PHS Junior Hoping to Make Waves in Powerlifting Scene


Charlie Ruckle, PaperClip Staff/Writer

Jackson Shackleford, a junior at Portsmouth High School, is a powerlifter who is hoping to make a big name for himself. 

After getting his license on his 16th birthday, Shackleford started working out at the gym regularly, but didn’t consider competing in powerlifting until months later. His fitness journey started at Planet Fitness, where he worked out after school and on weekends six days per week for roughly six months. 

Next, he moved to Vanguard Key Card Club.  It was not until he made his last move to Flighthouse Gym in Rye that he began powerlifting. He claims that working out in a quality gym makes a huge difference and paying a little more for that experience is worthwhile for him.

Last weekend, with hundreds of people in attendance, Shackleford competed in a powerlifting competition in Salem, New Hampshire where he fell just short of qualifying for Nationals. 

The competition is divided into classes by age, weight, and gender.  Despite putting up impressive numbers with a 405 lb. squat, 255 lb. bench press, and 475 lb. deadlift, his weight was half a pound above what he needed to qualify, putting him in a different weight category.  

Shackleford said the news was “disappointing” but he “was happy with how he performed and said that he is just going to keep striving to improve and get stronger.”

Shackleford found his inspiration to start powerlifting online from a body builder named Golden Boy who made him believe that his passions were possible. Golden Boy started lifting weights at a young age just like Shackleford, and has made a successful career for himself, creating content and competing. 

Shackleford now finds his motivation from his friends and family. He said, “my mom is his biggest supporter. She is always there to encourage me”. He said lots of his friends and peers tease or rib him about his intensity for the sport, and he uses that as motivation wanting to prove them wrong.

Shackleford does not have a trainer or coach. He does all of his research on his own. He said that he enjoys researching and learning about Powerlifting. Whether that is a new technique, exercises, form, or diet, he enjoys studying it all. 

He stated that it’s “mostly trial and error, you have to see what works for you and what doesn’t”. It’s also about what exercises you enjoy doing, and which ones you do not. 

Shackleford usually works out with a partner, Cam Worster, also a PHS junior, and they both push each other to their limits in hopes of improving. When asked, Worster described Shackleford as “determined and hardworking”. He stated that they both have goals and try to help each other achieve them.

Shackleford’s goals for powerlifting are to continue to attend meets and possibly join a Powerlifting team in college. Powerlifting is not a major college sport, but you can still join and even receive scholarships. It is not run through the NCAA, but instead by USA Powerlifting. Scouts for these programs attend meets and look for prospects. So if Shackleford continues to improve and does well competing at meets, his hopes will be high.

Powerlifting is considered a relatively new sport and has only been around since the 1960s. It became an official sport in 1972. Yet, it is considered one of the fastest growing sports and many believe that it should and will have a future in the Olympics. Shackleford agrees with this and hopes the sport can grow and have some sort of professional competing route.