By Sandra Birungi
91 year old Sy Perlis set the world record in weight lifting.
Perlis set the world record for his age group by lifting 187.5 pounds on the bench, 50 pounds more than the previous record which was set in 2005. During a national competition, National Push-Pull Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships last weekend in Phoenix, the 91 year old was the lone participant in the 90-year-old and over division according to the officials. “He’s pretty amazing, there’s no doubt about it,” said Gus Rethwisch, president of the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters, who witnessed Perlis’ record lift. “He looks like he could be in his 70s. He’s in great shape.”
A World War II veteran, Perlis started weight lifting aged 60 and dominated the 85-to-90 age group before transitioning into the 90-and-over class. Last year, he had to sit out after surgery to fix a hernia and implant a pacemaker. Today, he works out five days a week. “It gave me the opportunity to do something to test myself for one thing, and I didn’t have to run around to do it, as you would in some other sports,” Perlis said. “I got a lot of satisfaction out of it, and it made me feel good, and it was good for me.”
His work outs have also motivated his wife, 69 year old Joan Perlis. “I always say if it weren’t for my husband, I’d be at home watching TV and eating bonbons. He’s my motivator. He makes me work out, too.”
Perlis also won world titles in 2010 and 2011 in the 85-year-old to 89-year-old division.