Big James Henderson

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James Henderson
Born (1965-04-09) April 9, 1965 (age 49)
Roxbury, Massachusetts, United States of America
Residence Miami, Florida
Other names Big James Henderson, James "Hollywood" Henderson
Occupation Powerlifter, Preacher, Motivational speaker
Height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight 390 pounds (180 kg) active
Spouse(s) Shelia Henderson
Competition record
Powerlifting - Bench Press
Competitor for  United States
IPF Bench Press World Championships[1]
1st 1994 +125kg
1st 1995 +125kg
1st 1996 +125kg
1st 1997 +125kg
1st 1998 +125kg
USPF National Powerlifting Championships[1]
3rd 1996 +125kg

James Gregory Henderson, also known as Big James Henderson and James "Hollywood" Henderson (born April 9, 1965 in Roxbury, Massachusetts) is a former powerlifter from the United States, who specialized in the bench press. He competed in the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and was five times Super Heavyweight World Bench Press Champion. He is the first man to bench press over 700 lb raw and set numerous world records throughout his career, including the all-time world record in the raw (unassisted) bench press with 711 pounds (323 kg).

Powerlifting career[edit]

Henderson won five consecutive bench press world titles from the International Powerlifting Federation in the 1990s:

Henderson became the first man to bench press over 700 lb raw in May 1996 when he pressed 705 lb in just a t-shirt and made it on the cover of Powerlifting USA magazine.[8]

Personal records[edit]

Powerlifting competition record:

done in official powerlifting meets

  • Bench press - 711.0 lb (322.5 kg) @ 390 lb (SHW) raw without wrist wraps and belt (July 13, 1997 USPF/IPF)[9][10]
→ former IPF world record in SHW class (+regardless of weight class) for over 7 years; surpassed by Brian Siders's 712.1 lb (323.0 kg) (equipped in singleply bench shirt) in 2004
→ former all-time raw world record in SHW class (+regardless of weight class); surpassed by Scot Mendelson's 713 lbs (323.4 kg) (raw) in 2003[11]
→ current all-time drug-tested raw world record in SHW class (+regardless of weight class) since 1997[11]

Gym record (unofficial):

done in the gym according to James himself

  • Bench press - 744 lb (337.5 kg)[12] raw without wrist wraps and belt

Heaviest lift[edit]

James Henderson is the current world record holder for heaviest drug tested raw bench press in history and the highest raw bench press ever done in a full powerlifting 3-lift-meet (squat-bench press-deadlift). His record setting lift was 711.0 lbs. (322.5 kg)[13] and was performed on July 13, 1997 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the 3rd attempt at the USPF Senior Nationals (IPF/USPF sanctioned three-lift-event) under strict IPF-conditions.[11][9] On the same day, he pressed 683 lbs (310 kg) on the 1st, 699.9 lbs (317.5 kg) on the 2nd and even went for 722 lbs (327.5 kg)on the 4th, but barely missed it. Henderson bench pressed unequipped in the strictest meaning of the word - without belt, without elbow bandages and even without wrist wraps - in just a t-shirt and a singlet. Although Ted Arcidi was the first man to bench press 700 pounds, Henderson has his place in the record books as the first ever to press 700 pounds raw, without a bench press shirt.[14]

The current all-time raw bench press world record of 722 lb (327.5 kg) by Eric Spoto was performed in an open single-lift-meet (bench press only) at the 2013 SPF California State Powerlifting Meet in Sacramento, California on May 19, 2013.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Henderson is a graduate of Mercer University, where he holds a Bachelors degree in theology and psychology. He also attended Albany State University where he played football from 1984 to 1986.[15] His career as an offensive lineman ended when he blew out his knee.[16]

In 1989 Henderson was convicted of drug trafficking and obstruction of justice, and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He served 3 years at Rivers State Prison before being paroled and later pardoned in 1992. While at Rivers State he began reading the Bible and became a devoted born again Christian.[17] Now Henderson gives motivational speeches to groups such as students, business leaders, and prisoners. He currently tours the Georgia Prison System as a speaker for Heartbound Ministries. During his appearances he tells his story of how he became the bench press champion and performs feats of strength.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "James Henderson Powerlifting statistics (incomplete)". Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  2. ^ "1994 IPF Mens Bench Press Championships Järvenpää, Finland. 4th and 5th December 1994". International Powerlifting Federation. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  3. ^ Video: James Henderson bnech pressing 282.5kg at the IPF World Championships, 1994 Järvenpää
  4. ^ "1995 IPF Mens Bench Press Championships Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic". International Powerlifting Federation. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  5. ^ "1996 I.P.F. Bench Press World Championships Silkeborg, Denmark November 29 - Dec 01 1996". International Powerlifting Federation. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  6. ^ "1997 IPF Bench Worlds Leduc, Canada, December 5–7". International Powerlifting Federation. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  7. ^ "9th IPF World Bench Press Championship, December 11–13, Amberg German". International Powerlifting Federation. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  8. ^ "Powerlifting USA, volume 19 number 10 (cover with James Henderson pressing 705 in a t-shirt)". Powerlifting USA magazine. 
  10. ^ "World Powerlifting Records". Hickok Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  11. ^ a b c d Vasquez, Johnny. "Men's Raw World Records". Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  12. ^ Rodriquez, Ken. "My story BY JAMES HENDERSON with Ken Rodriquez". James Henderson. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  13. ^ Guinness World Records Editors, Mark C. Young, ed. (1999). The Guinness Book of World Records 1999. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-58075-2. OCLC 41382761. 
  14. ^ Vasquez, Johnny. "600 Pound Unequipped Bench Press Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  15. ^ MVP Speakers Bio
  16. ^ Getting Stronger My story BY JAMES HENDERSON with Ken Rodriquez
  17. ^ Parolee Finds Success: Rev. James “Hollywood” Henderson, By John Mooney, Dooley State Prison