265kg bench press sets record

Elnez Tofa is hoping to claim the raw bench press world record in April.
Ben Rogers

Elnez Tofa is hoping to claim the raw bench press world record in April.

Champion weightlifter Elnez Tofa built his own bench press out of old railway timber in 1994 but never thought he would one day be on the cusp of becoming a world record holder.

Tofa raw bench pressed 265kg to win the Oceania Championships in Melbourne and become a Oceania and Commonwealth record-holder late last year.

"It was mind blowing to break the record," he said.

"I was prepared, I got some good training in and a great build-up to the competition and I came away with my best lift in my whole life."

His lift of 265kg is an unofficial raw bench press world record, with the official record at 265kg held by Alaskan Matt Baller.

On April 10 Tofa is heading back to Melbourne to take on Baller and hopefully make his record official at the Pacific Invitational Tournament.

Tofa has been lifting seriously for 14 years but it was only last year the 35-year-old father decided to start competing.

He spent most of his life in Glen Innes.

The Mangere Bridge resident said he would often lift with his mates in his garage on his homemade bench press.

"Anyone can get into powerlifting, it takes a bit of hard work, and good coaching.

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"The form is different from just working the muscles, it's who can lift the heaviest but with a certain technique," he said.

His wife Jacinta was the one who pushed him to get some training and enter competitions.

"She thinks I'm the strongest in the world and she wants me to go out and prove it."

Tofa specialises in the bench press but is looking at competing in the dead lift and the squat.

"It's an up-and-coming sport. There are a lot more people interested, especially in raw lifting."

Raw lifting is where no extra equipment is used and it is just pure strength he said.

Tofa lifts for the New Zealand Powerlifting Federation which prides itself on being drug-free.

When he isn't lifting Tofa is a support worker for people with disabilities and helps with their sports and gym programmes.

 - Stuff

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