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Powerlifting: Ha ohana shatters records aplenty

  • Branden Ha

It must be in the genetics for the Ha family to set bench-press records, even when the youngsters enter a competition for the first time.

Back in 2018 in San Diego, Branden Ha bench-pressed 435 pounds at 165 pounds to set a United States Powerlifting Association world record.

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Members of his family established World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters state and world records at an event earlier this month in Kona.

Landen Ha, a Waiakea senior, competed in the 16-17 age division at 132 pounds and bench-pressed 198 pounds for first place and set WABDL state and world records, according to Branden Ha. Landen was also named the “pound for pound” best lifter in the teen division. He’s been lifting for two years.

Lasaea Ha, a Waiakea sophomore, competed in the 15-16 age division at 148 pounds and bench-pressed 132 pounds for first place and set a state record. She’s been lifting a little over a year.

Uilani Ha, Branden’s sister-in-law, competed in the master women (ages 40-46) at below 220 pounds and bench-pressed 226 pounds and set state and world records. She’s been lifting for about three years.

Gayla Ha-Cabebe Hunt, Branden’s niece, competed in the open women’s division at 220 pounds and bench-pressed 231.5 pound to set a state record, and did a 403-pound deadlift to set a state record. She recently started weight lifting.

She is a 2014 Kamehameha graduate and former All-BIIF catcher, who played at Kentucky State University. She recently married Andrew Hunt, whom she met at college.

Guy Ha Sr., Branden’s dad, competed in the masters men (ages 68-74) in the 148-pound weight class and bench-pressed 270 pounds to set state and world records.

He lives on the mainland and flew to Hawaii to watch his grandchildren in their first competition.

Ha didn’t compete at the WABDL competition because he has an event on Oahu later on Dec. 11.

He had no idea what to expect at the Kona completion on Sept. 4-5 until everyone set records.

“I was shocked but not really,” he said. “I know my family is strong. I train my sister-in-law and my son and daughter. I figured for my dad at his age, he’s super strong.”

Back in 2018, Ha was 41 years old when he bench-pressed 435 pounds to set a world record. It was broken by a Russian.

Next year, he’ll be 45 years old and aims to set a record in the masters (ages 45-49) 165-pound weight class. Another Russian holds that record at 391 pounds.

Ha gave a shout-out to JD Penn, who runs the Penn Fitness and Training Center.

“JD sponsors me and helps out my whole family,” Ha said. “He bought two sanctioned bench because he knew I compete. Landen is a worker there. It’s pretty cool. He works there and trains there.

“Gayla met a boy and they got married. He’s a power lifter, and she got into lifting and knew I was hitting records. My dad came to watch the grandkids but found out there was an opening and jumped in.”

Ha pointed to a combination for the family’s weightlifting success.

“Genetics help,” he said. “But I believe in our training and our mindset. I talk with other lifters. Some guys have strength, but you need mental strength to just push for it.

“My kids and I have been eating pretty clean, dropped the carbs, like rice, and eat chicken and tossed salad. I train myself with my own program. We bench Sunday and Thursdays. We don’t overdue it.”

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It also helps that Ha stands at 5 feet 3 and doesn’t have to extend his arms so far. But he’s 44 and been lifting since the 10th grade, so he knows that Father Time is undefeated.

It’s a longer road to recovery now. He doesn’t know when his kids will do their next lift. But when the family gets back to lifting there’ll be one thing on their minds: “Just push for it” and bring home more records.

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