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Hazel Park

June 5, 2013

Former bullying victim sets powerlifting record

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

HAZEL PARK — Search “Adam Hinton record” on YouTube, and in a video dated April 29, you’ll see three men load up a barbell with weights. A towering man then walks into the room — all muscle with a laser-like stare — and lifts the 738 pounds straight off the floor without so much as breaking a sweat.  

That’s Adam Hinton, 30, of Hazel Park, breaking the previous deadlifting record of 731 pounds at the Amateur American Powerlifting Federation Nationals in Grand Rapids April 28. Now he’s training for a worldwide competition in Idaho this September, where he will attempt to break records for the squat (699 pounds) and bench press (462 pounds). He will also try to set a new deadlifting record, aiming for 825 pounds.

Three years ago, at the state-level Wolverine Classic in Kalamazoo, Adam deadlifted 803 pounds. But then he suffered a setback of six months when he snapped a tendon in his left bicep while training for a meet in the Ukraine. He’s been working his way back up ever since. 

“I don’t think people realize how bad you can get hurt doing this. It’s a dark horse sport where, on our waivers, we have to sign off acknowledging we could get killed,” Adam said. “There was a guy who died in Russia earlier this year. He was benching 430 pounds, and he slipped. The weight fell and crushed his sternum.”

But there’s a real rush overcoming that danger, Adam said.

“I don’t think most people understand what it’s like when you pull 585 pounds, and then you go back later and absolutely destroy it,” Adam said. “It’s amazing. Not to take away from team sports, but I look at them as something where you can be terrible and yet people can think you’re a great athlete, since you have 10 other guys masking how terrible you are. But in weightlifting, there’s none of that, and no lucky punch like in the UFC, either. In weightlifting, it’s all on you to make it happen.”

Adam’s calm confidence and powerful build hardly suggest someone with a history of being bullied, but being picked on as a kid is precisely what led Adam to lifting. 

He was always a big guy. Born at 10 pounds, he now weighs around 340, putting him in the “super heavyweight” class. In elementary school, one of his teachers called him the “jolly giant” because he would kindly look out for the other children and help pick them up when they fell on the playground. His gentle demeanor made him an easy target for opportunistic bullies, since he would never hit back.

He was called fat on a daily basis, he said. “It was like clockwork. By the end of an average school day, I’d be called it 20 times a day.

“My breaking point was around age 12. A buddy and I were heading to the park to watch his brother play baseball when a group of junior high students approached us, and one of them put a cigarette out on my neck,” he said. “That was the point in my brain where I thought, ‘You can be fat and feel sorry for yourself, or you can do something about it.’ I wanted to make sure that would never happen to me again.”

He started frequenting the weight room, channeling negative energy into positive workout results.

“In 10th grade, I was in the weight room, with the jocks on the football team watching, and I benched 395 pounds three times. At that point, everyone left me alone,” Adam said. “I turned the cheek a lot, but I was done taking crap from people.” 

Adam approaches his craft with immaculate professionalism. He laments how other weightlifters will hoot and holler after a lift, trivializing the danger. When Adam goes in for a lift, he tunes out everything around him.

“You can burn me with a cigarette when I’m about to lift weights and I probably wouldn’t even notice because I’m so focused on what I need to do,” Adam laughed.

He was recently picked up by Met-RX, a supplement company, receiving $1,000 in products four times a year. He hopes to be on their payroll soon. Currently a stay-at-home dad, Adam was employed with a cleaning company not long ago. He works out at Royal Oak Gym every evening, always changing up his routine so as to not grow stale.

Adam’s mother, Beverly Hinton, of Hazel Park, said it was “overwhelming” to see Adam’s hard work pay off in a new record.

“The announcer said, ‘This is going to be a monstrous lift,’ and, ‘You haven’t seen this much weight all weekend,’” Beverly recalled. “Everyone was cheering for him and shouting his name.

“It’s so exciting and so positive, and I’m just so proud of how he handled his whole situation, turning it into the positive he did. When he was in sixth grade, I’d come home and he’d be sitting there all sad, and he’d say, ‘Mom, you don’t know what it’s like to be teased every day.’ But he found a way to solve what was happening. You only have so much advice as a parent, but he solved the issue himself, and I’m proud of that.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.