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Powerlifter hopes to be world champ

Kenneth Gack successfully completes a 578 pound deadlift at 2009 USA Powerlifting Nationals. The Akeley native will head to the International Powerlifting Federation World Championships in November. (Submitted photo)

Akeley native Kenneth Gack is headed to New Delhi, India in early November for the International Powerlifting Federation World Championships.

He began powerlifting when he joined the U.S. Air Force at 18 years old. Growing up in Akeley, Gack said he didn't do much lifting but played around with weights.

Gack was valedictorian of his graduating class. His parents, Fran and Myron, still live in Akeley.

"When I got off active duty, I stopped lifting seriously for a few years," he said. In 2005, he came back into competition. He lives in Lake Stevens, Wash., outside of Seattle and works for IBM.

He lifts with USA Powerlifting, which is a drug-free organization, Gack said. He works out four or five times a week for two hours each time.

His top lifts so far are:

- Squat: 678 pounds.

- Bench press: 540 pounds.

- Deadlift: 628 pounds.

Powerlifting has changed his life, Gack said.

"It's just my personality," he said. "I used to be shy and this has really made a difference in my confidence. It's a huge rush."

At 39 years old, Gack said he is just reaching his prime for lifting. He plans to continue lifting as long as he's healthy.

"A lot of guys peak in their 40s," he said.

He is also certified as a powerlifting referee so he plans to continue with his involvement in the sport.

Here's a brief list of his lifting accomplishments:

- Bronze medalist at the 2008 and 2009 U.S. National Powerlifting Championships.

- Washington State Powerlifting Champion - 2006, 2007, 2008.

- U.S. Forces Europe Powerlifting Champion, 1998.

- Washington State Bench Press record holder: 540 pounds in the 220 pound weight class. (This was also the top bench press in the United States for 2008).

- Attained Elite class in the 220 pound weight class - the highest powerlifting classification level.

- Successfully completed written and practical tests to certify as a USA Powerlifting referee.

He enjoys the squat the best but said he is better at the bench press.

Gack said his mom, Fran, is very proud of him and got to see him compete about a year ago. His wife, Tracy, and two boys, who are 8 and 11, also support his lifting.

As he prepares to leave for India Nov. 1, he will actually scale back on the lifting to rest up. His wife will be headed to the competition with him.