Mark Carter: I grew up on the out skirts of Columbus, Ohio in a city called Gahanna. I began boxing at age 6 won the Golden Gloves at 17. Began wrestling at 12 thru 17. As a Sophmore in HS I decided to put all my efforts in football and weight training. I was bench pressing 410 lbs my sophmore year. Went on to play as a Fullback at the University of Cincinnati, Later played semi-pro ball for the Columbus Metros. At 22 got the urge to head west and never looked back. In California I worked as a personal trainer, as a coach and director in a regimented juvenile program changing young lives for the better. My career goals would take place in the fitness industry running several clubs for 24 hour fitness in the Los Angeles area. Later a small group of friends and I would travel across the country to start our own fitness chain called the Rush fitness complexes residing in Knoxville, TN
BT: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BE ONE OF THE BEST BENCHERS IN THE WORLD NOT LONG AFTER NEARLY LOSING YOUR LIFE?
Mark Carter: I'll never forget what one doctor said while I was in ICU. He said,"If it weren't for your great physical shape we really don't think you would have made it through this one." That statement stuck with me for three years and played an important role as I began my come back. I really felt God had a plan for me being here. The Bench is now making sense.
BT: HOW DID YOU CONQUER ADVERSITY FROM NEARLY BEING DEAD, TO LIVING IN CONSTANT PAIN, TO BEING THE ONLY MAN EVER OVER 40 TO BENCH PRESS OVER 700?
Mark Carter: It wasn't easy and there were some very tough times. Today I feel pain with every step I take. I use that feeling of pain in a positive direction. The pain reminds me that I was given another chance and I will make the most out of my business and powerlifting goals.
BT: HOW DID IT FEEL TO SET A WORLD RECORD IN THE BENCH PRESS AFTER GOING THROUGH SO MUCH OVER THE LAST 3 YEARS?
Mark Carter: It was like a dream come true. I had the flu days before the Pittsburgh competition. I felt real weak and decided not to go. It was only hours before my flight something inside told me to go. I packed my bags and had my wife drive me to the airport. I had to experience what powerlifting was all about. I felt better the next day weighing in at 212. I signed up for both the masters and the open class. In my very first powerlifting competition ever, at 43 years of age, I blasted 600.7 lbs off my chest setting a new APF world record. Most of all everyone was so friendly and helpful. January 18th, 2003 will be one day I will always remember.
BT: WHILE RECOVERING FROM YOUR SEVERE ANAPHYLATIC SHOCK WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND?
Mark Carter: When I came to in ICU I was surrounded by doctors calling out my name. With swollen eyes and blurred vision, I looked at my swollen fingers, arms, upper torso and tubes running everywhere. I wanted a drink of water but I couldn't swallow. At this point I knew something had gone terribly wrong. I looked over and there was my wife crying out my name over and over. It was just the beginning of my battle with unanswered health issues over the next few years.
BT: MARK, WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST BENCH TO DATE?
One month prior to competing at the arnold classic I trained at Westside barbell. George Halbert and Louie Simmons helped me with some new benching techniques and I put up a 705 bench at 218lbs. This is my personal best. Now that I'm injury free I'm starting to make my comeback. At the age of 45 I will shoot for 720 at 220lbs.
BT: WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO COMPETE IN THE BENCH PRESS?
Mark Carter: Once I was released to workout, I hooked up with ex-pro quarterback Heath Shuler. Our workouts got intense and my strength quickly came back. Muscle memory is not a myth. JB Fields our fitness manager and a powerlifter was watching me bench one day. He said,"You got to do a competition". He worked with me with what little time we had and I picked out my first competition 4 weeks later.
BT: WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO BE THE BEST?
Mark Carter: To be the best is instilled in my heart and soul. My father would tell me over and over "You are one to be number one. He would say this up until the day he passed away. I wear the tattoo on my right arm IM12B#1
I live my life by my own 6-D principles. Dedication-Determination-Discipline-Devotion-Desire-Drive. My mission statement I wear on my back, Passion, Vision and Pride.
BT: WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD JUST BEFORE YOUR ABOUT TO BENCH 600+?
Mark Carter: Visually seeing the completion of the bench. Using fear to my advantage. I once looked at the bar as the back end of a truck and I had to lift it to keep it from crushing my chest. Can you imagine the adrenaline rush. You must use it to your advantage. JM Blakely is someone who writes on this and someone I really enjoy reading.
BT: HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF BENCHING?
Mark Carter: Someday I hope to see one set of rules. One official bench shirt (single ply). One recognized sanction. With the right ingredients, it could become one of the greatest strongman shows on the planet. People will always ask the question,"How much can you bench," Bench America is the closest in taking this step to that idea.
BT: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKES YOU SEE BEGINNERS MAKE?
Mark Carter: I am a beginner. I am what you call an "old rookie". Some mistakes young lifters make in the gym is they don't believe in variety. Change is good in a workout from time to time. Another mistake I see young lifters making is listening to many people with different ideas about lifting. You can't stay focused on your goals if your getting different advice from so many avenues.
BT: IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL VIEWERS?
Mark Carter: Remember it's never to late. Never give up and take pride in everything you do in life. Pride is simply your signature on a job well done. Dreams do come true if you believe and have faith. Yours in Health and Power!!!!