Charles King is one of three powerlifters making up the American team at the IBSA World Games in Seoul, scheduled to formally get underway in 6 days.
King is able to go to Seoul in part because of a US$3,500 (€3,260) donation from The Challenged Athletes Foundation. He currently holds world records in his age class in all three of the vision impaired powerlifting lifts. The Philadelphia based lifter trains at the Fairmount Park Carriage House’s gym and the gym at Philadelphia Community College.
In 2012, he was part of the United States team at the 1st IBSA Pan-American Powerlifting Championships, where the USA men’s team took home bronze. At the 10th Annual IBSA World Bench Press Championships in 2012 in Orlando, King finished fifth in his class with 77.316 Wilks Points. At the 10th Annual IBSA World Powerlifting Championships, he finished first and set deadlift record for M3A age group. In the Open group, he finished fourth. At the 2013 Raw Nationals, he finished first in the M3A class. He repeated this victory at last year’s edition of the event.
King took up powerlifting after a series of major health problems, including prostate cancer, arthritis, depression and diabetes. In 1997, at the age of 48, he started attending Philadelphia Community College after going through addiction rehab and several months of extensive training to assist in learning how to live better with a vision impairment. While at the college, he started lifting as a way of coping with the new life he had built for himself. He got assistance from staff to move from machine to machine in the gym. The prostate cancer diagnosis in 2005 took him away from serious training for about a year.
Around 2008, King decided he wanted to get back into the sport again, and was referred by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to a program run by the United States Association for Blind Athletes. In July 2008, he participated in the USABA Adaptive Sports Camp for Veterans where he was first introduced to organized blind sport. In February 2009, he started actively training under Joe Braca at Braca’s Underground Gym in Flourtown, Pennsylvania. Braca had little experience training a vision impaired lifter, but the two managed to develop a system that saw King perfect his form in six months.
King is a United States Veteran. He has an associate degree in social gerontology and a certificate in mental health services. He started losing his vision in 1989 at the age of 39 as a result of Glaucoma. By the age of 48, he was totally blind. He is also a diabetic, and prostate cancer survivor. The 5 foot 9 King battled with drug addiction, homelessness during the early and mid 1990s.
Visually impaired powerlifting differs from weightlifting in that it has three lifts instead of two: the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.
The powerlifting competition gets formally underway at the IBSA World Games on May 11 and runs until May 13 at the Woori Art Hall in Seoul’s Olympic Park. Athletes are scheduled to be able to start training at the facility as of May 8, two days before the start of the opening ceremony.
Around 6,000 athletes from 80 different countries are expected to participate in the 2015 World Gams. They will be participating in nine different sports including athletics, chess, 5-a-side football, goalball, judo, powerlifting, showdown, swimming and ten-pin bowling. The competition is part of the 2016 Summer Paralympic qualifying program for athletics, swimming and judo where competitors can get qualifying points or meet Minimum Qualifying Standards. For goalball, there are qualification spots available for Rio. The United States is not sending teams as the men’s and women’s teams already qualified at last year’s IBSA Goalball World Championships.