John Rivas, '13

More Than His Weight


John Rivas ’13 can more than pull his weight – he can lift it, too, many times over.

Rivas, a member of VMI’s club power lifting team, placed fourth in the world at the International Powerlifting Federation’s 30th World Junior Championships in September 2012. At that competition, held in Poland, Rivas lifted a mind-boggling 1,958 pounds.

Incredibly, that was 67 pounds more than he lifted at the Men’s National Powerlifting Championship, in Orlando, Fla., in June 2012. There, Rivas placed first in the 105-kilogram junior division, with lifts including a 755-pound squat and a 661-pound deadlift.

Those weights would be astounding for anyone. But considering that Rivas missed an entire season due to a back and shoulder injury, they are even more awe-inspiring. Thanks to an intense workout schedule Rivas increased his squat weight by an incredible 222 pounds in the 16 months before the competition in Orlando.

At the collegiate championships held in April 2013, just before he graduated from VMI, Rivas finished in second place. He set a new personal best that day, lifting almost a ton. His combined weight from the three lifts that day – squat, bench, and deadlifts – was 1,985.5 pounds. Always driven to improve, Rivas says he’d like to improve on that performance at the 2013 men’s nationals.

Not that Rivas has much to add to his resume – after all, he’s already been Virginia state champion, and a two-time collegiate all-American, plus a Team USA World Team Lifter.  And through it all, Rivas – and the rest of the powerlifting team and approximately 20 other club teams – had the support of VMI, which pays for travel expenses, registration fees, equipment and the like.

His participation in club sports at VMI even led him to the first step in his career.  Following graduation, Rivas, an economics major, went to work for his sponsor’s sales and marketing division.

Hometown: Montpelier, Va.
Major: Economics and Business

“Club sports provide not only an opportunity to truly develop leadership and confidence in real-life situations, but also an ability to escape and push yourself beyond limits.”