Schwarzenegger cheers Perry’s Cove native’s win
Two former residents of Conception Bay North took part in the annual Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival held in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month. And one of them caught the attention of the world-renowned bodybuilder, actor and California Governor when he won Best Overall in the competition.
Jeff Butt of Perry’s Cove, who now lives in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Steve Powell (Carbonear), who resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba participated as part of a 10-person Canadian Team competing against different US regions.
“There are 37 sports from power lifting, weightlifting, bodybuilding, strongman, mixed martial arts, etc.,” Butt explains.
Some 17,000 athletes participated in the Expo attended by 160,000 visitors.
“There were 3,000-3,500 spectators for our event (March 7) and one of the best atmospheres I have ever competed in,” says Butt, whose lifts were 635 lb. squat, 518 bench press and 667 lb. dead lift in the 198-pound weight class.
Butt won his weight class and Best Overall Middleweight. Powell won his weight class (220 lbs) as well.
“We both won our weight classes and we were third in the team points — under normal international rules, we would have finished first,” says Butt.
That’s because in most international competition the top six finishers get points — 12 points for winning a class, nine points for second, eight for third, seven for fourth and so on.
“As a team, Canada had four wins and two second-place finishes which is 66 of a possible 72 points. For this competition they just took everyone’s pounds-for-pounds ranking and added them, so we finished third by this type of scoring.”
Powell’s wife Annette (nee Bat- ton) who lifted March 6, finished fourth in her division.
There were a number of celebrities on hand for the event including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who cheered during Butt’s final lift to win the overall title.
“I also met Ultimate Fighters Forrest Griffin, David Louiseau, Babalu and Matt Hamel,” Butt said. “Lou Ferrigno, The Incredible Hulk was there and Fury from the American Gladiators, stopped and talked to me and some of my training partners for 15 to 20 minutes. Many other celebrities were present, but there wasn’t enough time to meet them all.”
Butt explains power lifting is different from weightlifting in that power lifting is a combination of three lifts: squat, bench press and dead lift, while weightlifting has two lifts: clean and jerk and the snatch.
From here to there
After Butt completed a community recreation leadership course in St. John’s, he moved to Corner Brook to work with the Y from May of 1995 to August 1996 when he moved to Moose Jaw, Sask. as a program coordinator for the YMCA there.
“I got involved with coaching other power lifters including Special Olympics,” he says.
That led him to part time work at an institution in Moose Jaw that housed people with intellectual disabilities.
Since 2003, he’s been program director with a community-based organization for people with intellectual disabilities in Moose Jaw.
“We have six homes with two to six participants in each and we have another 35 participants that live on their own in the community,” he says.
Butt coaches one of the top power lifting teams in the country.
“We have approximately 12 world class power lifters that train together.”
He’s run two World Masters Championships in Saskatchewan for 40 years and older, and in November 2008 he ran the World Open Championships at the Delta in St. John’s where he was meet director.
There he won a medal in the bench press and finished sixth overall — his best World’s finish, he says.
Butt has won three national power-lifting championships and five national bench press championships (North America’s in 2005).
The sport has taken him all over the world as a teacher and coach.
In 2007 he coached the Special Olympics National Team in China (featured on TSN). He also coached the top female lifter in the country who broke a world junior (under 23) bench press record at the Schwarzenegger event.
“She is a former under 18 top lifter in the World Championships and is now 20 years old.”
The Perry’s Cove native says he tries to make it home every year.
“Because of the Worlds last year (St. John’s) I was home three times.”
Meanwhile, he and Steve Powell aren’t exactly strangers. Powell introduced Butt to power lifting in Carbonear towards the end of 1992. Currently they live about six hours apart.
“We live pretty close to each other and we usually attend all the same events that are held on the Prairies.”
FAN - Actor and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the fans on hand for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, where a native of Perry’s Cove was one of a 10-person Canadian team.
BEST OVERALL - Jeff Butt, a native of Perry’s Cove won the Best Overall middleweight at the Arnold sport’s festival. From left are: Ashley Awalt (USA - top female), Eric Oishi (Brazil - top lightweight), Butt (top middleweight), and Mike Mastrean (USA - top heavyweight).