Mighty Joe Bradley: Best Pound-for-Pound Lifter of All-Time

TAGS: whiskey and deadlifts, international competition, best powerlifter of all time, prison lifting, Joe Bradley, Dr. Fred Hatfield, powerlifting, Josh Bryant


As the author and coauthor of numerous best-selling books, I can tell you, each one is unique and requires a ton of work. Jailhouse Strong, however, required more than drawing on anecdotal experience and bird doggin’ through Pubmed. It required work, almost like an anthropologist. We literally had to go out and find and interview primary sources. One such trip ended up in an apartment in South Central LA with the co-founder of the Crips.

Of all these experiences, though, one of the most unique was talking to the greatest pound-for-pound powerlifter of all time, Mighty Joe Bradley. Joe got his start throwing around heavy pig iron in the Wisconsin State Pen. Einstein said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Coincidentally, back in the day, in Wisconsin, it was a regular occurrence for those on the inside to share the platform with those on the outside. At one such meet, as fate would have it, my mentor, Dr. Fred Hatfield, was watching Joe lift and they struck up a quick friendship.

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Dr. Hatfield was a professor at the University of Wisconsin so he took a long shot and placed a call to the Governor and was able to get through to him. He convinced the Governor to pardon Joe. Fred explained to the Governor that Joe had world record-setting potential in powerlifting and if he was released could take up residency with Dr. Hatfield. After this, Joe trained under Fred’s tutelage. This changed the sport forever.

Some of Joe’s accomplishments, as a powerlifter, at 132 pounds, were a 650-pound squat and a 397-pound bench press, back in 1980. In 1981, Joe totaled 1614 at 148 pounds. He went on to bench press 402 pounds at 130 pounds. It would read like a novel if I went on to discuss all of Joe’s accomplishments.

I actually had the privilege of recording the interview I did with Joe. In this interview, we cover all sorts of things, but some of the highlights include:

  • Prison lifting
  • Joe’s International competition
  • Proper use of whiskey shots prior to deadlifts
  • Joe’s favorite powerlifting routines
  • Joe’s favorite bodybuilding exercises and much more!

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you, Joe Bradley.

Rob Hall Totals 2226 Raw at Boss of Bosses 3


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