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123-pound powerlifter captures world title

Pound for pound, Jay Sutherland is one of the world's strongest men.

The Disston Heights resident proved it this month, winning a 123-pound world powerlifting championship in England. Sutherland, who also won a national title in April, handled in three lifts a total of more than 1,000 pounds.

That's a lot of weight _ about equal to, for example, a deluxe refrigerator stocked with plenty of frozen food. Likewise a full-grown manatee, a 1948 Wurlitzer jukebox and roughly 28,627 aluminum cans piled together.

Sutherland, 34, said he wasn't even at his best.

"I really didn't have that good of a day," he said. "A year and a half ago, I would have been really happy with that. But with this sport it's a very personal thing. You're always trying to beat what you did before."

Powerlifting is a sport of raw strength, while bodybuilding with weights aims to shape muscles and sculpt physiques.

Three lifts are used in competition:

+ the bench press, in which the lifter lies on a bench and pushes a barbell up from the chest. Sutherland pushed up 250 pounds in England;

+ the squat, basically a deep knee-bend with a barball across the shoulders. Sutherland squatted with 402;

+ and the dead lift, which measures the weight the lifter can pick up off the floor. Sutherland hauled up 425.

The competition was held under the auspices of the World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation, which bans substances that could enhance natural strength.

Sutherland, who trains at Iron Works in St. Petersburg, was ranked fourth nationally this summer among all 123-pounders regardless of federation attachment.

Married with two children, Sutherland went to England with his wife, Debbie. The competition was held in Reading, west of London. The Sutherlands toured London, other parts of England and Scotland.

With a world title in hand, where does a lifter go from there?

"That's just it," Sutherland said. "I just feel like I've got to get hungry again. I've got to get a goal. Basically, it just starts over."

Sutherland said one attractive option may be to defend his title on what is nearly home turf: Next year's world championships will be held at the new Walt Disney World sports complex.