March 27, 2015
Michael Baxter 500px
When he’s not lifting weights, Michael Baxter is a meat market clerk at BI-LO store No. 5617 in Rossville, Ga.​

Michael Baxter never thought he would one day lift weights as a sport. As a former football player, he spent some time in the weight room, but mainly for strength training and conditioning.

It wasn’t until last year that the now 18-year-old high school junior decided to give power weightlifting a try after one of his coaches at Ridgeland High School in Rossville, Ga. encouraged him to do so.

When he’s not practicing his deadlifts, squats and benches, Michael can be found at BI-LO store No. 5617 in Rossville, Ga., where he works as a part-time meat market clerk.

Powerlifting is considered to be the ultimate test of upper body strength, with athletes lifting more than three times their own body weight. The sport consists of three attempts at maximal weight for three different types of lifts, including squat, bench press and deadlift. The lifter’s best effort in each counts toward his competition total.

Currently, Michael’s 285-pound bench press, 405-pound deadlift and 440-pound squat give him a total of 1,135 pounds to rank third in the nation for his age and weight.

In February, Michael not only won the 165-pound teenage division in the Southern Powerlifting Championship’s (SPF) Tennessee State Championship, but also defeated every adult in his weight class. On March 21, he competed in the SPF’s Ironman Classic in Gatlinburg, Tenn. and again won for his age and weight. His impressive performances have earned him an invitation to the World Championships in Las Vegas later this year and he has not escaped the notice of college recruiters.

“I’ve never been to Las Vegas, so I’m both nervous and excited,” he said. “If I can add 50 more pounds I’ll be first in the nation for my age and weight, so I’ll have a better chance at winning the international title.”

Michael says his goal for the world championship is to add 50 more pounds for a 285- pound bench, 460-pound squat and 440-pound deadlift, totaling 1,185 pounds.

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