HOW I LOST $1,000 TO JORDAN WONG | 2013 IPL WORLDS
Having been involved with powerlifting since I was 21, I’ve encountered a lot of memorable experiences and have met people from all walks of life along the way. Across training at different gyms, I’ve been teammates with C-level executives, lawyers, and even a guy who was a founding member of Netscape and is now rolling in millions. I’ve also been teammates with vagabonds who didn’t hold down a real job but could somehow afford the gym membership every month. Of all the types of people I have trained with and competed against, however – I’ve been fortunate enough to been around individuals who started from having no athletic background whatsoever to becoming all-time greats in the sport of powerlifting. Without doing any name dropping, there are quite a few powerlifters from northern California who hold all-time records in powerlifting, and some of whom I knew before they even became elite caliber lifters.
The one most memorable experience I have from powerlifting wasn’t the first time I benched 315 and achieving a childhood dream of benching those goddamn 3 plates. Nor was it from last month, going 9 for 9 in competition and having the meet performance I could have only dreamed of. No, it was actually the time when Jordan Wong challenged me to total within 300 pounds of his own total at the 2013 IPL Worlds and I lost $1,000, along being driven on the edge of insanity trying to beat him in the process.
So, rewind back to early 2013. I was still training with & competing for Wild Iron Gym, having a best total of 1466 (in wraps) @ 255 pounds in my prior meet. I was still very much a beginner trying to learn the ropes, though at the time I thought that I was half decent. Meanwhile, Jordan was becoming a known name in the sport, having totaled 1802 @ 242 at the USPA Georgia State Championships. He built up a reputation for being extremely strong at the squat, while being a very solid bencher. His numbers at the time were a 733 squat, 463 bench press and 617 deadlift. Things seemed to be on the up for Jordan, with the prospect of becoming an all-time record holder becoming a reality with some more time.
With the both of us posting on the Bodybuilding.com forums and talking with each other through the amazing wonders of Chatzy, we somehow came across the topic of what we would total later that year. I honestly don’t remember how the initial bet started, but I do remember Jordan making the claim to me that I wouldn’t be able to total within 300 pounds of his next performance at the 2013 IPL Worlds. Training was going really well for me, and I was making good progress with my lifts while having dieted down to a bodyweight of 230 pounds. I really believed that my total was going to make a big increase that year, despite being 25 pounds lighter than in my last meet. We ended up making an initial wager of $500 on Jordan’s crap talking. I was fired up, and being the dumbass that I was, I starting talking crap back about how much his deadlift sucked compared to his other lifts and that I would be within 50 pounds of his next deadlift. At the time, my best deadlift was 565 @ 255 and I had pulled 585 in the gym afterwards. What was the stupidest thing I could possibly do? Bet another $500 that I could deadlift within 50 pounds of him at IPL Worlds. The ante was now up to $1,000 to beat Jordan.
Training for IPL Worlds was a new experience for me. My entire history of doing meets were all at local gyms, and Worlds would be the first meet that I ever had to qualify for. I’d have to fly from California to Vegas to compete, which also meant it would be my first experience having to travel & book a hotel for a meet. This meant a whole lot to me at the time, and I didn’t take the opportunity for granted. Instead of training only during the weekends at Wild Iron, I chose to train there full time 4 days a week and had to drive 70 miles from the gym to back home every night after training. I’d have to train my ass off to have a chance at winning $1,000 and more importantly, ending the smacktalk that I was getting hit with from Jordan.
If I could compare Jordan’s powerlifting persona to any professional athlete, I’d have to choose UFC fighter Chael Sonnen as his counterpart. Jordan really comes up with the funniest and meanest shit to say over the internet. Clever one liners, repeating seeing a really old video of me getting psyched up over a 520 lb sumo deadlift in single ply, and being reminded how I was about to lose $1,000 became my daily feed on Facebook. Come to think of it, all that shit only started out being funny. After a couple months, it became aggravating and I wanted to beat that fucker. Badly. I wanted to beat him, take his money, and watch him fall into depression while at the hands of defeat.
Each session at the gym mattered and I was more motivated than ever to get stronger. Looking back, I kind of sucked at lifting weights and I can see my own inexperience from how shoddy my technique was along with getting too fired up before each lift. Too angry, too confused looking.
Despite having the gung-ho attitude of an amateur, training was brutal and I did my best to kill myself on every movement I did. Squat, bench, deadlift, secondary exercises, all the accessories – I went nuts. Meanwhile, Jordan was training as usual at Chad Walker’s garage gym, and I tracked everything he did. I watched all of his training clips & read every training log entry he wrote. I was able to calculate on each lift what Jordan would be able to hit at the meet, and came up with a gameplan to have my best chance at hitting the highest total I could pull off for November in Vegas.
For the deadlift, Jordan seemed like his pull had not become much stronger since hitting 617 at his last meet. Though 600 moved fast for him while he was finishing off his peaking, he seemed to have a tough time locking out heavier weights – even with the use of reverse bands.
I was hedging on the fact that he didn’t seem to have a 650 pull in the books for November. And even if he did, I could pull 606 for a 3rd attempt and prevent him from taking anything beyond 650. If I couldn’t shut him down on the total, I thought – we’d be able to call it even when it came to our deadlift.
