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Gary Cleveland.jpg

Gary Cleveland


Cleveland became interested in weightlifting at the age of 13. He won the Junior National Championships in 1960, two Senior National Championships in 1964 and 1965, and a Pan American Championships. He qualified and lifted in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 where he clean and pressed 152.5 kg, snatched 135 kg, and clean and jerked 167.5 kg for a total of 455 and fifth place overall. Gary was also a graduate of the University of Minnesota in 1966 where he trained at the university weight room along with studying for his degree.

Ken Patera.jpg

Ken Patera


Patera was the first American to clean and jerk 500 pounds. He started lifting weights in high school and took the sport of Weightlifting seriously in 1969 and won the Junior National Championships. He qualified for the Olympic Games and competed in 1972 in Munich, Germany. Patera's best lifts were 175.3 kilogram snatch (386.5 pounds), 229.3 kilogram clean and press (505.5 pounds) and a 229.3 kilogram clean and jerk (505.5 pounds)

Brian Derwin.jpg

Brian Derwin


Pictured above is Brian clean and jerking 207.5 kilograms (456.5 pounds) at the 1980 Olympic Trials where he qualified for the Olympic Games and also won Best Lifter. Brian competed in the 100 kilogram weight class and traveled around the world competing in New Zealand, Australia, USSR, East Germany, and China. His best lifts were a 155 kilogram (341 pounds) snatch, 207.5 kilogram clean and jerk and a total of 362.5 kilograms. Brian has continued his weightlifting passion through coaching since 1985 helping his lifters train and compete at local, national, and international competitions. When coaching, Brian adheres to the adage, "If you have seen one athlete, you have seen one athlete." Each athlete is different in many ways but what is most important is that they show up for training and work hard.


Luke Klaja


Luke competed from 1970-1984. He started at 181 pounds and moved through 198 and eventually up to 220 pounds. He was a National YMCA Champion in 1975 and National Collegiate Champion in 1976. Pictured above is Luke clean and jerking 190 kilograms (418 pounds) at the 1980 Olympic Trials where he also snatched 137.5 kilograms (302.5 pounds) for a total of 327.5 kilograms! This total was high enough to qualify him for the 1980 Olympics which the United States ultimately chose to boycott for political reasons with the host country, the USSR. Luke continued competing and took the silver medal at Master's World in 1998 with a 110 kg snatch and 145 kg clean and jerk in the 45-49 age group.


Charles grew up in Kampala, Uganda and began weightlifting at age 12. Mistakenly believing he was getting into bodybuilding, Charles’ only goal at the time was to be stronger than the other kids in his neighborhood. Within just two years, however, he was competing on the international platform at the
2008 Youth Commonwealth Games in India in the 62kg class. Over the next three years, major accomplishments included earning silver medal at the 2010 African Championships, earning gold medal at the 2010 Youth African Games, and placing seventh in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. He first came to the US in 2011, when he was invited on a scholarship to train with Team USA at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. One of the proudest moments of his career was being selected as flag bearer for Team Uganda that year. He once again qualified to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but unfortunately administrative complications prevented him from being able to do so. Charles then permanently settled in Minnesota in 2016, where he continued his involvement with the weightlifting community. He went on to make his best performance to date at the 2019 World Championships in Anaheim in the 67kg class. He has plans to return to the international stage at least once more before fully retiring.

Charles Ssekyaaya


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