In the powerlifting community, there aren’t many athletes who have had to overcome the same obstacles as bench-pressing behemoth Julius Maddox.
The Kentuckyian set two bench world records in 2019, including a 744-pound raw bench press—meaning he didn’t use any gear other than wrist wraps. But to get his name into the record books, the 32-year-old had to first free himself from the grips of depression and addiction. “Opioids and benzoids like Xanax and things like that,” were Maddox’s drugs of choice.
“I wasn’t just your average user. I would take it to the extreme,” Maddox says. “I lived the lifestyle of taking prescription pills and actually on the other side of it, too—trafficking drugs and pills. So it’s been a long journey to get to where I’m at today.”
For Maddox, hitting the weights wasn’t just an escape from drug addiction and depression—lifting became his means of survival. One day, following a recovery program session, Maddox, who has been powerlifting only for a little over seven years put his strength to the test in a dungeon-like basement gym with nothing but dirt for a floor. He and his workout partners put all the weight they could on the bar, and he pressed it for two.
“We added the weight up afterward, and it ended up being 525 pounds,” Maddox says. “The guys were like, ‘You realize that nobody is doing this type of weight like this.’ So it got me fixated on C.T. Fletcher and things like that. And I started watching those things, and I’m like, ‘I think I can get there.’”
Today, Maddox, gets his endorphin rush by lifting heavy weights. When he’s not setting world records, Maddox is aiding kids in his community, helping them veer away from doing drugs like he did in his younger days and preaching the merits of physical fitness.
“If I can change one person or inspire one person to live a different life, then I’m fulfilling my purpose,” he says.
As for the future, Maddox has his sights set on breaking his own record, yet again.
“I want to do something that no man in the history of the world has done,” he says. “I will be the first man on earth to ever bench-press 800 pounds raw.” He has the opportunity, and this time there’s nothing standing in his way. “I got a second chance at life, so I’m not going to waste it this time,” Maddox says. “I’m going to take full advantage.”