After months of training had passed, we were ready. It was finally November, and we both took our flights to Vegas. It was the meet of my life, and I had never been more prepared for a meet. I was fortunate enough to have my coach (and owner of Wild Iron) Marcus Wild show to the meet, along with my teammate Tony Rodgers. Jordan brought along with him his mother, and his grandpa for the trip to Vegas. Jordan’s family members are his biggest supporters at meets. Unlike many others (such as my own family), they do their best to attend every meet he did and love watching him lift on the platform. Unfortunately, his grandmother had lost her battle with cancer earlier in the year, and I remember Jordan mentioning that she was always there for his meets as well. I could tell that Jordan was very close with his family, and that the loss was a big blow to everyone. In hindsight, I believe that Jordan was motivated to succeed largely due to this. For IPL Worlds, he decided to wear John Cena’s “Rise Above Cancer” shirt which tributes towards donating to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research & outreach. To this day, Jordan competes wearing a tribute to funding cancer research & promoting donations towards breast cancer prevention.
Meet day. Both Jordan and I made weight for the 242 pound weight class the day prior. We each showed up a couple hours early to the venue, before anyone else. I had strained my hip flexors while training for the meet, and took the extra time to stretch out & have adequate time to warm up. Jordan needed extra time to stretch out and warm up as well. Being inside the IPL venue, I was motivated like never before, and nothing could stop me from performing my best in a Worlds venue.
It was finally time to squat and get on the platform after months of training & hard work. While warming up, I felt amazing. 225 felt like nothing. 315 was like an empty bar on my back. My final warm-up was 405, as I would be opening with 485 using wraps. 405 flew up like nothing, and I felt great before stepping into my opener. My 485 opener was smoked. 518 was a little slower but still easy. I took 540 as my last squat, and it came up faster than 485 did. I left a few pounds that day, but was very happy with what I got for the squat as it was a big PR for me.
Jordan had somewhat of a shaky start – literally. He opened big with a 661 pound squat, but for some reason lost his stability and missed the opener. Fortunately, he was able to regain his composure and got it for a 2nd attempt. He took 705 for a 3rd attempt, and squatted it up with moderate effort for 3 white lights.
He was 165 pounds ahead of me, so far.
Bench went as planned for me – sort of. I opened with 351, which was easy. 369 was my 2nd attempt, which was tougher but I got it and matched my PR at 255. For my last attempt, I took 385. It felt only somewhat heavy on the way down, but while pressing off my chest I strained my pec – no lift. Jordan’s turn. He opens with 418, and gets it easily. 2nd attempt is 451, and hits the lift without too much trouble. For the last attempt, he goes for a 3rd bench but misses – just not the day for it.
Jordan’s subtotal was 1,157. Mine was 879. Now he was 278 pounds ahead, and I had to try and close the gap on the deadlift.
Warming up on the deadlift, everything flew up and I felt to be in supreme condition. No signs of fatigue or weariness. No excuses for coming up short on the lift that I best prepared for. 540 opener – easy. 584 deadlift – also easy. My 3rd attempt, and also my first time going past the 600 deadlift barrier – a 606 deadlift. It was somewhat of a slow lift and I almost hitched it, but was able to lock it out cleanly. I was very happy with this, going 8 for 9 and reaching a new PR total of 1,515 pounds at 242. It was Jordan’s turn to perform all 3 deadlifts within his flight.
Starting off with a 595 pull, Jordan smokes the weight. Taking 644 for a 2nd attempt, the bar moves a bit slower than his opener but looks easy. At this point, Jordan needed to pull 666 pounds in order to not only total over 300 pounds more than me, but take the deadlift bet as well. I was certain that he couldn’t get 666 – he could barely pull 644 with reverse bands in training, and had actually failed 650 three weeks out when his grip failed in a session. Being confident with what I thought was a sure win, I sat down next to his Mom in the front row and watched his final pull.
666 pounds – moved up without too much trouble and got 3 white lights. Jordan was able to do it.
With a total of 1,824 pounds and having lifted more than 50 pounds on the deadlift versus me, I owed him $1,000. It all came down to the last lift, and he got it. Despite the fact that he stumbled his squat opener – despite dealing with some cramping issues, and getting fatigued from the artificial air pumped into the room’s venue. Jordan had the mental toughness to withstand giving into all those excuses and not only attempted a big PR for the win, but he managed to achieve it. How many other people would have gone for 666 pounds on a 3rd attempt, after failing 650 three weeks out? Only someone who has the attitude & mindset of a winner, and Jordan was the winner for the meet.
Time to pay up!
It was raining 100s, 20s and 5s. Well….kind of. I had only brought about $600 or so with me, as I thought that I’d win for sure (and I had the other $400 readily available to send via PayPal). Realizing I needed some leftover money for a taxi fare and other expenses, I asked him if I could pay him $500 on the spot and the remaining $500 right after we returned home. Jordan was nice enough to let me have some spending money left Along with winning the bet, there was actually a $1,000 prize to the best Junior lifter of the entire meet – and his total narrowly edged Luigi Fagiani’s in the process. It turned out that Jordan figured the final deadlift number necessary to not only beat my bet, but also beat Luigi for best Junior lifter of the meet. He came out $2,000 richer, and with a big PR on his deadlift.
After the meet, I watched him and my coach gamble at Blackjack later into the night and lose a few hundred within 20 minutes. Oh well.
Even though I ended up losing a whole $1k I honestly wasn’t mad about the loss at all. I hit PRs all across the board and was happy with my meet performance. Also, more importantly – if there was someone who I’d lose $1,000 to, I’m glad it was Jordan who got the money.
Our meet performances at 2013 IPL Worlds: