INTERVIEW WITH STRONGMAN COMPETITOR
By CURTIS DENNIS JR.
There are countless competitors in strongman and few of them get mentioned a lot. Ken Brown is one of the strongman who deserves mention. Ken Brown has been around the sport for a long while gaining experience. You might have seen him. He competed in the America's Strongest Man competition back a few years. He did pretty good in that contest. Also like any other strongman competitor, Ken Brown has a powerlifting background which is the key to making him a champion in the future. Ken Brown is also one of my favorites in the strongman arena and today I want to introduce him to your guys. Enjoy!!
Curtis Dennis: Thanks for a chance to interview you, Ken. Please give the readers a description of yourself?
Ken Brown: I am 6’ 1” tall and weigh 300 pounds. I am originally from Potter Valley, which is a small town in northern California with a population of about 1,500 people. I grew up on a cattle ranch. I now reside in Fresno, California. I manage the real estate appraisal department for a national agricultural lending institution and I am also a cattle rancher.
CD: How long have you been into powerlifting and strongman?
KB: I started training with weights in 1978 in order to add size and strength for football. I started competing in powerlifting in 1986 and competed in my first strongman contest in 1997.
CD: Have you always been strong?
KB: I was always pretty strong as a result of hauling hay, building fence, changing sprinkler pipes and all of the other work that comes with growing up on a ranch.
CD: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into powerlifting?
KB: I started training with weights to add size and strength for football. I continued to play football in high school and into college but it wasn’t long after I started that lifting became my primary focus. I trained on more of a bodybuilding routine for the first couple of years of my training, but I realized that I had natural ability in the bench press and deadlift and a physique better suited to powerlifting.
CD: What are your strength stats currently?
KB: My best lifts in competition are 865 pound squat, 640 pound bench press and 804 pound deadlift. These lifts were done with single ply squat suit, single ply bench press shirt and no deadlift suit. My best lifts in the gym are 870 pound squat, 655 pound bench press and 840 pound deadlift.
CD: What was your best lift out of the three?
KB: Early in my career it was the bench press but more recently the deadlift has been my best lift. I have good leverages for deadlifting but I primarily competed in bench press competitions during my powerlifting career and rarely trained deadlifts. After suffering a couple of shoulder injuries in 1995 and 1996 I started to focus more on deadlift training.
CD: How do you think you stack up against other strongmen?
KB: As far as static strength is concerned, I think I compare favorably with the best strongmen in the world. However, there is much more to strongman competition than static strength.
CD: They say tall lifters have long arms. How do you compensate for having long arms?
KB: My arms are not particularly long or short for my stature. I think this is why I have been able to put up reasonably good numbers in both the bench press and deadlift.
CD: Do you believe with the arrival of professional power lifting, that power lifting is moving in the right direction?
KB: It takes a great deal of dedication, hard work and sacrifice to excel in the sport and I definitely think that it is about time the top powerlifters get paid for their efforts.
CD: I've always preach about having training partners. Do you have any training partners?
KB: Training partners can be invaluable for motivation, inspiration and evaluating technique. There are no competitive strongmen in my immediate area so, unfortunately, I have had to train strongman events on my own. I have had some great lifting partners over the years, including my brothers Dave and Don. My current training partner is Mike Connors. Mike is a powerlifter. He is 6’ 2” and weighs 330 pounds. Mike has been lifting with me for nine years and he has played a huge roll in my success over that time period.
CD: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a powerlifter/strongman?
KB: When I first started lifting weights I was inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mike Webster (center for the Pittsburgh Steelers). As my attention turned to powerlifting I looked up to Bill Kazmaier and Ted Arcidi. I have had the good fortune to meet and visit with Bill and Ted and both were very helpful and inspirational. I also have a great deal of admiration for Gerritt Badenhorst both as a powerlifter and a strongman.
CD: What are your thoughts on the passing of Johnny Perry?
KB: I only knew Johnny on a professional level having competed against him and also with him as a teammate in a couple of team competitions. He was such a nice person, I never heard him say a negative thing about anyone. He was so big and strong and he was just beginning to realize his potential in the sport of strongman.
CD: How does it feel to have the record in the Silver Dollar Deadlift?
KB: It was a great feeling, especially considering that Bill Kazmaier and Ernie Hackett held the previous record for twenty years and also considering some of the other great deadlifters that have competed in strongman over the years such as Kazmeier, Hackett, Gerritt Badenhorst, O.D. Wilson, Don Reinhoudt, Youko Ahola and Mark Phillipi.
CD: What other records do you have currently?
KB: I hold the world record in the strict curl at 235 pounds and a state record in the bench press at 640 pounds.
CD: What was one of the challenges of coming up as a powerlifter/strongman?
KB: I have never had a coach in either sport. Everything I have learned has been from reading, observing and experimenting.
CD: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter whose just starting out in powerlifting?
KB: Think about the long term. Build a solid base of strength and work on proper technique in all of the lifts.
CD: Do you believe in combining powerlifting and bodybuilding?
KB: I think it is beneficial for powerlifters to incorporate bodybuilding into their routine and I also believe that it is beneficial for bodybuilders to incorporate some powerlifting into their offseason training.
CD: What are your workouts like? How are they setup?
KB: I train chest and shoulders on Mondays, legs on Tuesday, arms on Thursday and deadlift and back on Fridays. During the strongman season I also train strongman events on Wednesday and Saturday.
CD: Do you train equally as hard as a powerlifter as you do strongman?
KB: The intensity is the same but the workload increases considerably for strongman training to include event training and cardio work.
CD: I talk to people all the time about how to get a big bench. What would you suggest to someone on how to get a big bench?
KB: The best ways to increase your bench press are to increase your body weight, learn proper power benching technique and cycle your bench press training.
CD: Do you have any media(videos, books, etc.)coming out?
CD: What next for you Ken as a strongman competitor?
KB: I have not yet decided on my schedule for 2003. I had some injury problems with my knees and my back that plagued me throughout the 2002 season. I have spent the last six months focusing on getting healthy and I am just starting to train heavy again. I may not compete until later in the season.
CD: Where can people contact you?
KB: I can be contacted through my website at www.kenbrownusa.com
CD: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. You are one of my favorites in the strongman arena and I wish you luck in the sport.
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