Love weights, love lifting
Want to get better
Want to help others do the same
Want to promote strength sports
Want to learn
Want to teach
Want to lift
Our founder Richard Ficca has been destined to move iron and steel since the day he was born in Tampa, Florida. As the picture to the left shows, his family put weights in the crib before he could do well… anything.
Always a big kid, Richard was always stronger than the friends he hung with, even those older than him. His genetics were going to allow him to be big and fat or big and strong. There was no swimming career or gymnastics in his young life or future and he was given his first weight bench at 12 years of age for Christmas. Quickly, Richard was able to press over 200 pounds on a bench within months, pressed 315 in 9th grade, and pressed 405 between sophomore and junior years of high school, all raw of course. He was in the 1400 club at Chamberlain Senior High and was a member of the varsity football and wrestling teams, garnering honors in both. He went on to play football at Newberry College for a brief stint, but the Army soon called.
Richard’s family has a proud military tradition and one that he always wanted to follow. Richard served as a paratrooper in various airborne units during his time in the Army, mostly in Anchorage, Alaska. Also it was great learning an actual education in physical fitness which helped Richard to know more than just strength training. Airborne units have been running, cross training and using various fitness techniques such as plyometrics long before they became the rage today. Living in Alaska did not hurt the amount of time Richard spent lifting. A Florida boy could find solace in the warm gym, lifting for hours and hours in his free time. This is where Richard first competed on a small level, and learned to love the sport. When Richard left the Army, life as it can and will do got in the way and he quit lifting, becoming obese in the process.
Realizing that big and fat was not an option; Richard started lifting and dieting, learning as much as he could along the way. This led him to compete again in 2004/2005 where he placed in some contests and won a couple as well. After an injury Richard gave up the sport again until his best coach, friend, and training partner Christie his wife motivated him to compete again in 2010. This brings us till today and Richard is currently competing at a high level. He is currently the Florida State Chair for the USPA. He owns and operates Gorilla Bench Training Center for strength athletes. He currently has one of the top 10 benches of the year at 606, and is ranked #1 in Master's with a 2066 total. He has also set records for various federations at both the 308 and super heavy weight classes. Richard is hoping to really take a lifelong love of lifting and apply it to the record books over the next couple of years, hoping to take Gorilla Bench and it’s troop not only along for the ride, but one day handing over that title of Silverback, (but not anytime soon!)
Donnie Kiernan, a U.S. Army/Iraq War Veteran, had the itch for strength when he was a young teenager. A few guys in the gym he attended in the mid 1990's were raw powerlifters and would give him advice and assistance with his bench press. 8 years later, he began to train like a bodybuilder, getting down to a very lean 210lbs, before discovering the world of strongman in 2007.
Since then, he has competed in both powerlifting and strongman at the weight classes of HW(Strongman) , 275 and 308lbs (Powerlifting). This year, his goal is to be able to compete at a competitive level in the 242lb weight class. His best raw lifts are (gym/competition) 475/430lb Squat, 435/375lb Bench and 590/565lb Deadlift, while bench pressing 475 in a one ply bench press shirt and squatting 620 in a one ply squat suit.
Info coming soon.
Info coming soon.
Info coming soon.
Savannah has been part of GorillaBench from the beginning. She has selflessly helped our athletes and taken photos and video at events, training, etc. She is headed to the University of Alabama on the President's Scholarship and will be sorely missed. For her we say, Roll Tide.
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