I had never heard of Paul Anderson until two weeks ago while sitting in church. Interestingly, some of you may know of Paul Anderson and may be thinking, “how can you not know who he is?!!” Well folks, to this date, Paul Anderson is the only American to ever receive a gold medal in the Super Heavyweight Division at 110+kg class and that record has been held since 1956. He has set 8 World Records, 18 American records and retired unbeaten. Here are a few numbers that blew my mind:
Olympic total of 1,000 lbs. (combo of press, clean & jerk, snatch); personal best Olympic press of 575 lbs.; 1957 backlift of 6,270 lbs. and 1955 World Champion Weightlifting.
What I find so fascinating about this man is these accomplishments were, in his mind, simply accomplishments. Here we have probably the strongest man in American history and he knew that true strength came from within and not from the amount of weight lifted or one’s ability to run a sub-5 minute mile. I will back up a little and remind you I first heard about this man sitting where?? Church. Yep. This man had a strong Christian faith and used his lifting as a platform to succeed at what he considers his GREATEST life accomplishment: dedicating his life to helping troubled children by opening The Paul Anderson Youth Home in 1961. This rehabilitation home focuses on young men aged 16-21 years to get their life back in order or they may otherwise be confined to penal institutions. Paul Anderson used to raise funds by speaking engagements and demonstrations. Unfortunately Paul passed away in 1994, but his legacy lives on. Over 2,000 young men have benefited from this home and Anderson’s unselfish devotion and passion continues to be a driving force for the facility.
Now most of us are not even close to touching an Olympic gold medal or breaking American records, but we all have some sort of platform. One’s job, parenting, athletic community and more are all examples of platforms that can be used to achieve bigger things and make a positive influence in other’s lives. I could have written more about Paul Anderson and his core values; however, I believe we can all learn something from his life. We must ask ourselves what drives us and how that inner drive can cultivate good in the world. What do you define as true strength? Anderson knew it was the strength that came from our heart and soul.