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We Must Pump You Up! Native Men Empowered by New Mexico Weightlifting Event

We Must Pump You Up! Native Men feel empowered in New Mexico thanks to the Strong Warriors Weightlifting Event

Toqua Ticeahkie believes every man can be a strong warrior. The host of the Four Corners Regional Weightlifting Challenge in Farmington, New Mexico May 21 says Indian country needs more activities for the male gender. “Fortunately,” he says, his organization, Strong Warriors, meets that need.

“[Native men] are the most underserved population in the country,” says the Indian Health Services worker. “Everyone has fitness programs, diabetes programs, but how many are geared towards Native men?”

His event, in its second year and taking place in a parking lot of a corporate fitness club, won’t limit its participants, however, based on race or sex. Ticeahkie is inviting four age groups, including a girl’s 13 and up, to test themselves in a weightlifting competition. So far, 35 lifters have pre-registered. “The whole theme of it is the competition,” he says of the event, “but we don’t focus on the competition. Sometimes we need to challenge ourselves to get better at anything. At our event, we give people an opportunity to do that.”

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Preparing for and competing in the event is a step towards becoming a successful person, Ticeahkie says. He notes that Native men, as a demographic, struggle with problems such as, “I need to be a better father, son, brother. A lot of times in Indian country, men have been beaten down for so long we don’t know what it is for someone to believe in us. It seems like once you mess up and you’re on that dark road, you gotta battle with everything – you got just to make it. We rehabilitate the warrior aspect of being Native.”

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Ticeahkie (Comanche) is an ambitious figure on the Navajo Reservation. In 2013, he set an unofficial world record for most cumulative weight lifted in a minute. He’s taking that passion for lifting to try to mobilize his events, bringing them nation-wide. “I’m excited because it’s unprecedented. No one has ever done an event like this in Indian country,” he says. “I feel like I’ve always been carrying this torch.”

See Related: Comanche Bench Press Warrior Toqua Ticeahkie Breaks World Record

Age groups for the event also include men’s masters (50 and up); men’s (18-49); and boy’s (13-17). King of the squat, of the bench and of the deadlift will be declared at the iron-pumping event.

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Follow ICTMN’s Cary Rosenbaum on Twitter: @caryrosenbaum