Bobby Body Sees A Lot Of ‘Rocky’ In Himself
by Bob Reinert
While training for the upcoming 2023 World Para Powerlifting Championships in Dubai, UAE, Bobby Body has continued listening to the same music that always motivates him: the soundtracks to the “Rocky” movies.
“All (the) ‘Rocky’ movies are all about persevering,” Body said. “And that’s how I felt like my whole life has been … overcoming and adapting to the new lifestyle.”
A 49-year-old from Fremont, Michigan, Body had an unconventional childhood as an Army brat.
Both of his parents were out of his life by the time he was 10. From there, he and his sister grew up in military orphanages.
“I lived with three different families before I graduated from high school,” Body said. “It’s not your ordinary upbringing.”
His connection to the military remained after he graduated high school, as Body served in the Marines during the 1990s and joined the Army after 9/11.
“I just kind of felt an obligation to back into the military,” Body said.
However, while Body was deployed in Iraq, an IED struck a Humvee he was in. One of the vehicle’s doors injured his left arm and left leg.
“I’ve undergone 21 surgeries,” he said. “They were doing the best they could to save the leg.”
Body had his left leg amputated above the knee in 2013. As part of his therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, he started going to the gym.
In 2014, he picked up powerlifting, a sport that he “immediately fell in love (with).”
“Even the competitors that are competing against each other (were sharing) high fives, fist bumping with each other, even though they’re competitors,” he said.
Against able-bodied powerlifters, Body won his first competition and claimed a U.S. championship in his second. Eventually, he found success on the international stage as well.
“I have 36 gold medals and four silver medals for able-bodied powerlifting over the years,” he said.
By 2016, Body was invited to try Para powerlifting.
“At first, I don’t even know what Para powerlifting is,” he said. “I’ve never even heard of it.
“I love beating able-bodied people, but I didn’t know the level of Para powerlifters, either. They lift as much as the able-bodied people do. These are people that are in wheelchairs or amputees.”
A couple of surgical procedures and the COVID-19 pandemic kept Body from competing as a Para athlete until 2021. He made Team USA for the world championships that year and placed ninth in the 97 kg. class.
“Actually, I patted myself on the back for that one because the top eight guys were the guys that were at (Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020),” Body said. “I’m happy with that.”
Now in the 107 kg. weight class, Body set a legends age group world record with a lift of 217 kg. (478.4 pounds) at a world cup in Mexico in June. He’s looking to break that mark at the world championships Aug. 23-30.
Body is currently ranked No. 5 in the world in his weight class and is hoping to stay in the top five after he returns from Dubai.
A year out from Paralympic Games Paris 2024, Body has his sights set on a medal.
“Next year for Paris, I’ll obviously be 50 years old,” Body said. “I would love to beat these young guys on the world stage. All the guys that are top eight, they’re all in their 20s and early 30s.
“Right now, I have a very good chance of getting on the podium. As long as I stay healthy and my bench keeps progressing, without a doubt, I’ll get on the podium.”
Because he has seen Para powerlifters successfully compete into their 50s and 60s, Body has no plans to retire from the sport.
“I have no excuse then,” he said. “It takes longer for me to recover because I’m 49 years old, but I have to keep going. I have to keep pushing.”
To keep building strength, Body watches his diet and makes sure to eat a ton.
“I don’t do any supplements,” he said. “It’s just eating and putting in the right calories and watching my macros and micros and my fat intake. It’s a minimum of four meals a day, but I try to get in five meals a day.”
When Body competes, he is only doing the bench press. When he trains, however, he avoids doing the same thing day after day.
“I have a whole list of different bench movements that I do,” Body said. “When your body starts to adapt to doing the same movements all the time, you’re not going to get stronger, or it’s going to take you forever to get stronger. So, I change things up all the time.”
Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to usparapowerlifting.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.