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Powerlifting an outlet for Moon
Tim Moon chalks up his hands Saturday before weightlifting at Iron Beast Barbell in Gainesville. Since beginning weightlifting only three years ago, Moon has travelled the world setting records in his weight class. - photo by SARA GUEVARA | The Times

Tim Moon says he wasn’t always so likeable. He says it was God that smoothed out the rough edges.

These days, those that know him see Moon as a friendly fellow that can strike up a conversation with anyone. In fact, the only time this Gainesville man gets fired up these days is when he getting mentally prepared for a massive lift on the bench press among those in his weightlifting circle of friends.

“I’m real laid back these days, said the 47-year old Moon, who is currently battling shoulder tendonitis. “It takes a lot to get me real fired up.”

Maybe it’s because he has an outlet like weightlifting that he didn’t have as a younger man. However, in the past he didn’t have to tackle the same real-life situations that range from being diagnosed with diabetes early in 2010, to his wife, Karen, finding out she had breast cancer in the fall of 2010 and subsequently having a double mastectomy. He’s also found he can persevere through a sluggish economy as a residential contractor.

That’s why Moon considers the gym a great blessing: It’s an outlet for everything life has to throw at you.

“Weightlifting is good therapy,” said Moon, who has three daughters with his wife ranging in age from 14-21.

Moon, who competes with the Georgia IronDawgs, holds approximately 15 records in all between different federations in the bench press. Last Saturday, during a late morning workout at the Iron Beast Barbell with three spotters he pressed 605 pounds with relative ease. Of course, that’s nothing. He has his eyes set on getting to the 700 mark — a club very few lifters ever see.

Moon credits Mike Kidd for being the one to refine his talent and teach the technique associated with the sport.

“It takes a lot of dedication to reach the level we’re trying to attain,” fellow Georgia IronDawgs lifter Garry Glenn said.

These next couple of weeks training are going to be crucial for Moon as he prepares for the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) Nationals on July 9 in Nashville, Tenn. Then on July 16, the Iron Beast Barbell gym in Gainesville will host the Georgia Games, with eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney scheduled to attend.

“The Georgia Games is a good opportunity for those young people to come out and watch to see if they are interested,” said Moon, who benched 430 during his first Georgia Games in 2008. “There’s really not a lot of pressure involved.”

What makes Moon’s story also interesting is that he is relatively new to competitive lifting. His first meet was only three years ago during a competition at Gainesville High.

“Six months later, I’m dragging him to Germany for the World Championships,” Glenn said.

Moon showed up to that meet at Gainesville purely as a spectator and didn’t even know any of the other lifters. He was motivated by reading a newspaper story about a lifter that won a state championship. He found out at the door, he could get in for free if he lifted. There on the spot, with no prior preparation, he benched 415 pounds.

He went home and hold his wife he was going to take up competitive weightlifting after that experience.

“God made me strong and I just started training from there,” Moon said.

In that short time, he’s placed third overall and set a new American record in the WUAP (World United Amateur Powerlifters) championships in 2008 in Germany. However, one of the most memorable parts of that trip was just getting there. After arriving in Frankfurt with Glenn, they were put in a rental car without a GPS system. Since they couldn’t read the road signs, it took an hour to get out of the city.

Then in 2009, Moon took the next step with a bench press of 565 at the World Championships in France. Getting there was another adventure. The day they were supposed to fly out was the same day of historic floods in Atlanta in Sept. of that year. After a flight delay, they were re-routed to Switzerland and separated from their luggage. Moon didn’t receive his personal belongings until the end of the trip, which was especially inconvenient since he has sleep apnea.

He can laugh about it now.

“It was kind of fun, but not really,” Moon said.

However, the past year has included some very serious turns. First of all, Moon was told he had diabetes 16 months ago after being diagnosed by his brother, Lee, who is a paramedic. He showed all the classic symptoms of diabetes with weight loss, constantly feeling thirsty and always feeling like he needed to use the rest room.

When they tested his blood sugar it was 350, well above the normal range of 80-120. Recently, Moon started to take insulin, along with different medications.

“The first two or three days after I found out about having diabetes, I was real depressed,” said Moon, who has dropped down to 253 pounds since his diagnosis. “I was in denial.”

However, the most serious issue for Moon was learning his wife had breast cancer. He says that his wife Karen has been physically strong since her diagnosis. One of the biggest shocks was just hearing the “C word”.

“We’re finding out how strong she is,” Moon said.

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