SRP Worker Aims To Be 'World’s Strongest Man'
We know Superman is a journalist by day and a superhero off the clock. The Valley has a person in a somewhat similar situation-- a utility worker by day and a strongman after hours.
Jerry Pritchett starts his day in a garage at SRP’s East Valley service center. Heavy metal blasts from the stereo while Pritchett cuts and welds another kind of heavy metal. He’s a metal fabricator for the utility company.
“I work on all the vehicles, do fab work for the line crew building tools and boxes and then fixing transformers and things like that,” Pritchett said.
Then in the afternoon, Pritchett goes from cutting metal … to lifting it. He’s a strongman, and competes around the world, including in the World’s Strongest Man for the past four years.
“For strongman or strength athletics, it’s our Super Bowl, our Indianapolis 500, you know, your biggest thing of every sport, World’s Strongest Man is ours,” Pritchett said.
He has a personal training facility, because you don’t find dumbbells made with tires at the local gym. There are metal kegs, sandbags and “atlas stones”-- 380-pound spheres that are lifted onto a platform. Pritchett said you have to train to the events if you want to win.
“I do those events every week to make sure that I’m efficient in them,” Pritchett said.
This is where the metal fabrication background comes in handy. Pritchett made most of the special equipment he owns himself.
“If there’s a show coming up and they have some kind of odd, you know, something we haven’t seen before - I can try to get the dimensions of it and copy it so I have it to train with,” Pritchett said.
In last year’s World’s competition in Malaysia, Pritchett had to pull an 1100-pound yoke, like what a pair of oxen would wear to pull a loaded wagon-- only Pritchett was pulling six college students sitting on either side.
He took 10th place, which means he just got into the finals. Of the 10 guys standing on the platform, he was the only one with a job. If you don’t have a lot of sponsors, the sport is not cheap.
“My wife and I went broke for a long time doing it,” Pritchett said. “I’ve been fortunate enough here the last couple years where I’ve picked up enough good sponsors.”
But he’s not about to quit his day job. He’s still putting in a lot more money than he’s getting back. And it’s really appreciated by the other guys who use his training facility, like Easton Taylor.
“He’s one of the biggest promoters in Arizona for Arizona Strongman. So last year he put on two shows, and that allows people to come out from different states and actually cut their teeth and, you know, see if they want to do strongman,” Taylor said.
They’re always working toward the next show, the next peak to climb.
“It makes everything, like we do right now, all the thankless hours of sweating through training and bleeding through training … you can actually have a great show and have a great lift and it’s your payday, that makes it worthwhile,” Pritchett said.
The next goal for Pritchett - to be World’s Strongest Man, 2016.