Interview With Powerlifter Phillip "Rockman" Wylie Interviewed By Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - December 2007
Today Critical Bench has the opportunity to talk to Phillip "Rockman" Wylie. Phillip has a very interesting powerlifting story. He has totaled elite, he has been shot, and he has even wrestled a 750lbs black bear! Most importantly he is still alive to tell us about it! Let's meet Mr.Bravery himself, Phillip "Rockman" Wylie.
1) CRITICAL BENCH: Hi Phillip, please tell us about yourself.
My name is Phillip "Rockman" Wylie. I am a 41 year old drug free powerlifter from Carrollton, Texas. I am an application security analyst for First Horizon National Corporation. My wife Tiffany and my daughter Jordan are very supportive of my lifting. Tiffany goes to all my meets and videos my lifts. I got my nickname Rockman from Sean Donegan the owner of Bad Attitude Gym. This quote from Sean will give you the idea behind the nickname "Phil has the innate ability to "turn on" and do things under max loads that should lead to injury. No spatial awareness, no cognitive motor process, just execution".
I started weight training on a consistent basis in the summer of 1980. I was 14 years old and getting ready to start my freshman year of high school. I started powerlifting my senior year of high school in December of 1983. I competed and won my first powerlifting meet in the spring of 1984. I returned to powerlifting in September of 2003 and did a push/pull November of 2003. I have been competing several times a year ever since.
My best lifts are 848lbs squat, 523lbs bench press, 722lbs deadlift, and 2055lbs total.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: Great numbers, amazing story regarding how you got your nick name and it's great that you are close to your kids and talked about them. Phillip, what is your height and weight? What fed do you compete in?
I am 5 foot 10 inches tall and weigh 245lbs. I compete in the 242lbs weight class. I have competed in the APF/AAPF/AWPC, IPA, WABDL, and NASA.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: What adversities have you had to overcome?
I have had to overcome a few adversities. The first adversity that I had to overcome was being shot. This was before I started powerlifting and still affects me today. When I was 15 years old my brother accidentally shot me with a 22 caliber pistol. After my brother shot me I panicked and ran out of the house to a neighbor's house to get help. I lost my balance and fell while running up an embankment at the entrance of our neighbor's yard. My brother found me lying in the neighbor's yard and asked our neighbors for assistance. Shortly after I was taken by ambulance to the local hospital and was later sent to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Parkland Hospital was 30 miles away. I started lifting consistently the summer prior to this and I had the biggest bench at school. While I was lying on the ground not sure whether I would live or not, my only concern was being passed up on the bench press. The bullet went through my arm into my side, where it collapsed my left lung and pumped out of the lung through my heart and lodged into some veins in the bend of my leg.
In January of 2003 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I control this through diet and exercise.
In March of 2004 I was diagnosed with hepatitis C. The blood I was given during the blood transfusion I was given in when I got shot was tainted. The gastroenterologist recommended interferon treatments. The doctor said I would probably not feel like lifting weights. I was getting ready for the IPA Nazareth Strength Spectacular and the doctor said it wouldn't hurt to put off the interferon treatments for a little while. I competed at the meet and hit my first elite total. I hated the idea of having to stop powerlifting for any length of time, so I researched interferon and its side effects. After reading up on the side effects I was worried that it could possibly cause further health problems. I found an awesome alternative medicine doctor by the name of Dr. David Brown of the North Dallas Alternative Medicine Clinic. Dr. Brown has helped me keep my liver enzymes under control. Elevated liver enzymes cause damage to the liver, so as long as my liver enzyme levels are controlled I will be alright. Due to the method I use to keep the hepatitis C under control, I don't use prescription or over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relievers since they can be harsh on the liver.
4) CRITICAL BENCH: Wow!! That is intense. After facing challenges like that, I'm sure it gives you even more confidence stepping onto the platform. You also wrestled a 750lbs black bear? haha.. How did that come about and what happened after you wrestled the 750lbs bear?
Back in the late '80s I was a professional wrestler. I wrestled part time as I was trying to make a name for myself in the wrestling world. I also worked as a bouncer to support myself since I wasn't wrestling enough to make any significant income. The owner of the nightclub brought in a wrestling bear one Sunday night as entertainment. Since I wrestled and the locals knew me the owner wanted me to wrestle the bear and used me to market the event. The bear was a 750lbs black bear named Sampson. The bear was trained well and was able to actually take down his opponents. I was the last one to wrestle the bear so I knew I had to get down low and keep my legs out of reach to avoid the take down. I succeeded in not getting taken down, but I didn't take down the bear either. I did the best so I won and won a bar tab. It was tough holding the bear off and avoiding his take down.
Afterwards I thought once was enough, but later that night the night club owner asked me to wrestle the bear again. By this time I had taken full advantage of the bar tab and agreed to wrestle the bear. I still didn't take the bear down, but did better that time. The bear's trainer told me that I had done better against the bear than anyone else had.
5) CRITICAL BENCH: Incredible! Phillip, so far in your powerlifting journey what has been your:
Most hardcore moment- I was competing at a WABDL meet at Metroflex Gym in February of 2006. I was attempting to switch to a hook grip on the deadlift. I used hook grip in training and was going to attempt it in a meet. I got my opener and missed 688lbs on my second attempt. I didn't get a good grip and the bar started slipping out of my hand. I ripped the skin on my thumb and had to switch to an alternating grip on my third attempt. My third attempt went up easy. I took a fourth attempt for the Texas 242 record. I went for 722lbs on my fourth attempt. I had missed this same weight three times prior to this meet and one of the times was the same meet the year before. So this put even more pressure on me to succeed. I successfully lifted 722lbs. Josh Bryant was the head judge on that lift and later complimented my mental toughness on his forum.
