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Powerful Brooks making his mark

Hagerstown youth sets RAW record for bench press, excels in wrestling

July 03, 2010|By DAN KAUFFMAN
  • Aaron Brooks works out on the bench press as his father John spots him during a workout Monday at Gold's Gym in Hagerstown. Brooks recently set the RAW Powerlifting Federation world record for 9-year-olds in the 88-pound weight class, bench pressing 99.21 pounds.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Few 9-year-olds ever set a world record. Fewer still are unhappy after setting one.

Needless to say, Hagerstown's Aaron Brooks is far from your typical 9-year-old -- or was, since he just turned 10 a few days ago.

Brooks, an accomplished youth wrestler and powerlifter, set the RAW Powerlifting Federation world record for the 9-year-old 88-pound weight class with a 99.21-pound bench press in mid-June at the RAW Powerlifting American Challenge, smashing the previous record of 77 pounds.

"I really wasn't that happy," Brooks said during an interview Monday at Gold's Gym, where he works out frequently and which sponsors him. "I messed up on my second try (at 93 pounds), my foot came up a little bit. I wanted to lift 104."

"When he was about 5 or 6, he was winning a wrestling match but he was frustrated because he was doing something wrong," said John Brooks, Aaron's father. "An old guy who was there told me, 'What will make him great will drive you crazy.' It's true. He has a vision and he wants to achieve it."

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That vision includes some pretty big goals: "I want to be a UFC fighter, an actor and (an Olympic) wrestler," Aaron said. "I'd also like to coach wrestling."

"It's all him. He's very driven," John said. "He wants to be doing something, either playing sports or in the gym. He really wants to get into Jiu-Jitsu and things like that. He can do all of that. He can fit it all in."

Aaron broke the RAW record with his first lift of the competition, at 80 pounds. He missed on his first try at 93, then made a good lift on his second try before lifting 99.21 on his fourth and final lift.

"It was exciting," John said. "I knew he would do it, but with all the hype before it, he was on TV all the time, and I was worried about the pressure and if he'd be nervous. I don't know why, he's never nervous, it's always me."

Aaron seems unfazed by all the media hype surrounding his record: "The attention doesn't matter," he said. "It's cool, but I don't think about it. I like to challenge myself and get stronger."

The youngster got some coaching advice from two big names in the sport. Dennis Cieri recently set a RAW drug-free world record with a 529-pound bench press at 198 pounds. Cliff Tallman, 66, a Masters weightlifter, set a United States Powerlifting Federation over-65 world record with a bench press of 215.5kg (474.1 pounds) in the 110kg (242 pounds) weight class at the USPF 2010 Nationals on June 20.

"That was awesome. They were so helpful," John said. "(Powerlifting) is not my element, I was a boxer, so it was so nice to have two guys who were humble and wanted to help."

Aaron prefers wrestling to powerlifting, and it's no wonder given his track record. He's a two-time Maryland state champion -- and didn't give up a point in winning the title this year -- as well as a two-time Ohio Tournament of Champions winner and a Mid Atlantic Wrestling Association Eastern Nationals champion in the midget 80-pound class.

"Sometimes I overpower them and sometimes I use technique," said Aaron, who wrestles for the Tuscarora Youth Wrestling team in Mercersburg, Pa., and the Maryland Junior Terps state all-star team.

"He's really smart. He knows how to break down opponents, and he listens well," John said. "Every wrestler has tendencies, and we'll pick up on that and figure out how to counter that."

Aaron's world record bench press earned him a spot on Team USA for the world championships in November, but it's not a given that he'll attend.

"If junior football is over, maybe," John said. "But he's got to take care of his teammates first."

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