RUMFORD — Richard “Dick” G. Austin, 81, has won every powerlifting competition he’s entered in his 68-year career.

The Rumford native, who retired after working 40 years for the local paper mill, has also set many world and national records that have yet to be broken.

“I’ve had the pleasure of never placing lower than first place, so I don’t know what second place is,” Austin said Thursday afternoon at his home in the Smith Crossing neighborhood off Route 108.

“At one contest in Saco, I broke 11 world records in a row, so everything I did was a record,” he said. “That’s never been done.”

In 1999, the Korean War veteran with the 82nd Airborne Division was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. Ten years later, he was inducted into the Rumford Wall of Fame.

In November, Austin will compete in the 220-pound class, Master Division (ages 80-84) for bench press and dead lift in the World Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships at Bally’s/Paris Resort Hotel in Las Vegas.

Going for his eighth world title, he expects to set a new world record with his first of four attempts in each competition.

“I’ll continue to go as far as I can as long as I’m breaking records,” he said. “Sure, why not? I’ve won every contest in my life, so I’ve got to keep it going for this. Who knows, I might meet the dark horse in Vegas this time, but at this point in time, I’ve never heard of one — a guy my age who can do what I’m doing. There’s nothing on record.”

Austin, who bench presses more than 325 pounds, will also be inducted into the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters Hall of Fame.

“This is my last hurrah,” he said. “I guess they’re being kind to me because I’m so damn old.”

Austin said he can bench press 350 to 450 pounds now and probably do the same in the dead lift.

“There are a lot of guys half my age who would love to bench that much,” he said.

His secret, he said, is “consistency in your training, having the right kind of mindset and motivation, and stay away from alcohol, tobacco and drugs.”

“I am Mr. Clean,” Austin said. “That’s the reason why at 81 and a half I’m still doing it and doing pretty good at it, but I do it for pleasure. I do it because I enjoy it.”

His living room is full of heavy trophies and medals, and every wall in his weightlifting gym above his garage is lined with trophies and certificates from world and national competitions.

“The trophies and the hoopla and all that stuff is good, but that isn’t what motivates me,” he said. “What motivates me is being strong and training. I love it. I love to go out there and train; the harder the better.”

He no longer does squats, so a typical training session focuses on his legs, upper body and lower back for his dead lift.

At age 74, he said he bench pressed 456 pounds, and his best dead lift was 540 pounds 40 years ago.

“I’m a good bencher, but I’m a lousy dead lifter,” Austin said.

He trains two hours each on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays with weightlifting partner John Westleigh of Norway, a car salesman with Lee Auto Mall in Auburn.

“It’s one of those things that you bring along slowly,” Austin said of trainings. “You don’t go out there and bust your you-know-what every day. You don’t do it. That doesn’t make you strong. That’s over-training.”

So, a man used to doing things slowly was shocked when he learned a few days ago that his children are throwing a fundraiser benefit for him from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at 49 Franklin.

It will include raffles, auctions for valuable prizes, music and a comedic roast of Austin to raise money for his trip.

“I was just flabbergasted by what’s going on, and, my God, the money that’s coming in,” he said. “One guy sent me $1,000! One guy gave me $500! My lawyer friend, Jim Martemucci, just called me and he’s sending a check, and oh my God, it just goes on and on.”

When Austin asked his children why they were doing the fundraiser, he said they simply told him, “Dad, you’re worth it. You’ve earned it.”

[email protected]

What: Benefit for powerlifter Dick Austin of Rumford

When: Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13

Where: 49 Franklin in Rumford

Featuring: Raffles, auctions for valuable prizes, music and a comedic roast of Austin


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