Local teen overcomes history of bullying, breaks national deadlift record

November 3, 2019 | 3:20 am

Updated November 2, 2019 | 9:57 pm

Steven DiGiorgio completed a 700-pound lift at the International Bar-B-Q Festival Bench Press & Deadlift Competition. | Photo by the Owensboro Times

Standing at 6 feet 3 inches and weighing 301 pounds, 19-year-old Steven DiGiorgio can have quite a commanding presence. Throughout his elementary school years, DiGiorgio’s larger stature often caused him to be the victim of insults from other students. Not one to let others’ negativity get him down, the recent Daviess County High School graduate and Eagle Scout used those instances of bullying to set goals as large as his stature. During the last weekend of October, DiGiorgio officially broke the national record for his age group and weight class with a 675-pound deadlift at the Illinois Monsters Bash 3, a meet officially sanctioned by the Southern Powerlifting Federation.

“I was heavier when I was younger, in an unhealthier way,” DiGiorgio said. “I think that was a big step into my decision to start lifting and competing. It made me more confident — the stronger I got the better I felt. [After I started lifting] I felt better about myself and was taken more seriously.”

In May of this year, DiGiorgio set a goal of breaking the national deadlift record for his age with a 700-pound lift at the International Bar-B-Q Festival Bench Press & Deadlift Competition. While the 700-pound lift was a personal best for DiGiorgio, the Bar-B-Q Festival competition was not a sanctioned meet.


“That meet was unofficial and friendly and was not sanctioned,” Steven’s father Paul said. “What makes this [the Monsters Bash] different is it was a sanctioned meet.”

Steven went into the Monsters Bash with a goal of deadlifting over 700 pounds, but injured his left hand at the beginning of the meet forcing officials to have to use his first of three lifts.

“He was actually very disappointed with it [the 675-pound lift] because he expected to lift a higher number, but tore his hand up on his first lift,” Paul said. “So he just missed having the highest ever recorded deadlift by an 18-year-old in the world.”

The week prior to the meet, Steven said he was able to deadlift a personal best of 710 pounds, but the skin from both hands tore in the process.

“I think that actually hurt me more than helped me,” Steven said. “If they didn’t tear, then I may have made it [700 pounds] going into competition. They don’t let you use gloves in competition — a torn hand can happen to lifters on warmups and it can ruin their whole competition day.”

With his late October win, Steven, who recently celebrated his 19th birthday on Nov. 1, now has nearly a full year to try to surpass his own record in the 18 to19-year-old division.

“Any meet I do from now on is attempting to break my own records I’ve set, which is kind of exciting to me,” Steven said, adding that he plans to give his body a break from the 4-5,000 calories he consumes daily in preparation for competition.

“I’ve only been training seriously for about two years and I’m already breaking records,” Steven said. “It takes a lot of sacrifice. Sometimes, I feel bad because it takes away from family and friends a lot — but you try and make up for it where you can.”

Steven said he still continues to train with his Iron Edge Gym family, including record-holders D.C. Boone and Julius Maddox, who he said are a continuous source of support. With the intention of pursuing a degree in exercise science, Steven said he also finds joy in his part-time job at the Owensboro YMCA.

“I do get the opportunity to help kids and I enjoy that,” Steven said. “I’ll give them any tips I can and help them with form. It really lights me up and makes me happy to help them out and become a better version of themselves.”

November 3, 2019 | 3:20 am

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