Interview With 100% RAW Presdident Paul Bossi Interviewed by Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com - July 2007
For those of you don't know Paul Bossi he is the President of the 100% RAW Powerlifting Federation. The goal of this federation is to showcase lifters without any "support equipment" and 100% drug free. Their motto is, "100% RAW, Where lifters compete, not technology."
Critical Bench: What's up Paul, thanks for being with us today. Could you tell us a little bit of personal background information about yourself?
Hello Mike, I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts and now reside in Camden, North Carolina. I have been lifting since I was 12 years old. I started lifting to become a better football player and make the NFL but found out I was not big enough or fast enough to play in the league. I played football, wrestled and played baseball in high school and played football in college for Bridgewater State.
After my college days I played 7 years of semi-pro football for the Granite State Warriors of the NMFL & EFL. My 1st powerlifting meet was a small gym in Lowell Massachusetts and I did 305 in the 148lb class. I still have the trophy from that meet in 1984. I have been competing in powerlifting since 1984 for a total of 23 years all drug free.
I am a Physical Education Teacher at Currituck County High School in Barco, North Carolina. There I am an Assistant Football Coach and Head Wrestling Coach and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at the school. I also own Elizabeth City Trophy & Awards, Inc and run 100% RAW Powerlifting Federation.
Critical Bench: What a small world Paul. I went on a football recruiting trip to Bridgewtater State. That was a fun weekend. I'm very familiar with Lowell as well, but lets get the focus back on you here. What position did you play at Bridgewater?
I played outside Linebacker while at Bridgewater Stage. My 7 years with the Granite State Warriors I played Full Back. Nobody on the team knew my real name not even my coaches. My nickname was "TANK " and that's all anyone ever knew.
Critical Bench: 100% RAW was established in 1999. Were you there from the beginning? How did you get started with 100% RAW?
Dr. Spero Tshontikidis was the founder of 100% RAW with me as board member in 1999. I coached a team of 30 lifters in Elizabeth City, NC and brought them to each meet we held. In 2002 Dr. Tshontikidis called me and told me he was going to Iraq with the US Army. He asked me if I wanted to take the position of President of the Federation and keep 100% RAW going. I was honored and accepted the position. Since then we have grown to 28 states and went from 5 meets a year to about 40 meets a year now. Our membership has grown to over 6000 members and 1500 current active members. Now Dr. Tshontikidis is back with the federation as our Vice-President and current Florida State Chairman.
Critical Bench: You have another slogan, "Raw means true power." Take away drugs and equipment and I don't think anyone can argue that the playing field isn't even. How do you feel about federations that don't drug test and allow powerlifting equipment. What do you think is best for our sport?
I think it is good for the lifters to have options. I have certain beliefs and values but I can't make others have my same beliefs. I went through the equipment stage using bench shirts and trying to lift amounts I knew that I could not really lift if it was not for the shirt. But lets face it telling someone you can bench 400lbs sounded better than saying I do 350 if it meant I needed a bench shirt. So as an ego builder for myself yes I enjoyed lifting in Federations where you can use a bench shirt. I like the fact that there are options out there for the lifters to try different types of lifting.
Most Federations are now offering a RAW Division because of the huge interest in RAW POWERLIFTING across the country. All the Major Federations have something unique to offer their lifters. I have lifted in the WNPF for 8 years and really enjoyed their meets, which were very well run. I also lifted in the APA for 6 years and liked those meets also. Other federations I competed in include ADFPA, WPA, CPA, USAPL & Atlantis Foundation over the past 23 years.
I do not condone steroids and typically do not lift in meets that do not Drug Test. I have been fortunate enough to build up my strength to compete with lifters taking illegal chemicals. Every once in a while I will enter a non-tested meet to see how I fare against the non-tested lifters. I have nothing against anyone who lifts with equipment or takes steroids. I respect them like anyone else, and only ask the same in return and not to lift with us in 100% RAW Powerlifting Federation.
Critical Bench: Any chance that you'd consider allowing wrist or knee wraps in the future?
We have voted on this subject a few times and every time it fails to pass. Personally, I really would not mind if it meant that every federation came to a consensus that this would be a universal acceptance in RAW Powerlifting. I don't want to be the broken spoke in the wheel but until all federation become United our rules will not be changing on this subject.
Critical Bench: Powerlifting hasn't grown to the same level as other strength sports such as Strongman. What do you think is the biggest obstacle that needs to be overcome in order to give powerlifting more mainstream popularity if that's even something powerlifters want?
Well 1st of all TV coverage really helps promote the sport and until we can get that we will never grow. We have way too many Federations and as everyone knows strength comes in numbers. So when you have a meet with so many divisions and so few lifters there is not really a lot of competition. It is more of lifters going for personal best unless they enter the Open Division.
