BRAD ROBICHAUX — Mark Henry delivered greatness from Southeast Texas

Published 12:20 am Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How many children dream of doing big things when they grow up? I know I did, and I would imagine most do.

I never got the superpowers I always dreamed of, though, and I imagine most children likewise might not achieve those lofty and sometimes unrealistic goals like being king of the world or the strongest man in the world.

But some of them do. Mark Henry did.

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Henry, a native of Silsbee, was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame on Saturday on the merits of a stellar career as an Olympian, professional weightlifter, powerlifter and WWE wrestler.

Henry’s powerlifting records include a 953.5-pound squat, 903.9-pound deadlift, and 2,336.9-pound powerlifting total. All three are still standing all time world records for drug-tested raw powerlifting.

His combined raw squat and deadlift done on July 16, 1995 — 1851.9 pounds — is the highest raw total lifted in competition.

It’s easy to dismiss someone’s claim of being the “world’s greatest” as mere hyperbole. In Henry’s case, he may actually be the world’s strongest man.

“A lot of people say that, and it’s arguable as it always is, but I’m the strongest human being that ever lived, and that guy came from Silsbee, Texas, from Southeast Texas,” Henry said.

Tom Neal, director of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, agreed.

“This guy still has records that people still can’t beat, and until they do they can’t take the title, but meanwhile Mark has left his mark on this stuff, and he’s focused and driven,” Neal said.

What was Henry’s secret to success? A whole lot of hard work, discipline and sacrifice, and a little bit of crazy, he says.

Motivation helps tremendously, too, and it means a lot to Henry to be honored by Southeast Texas because it gives other children from this area an example to follow when they aim for their own big goals.

Henry spends a good bit of time now sharing his story and wisdom with the younger generation to help them get motivated.

“I just want to boost kids’ morale,” he said. “My life’s goal is to push kids to do more than they think they can do. I stay busy and I don’t feel like there’s anything that I can’t do, and I want that mentality to be put into all of our kids.”

Neal and the Museum share Henry’s aims.

“That’s what so many kids need to understand in this day, if they can tap into that and get a purpose in life,” he said. “I’ll tell them not everybody’s going to end up here, but you may, but you won’t get it without dreaming and all the things that go with it that you have to be willing to do.”

Some might be discouraged that they come from a small town no one has ever heard of, or that their humble origins mean they don’t have greatness inside of them. The Museum’s Hall of Fame is a testament to just how wrong that sentiment is.

The world’s strongest man came from Southeast Texas. This man lifted the “unliftable” Thomas Inch dumbbell. Henry’s example shows nothing is impossible for the people of this area.

I still doubt I’ll ever get my superpowers, but there will always be amazing things to accomplish without them.

Brad Robichaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at