Ray Williams is one of the most remarkable powerlifting athletes to ever step foot on a platform. He has set countless records throughout his career, even breaking some that stood for multiple decades. This makes Ray undoubtedly one of the greatest of all time, but it took a lot of effort for him to reach this point. So, in this article we covered everything regarding Ray’s early life, career, stats, and more.
Ray Williams was born and raised in the small town of Demopolis, Alabama. Although he did not continue living in Demopolis, Ray would end up living in multiple other small towns throughout his life. While many people from these towns turned to hunting or fishing for their hobbies, Ray’s interest was captivated by American Football and weightlifting.
During his high school years, Ray Williams played the position of Defensive Tackle on his American Football team. Ray weighed 280 pounds (127 kilograms) at that point and was already much larger and stronger than the majority of his peers. His football journey also inspired him to lift heavier weights, as both he and his teammates got very competitive in the training room. So, Ray worked hard to get his name on the board and obviously succeeded.
As a Football player, Ray Williams had to address all aspects of his physicality. So, despite carrying such a large physique, Ray was able to perform 10-12 pull-ups and even run a sub-5-second 40-yard dash. Moreover, Ray also won multiple state championships in Shot Put.
Ray Williams lifted a lot of heavy weights during his football career, but did not prefer the usual powerlifting movements. Instead, his favorite lifts at the time were the Hang Clean and the Power Clean. Ray did enjoy doing box squats as well. However, Ray’s interest in powerlifting sparked once his brother enrolled in a competition. So, following his brother’s footsteps, Ray also began preparing and the rest was history.
After finishing his career as a D1 athlete, Ray Williams turned more interest to powerlifting. Still, despite doing powerlifting professionally, Ray began coaching American Football at the same time. Like in everything, Ray found success, with some of his players getting the chance to get into the NFL later on.
Ray Williams graduated in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Martin back in 2009. However, he continued his academic journey at the University of Western Kentucky, where he took Athletic Administration and Sports Recreation. Ray also took the EDD Education Leadership course at the University of Memphis. Moreover, Ray earned his doctorate at the University of Memphis as well.
Ray Williams’ Powerlifting Career
Ray Williams’ first appearance in a sanctioned powerlifting competition came in 2012 at the APA Big Iron Fall Classic. He competed in the Wraps division, meaning he was able to use knee wraps on the squats, enabling him to lift more weight. However, following that, Ray only competed in the raw divisions, which does not allow any significant equipment assistance.
Ray Williams’ next appearance came at the 2013 USAPL Raw Nationals, where everyone realized that he had a bright future in powerlifting ahead of him. He won the competition and put up a 400-kilogram (881.8-pound) squat, which was especially impressive at the time.
It did not take long for Ray Williams to take his career to the next level, as he won the 2014 IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships. From then on, Ray established himself as the greatest powerlifter in the world and ended up winning five consecutive IPF World Championships (2014-2018).
Unfortunately, Ray Williams’ winning streak was stopped there, as he lost the 2019 IPF World Classic Championships, competing at a significantly lower bodyweight than usual. To make it worse, Ray was in great shape when he headed to Sweden to compete, but troubles started after he ate some bad food at the airport. So, he lost a lot of weight in a very short timeframe, which absolutely depleted all the energy he had in his body.
After taking four months to recover from the stomach problems, Ray Williams took part in the 2019 USAPL Raw Nationals. His performance turned out much better, and he managed to win his seventh National title.
Ray Williams most notable World Record is without a doubt the 490-kilogram (1,080.3-pound) Raw Squat. It is arguably the single greatest lift in the history of powerlifting, as it is the closest that anyone came to lifting half a ton without the help of equipment.
Another achievement that is extremely impressive was Ray Williams’ Raw Total IPF World Record. In order to claim the record, Ray accumulated 1,043 kilograms (2,299.4 pounds) at the 2016 IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships. With this, Ray broke the record of Don Reinhoudt, which was set in 1974, meaning that it remained untouched for a whopping 42 years.
Over the entirety of his career so far, Ray Williams has taken part in 26 sanctioned powerlifting competitions. Out of those, he managed to claim a total of 23 gold medals, thus holding an incredible win percentage. Ray has improved throughout the years, but his current competition PRs are as follows:
Data Source: Open Powerlifting. Last Updated: August 17, 2023
During the early years of his career, Ray Williams did not put too much into his training and programming. Instead, he just went with the flow and made sure to enjoy powerlifting. At the start of his career, Ray was not too focused on becoming the greatest powerlifter of all time, but instead just wanted to lift heavy. However, things changed when he got closer to records.
Still, even during his later years in powerlifting, Ray Williams made sure to keep things simple, but focused on technique, small details, and doing what his body was receiving well. Due to this approach, Ray also made sure to remain a natural athlete, as he did not want any of the side effects that come with PED’s. So, Ray had to be very careful about training with heavy weights, as his recovery and endurance were not enhanced by anything.
Ray Williams’ training cycles are around five weeks long, and he deloads after each one. When Ray begins a new cycle, he follows a linear progression, gradually increasing the weight or reps as sessions pass. However, if Ray does not feel comfortable, he is not scared of slowing down and letting everything fall into place.
During the first few weeks of his cycles, Ray has often performed sets with lower weights and higher reps, and he even did so without a lifting belt. As weights got heavier, Ray would include the lifting belt as well. Ray’s usual program would have him perform all of the core lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) once a week, while the other workout sessions would see him do some accessory work.
Ray Williams is another elite-level powerlifter who attributes a large portion of his success to recovery. He also admitted in the past that he neglected it to a certain point and that, once he applied it properly, it helped him progress further in his career. His favorite recovery techniques were cryotherapy, cold therapy, and regular rest.
Ray Williams has revealed in the past that his diet is pretty clean. He also showcased some meals on his Instagram page as well, which included eggs, supplements, proteins, amino acids, and more.
Ray Williams’ Current Life
Ray Williams currently resides in Ashland, Virginia, where he is still pursuing his goals. He is still doing powerlifting and is gradually improving, despite taking two years off from 2019 until 2021. Having experienced some injuries in the past, Ray is much more careful now and is taking it step by step.
Apart from his powerlifting training, Ray Williams is also working as a head coach at the ‘Iron Built Gym’. In addition, Ray is a co-owner of ‘Prime Predator Performance’, where they focus on helping athletes progress their careers.
Ray Williams is also living a happy life with his wife and kids, which he pointed out are his biggest motivations.
Ray Williams life has been very eventful, as he has found success in multiple sports and academia. So, Ray’s greatness is manifested through his ability to take on everything that he encounters in life, which has shaped him into the person he is today. Ray is also viewed as one of the most influential and motivating figures in powerlifting due to his experience and education.
This article is written by Vedad Tabakovic, a journalist with three years of experience in covering Strength Sports. He aims to deliver accurate and engaging content.
If you have questions or need clarifications, please leave a comment below, and Vedad will respond promptly.
Vedad is a lifelong fitness enthusiast, who is especially passionate about all things Strength related. Vedad loves to write about strength sports just as much as he likes to train. Worked hard to gain his knowledge, but is still in a constant chase for improvement.
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