Union teen does the heavy lifting to a world record

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UNION, NJ — A Union resident and high school freshman athlete achieved a world-record dead lift in competition last month, shattering previous record holders with a lift of 500 pounds.

Erio Spear, 14, competed at the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate’s Jersey Rumble in Newark on Saturday, May 14, where he outperformed the competition in his age class of 14 to 15 years old and his weight class of 198 pounds, breaking U.S. and world records. He did so in just three lifts, with his third and final breaking the world record for a 14-year-old.

Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate provides powerlifting competitors “an environment in which they may compete at their highest level … in the presence of qualified referees,” according to the organization’s website. It hosts hundreds of competitions annually, offering a variety of weightlifting events.

At such a young age, Erio has had little experience in competition; 14 is the youngest age group allowed to compete in RPS competitions. Jersey Rumble was the first meet in which he ever competed, but he said he did not let pressure affect his performance.

“You don’t see anything else when you’re on the platform lifting,” Erio said in a press release. “I was zoned in on doing everything I was training for and didn’t think about anything else.”

Erio began weight training at age 12 and powerlifting training at 13. He follows the example of his father, David Spear, described in the press release as a former fitness model and competitive arm wrestler. He said he knew his son was strong from a young age.

“He just had this crazy strength. Even at 8 or 10 years old, he was lifting heavy weights at the gym,” David Spear said. “He developed that love of powerlifting very early on.”

When describing his son’s early years at the gym, Erio’s father said his son would “rack,” or max out, machines that full-grown adults, including himself, couldn’t. Given such natural power, the elder Spear said, it was only a matter of time before his son could start weightlifting professionally.

David Spear was with Erio at the competition on the day of his record-breaking lift. He said his son was calm and collected, and, when it came time to perform, Erio exhibited more strength than he had ever seen from him.

“He just walked up and lifted the bar like a feather,” David Spear said. “I’m stunned at his strength.”

Erio’s father said this was just the first of many competition wins to come for Erio, who, at such an early point in his career, has the potential to break several more records. Following his win at Jersey Rumble, Erio was approached by several other powerlifting organizations to participate at their upcoming meets, with the hopes that he can put on another record-breaking performance.

One might expect Erio’s workout and diet regimens to be overly strict, in order to achieve such strength, but the opposite is true. According to his father, Erio doesn’t follow any set diet plan or impose any restrictions on himself. He eats clean — and has lots of protein — and is always in the gym, not because he has to be, but simply because he says he enjoys it.

The younger Spear described himself as a bit of an anachronism, having little interest in video games or TV, unlike most teens his age. He prefers older music, and, when he isn’t in the gym, he moonlights as a singer-songwriter.

Erio’s old-fashioned thinking is even reflected in how he trains, modeling his powerlifting career after celebrity bodybuilders of the past, such as Steve Reeves and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of the gyms Erio frequents, the Diamond Gym in Maplewood, is run by owner John Kemper, whose training has led hundreds of bodybuilders to national contests.

In the last year, Erio began training with Henri Skiba, a fellow powerlifter and owner of Skiba’s Gym in Carteret. Skiba’s Gym is certified by Westside Barbell, “an invitation-only training laboratory where only the strongest of mind and body survive,” according to its website. Westside’s pedigree of powerlifters is what drew Skiba and Erio together, hoping to foster Erio’s strength.

“I knew from the first time Erio expressed interest in powerlifting, he had natural strength that could be refined for competition,” Skiba said in the press release. “I believe this sport provides great discipline, focus and confidence, particularly for teens, boys and girls alike, especially at a time of mental and physical growth and uncertainty.”

With continued training and growth, Erio said he hopes to dominate at future competitions. At just 14, he surely has a bright future ahead of him in the world of powerlifting.

“Could be the Olympics sometime soon, but I don’t know, we’re taking it one day at a time,” David Spear said. “Erio’s just a bull. I’m proud to be his father.”

Photo Courtesy of Evolution-PR