Murden aims for another powerlifting title in Las Vegas
By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- Stevie Murden is back in Las Vegas, looking to hit the jackpot once more.
The 25-year-old Woodstock resident has no plans to hit the blackjack tables or slots at the Riviera Hotel and Casino -- Murden is aiming to bring home his second world championship in powerlifting in as many years.
Murden, who won his weight class at last year's 100% RAW Powerlifting Federation World Championships last year, will try to duplicate that feat on Oct. 6 when he takes on the best unassisted powerlifters in the world. He'll also be doing it a bit lighter this year.
"After I came back from Worlds last year, I went on a diet and shed body fat," said Murden, who competes as a 275-pounder. "I got down to 240, 245. After I got off my diet, I thought I was going to go back up but I only gained back about 15 pounds to 260."
With that year of experience already under his belt, Murden is confident heading back to Las Vegas for this weekend's competition. He's well ahead of his combined weight total from last year and expects to be at his best.
"You just go in there and do your thing, and then just go from there," Murden said.
Raw Powerlifting, as opposed to the more established assisted powerlifting, prohibits the use of support equipment such as lifting suits, bench shirts or even gloves. Raw powerlifting is also a completely drug-free, all-natural form of competition.
"It's the lifter, not technology," Murden said.
Murden first got interested in weightlifting while still at Central High School. A football player and wrestler at Central, Murden kept lifting even after he got out of school. He started out competing in assisted powerlifting in 2007, but at the suggestion of fellow lifter Jared Sine he tried a raw powerlifting competition a few years ago and found it was just right.
Murden is coached by Roy Marshall, who runs The Gym in Woodstock, and said Marshall has helped him quickly develop in the sport.
"Roy's been a big help," Murden said. "He saw that I had potential, with the right training."
Marshall said Murden is a natural, but also makes the most of his ability through discipline and dedication to his training.
"He's so coachable, so teachable, so respectful," Marshall said. "And he has a determination never to quit. He's always positive, even in the midst of failure. He never finishes in defeat because he always believes that the next lift will be the one he's always been looking for. And when it's not, he's all right with it. He goes on and he just looks for the next one. It's amazing."
Last year, Murden wasn't sure what to expect when he faced off against 15 of the top raw powerlifters around. He wasn't expecting to win, that's for certain.
"It feels awesome," Murden said. "I was very surprised because it was my first time there and I thought I might get nerves, but I didn't.
"It was great. Lot of good people, camaraderie, lifters -- it was just a great competition."
There is no prize money involved in the world championships, although Murden did receive a championship ring inscribed with his name and accomplishment last year. The costs associated with competing can be daunting, but Murden has gotten some financial support from businesses throughout the community. His biggest sponsor is Mark Morrison, who owns Captain Billy's Seafood in Woodstock.
Murden is working toward earning full professional status as a powerlifter, which would help to defray some costs. Until then, he'll travel light. For the Las Vegas trip, he was accompanied by his parents Tom and Patty Murden.
Patty Murden is confident her son can bring home another title this weekend. Even if that doesn't happen, though, he's hooked on powerlifting.
"It just amazes me, what he can do," Patty Murden said. "I think he finally found his calling."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>. Follow on Twitter @J_NationsNVD