Men and women show off strength at Day of the Deadlift

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


Friday, October 18, Tribal Recreation and Wellness hosted the third annual Day of the Deadlift at the Mul-Chu-Tha Fairgrounds.  The event began as a going-away celebration for a staff member. This year the competition has grown to new levels of attendance and weight lifting.


Brandon Begay, Lead Fitness Instructor at the Wellness Center, said, “It’s really not a competition against one another. It’s more of a competition against ourselves and the [weight] bar.” As the organizing program, they want everyone to be encouraging of one another in the competition and make it a fun and enjoyable experience for all.


The 2018 Day of the Deadlift had the best (maximum) lift for males at 585 lbs. and 370 for the females. This year saw an increase of participants from outside the Community in addition to registration amounts. 2017 had 30 participants, 2018 had 60 participants (30 male and 30 female). And for 2019, there were 60 spots slated initially, but they exceeded that, allowing for a total of 70 participants.

Brandon Whiterock traveled from Flagstaff, Ariz., to compete.  He heard about the competition from past participants from Shiprock, NM, and decided to try it out himself. It was his first time visiting the Community and was very impressed with the organization and set up of the event.


Participants compete in divisions based on gender and weight, either lightweight, middleweight, or heavyweight. Each person begins at a given start weight for females 135 lbs and males at 225 lbs to lift. After executing one acceptable lift, they move on to the next round, where additional weight is continuously added. Additions continue until each person can lift no more weight in each category, whereas whoever raises the most is declared the winner in their division.


This year’s competition also had its youngest competitor at 16 years of age and also had many competitors in the “Master” Division for competitors 50 years old and older. 

The top males for this year’s competition were lightweight winner Ryan Yucupisio, (Best Lift 495lbs), Middleweight winner Ben Kasper (Best Lift 455lbs), and Heavyweight winner Nikolai White (Best Lift 655lbs). White also won for the overall title with his lift amount


And the top females for this year’s competition were: Lightweight winner Lei Ann Champagne (Best Lift 245 lbs), Middleweight winner Jessica Diaz (Best Lift 315 lbs), and Heavyweight winner Mishon Saraficio (Best Lift 385 lbs). Saraficio also won for the female overall best lift for lifting 385 pounds.