American Weightlifting is the story of a sport in turmoil and the athletes and coaches whose passion drives them to succeed despite the odds. Amateur athletes and coaches with little or no financial support struggle to compete with the professionals who dominate the sport internationally. Training in garages, working full time jobs, ignored by the public and the media, American weightlifters and coaches strive to compete with the best in the world. American Weightlifting takes a look at the history and programs of several weightlifting coaches around the country: Mike Burgener, John Thrush, Jim Schmitz, Bob Takano, Kevin Doherty, Paul Doherty, Danny Camargo and Greg Everett. These coaches discuss their backgrounds in the sport, how they have managed to coach in a sport in which there is virtually no money or support, and what they hope to accomplish. Additionally, the movie examines a number of issues with the sport in the US. Internationally, weightlifting is a wildly popular sport with a huge fan base and many athletes are able to train as professionals. The popularity of weightlifting in some of these countries is comparable to football and baseball in the US. Meanwhile, weightlifting in America remains an amateur sport with virtually no financial support or media attention. The top 5 weightlifters in the country are lucky to get $300/month from the US Olympic Committee. American lifters also have to compete against athletes who train without the stringent drug testing policies of USA Weightlifting and USADA, creating an enormous disparity in competition results. Weightlifters in the US nearly all have to work full-time jobs while trying to compete in a sport that by its nature demands complete dedication to training for many years. These athletes make incredible sacrifices in order to pursue their dreams of success in one of the oldest sports in the Olympic games. Our international medalists are ignored and many of the most promising athletes are forced out of the sport because of a lack of money and opportunity, or are drawn away by the allure of fame and money in other sports. American weightlifters prove that true athletes exist—they sacrifice and struggle for nothing more than the love of the sport, not for glory and attention. It’s a movie about the human spirit, dedication & commitment, love for sport, success and failure, the struggle against odds, lineage and legacy, overcoming obstacles, and hope+6

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Cast & Crew




English (Stereo, CC)


Closed captions (CC) refer to subtitles in the available language with the addition of relevant non-dialogue information.

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