At 6-foot-4, 370 pounds, Jerry Pritchett is an imposing figure, and he’s one of the world’s strongest men.
Pritchett, 35, who lives in Avondale, has been in the World’s Strongest Man competition the last four years. He’s been a finalist the last two. Pritchett said it took years to get his body to a point where he could compete in the fridge carry or the giant log lift.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Pritchett said. “You can’t expect in eight weeks you’re going to be where guys are that have been doing it for five years.”
Pritchett power lifted in high school, but was always interested in the strongman competition. Eventually, he decided to enter a local strongman event in 2008. From there he did amateur shows and worked his way up the ranks, all the way to the World’s Strongest Man competition. One of the toughest parts for Pritchett has been injuries. Last year he tore a calf, strained his patella and tore a left quadriceps tendon. But this year’s he’s been healthy. At the Arnold Classic earlier this year, he deadlifted 1006 pounds.
“That made me the first American to deadlift over a thousand pounds,” Pritchett said.
Pritchett said it takes months to prepare for the World’s Strongest Man competition and the training process can be brutal.
“It breaks you down,” Pritchett said. “The idea is when you get close to the show and you start kind of pulling back and everything to let your body rest up, when you walk in gameday, it shouldn’t be a max effort. You should be able to walk through those events pretty easy.”
When he’s not deadlifting or preparing for the next event, Pritchett works as a metal fabricator for SRP. He said the work comes natural and is a nice change of pace from weightlifting.
“My dad has a fab shop in Phoenix [and] I grew up in a fab shop,” Pritchett said. “It’s all I’ve ever done.”
Pritchett has enjoyed his time at SRP. He said they’ve been good about him traveling during his yearly competition season. Right now, Pritchett’s goal is to stay injury free as he works towards the World’s Strongest Man competition later this summer. He also advises other local strongmen who look to live the weightlifting life.
“Be smart, be patient, listen to your body when you have little nagging injuries, [so] you know when to lay off and not push through,” Pritchett said.