Now if we only had 3-4 federations then the meets would be bigger and the competition amongst lifter would be fierce. People want to see competition so we will need to get some TV coverage to improve the sports popularity. A couple of years ago Joe Mukite of Chicago ran a meet called " Bench America" which was on Pay Per View. This was a start of something big but it stopped after 3 years.
Strongman has ESPN running their strongman shows which helps them grow. Also strongman only has 1-2 amateur federations so they get the numbers and fierce competition amongst competitors. I hope one day we will see the same powerlifting have the same success.
100% RAW Promo Vid
Critical Bench: TV exposure would certainly help. How do you feel about the Arnold's decision to replace the WPO with the single ply drug tested USAPL next year?
I wish he replaced it with 100% RAW Powerlifting. I am not so sure the USAPL will draw the numbers the WPO pulled. The WPO's lifters hit numbers that are super human and I think people were draw to that. I wish the USAPL the best of luck but the WPO left some really big shoes to fill. Their lifters put on one heck of a show and that is what the Arnold is all about, a big show. We will find out in March how it goes.
Critical Bench: Paul, you raw bench pressed an incredible world record 530 pounds in the 242 class at the 2006 Worlds. Tell us about this lift and how it felt.
Mike, that was my greatest lift ever! Even though I have done more with a shirt but this was the lift that meant the most to me. It was extra special because this was the 1st time in all of my powerlifting career that my mom came to watch me. My dad has always supported my lifting but this time mom came with dad and it was nice to make them proud.
I had worked very hard for the pervious 5 months coming off a shoulder injury, which kept me sidelined for 6 months. I injured my shoulder wrestling with one of my wrestlers during practice. I don't go too heavy in my workouts so I never really know what my max is until I hit it in competition. I was nervous with my opener of 475 like always. I had my adrenaline flowing and after I hit 500 and 525 I went for 530 on a 4th attempt. I don't know if there was any more in the tank but if I never lift again I will forever be proud of that lift. After that lift I felt like I was on cloud 9. I was happy to do the lift in my hometown where all my athletes were there to witness. I wanted to show them that "success follows hard work".
Critical Bench: I think you showed everyone what hard work can accomplish. What are some of your best gym lifts that you're most proud of?
My best gyms lifts are:
Bench 500lbs x 4 reps
Deadlift 700lbs back in 1992
These weights were not calibrated so I am not so sure how accurate the weight was and there might have been some hitching in the Deadlift and the squat might not have been deep enough for a contest lift. But hey like you said, they are gym lifts.
Critical Bench: Do you take any nutritional supplements?
I do not take any supplements at all. I have 1 protein shake after my workouts 2-3 times a week and that's it. If I am training for a big competition I will take 200 grams of protein per day for 2-3 months before the contest. Now I tried everything GNC sold over the years and nothing ever worked so I stopped trying new things about 7 years ago.
Critical Bench: We published your "Reverse Pyramid Bench Routine". Why do you think this program has worked so well for you? Have you really been using the same routine since 1994?
Yes Mike, I have used this routine since 1994 and it has worked very well for me. When I think about using another routine I look around and nobody in my class is lifting what I do so I must be doing something right. That's when I decide to keep using it. I also like that it's a quick workout. I usually get this routine done in 45 minutes.
Critical Bench: We're looking forward to this year's Nationals in Richmond. For those that want to see pictures from the 2006 Nationals click here. You added the strict curl, what else can lifters expect to see at a 100% RAW event if they haven't participated before?
Well we started Deadlift only records and Bench for Reps where lifters bench their body weight for Reps, touch and go. It is fun and everyone can do it. Sometimes you see a guy who was his division winner lose to a guy who placed 1-2 places below him in the regular bench. We also started something called the REP Challenge. The REP Challenge is where the lifter chooses a predetermined weight to Rep out for the record. We hold records in the REP Challenge and the weight we use are as follows (135, 185, 225, 275, 315, 365, 405, 455, 495). You can view the records at www.rawpowerlifting.com
Critical Bench: Thanks for the interview and we'll see you in Richmond. Is there anyone you'd like to thank or any last words you'd like to say to the Critical Bench readers? Best wishes in all of your future endeavors.
Thank you Mike for this interview.
I want to inform our readers of 2 losses' we recently had in our Powerlifting family. Kinta Mallory my former workout partner and Virgil Smith both 100% RAW members for years were killed in motorcycle accidents in June. I ask you to keep their families in your thoughts and prayers.
I want to thank the following people for all they do. You are only as good as the people that surround you. And the reason why we are doing so well is because we have great people helping us. I hope I don't forget any names.
Dr. Spero Tshontikidis
Jim Roberts Shawn "Bud" Lyte
Will "Chill" Lynch