ASL: Thank you for taking the time out to be interviewed for ASL.
Bell: No problem.
ASL: Would you care to introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself?
Bell: My name is Gene Bell. I was born on September 8, 1956 in San Angelo, Texas, the oldest of six children. I grew up in Bartow, Florida, which is the county seat in Polk County. It is an area of the country that is known for producing world class athletes. As a natural athlete, I excelled in sports on and off the field. I attended Bartow Senior High School, where I lettered in several High School sports and garnered two Florida State High School weightlifting titles in 1974 and 1975 (by way of a 275 pound clean & jerk and 315 bench press at 155 body weight). I received an academic and athletic scholarship to South Carolina State College in Orangebug, South Carolina, but was unable to realize my dream of playing in the collegiate football ranks due to an injury that still plagues me to this very day. After a year of healing up, I started back with serious power training while in school to win several South Carolina State titles and placing in the top five in the National Collegiates in 1979. At this point, I had lost my athletic scholarship because of the injury and was working part-time to put myself through school. I competed in numerous bodybuilding shows throughout the Southeast from 1975-1990 winning several local, state and regional tiles along the way. I majored in Physical Education with a minor in Biology and graduated on time. Then I went on to work as an educator in the public school system for a few years before enlisting in the United States Air Force.
ASL: Would you like to tell us about your best lifts and your measurements?
Bell: I have packed on some pounds over the course of the last 17 years when I competed as a light 165-pound lifter. My stats as a 165 pounder were: 6% body fat, arms-18 inches, chest-46 inches and waist 29 inches. However, as a full fledged 198 pounder: 10% body fat, arms 19.5, chest -50 inches, and waist 33 inches. I could move some big numbers in any movement in the gym; leg press-1500lbs for mid range reps, dips-300 lbs. for 5 reps, incline bench press 450 for 4 reps, squat 800 for 3 reps., bench 500 for 3 reps and deadlift 720 for 3 reps, seated shoulder press –315 for 5 reps. This all done weighing 200 pound in my early thirties back in the late 1980’s.
Best lifts in a meet
ASL: I understand that you are a serviceman. Is this true? What branch and what is your MOS?
Bell: I have been in the Air Force for 17 years. I’m a Master Sergeant in the Services Career Field. I have been managing Dining Facilities for the past couple of years, but I will be moving back to managing a Sports and Fitness Center by the time you receive this information.
ASL: How has the Air Force’s attitude towards your lifting been?
Bell: During my Air Force tenure, competing in the sport of POWERLIFTING, I was inducted into the Air Force Heritage Hall of Fame and United States Air Forces in Europe SPORTS HALL OF FAME. I won Air Force Athlete of the Year, Pacific Air Command Athlete of the Year and United States Air Forces in Europe Athlete of the Year. I went undefeated in 8 consecutive Air Force and Armed Forces National meets and won several USPF National & IPF World titles along the way spanning 17 years and three different weight classes. I still hold the highest posted total in a sanctioned meet in the 181 class with a 2110 total.
ASL: Do you have any future plans to compete?
Bell: I have no future plans to compete in the next few years, but the lifting bug might hit me soon.
ASL: Who were your heroes and idols as you were growing up?
Bell: My hero growing up was my mother; she stood by and supported me no matter what I was facing.
ASL: As a master lifter, how has your training changed?
Bell: As a Master lifter, my training is better organized and is geared more towards maintaining my fitness goals. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE BODY, so make sure you take care of it.
ASL: Of all of your national and world championships which was your favorite?
Bell: My favorite meet was in 1994. I was deployed to live for five months in field conditions at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in support of Operation NORTHERN WATCH prior to the 1994 USPF Nationals. I traveled through most of Europe to get back to my home base at Soesterberg Air Base, NL (Netherlands) to get approval to travel back to the USA to lift in the nationals. I went head to head against two former national and world champions (Sly Anderson and George Herring). The championship went down to the last deadlift. I went on to win another world title in Sweden.
ASL: What do you think of the sport of powerlifting in the US and around the world?
Bell: The state of powerlifting in the USA needs some serious overhauling. I personally would rather see just one organization; it promotes positive growth for the future. I have never been a gimmick lifter, I guess I missed the use of triple-ply suits by lifting for the IPF European Powerlifting clubs during the time it was in vogue to use that type of gear.
ASL: Is there any message that you would like to send to your many, many fans?
Bell: The sport has been very good to me, it has given me the chance to travel all over the world free of charge and meet some wonderful people. There are a few people who made a positive impact on my lifting career; my wife, Dianna, for putting up with my crap for 12 years, my Mother (she is an angel), Louis Baltz of All-American Gym in Lakeland, Florida, Gary Sanders (My high school coach) and Sean Scully (long time Air Force friend) I have learned always to try and be a part of the solution even if you don’t have a vested interest in the process, you may have the answer. Also, never give up your dreams and hopes; they are your future. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsor's-Titan Support Systems and Safe USA for their support for the last 10 years. Thanks.
ASL: Thanks again for all of your time and I am sure that I speak for all that visit ASL when I wish you the very best of luck in the future.
Bell: Thank you.