Funniest- When I first started training with Sean Donegan, we were deadlifting one night. Sean slapped me across the back of the neck and I wasn't expecting it. It pissed me off and I looked at him told him very intensely "don't you ever do that again". He didn't expect that out of me since I am so laid back and he really didn't know me that well at the time. It scared him pretty good and he has never slapped me since.
Scariest- When I was diagnosed with hepatitis C. The doctor told me that I might not be able to compete in powerlifting while taking interferon treatments. I took the alternative medicine approach and I am able to continue to compete.
Most powerful- Winning the 2007 AWPC Worlds. I was behind by 22lbs after the bench press and needed to out pull my opponent to win. I was really psyched up and felt very powerful during the deadlift because I wanted to win.
Changed your life the most- Training at Bad Attitude Gym has taken my lifting to a level I never thought possible.
6) CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your powerlifting routine and some of your thoughts on how one can get the most out of thier routine!
I follow a modified conjugate (aka Westside) program. One of the major differences on my max effort days during competition training I alternate between training with and without powerlifting gear. I deadlift after I squat on max effort days. I deadlift in three week waves and take off from deadlifting on the fourth week. The intensity is increased over the three week wave. The deadlift routine I follow I got from my friend Pat Roberts the inventor of the Allen Core Wheel ( http://www.allencorewheel.com).
For my dynamic effort squat days I do squats that work the quads to help my deadlift since I pull conventional. On my dynamic effort bench press days I cycle between benching for reps with dynamic effort benching. The low end of my raw bench press got weak so I switched to doing repetition bench presses. It has helped me regain my raw low end strength, but I did discover that I needed to alternate in dynamic work. I need the dynamic work for my lockout. When I didn't do enough dynamic work I would have problems with my lockout, including uneven lockout problems. I do strictly dynamic bench press workouts the last three weeks out from a meet.
I'm a firm believer in raw training. I was training for a meet last fall; my hips were sore until I put squat briefs on. Following that I trained for a raw meet and the pain went away. So I make sure to keep raw training in my training arsenal. Prior to this I was doing raw squats but they were close stance high box or low box squats. Squatting raw with a competition stance helped my hip strength.
7) CRITICAL BENCH: Thanks for the tips. What's it like competing? Why do you compete in the fed you compete in? How do you prepare just before a meet, how do you feel during a meet and after the powerlifting events are over?
I love competing it is the number one reason I train and it motivates me. I compete in the APF/AAPF because it is the most competitive multi ply fed. Before and during meets I listen to music to get psyched up and ready to lift. When I am on the platform I feel strong and highly motivated. After a meet I am usually feel tired, but motivated thinking about the next meet and what I need to do to improve. When I have a good day I feel energized and motivated.
8) CRITICAL BENCH: You mentioned you train at Bad Attitude Gym. Describe the atmosphere and your training parters.
Bad Attitude Gym is a private hardcore powerlifting gym in Carrollton, Texas. The environment is very motivating. We have visitors stop in from time to time and they always leave with a PR (personal record) in at least one lift in their first visit. Bad Attitude Gym has really grown into a nationally recognized powerlifting gym. Our team did well at APF Senior Nationals this year. Sarah Keller in her first Seniors won the women's 181lbs class and got best lifter and Greg Tillinghast placed second in the 308lbs class. Ray Pierce is our veteran national level competitor in the 242s. Ray has totaled elite in three different weight classes and has placed 3 rd at Seniors on two occasions. Sean Donegan recently won the amateur 242lbs class at the IPA Cincinnati Pro/Am.
My two training partners and I did well at the 2007 AWPC World Championships this past August. Erik Stark placed second in the open 220lbs class. Chris Suffredini placed 1st in the Masters 50-54 198lbs class. I placed 1st in the open 242lbs class. The three of us started training together the first part of 2007. Erik and Chris are great training partners and making the switch to train with them has proved to be a good decision. We all have made great progress since we started training together.
9) CRITICAL BENCH: Definitely a force to be reckoned with. Tell us about your inner drive to be the best you can be!
My drive comes from being a very competitive and goal oriented person. I have always been competitive and in different facets of my life. When I was a kid I always wanted to win and didn't like losing. When I worked in sales I always strived to be the top salesman. I want to be the best I can be.
10) CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
My goals for 2008 are to total 2200lbs, bench press 600lbs, and deadlift 750lbs.
11) CRITICAL BENCH: Is there anyone who you want to thank for your success?
First off I would like to thank my wife Tiffany for being so
understanding and supportive. Thanks to Sean Donegan, Erik Stark, Greg
Tillinghast, Ray Pierce, Stew Siemantel, and Chris Suffredini and the
rest of my teammates at Bad Attitude Gym. Thanks to my good friend
Mike Dorman a past member and one of the original members of Bad
Attitude Gym. Mike lives in the Houston area but is still very
supportive. Thanks to Dan Canales the owner of Myo-Tek Gym in Denton,
Texas. Dan got me into powerlifting and was my coach and mentor. I
would like to give a big thanks to my sponsor Alan Thomas of APT Pro
Gear. Alan keeps me supplied in his awesome product line.
CRITICAL BENCH: Phillip, what a powerlifting journey it has been! Looking forward to reading about you in 2008. Happy Holidays.