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DECATUR — Until someone else challenges him for the title, Josiah Wilder will be known as the strongest man at the Decatur Family YMCA. 

The 33-year-old Decatur resident lifted the most weight during the YMCA's inaugural Strongman Showdown on Wednesday, which invited the facility's male members to face off against each other in a bench press competition. 

With a trophy in hand, Wilder said he was somewhat disappointed, despite his victory. His final weight of 475 pounds was short of his 490-pound goal, but he knows what he's got to do in order to reach it. 

"I don't think I can hit the gym more. I'm here at least five times a week," Wilder said. "But probably the approach will be just not doubting myself. That's it."

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Andrew Scholl prepares before his lift Wednesday during the Decatur Family YMCA's Strongman Showdown. 

YMCA Membership Director Abby Helm said about 35 people were registered to compete in the event. The participants were split into five age groups and given three attempts to successfully lift the weight of their choice. The winners of each age group were given trophies, and the man who lifted the most weight out of the group was given a bigger trophy and the "Strongest Man" title, she said. 

Just after earning the top prize for the 15 to 19 age group, Ben Young, 19, said he didn't expect to win anything on Wednesday. He said he just wanted to see what he was capable of and wanted to use the opportunity to push himself to do his best.

Young said his approach to lifting his weights was to "feel the music" playing through his headphones. Coincidentally, he said he was listening to "Heavy," by the band Shinedown, as he lifted. 

"I've always trained with music, it always helps me get through (a workout)," Young said. "Especially after a long work day when I'm already tired."

Matt Whitehead, CEO of the Decatur Family YMCA, said he and his staff thought the competition would be a great way to showcase the hard work that the YMCA's male members were putting in at the weight room. 

"It takes a lot of dedication to get where you're benching 300 pounds," he said. "I admire these guys for the time that they've put in."

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Leland Thomas, 23, bench presses Wednesday during the Decatur Family YMCA's  Strongman Showdown. More than 30 males competed in five different age groups. The event was in part of National Men's Health Week. Go to to see more photos from the event.

Whitehead said it was also an opportunity to observe National Men's Health Week, which is celebrated during the week leading into Father's Day. Other events that the YMCA has sponsored for the week include complimentary health assessments today and blood pressure screenings on Friday. 

Helm said the YMCA typically offers events for National Women's Health Week, which is held in May, but has never really done much to recognize its male counterpart in previous years. That changed this time around, she said. 

"I feel like men are kind of that strong persona, they don't want to admit when they need to get their health checked or get their health looked at," Helm said.

"...We're really just trying to promote healthy, active lifestyles all around," she said. 

Whitehead said he and the YMCA's staff were surprised at how many members signed up to participate for the inaugural competition. Looking toward the years to come, he hopes the event will become an annual staple at the facility. 

Robert Taylor, who won the trophy for the 51 and up age division, said the key for anyone who wants to give a competition like the Strongman Showdown a chance one day is to take it one step at a time. 

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Cortez Anderson, left and Ashton Feller competed Wednesday during the Decatur Family YMCA during the strong man bench press competition. More than 30 males competed in five different age groups. The event was in part of National Men's Health Week. Go to to see more photos from the event.

"Just come in and do what you can do," said Taylor, 53. "Don't try to be Superman, just do what you can do."

Contact Jaylyn Cook at (217) 421-7980. Follow him on Twitter: @jaylyn_HR


Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for the Herald & Review.

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