Cox pressing his way to the top

Imagine lying down, flat on your back, inside a cage at the zoo. Then, a 330-pound panda bear walks up to you and sits down on your chest?
What do you do?
If you’re former Adrian resident Ron Cox, you lift the panda bear off of yourself, get up and walk away.
Cox, 51, who now resides in Houston, Texas, competed in the International Powerlifting League’s World Powerlifting, Benchpress and Deadlifting Championships from Nov. 9-12 at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas.
He placed first among the 242-pound Master Weight Class for men 50-years and older by benchpressing 330.69 pounds. Among all benchpressing weight classes, Cox finished third.
An average panda bear weighs about 330 pounds.
Cox — a 1979 graduate of Adrian High School and the captain of the 1980 Worthington Community College football team —qualified for the 2012 IPL World Championships last year. He won his age and weight classes at the U.S.A. Powerlifting League’s events at the state (Texas) and national levels before placing second at the IPL World Championships.
Cox said he became interested in powerlifting through two former WCC football coaches, the late Don Varpness and Ty Wacker.
“It was because of my experiences at Worthington Community College and Huron, S.D., College,” Cox said. “It’s all about what you put in to something. I also feel Don and Ty were two of the best football coaches Minnesota has ever seen.”
Cox explained the format for benchpressing at high-level events.
“In those tournaments, they used paused lifts (the weight must stay down to your chest for 3 to 5 seconds),” Cox said. “I like to lift raw, which means that I don’t like to use a shirt, which can increase your ability to benchpress about 30 to 40 percent.”
Cox, who retired in 2002 after serving 22 years in the U.S. Army, has spent the last 33 years grinding and pounding a variety of weight machines, usually out in his garage.
“In the Army, especially as an officer, everyone takes an oath to never lie, cheat or steal,” Cox said. “That’s why I never had any interest to become associated with the guys who took steroids to get ahead. Plus, I could always see which guys were taking them.”
Along the way, he has made strong friendships with world champion powerlifter Brad Gillingham, of Marshall, and now retired world champion armwrestler Richard Lupkes, of Rushmore, who Cox said he has known his whole life.
“Those guys are in a different tier. They are super heavyweights. I’m more of a 242 (weight class) kind of guy,” Cox said.
Cox is proud to be a Minnesota strongman.
“They say that most of the strongest men come from the coasts,” Cox said. “I beg to differ with those people. I think some of the strongest guys in the world come from Minnesota.”
Today, Ron Cox is a car salesman for a Chrysler dealership in the Houston area owned by former Houston Oilers wide receiver Mac Haik.
Ron, the son of Marie and the late William Cox, is the brother of Bill and Jeff Cox. Marie currently resides in Worthington.

Submitted Photo
Brad Gillingham (left) with Ron Cox in Las Vegas.