Elijah Thweatt stepped up to the platform at the front of the room as all eyes focused on him.
His muscles tensed as the 17-year-old pushed out a huge breath, and lifted 650 pounds from the ground.
Thweatt relaxed his muscles relax after finishing the rep, the crowd standing and applauding him for breaking an American weightlifting record.
“[If not for lifting], I would probably be locked up,” he said. “I get angry; I have got to get this rage out.”
The former Avalon School student holds four American powerlifting records for the under-18, sub-275 pounds weight group.
His records are the heaviest bench press, squat, deadlift and combination of the three. The weights are 407.85, 622.80 and 650.36 pounds.
He said can deadlift 675 pounds.
Thweatt started lifting when he was 11 but began seriously lifting with his football team in high school. He said he realized he was stronger than his peers, “when I lifted with my teammates and none of them were [messing] with me.”
Since then, lifting has become extremely important outlet to Thweatt.
“If I wake up one day and it’s a bad day, I know I have something to look forward to,” he said. “It’s something I can take my anger out on instead of taking it out on someone else.”
When he is not lifting, Thweatt said he feels a rage inside of him that he can only release through lifting weights.
Thweatt only lifted habitually until late last fall. After seeing videos of a powerlifting competition, he decided to enter his first tournament.
“I didn’t know you could do that shit competitively,” he said. “As soon as I found that out, I was like, ‘I’m down with that shit.”
He won every event at his first meet, the Autumn Apocalypse in Newark, N.J., last November, breaking records in the process.
His training partner, Aspen Feldman said watching Thweatt lift is unlike anything he had ever seen before.
“It’s kind of frightening,” he said. “When he puts his mind to it, he can move just about anything he wants to move.”
Thweatt competed again in April.
“By the second competition it was nothing,” he said.
He broke all of his previous records and set the marks that currently hold the record.
“If I get angry enough I feel like I could do anything,” he said.
Thweatt said he does not plan on competing again for a while.
“I just set the [records], what is there left to do?” he added. “I have got to turn 18, so I can take the next age group records and weight class.”
Additionally, he said that for him, lifting is not about money; there isn’t much money to be made unless a company sponsors an athlete and the meets don’t give cash prizes, he added.
“If I could do it in a competition and set some world records while I’m doing it, I’m going to do it regardless even if there is no competition,” Thweatt said.