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Powerlifter defying age, winning world titles
Dec 10

By ROBERT HOLDER
The Mountain Press

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Fitness has always been a part of Ray Fougnier's life. The 74-year-old never knew just how far it would take him and that an off-the-cuff suggestion would lead to three world records.

Fougnier bested three of his previous class powerlifting records and was named Best Lifter in the 181-pound and below class at the AAU World Powerlifting, Weightlifting & Bodybuilding Championship last month in Las Vegas.

After setting records in April at the North America championship, Fougnier posted individual event world bests in the squat -- 311 pounds -- and deadlift -- 430 pounds -- to push his overall score in the powerlift competition to a world record of 926 pounds. In the third individual event -- the bench press -- he pushed 420 pounds.

It is quite a feat for a man who started lifting competitively just four years ago on a whim. Fougnier, originally from New York, retired to Sevierville part time after teaching in the Empire State and Michigan.

The former teacher and school administrator was working out at the Pigeon Forge Community Center one day when an acquaintance suggested he lift in competitions.

``Most of life I tried to stay in shape,'' he said. ``At times I got a little bit out and had to get back into it. I worked at it all my life, but I never did anything competitive.''

Fougnier was just working out to stay in shape. After seeing his parents fight diabetes and cancer through their retirement years, he didn't want to become another statistic.

``I wanted to retire and I wanted to have a good retirement and stay healthy,'' Fougnier said.

He started ``ramping up'' working out but competing wasn't really on his list of to-dos. Then he saw the records for the state Amateur Athletic Union's lifting championships for his age bracket and knew he could make the list.

``I forgot about it for a while,'' Fougnier said. ``Then I gave it a try.''

He went to Maryville for the state event in 2013 and won sending him on a trip to nationals where he won again. He eventually made it to the world championships in South Africa that year. Four years later, he hasn't missed once since.

And this year he was named Best Lifter for all classes and ages 181 pounds and below on top of his three world records.

Fougnier said there's not really any set secrets to being healthy. It is all about committing to your health -- and the sooner the better.

``My advice is to get some sort of a routine and interest,'' he said. ``It doesn't have to be powerlifting. It can be anything that keeps you moving and active.

``Diet is very important as well.''

Fougnier said he works out seven days a week rotating between lifting three days a week and cardio four days a week while eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts. The routine has warded off hereditary diseases and lowered his risk of dealing with aging complications he said.

``My doctors ask me if I am on any medications and I say, `Nope and I feel good.' ``


By The Associated Press, Copyright 2018