ELIZABETHTON — Raising money for a club sport in high school can certainly be a challenging task.
However, Elizabethton’s powerlifting team has a built-in advantage when it plays host for the eighth annual Night of the Living Dead competition. The event begins Saturday at 10 a.m. with the main competition — featuring Guinness World Records holder Andy Bolton — starting at 6 p.m.
The event will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by Fox Sports Net. It is expected to be aired in January.
“We started this event to raise money for our powerlifting team,” said Alex Campbell, who coaches the team along with Chad Salyer. “It has gotten more crazy every year.
“We like to give kids in the area something to do. And we like to bring in pro athletes to inspire them to stay healthy and lift weights.”
Bolton is the centerpiece of the event. He has challenged any man in the world to attempt to defeat him in a deadlift competition.
In 2007, Bolton deadlifted 1,000 pounds and earned the moniker, “Strongest Man Alive.” A 6-foot-1, 335 pounds, Bolton did what was thought to be impossible.
“It was like running the four-minute mile,” said Campbell. “They said it couldn’t be done. They said the human body couldn’t handle it.”
In Saturday’s competition, lifters will get three attempts apiece. There is a rule book for deadlifting, and three referees will be on hand to make sure the lift is legal.
Campbell said 25 lifters from across the world will compete against Bolton.
“It’s the biggest deadlift show in the world,” said Campbell.
Represented will be five countries, including Ireland and Canada. Lifters from 17 states will travel to Northeast Tennessee, including athletes from Washington, Texas and North Dakota.
Good luck on beating Bolton, said Campbell.
“He hasn’t been beaten in a head-to-head deadlift in eight years,” said Campbell. “It will be very difficult to beat him. But then again, he has never faced this many good deadlifters before. Five of the 25 guys have a legitimate shot to beat him.”
Campbell said he expects to have over 500 people in attendance for the event.
“A lot of people in the area are not powerlifting fans, but any time you have a cool event like this, people want to watch,” he said.
It certainly is publicity for the Cyclones’ powerlifting team. Athletic director Mike Wilson said even though it is a club sport, he likes what it offers the students.
“We didn’t let them use our facility for a financial benefit, although it could grow into that at some point,” said Wilson. “We did it because Alex gets kids in the weight room instead of running around town in their cars. They set goals for the kids to achieve, and I think it’s a great thing for the kids.”
Powerlifting doesn’t get reel in as many participants in Tennessee as it does in Texas, said Campbell.
“There are 15,000 kids competing in Texas,” he said. “So if we win the state in Tennessee, it’s not as big of a deal as it is in Texas.”
However, Campbell said his team competes on a national level, too, and had two champions last year. Elisa Bird won the girls 97-pound weight class, and Bryar Siebenthal won in the boys’ 114-pound class.
Wilson said Campbell and Salyer know the sport.
“They really know how to teach the kids,” said Wilson. “I think it’s really great for the kids who aren’t involved in other sports.”
Tickets for Saturday’s competition are $5. Campbell is the meet director.