the World Record deadlift of 886 pounds set by the great Bill Kazmaier a few years before. With seeming ease and overt non-chalance, Doyle Kenady had immortalized himself.
Three final observations.
No one has ever written adequately about Doyle’s incredible feats of strength. I don’t know why, but am proud to be the first. There will doubtless be many more to follow.
Kenady isn’t through yet, at age 40, he as many years of record breaking left in him.
Mount St. Helens is quiet now. For the Time Being.
Ohh yeah thats an old article from PL USA
Google is an amazing thing, sounds like a BEAST though!!!
Doyle Pulled 903@305! simply amazing.
The wierd thing is that you dont hear much about his big pull.
I have another one.
Stop cheatin, wolfy.
He had a big squat as well as I recall. He may have even hit close to 1k?
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Who is James Burdette?
a bad mamma jamma! Actually, I dont know who he is.
Whats your favorite burger, tons o fun? lol
Mine is a big "mother humpin" mac.
When you liftin next, Rob?
Last edited by PriestCometh; 05-28-2008 at 02:59 PM.
1) CRITICAL BENCH: Critical Bench is here with James Burdette who recently bench pressed 700lbs at
198lbs! This feat is astonishing considering years back that 700lbs would have been a world record in the
275lbs weight class, yet alone in the 198lbs class! With that said, James welcome to Critical Bench. It's great
to have a top notch bench presser here like yourself. James, tell Critical Bench readers about yourself.
I compete in the 181/198 weight classes. The feds I compete in are the WABDL, AAPF, APF, WPO, UPA,
APA and pretty soon the USPF. I compete where I think it will be fun.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: Let's talk about your powerlifting journey for a moment. Tell us about your journey
between the first time you benched 135 and 315.
When I first started training for this sport, I thought that the more times you benched a week the better you
got. So, I was starting off benching 4 times a week. LOL. As soon as I went to doing 2 Days a week, my
bench shot up quickly after that.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your bench press shirt experience today versus when you first started?
How are your experiences with a shirt different today than in your early bench days? Are the shirts better
The reason I dig the shirts today over the blasts is due to the fact that it doesn't take me 30 minutes to get
into a shirt. And I am not worn out by the time I get the shirt seated.
4) CRITICAL BENCH: That's motivating. James, tell us about your bench press journey and the first time you
bench pressed 500, 600 and 700lbs!
I don't remember the first time I hit 500. I think it was in Houston at an APA meet. The first time 600 was
broken was the WPO bench bash for cash(601@181). I love the energy of the WPO. Nothing is better than
hitting lifts at a meet with the top benchers in the sport. The 700 lift was done in a UPA meet in Sacramento
at Diablo Barbell. I knew 700 was going up. I was aiming for 744. No excuses, I just didn't make it.
5) CRITICAL BENCH: Wow, you benched 700lbs at 198!! What was that experience like?
I was happy about it for about 3 seconds. In my weight Class you can't be happy with what you have done
because you have People like Frankl, Sceppe, Rabine, Coker, Wolfley, Cartinian, Caminita and McVicker
that are constantly putting up big numbers. So, as soon as I hit it, my thinking was to Aim for 750-771 next.
6) CRITICAL BENCH: How did you train for the 700lbs bench press before you achieved such a phenomenal
feat of strength at the UPA meet in Sacramento?
Actually, I have two goals at a meet, A number I will be content with a (opener) and my ultimate goal(2nd/3rd
lift). One day I attempt 1 Lift with my opener and one with my ultimate goal. After that I do 5 sets Of full range
chains. On a second day, I do 5 sets of bands and 5 sets Of boards. Then 3 waves of assistance.
7) CRITICAL BENCH: Very interesting. What's next for you and what are your future goals?
First, I need to heal from a hairline fracture(radius). Then, the FitExpo(WPO), Then the Ukraine. After that
whatever meet sounds fun. Probably a UPA meet, A USPF meet, AAPF Nationals, Biggest Bench on the
River, WABDL Nationals.
8) CRITICAL BENCH: What goes through your mind before bench pressing 700 pounds? And what goes
through your mind afterwards?
