Johnny Graham didn’t get much sleep last week — only 26 hours to be exact. 

But when the IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships wrapped up Sunday evening — with Ray Williams putting the exclamation point on a Team USA open victory with a world record total — it was all worth it.

“It lived up to the expectations,” said Graham, the organizer of the event, “the largest world championship ever in the IPF — over 800 lifters.”

In the final session of the event, which lasted a full week, Williams dazzled the Killeen Civic and Conference Center crowd by totaling a world-record 2,157 pounds, including a world-record squat of 833 pounds that drew the biggest cheer of the day and was particularly gratifying for Williams.

“Since the Arnold (Classic), I’ve had a lot to work on as far as my squat goes and I put a lot of time, a lot of energy into perfecting my squat, getting it better,” he said. “And it was nice for that hard work to come to fruition on the platform.”

Williams actually caught a cramp in his hamstring before his final bench press attempt but still managed a personal best of 540.1 pounds, then

nearly had a world-record deadlift of 827.8 pounds but was called for fault by two judges.

That kept it from being a perfect day but Williams was still all smiles afterward.

“It was a blessing, but I really wanted that last one — I wanted that last one so bad,” he said. “But I’m blessed and fortunate enough to have finished the way I did.”

Before Williams stole the show in the 120-plus kg, or super heavyweights, class, fellow Team USA lifter Dennis Cornelius did the same in the 120 kg class right before.

Cornelius also set world records for the squat (833 pounds) and total (2,157 pounds) and also added a world record bench press of 558 pounds.

And after cutting about 10 pounds leading up to the meet, hitting his marks on that stage was even sweeter for Cornelius.

“It feels great,” Cornelius said. “I’ve been watching people on the IPF for several years, and before I started competing I was watching.”

The win also capped a dominant performance across the board for Team USA, which won 13 team gold medals and a silver medal over the past week.

And Graham was happy that the city of Killeen was able to host the historic event.

“I definitely know it is (worth it) for the city,” he said.

And after fighting for years to bring the World Classic to Killeen, Graham now turns his attention to the IPF World Bench Press Championships, which will come to Killeen in April after a hard-fought battle by Graham to host it as well.

But even after all the hard work that went into the World Classic, Graham was still excited to bring the next event to Killeen.

“Looking forward to it,” he said. “It’ll be a lot easier than this.”

Contact Jordan Mason at or 254-501-7562​

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