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Red Deer’s Birchmans Pereira continues decades of powerlifting

At 77 years old he still competes
Red Deer’s Birchmans Pereira poses for a photo with all of the gold medals he’s won in the powerlifting world championships the last two months. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Birchmans Pereira, 77, has just one dream in life and that’s to see further generations of his family compete in powerlifting.

The Red Deer resident is a multi-time world champion and Guinness World Record holder and is showing no signs of slowing down.

In August he won his 17th world powerlifting championship in Idaho where he won gold in squat, bench, and deadlift.

Most recently, in September won his 18th world championship in classic raw powerlifting marking his fourth competition this year.

While competing last month he also broke two world records in squatting and deadlift, adding to an impressive total of eight world records in the last 11 months.

“I want my kids and my grandkids to follow in my footsteps for health and longevity,” said Pereira when asked what motivates him.

With over 60 years in the fitness industry, there’s very little Pereira hasn’t experienced but he’s most proud of what his family has accomplished.

When speaking with The Advocate he referenced the time when his grandsons expressed interest in the sport of powerlifting. After training the two boys, his oldest grandson broke a world record lifting 285 pounds after just months of training.

So far, four generations of powerlifters have competed at the national level in powerlifting including himself, his uncle who’s 94, his two sons, two grandkids, and his niece.

“It’s my dream,” he said adding his goal is to have five generations competing. “My sons competing was a dream come true and then my grandkids were born… When they came to my competitions they got a little bored sometimes because it’s a long day. So, I told them to compete and they decided to.”

He encourages his family and other people in the industry to keep a high standard but your lifting goals small and you’ll achieve them if you’re persistent.

Pereira first started out in fitness by running in track and field when he was a teenager. Once he graduated he found a new passion in bodybuilding because he felt that he was too skinny.

That propelled him into wrestling and judo before returning to bodybuilding. From there, he tried his hand at powerlifting because he said there was no age limit for competing.

“Being small people always underestimated me for power and strength. That gave me the confidence not to get intimidated,” he said.

“What I tell people in the gym is I want to control the weight. If the weight’s too heavy I don’t want that. I control the weight and it’s the same in life, I’m 5’5 but I stand tall.”

In the last 15 years, Pereira admitted he’s lost some power but explained that’s normal as you age but added he has no interest in retiring from the sport anytime soon.

“My body is not the same as it was 15 years ago so I accept that but now I train smart. If I feel that I won’t have a good day I stop and take a couple of days off. I’ll get the right mindset and try it again.”

After growing up in Montreal he moved to Red Deer in 1978.Since he retired from his day job nine years ago, he now helps train people for free who have an interest in fitness.

There aren’t many his age in powerlifting which he takes pride in and is often the oldest competitor.

“People tell me I’m amazing because at my age I’m not only lifting but breaking records. They say, ‘I wish I could do it.’ I say don’t wish. Start now.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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