I just think about my technique. Pushing my heals down. I don't push at the bar I push away from the bar.
9) CRITICAL BENCH: So far in your powerlifting journey what has been your favorite and funniest moment
I have to start with the funniest moment. I was at USAPL military nationals and it was my first meet that wasn't
done in the local gym. I needed a decent pull to place and I was so revved up that I threw myself off balance
backwards and was falling off the stage. Behind the stage it looked like a wall, it wasn't. It was a curtain. So,
when I tried to catch myself I fell through the curtain. LOL!! Favorite moment was at the Arnold Classic in 06.
I never met a cooler bunch of guys than the guys I got to compete against. Once we got on the platform it
was all business. I got to talk to Ed Coan about deadlifting. I talked to Crawford, Simmons, Mendy (I didn't
train with him then), Kennelly, Rychlak, Kellum, Halbert and Carpenter about benching. Where else can you
talk to each one of these guys and get tips?
10) CRITICAL BENCH: That is funny, and you're right where else do you get to see all those super stars in
one place. Nice! Of all the possibilities in this world, why did you pick powerlifting to be your ultimate passion?
I Love this sport because you can't blame anyone but yourself if you come up short of your goal. And there
are plenty of places for you to compete. It doesn't matter if you are a raw, single ply, multiply, monolift, feet
flat, press command, no press command lifter, ETC. There is a place for you to lift out there.
11) CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about the gym you train at and your partners? How do they help you out?
I train at F-I-T in Sherman Oaks, Ca. My training partners are Mendy and a team of crazy people.
We have one guy who does the highland games, 3 that hold masters records, an IFBB Pro, a world champ
kickboxer, an actual Priest(not a nickname), a doctor. I think there are about 20 lifters on a bench day. They
are all a great group of guys. Spotting is never a problem and there is never a lack of adrenaline.
12) CRITICAL BENCH: Sounds like a breeding ground for power. What supplements do you take?
I take Glucosamine, Glutamine, Animal Pak and Bodyquick.
13) CRITICAL BENCH: What bench press factors do you feel are the most important for a bigger bench
press that don't get addressed enough? (we know low reps, heavy weights, recovery and making what is
weak strong is important obviously,) but what "specific" aspects of the bench press needs to be addressed
more that doesn't get addressed enough?
I don't think people do enough back work. Or enough work on speed out of the bottom. The faster the
weight moves out of the bottom, the easier it is to lock it out.
14) CRITICAL BENCH: Interesting speed work and back work! James, in 10, 50, or even 100 years from
now, how do you see the future of bench pressing?
Hopefully, getting more television coverage.
15) CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any message for beginners?
Try out different types of training and see what works for you and use it. I have been doing this for years
and I am still learning.
16) CRITICAL BENCH: When your bench press career is over, how do you want people to remember you?
I don't think I will retire. I will be out there wearing my depends and chewing on my dentures trying to get a
new PR. They will have to peal the bar out of my cold dead hand.
17) CRITICAL BENCH: Sounds like a tshirt slogan. We love your powerlifting spirit! Well James, it has been
great talking to you. Keep on redefining what it means to be a world class competitor in the sport of
powerlifting. In closing are there any people who you would like to thank?
I have to thank my Mother. Without her I wouldn't even be here. My Uncle Jim for always supporting me. I
have to thank my Wife Dawn and my 2 beautiful girls Jazzy and Jackie, You 3 girls are the reason I sweat,
bleed and breathe. I gotta thank Ken Anderson Powerlifting, House of Pain, Headblade, Scot Mendelson and
The rest of my workout partners at F-I-T for putting up with me every single week. Also thanks to Jesse
Kellum and Jack Reape for getting me into the sport. Last but not least my Nemesis Powerlifting team.
Carps meet July 12th.
I will be cheering for you, big man.
I am still on the road back from healing up. gettin better though.
Workin on getting my speed outta the bottom better.
Doyle pulled over 900 officially, once had a workout with Dr Squat and pulled well over 800 for a WARMUP triple. Doyle was Sr National champ more than once. Paul Dicks once competed at Gus's Hawaii show and put up over 600 at 220 in a Blast shirt.