Raw Unity Powerlifting Championship Grows In Second Year
NEW PORT RICHEY - Last weekend's Raw Unity Powerlifting Championships 2 was, like the sport itself, all about growth.
For its second year the competition, held at the Quality Inn and Suites in New Port Richey, drew more entrants and added spectators. All 200 tickets were snapped up.
There was also a bevy of new champions and a number of broken records, said Eric Talmant, the event's founder.
"For it being in its second year and this being a sort of cult sport, I was pleasantly surprised by not only the turnout, but the competition itself this year," Talmant said.
Talmant, who competes as a lightweight, created Raw Unity Powerlifting Championships last year in an effort to bring together an exceedingly fractured sport. The highly regarded Web site www.powerliftingwatch.com lists 24 different powerlifting federations operating under their own sets of rules in the United States alone.
Instead of catering to a few different federations, Raw Unity tries to attract lifters from as many groups as possible to get them under one roof. They all lift under the same rules and as a result a truer champion is crowned, Talmant believes.
"The aim of the meet is to find the best lifters in the United States and bend over backward for them to bring them to this one meet to truly see who the best in each weight class is," he said. "I'd like to get back to the way it was in the '70s and '80s, which was one national champion, not 30."
Among the sport's big names attracted to this year's event was Tony Conyers. The 51-year-old lightweight has been one of the top powerlifter in his weight class - perhaps even the best - for nearly 20 years, Talmant said.
The meet also more than quadrupled its ranks of female competitors from last year, up to nine from two. A Tampa resident, Taylor Stallings, won the overall women's division.
The future looks promising for Raw Unity, Talmant said. The grassroots effort to expanding the meet's reach will continue, he said.
"Last year, many were standing by to see how it went first before committing anything to it," he said. "This year, a lot of the lifters I went after to bring in decided to come. It exceeded my expectations."
"Once they pass the word, it really spreads like wildfire," Talmant added.
Eric Horchy can be reached at 727-815-1071 or firstname.lastname@example.org