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Tulsa man pressing toward his goal

SAND SPRINGS, Okla. (AP) _ It's been 15 years since Frank Shockley's two-car garage has been used for its original purpose.

The cars are still parked outside, as Shockley's storage space now functions as Frank's Gym.

On any given night, there are 10 to 16 weightlifters going through a ritual pattern of lifting, spotting for each other or just voicing encouragement.

Mike Hamby, 43, a Sand Springs resident, is a Frank's Gym success story. Six years ago, Hamby picked up power lifting and was quickly hooked.

On May 14, Hamby became the second Oklahoman to bench-press more than 700 pounds at a meet.

By breaking the 700-pound barrier, he joined Eufaula's Jason Jackson at Oklahoma's bench press pinnacle. Hamby's meet, however, didn't begin so well.

``I opened with 660 (pounds) and I was disqualified on my first lift,'' Hamby said. ``My second lift I got 660 up, but it felt tough.''

Hamby and the lifting brotherhood from Frank's Gym had not gone to Fort Smith to fail. Hamby was determined.

``I went down there with the purpose of breaking the 700-pound barrier,'' said Hamby, who is a warehouse shipping supervisor for Saint-Gobain Containers, formerly Liberty Glass, in Sapulpa.

``I added the extra weight, and it was my easiest lift of the day. I was really happy to have 705.3.''

The usually reserved Hamby celebrated like a little kid.

Don't confuse Hamby with participants in the televised Strongman competitions. Hamby doesn't pull buses 50 yards or lift giant boulders over fences. It's just weights on a bar.

Hamby got into bench pressing and dead lifting almost by accident. He followed friends to a Henryetta meet to act as a spotter. Hamby enjoyed it and began the long road to excellence.

``I love competing,'' Hamby said. ``The key to anything, whether it's weightlifting, golf or tennis, is to dedicate yourself.''

Hamby hasn't missed a workout in six years.

``He's almost doubled his bench press from where he started,'' said Shockley, who held a state and Missouri lifting record. ``For Sand Springs, there are some strong guys that come to this garage.''

Fans move the air in the Shockley garage. Weights are everywhere.

Laughter, kidding and background music break up the workout as the iron weights clang and rattle.

Shockley's friendly guard dog watches over proceedings, too.

Tony Luce, Brian Whited, Randy Colson and Justin and Josh Quickle made this night's workout drudgery bearable. Jokes and laughter filled the sweaty atmosphere.

``It's no frills,'' said Luce, who holds the 40-46 Masters division record bench press of 479.5 pounds in his 242-pound class. ``You come here to work. It's just hot metal. You have your own group here and no outsiders to bother us.''

Whited has pressed 451.7 pounds in the same age division as Luce, but in the 220-pound class. When Whited turned 47, he added nearly 100 pounds to his best lift.

Whited pressed 540 pounds on April 2 in the Masters 47-53 group.

Hamby can't stress enough about the support system weightlifters have _ and need.

``You can't do this on your own,'' Hamby said. ``If I walk in there (to Frank's Gym) by myself, I can't do it. The guys with you are as into it as you are and that helps. I give a lot of credit to them.''

Everyone is still chasing Jason Jackson's state record 771.5-pound press in the men's open division and 242-pound category. Jackson set the mark on Nov. 13.

The world bench press record has risen thanks to advancements in training and equipment _ even a power lifting bench shirt, which helps hold key muscle groups together, has been credited with raising the lifting bar.

Hamby still sees room for improvement but lamented the fact that he did not start sooner in the sport.

``I've got a lot of catching up to do,'' Hamby said.
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