Battle Ground bench-presser wins World Championship

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Battle Ground resident Ninion Beseda, 70, is a world class bench-presser and former powerlifter who recently won the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) World Championship in Phoenix, Arizona.

Beseda secured the win on Nov. 4 in the disabled II and master men 68-74 divisions. He competed in the 198-pound weight class and won the championship by benching 270 pounds, which also broke the world record for the disabled II division, which is for people who have had a joint replacement or major illness like cancer. He mentioned his award was incorrectly labeled in the disabled I category, which is for people who are missing an arm or leg.

Beseda has a titanium plate in his shoulder because he injured his tricep tendon in 2017. After being told he could never lift again, Beseda was determined to beat the odds. After a year of physical therapy, he was back at it again.

Weightlifting has been a passion of Beseda’s since he was young.

“I started weightlifting in conjunction with football and baseball in college, where I had to weight train for those two sports,” Beseda said. “I went to Oregon State (University) and my good friend was a big weightlifter, so he was dragging me to the weight room all the time. I’ve been doing it for about 50 years now.”

In 2000, Beseda was able to bench-press 285 pounds 10 times, and he wondered how much more he could do, and was able to reach the 350 pound threshold.

“I thought it’d be nice to be able to do 400 pounds when I was 50 years old, so it was more meaningful than a contest than it was in my gym,” he said.

When trying to reach that goal, that was when he found WABDL.

Beseda stays in shape by regularly exercising in his home gym with commercial equipment he’s had since the 1980s.

“I usually lift weights two days a week and (do) cardio the other two days, but prior to COVID, I’d go to 24 Hour Fitness,” he said. “I can’t do squats because of my back and hips, so I just use leg machines.”

For his diet, Beseda said he cut out sugar years ago and describes himself as a “healthy eater.” He had stomach surgery in 2018, which he said affected his eating habits even further since he’s now required to eat slowly and in small bites. As a result, he also can’t gain anymore weight, he said. Beseda tries not to eat anything that requires a lot of time for digestion, “save for simple carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, that kind of thing.”

Beseda’s proudest moment is when he benched 480 in Olympia in 2010. It was a feat he almost didn’t achieve.

“You get three lifts at the competition in Olympia,” he said. “At first, I got 440, which I got with no problem. Then I went to 462, which I didn’t get. My friends were saying ‘You want to go with that 462 again?’ and I said ‘No, I already won the contest with 440, and 462 doesn’t get me anything. I want to do 479 plus the chips.’”

The “chips” are a kilogram cut in half which are 1.1 pounds, according to Beseda.

“So you take the state record, which was 479, and I put the chips on that, and I went out there and got it,” Beseda said. “That was certainly my happiest moment, going from 440 to 480, which is actually still the state record for the 54 to 60 age group and 220-pound weight class.”

Beseda doesn’t plan to stop weightlifting any time soon.

“It’s in my blood, so I’ll never stop lifting,” Beseda said. “Whether I’ll compete again, I don’t know.”

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