Racking up more awards at a recent Southern Powerlifting Federation competition in Tennessee earlier this month, Statesboro powerlifter Dee Mincey brought home yet another National Championship trophy.
Winning is nothing new for Mincey, whose awards have titles like First Place Masters Division, First Place Men's Open, New World Record and Biggest Bench in RAW Division at the National Championship, just to name a few. In fact, Mincey has five world records and 15 total records, including state and national championships.
The most recent new world record set by Mincey took place at the state championship in February at Georgia State University.
The pinnacle of his lifting career - so far - took place in 2015 when Mincey received a gold medal in his class at the World Championships in Las Vegas.
Perhaps more rewarding to Mincey, however, is the opportunity to encourage and inspire the next generation of lifters, and he is doing just that with his future stepdaughter Madeline Brown. Brown is a rising seventh-grader at Southeast Bulloch Middle School and the daughter of SEB High School teacher Heather Brown.
Madeline Brown, whom Mincey already refers to as his stepdaughter, is collecting her own awards and has competed for just over a year.
The 12-year-old became interested in powerlifting after watching Mincey work out and compete.
"I'd always had an interest in it but didn't start working on it until Mom and Dee went to Gatlinburg," she said.
Stepdaughter-to-be joins in
After making her interest known, Brown joined Mincey at Statesboro's 180 Fitness to train.
"I did bench press because Dee did it," she said.
Brown then took part in a local competition at the gym to get her feet wet.
"I didn't win anything, but I learned the calls and the methods," she said.
The results of her next competition were completely different, however, and at age 11, Brown earned her first world record for her age group and took home national and state records, too.
Mincey helps her train, teaching her the proper way to lift and educating her on good nutrition. Besides her mom and dad, who both attend her competitions, Mincey is her biggest cheerleader and supporter.
Though he is one of the strongest men in the world - he has the awards to prove it - Mincey is a softie when it comes to Brown.
"Here we are, different genders, different ages, and we can coach each other and encourage each other and compete in the same thing," he said.
"I had to spoon feed her in the beginning," he added. "Now she is confident and takes the initiative. It's helped her develop self-confidence, just like it did for me.
"One thing I want to do for the rest of my life is inspire others," he said.
That desire for Mincey has come full circle, as he received inspiration from some pretty impressive names as a kid.
"I had the privilege of growing up in Uvalda, near Vidalia, which was the home of Paul Anderson," Mincey said. "Paul Anderson was a local celebrity, what every boy I knew wanted to be."
Anderson held the title of World's Strongest Man for much of the 1960s and won a weightlifting gold medal in the heavyweight category at the Melbourne Olympics. A devout Christian, Anderson and his wife founded a home for troubled and homeless youth in his hometown of Vidalia.
Anderson often used his notoriety and speaking engagements to share Jesus Christ with audiences.
Mincey had another inspiration, however, even before meeting and being encouraged by the famous champion.
Heavy lifting genes
"The locals claimed my father was the strongest person they had ever seen other than Paul Anderson," Mincey said. "I have the genes, the genetic proclivity for being strong."
As early as fourth or fifth grade, Mincey was lifting heavy rocks on the playground over his head to show off his prowess to his classmates. Slightly older, he was carrying 50-pound bags of feed on each shoulder while working on his grandpa's farm.
Mincey took part in his first competition at age 19 and won by a landslide, but he gave up lifting during his college days in order to earn his bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from Georgia Southern University. He is currently a wildlife biologist at Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield.
He returned to the circuit around 2012 and not only set records but overcame blood clot issues in his legs and a heart attack following a bout of pneumonia. Cardiologist and personal friend Dr. Pareena Bilkoo was instrumental in getting Mincey back into competition as she monitored him regularly and treated him professionally.
Both Mincey and Brown spoke of the camaraderie of lifters and competitors and compared them to family members.
"It's a brotherhood," Mincey said. "It's the most supportive sport among competitors that I've ever seen. It's people of all makes, colors and models trying to achieve the same thing. We push each other, encourage each other.
"I love it," he said. "I don't know why exactly, but I love it. It's addictive."