Barry setting records
Macungie man shatters marks at powerlifting events for his age group
Bruce “Bup” Barry has accomplished a lot in his life.
He was a standout athlete at Lehighton High School, lettering in four sports for the Indians and earning all-league and all-state honors in football and winning a Lehigh Valley League championship in wrestling before graduating in 1970. He was the school’s scholarathlete and top athlete overall.
It’s no wonder he was inducted into the Carbon County Hall of Fame in 2017.
He then attended the U.S. Air Force Academy where he shined in football and rugby. He retired from the Air Force as a major and was a Boeing 777 captain before retiring as an airplane pilot.
He currently flies jets out of Teterboro, New Jersey, to transport teams of heart specialists to and from the major New York City hospitals to facilities throughout the country so they can save lives.
Barry, who lives in Macungie, is proud of all of those things.
But these days he’s most proud of his accomplishments as a powerlifter.
On Aug. 17, Barry broke all known world squat records for age 65 and over in all weight classes for equipped squats at 675 pounds and then became the first lifter over the age of 65 to squad 700 pounds.
Barry competed in the 220-pound weight class at the International Powerlifting Association’s VIP Summer Slamfest in Newark, Ohio.
His world record-setting performances rival his feats as a member of the USA Powerlifting World Masters 3 team in Tallinn, Estonia, last November where he won gold medals in the squad, bench press, deadlift and total.
“If I think about it, this is my biggest accomplishment on a personal level,” Barry said. “Winning the world championship in Tallinn was a team effort. Winning the team championship was great and there was a lot more involved with that. But this was more of a personal goal I set once I saw that I could achieve it. I did it in the gym and I had to prove it. The only proof is at a meet.”
Making his milestone even more special was that Barry injured his thumb at a meet the week before.
“I had no feeling in my thumb,” he said. “I pinched a nerve and a tendon and luckily it didn’t do any real damage. The short-term damage was that I couldn’t continue at the previous meet. I didn’t want to hurt myself more or the spotter who is there to protect me. So, as a personal achievement, this is by far the best. To be able to hit a big number and be the first person in the world over age 65 to do it is a big achievement. I’ve been working for this for many months.”
Barry hopes to be an inspiration to others.
“The biggest overall message I can deliver is that it’s never too late to start a physical fitness program,” he said. “I started really at age 61. There was a short period where I worked out and got injured. Then I started working out in earnest and did the research to find programs where I wasn’t going to get hurt. You have to start out slow and be consistent. I work out three days a week with a day off in between to let my body recover and time to rebuild. There are too many people out there who think they’re too old to start a weight training or exercise program, but they’re not.”
Barry feels he benefited from genetics.
“I have very big, strong legs that I got from my parents and my recovery rate from anything has been very good,” Barry said. “Genetics is part of it, but if you don’t put the time and work in, you’re not going to see the results. You just have to realize what’s important and your health is the most important thing you have. Get cleared by your doctor, start out slow and you’ll be amazed with the results you see in a reasonably short period of time.”
Barry said he’s not planning on stopping anytime soon.
“I just had shoulder surgery due to a bone spur in my left shoulder,” he said. “I was helping my daughter move and I did something that caused the bone spur to do some cartilage damage around the shoulder, but not real bad. He cleared out the bone spur. So I’ll be rehabbing for the next few next weeks, but I will be back in a gym and I am pretty sure I’ll be able to squat more than the 700 pounds.”
He said that people he talks to on the international level are amazed how much he has been able to accomplish in a short period of time
What makes him most proud is that he has been able to accomplish all of his goals.
“I’ve done this drug free,” he said. “I’m extremely proud that I haven’t used any performance enhancing stuff. To me, that’s the only way to go.”
Bruce Barry, 67, recently set a world squat record for lifters age 65 and over with a squad of 675 pounds and then became the first lifter over 65 to squat 700.
The Macungie Grizzlies won the 18&Over North-South Championship in the Lehigh Valley Baseball League.