In fact, it was for this very reason that Olympia show coordinator extraordinaire, Robin Chang, called me after Johnnie Jackson appeared on an episode of Heavy Muscle Radio and asked if I thought these two guys would seriously consider foregoing bodybuilding at the Olympia and, instead, power-lift. Of course they would; if you pay them! Well, it didn't take Robin long to coordinate the effort with the Weider offices, and before you knew it an announcement was made on FlexOnline.com that the event was officially added to the 2009 Olympia program. Prize money for the winner is $10,000 and $2,000 for the runner up! Props to Robin and the Weider/AMI gang for realizing the incredible impact this event will have on our sport.
The event will be comprised of two lifts- bench press and deadlift. The total of the two lifts will determine the winner. And you all better bring your calculators because these two guys can really rack up the poundages. Johnnie Jackson is a world record-holding deadlifter with an 855lb deadlift in his weight class! "I never use straps," Johnnie said, "ever never; just a singlet or shorts and a tank-top."
What do you think of Ben White's comment, "Johnnie is going to be known as the ‘2nd strongest bodybuilder in the world'?"
Johnnie cracked up. "This guy must have been living in a closet. I'm totally not worried. I've lifted against so many great lifters over my career. I actually accepted this challenge because I felt sorry for him. I figure the only way this guy is going to reach the Olympia is by me accepting this challenge."
"Will you miss the bodybuilding part of the show?"
"Not really," Johnnie replied. "I actually enjoy powerlifting meets. People think I'm strong because I say so. But it's the world records that do the talking."
And he's got the hardware to back up the talk. Just a few of the trophies on Johnnie's mantle include the USPF National's world record in 2008 where he beat the old record that was held for 10 years with his opening lift of 768 pounds! At the WPO qualifier Johnny totaled 2,127 pounds-- 810 Deadlift, 826 Squat, and 540 bench. At the Ronnie Coleman classic in 2005 Johnny pulled 755 for three reps after he guest-posed. He just walked right off stage and ripped it off for 3 reps. More remarkably, at 218 pounds, Johnny smashed the INSA world record in the 220 pound class with an 814 pound pull three weeks before he won the NPC Bodybuilding Nationals and turned pro!
"What do you think you will pull at the Olympia?" I asked.
"I'm focusing on the Tampa and Europa right now," Johnny replied, "but I'm predicting a 600 pound bench and I'm going for a world record 900 pound deadlift depending on how much I weigh."
And who would you like to see emcee this event?
Johnny replied, "I think having Dave and you emcee the event is an awesome idea! You guys have been the ones who have been talking about it and talking about it and now finally someone is listening. You guys would make it real!"
When I asked Ben the same question he simply stated, "Who else but you and Dave?"
Ben also says, "I'm ready to collect that paycheck at the Olympia!"
With a 711 pound equipped and 645 pound raw bench. Johnny might think twice. Ben says, "I'm shooting for 700 at the Olympia. That's very close to the world record depending on how much I weigh. Johnny ought to check out the YouTube video of me banging out 505 for 9 reps raw. You got that Johnny? That's on YouTube; you need to watch it!"
And the rest of you need to watch this event. This will be, as Ben White says, ". . .the most incredible and most talked about event in the history of bodybuilding."