Weightlifter Looks Back on 40-plus Years of Competition

At the age of 71, Mike Cross of Ooltewah looks back upon a career in lifting weights. It includes 8 national titles, 140 First Place Awards and a world record from 1994 that still stands.

Mike Cross, “World Championship, second place, 123 pound class.”

Mike says he got into weight-lifting as a teenager almost by accident.

Mike Cross, “I was invited to the Frye Institute, um, by a sophomore classmate, and when I went there, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I weighed a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet, and a coach there, Rye Bell, he saw me and he started working with me and within two months he had me in a contest. Crazy!”

It’s almost miraculous that Mike is still at it after a near disaster while he was in the army.

Mike Cross, “Me and a fellow was out and um, we were trying out his Shelby Mustang, and we were going a hundred and twenty or thirty miles an hour, and he went out of control in a long, slow curve, we hit a telephone pole, and uh, on my side and it knocked me out and the car landed on top of me upside down.”

His skull was crashed…Mike was in the hospital for weeks….and about dozen surgeries followed. He could barely lift a 5 pound weight.

Mike Cross, “Every day I tried to do a little something, a little something, to gain my weight back and my strength, that was 1971, and in 1972 I entered the world championships in Pennsylvania, came in second, and dead lifted 525.”

Mike Cross warns young people to go slow if they are using weights…some do permanent damage to their bodies.

Mike Cross, “I would suggest somebody that’s just starting out, to strengthen your ligaments, strengthen your tendons and your muscles for two years, before you ever start anything that has to do with cross fit.”

And…his life-long goal…???

Mike Cross, “I’ve enjoyed over the years helping other people, trying to give them the routines that develop strength, and it’s been, it’s meant a lot to me.”

For more stories on active seniors in the Tennessee Valley, visit our Senior Matters page.

Categories: Featured, Hamilton County, Local News, Senior Matters

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