SANDERSON, Fla. -- The United States has won more than 100 medals in the London Games and dominated many sports but weightlifting is not one of them. In fact, a US man hasn't won an Olympic medal in weightlifting since 1984, a US woman since 2000. But here on the First Coast we have a local Olympic weightlifter who did medal in the super heavyweight division years ago. His name is Joe Dube and he lives in Sanderson.
"Oh Lord, help me get this weight, get it, get it Joe," says Joe Dube as he sits in front of his computer screen looking at a film clip of himself lift super human weight in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. "This is 430 pounds." Dube won the bronze in his division. But he was favored to win the gold. "When I got in Mexico I made a terrible mistake by brushing my teeth with their tap water." He got sick and lost 19 pounds in 10 days. That weakened him but he still persevered and won a medal. "I felt great. I felt good that I was able to win a medal and represent my country."
Dube has fond memories of the 1968 Olympics and some funny moments too like when he mistakenly jumped on a cage filled with doves in the opening ceremony parade and let them out early. He says he's was especially proud of uniforms the United States Olympic members wore and even prouder now of where they were made. "Oh, I loved them, made in the United States, Sears and Roebuck." Dube graduated from Terry Parker High in Jacksonville. He's a grandfather now, doesn't go to the gym anymore but he still gets a workout keeping up with the grandkids. "I got 8 grandchildren and they wear me out man."
Dube was the first teenager in the world to clean and press 400 pounds. The year after the '68 Olympics, he did win gold in the World Championship and settled the score. "In '69 is where I really came on strong. I beat the Russian that beat me in the Olympics."
After all his success, he met President Nixon at the White House and also appeared on the Tonight show pumping iron. "Johnny and Ed McMahon tried to lift it up and they couldn't even lift it off the floor hardly."
Dube is the last American man to win a world weightlifting championship. He says the sport just doesn't get enough recognition because of lack of sponsors. "Your top athletes are going for sports that have money. Money has a lot to do with it."
For Joe Dube it was his passion for weightlifting that propelled him to greatness. A passion that can inspire more American weightlifters to win a spot on the medal stand. "If I could do it all over again, I'd do it again. I loved it. Loved every minute."
Joe Dube set 12 American and 4 world weightlifting records in his career. He often gives advice to aspiring weightlifters online. He says his best advice is to not mess around with performance enhancing drugs.
First Coast News