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Lamar Gant’s Scoliosis Story

Lamar Gant – World Record Powerlifter


There’s a common misconception that scoliosis is caused by weakness. That if the person merely worked out or strengthened this “weaker” side of the body their scoliosis would disappear. This is simply not true for idiopathic scoliosis and demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of the condition. Though the exact cause of idiopathic scoliosis is still unknown, we do know one thing, idiopathic scoliosis is not caused by muscle weakness.

Another mistaken belief (and the reason we write these articles about famous people with scoliosis) is that a diagnosis of scoliosis means your life is over. That you can no longer dance, swim or do the things you love. Case in point: Lamar Gant the American world record-holding powerlifter with idiopathic scoliosis.

lamar-gant-idiopathic-scoliosisIn 1974 Gant (at only 17 years old and weighing only 123 pounds (56 kg)) set his first world record by deadlifting 524.5 pounds (238 kg). In 1980 he was inducted into the International Powerlifting Federation Hall of Fame. In 1985, he became the first person to deadlift five times their own body weight by lifting 661 pounds (300 kg) at a bodyweight of only 132 pounds (60 kg). He still holds the world records for deadlifting in the 123 and 132 pound weight classes and there has yet to be another person able to lift 5 times their own body weight.

Here’s old video footage of one of his record attempts:

Lamar’s scoliosis was first diagnosed at age 14 during a football physical. Since both his mother and maternal grandmother had scoliosis and he was pain free (common with AIS) he received no scoliosis treatment and continued to participate in sports and began weight lifting as well. Nine years later in 1980 he was examined again and recommended for scoliosis surgery, however, this would have stopped Grant from weight-lifting for 2 years so he decided to forgo it.

Other Athletes with Scoliosis

Sources [1,2]