Bob Peoples and his night in Music City: Part 5

Published 1:31 am Friday, February 4, 2022

BY ALEX CAMPBELL
The superstar duo of Pudgy and Les Stockton just completed one of the most amazing spectacles of acrobatic strength in world history. They lived up the hype of the YMCA Variety Show in Nashville, TN.
But there was still one final act to have his say before the night was over.
Bob Peoples had taken in all the amazing spectacles of the night, but he had not been distracted from his mission – become the first person to officially deadlift 700 pounds. After falling only one pound short on a technicality a few months before, he was ready to finally have this burden off his shoulders.
The crowd was still loud and unruly from the aftershock of the acrobatic display by Pudgy and her husband when the MC reminded them that there was one more act to go before the night was done.
Their home state Hercules had one more lift to finish out the evening. Everyone knew that Peoples made the trip from the banks of Sinking Creek in Carter County all the way to Music City with one purpose and that was to lift 700, but at the last minute, Peoples decided he would not attempt the 700 pounds after all.
Peoples thought back to the last time he attempted the 700-pound record when the bar was reweighed and found to be one pound shy of 700. He didn’t want to live through that agony again.
He also had felt really strong on his last lift which signaled to him that he might have a little more in him. But what ultimately convinced him to push his physical boundaries was what had just occurred on stage.
The Stocktons pulled out all the stops, risking injury and even death, to push themselves to their limits to entertain the crowd. Bob Peoples was not to be outdone on his home turf by a group of interlopers.
The MC was announcing to the crowd that Peoples would now attempt to lift the 700 pounds needed to become the first man to officially break the barrier, when he was interrupted with a man whispering in his ear.
The MC quickly corrected himself by informing the crowd that Peoples had decided to not even bother with 700, but to ask that 710 pounds be loaded onto the bar for his final lift.
The crowd roared with their approval and even the Stocktons heard it from deep backstage.
As the buzz of excitement swept through the crowd, unbeknownst to the fans, there was a crisis unfolding on stage. As the loaders quickly prepared the bar, they soon realized that on the last attempt, the weights went all the way to the end of the bar without even any room for collars.
Collars are necessary to secure the weights as the bar will bend with that much load and sometimes the lifter can bring the bar up slightly unevenly. With the weights all the way to the end, if any slip occurred, it would spell disaster.
Not only would a weight come sliding off the end, but usually a yo-yo effect takes place. When the plate falls off one end, it lightens, and it will immediately shift higher which makes the other end of the bar dip, and a weight falls off that side back and forth until all the weights are on the floor.
On his previous lift, the event coordinators remedied the situation by placing a spotter at each side of the bar with hands lightly pushing against the weights to keep them from sliding off, but how could they solve a problem of no more room?
Their only option was to tie the weights onto the bar with strips of cloth and let them dangle. It wasn’t only an unusual way of doing things, but also a very dangerous way.
Peoples had, just like the Stocktons by attempting such an amazing feat, created a very dangerous situation indeed. If those weights began to slide and the spotters could not hold them, then weights would come flying off each side alternately.
This can easily cause tremendous strain on a lifter left in this awkward and unbalanced situation. Often times, muscle pulls and tears are common as well as injuries to the joints.
This would also put the spotters in great jeopardy as hundreds of pounds of weights would be dropped at their feet which can crush toes, rip open shins, and break legs.
Like the Stocktons, however, fate had created this situation that demanded physical limits be pushed to the brink. That night, Bob Peoples was either leaving with a new world record or someone was leaving in an ambulance. The crowd was on pins and needles waiting to find out which.
Meticulously, the weights were loaded onto the bar and tied dangling as Peoples mentally prepared himself to make history. He thought of the new training he had done to improve his leg strength, the new equipment he invented to allow him to push his limits, and the decades-long love affair with the iron that led him to this point.
Now, his destiny was lying in front of him.
He stepped to the bar and placed his stocking feet into the proper position. Without wearing shoes, he would be able to pull the bar that fraction of an inch less.
He settled his hips into position prepared to unleash the new strength he had acquired from his novel leg training. He took a deep breath and then pushed his stomach out against his supportive lifting belt. Then he released half of the air from his lungs and allowed his shoulder to round just a bit, then it was time to pull.
The bar shook and trembled for a moment as the eyes of the spotters bulged. Terrified, they tried their best to put pressure on the side of the weights while matching the exertion of the spotter on the opposite side to not throw off People’s center of gravity.
Finally, as the weight broke from the floor, the Tennessee strongman gave a tremendous heave to move the bar up his shins as the blood drained from the spotters’ faces helplessly watching.
Each spread their feet a little wider anticipating that any moment hundreds of pounds would come crashing down around them maiming them and injuring our deadlift hero in the process.
To be continued…

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