Western Warriors is the biggest non-sanctioned weightlifting competition on the calendar. It was originally run as a collaboration between Ben Poon (the previous owner of CrossFit Rise up) and Damien Hennigan (who owns CrossFit Westgate).
“We used to get together with a bunch of guys like Ben, Sam Steel and Luke Anderson each week and just lift. Ben and I came up with the idea of running a weightlifting competition for CrossFitters,” Damo told The Weightlifting Platform.
It didn’t take long for this idea to catch on. It attracted not only CrossFitters but anyone and everyone who wanted to participate in a weightlifting comp in a friendly, non-threatening environment.
“The funny thing is that each year we get both specialised weightlifters and Crossfit athletes. And each year the CrossFit athletes have been winning,” laughed Damo.
A couple of years after Western Warriors launched, Ben moved up north. Since then, Damo has been running the comp by himself. And if you’ve ever been to Western Warriors, you’d know Damo. The minute you walk in the door at this CrossFit box in Williamstown, his thick Irish accent will be booming over the microphone, or he’ll be spinning tracks from the DJ booth. He’s a big personality, and that only makes Western Warriors even more unique.
Each year the start lists are full and tickets are sold out. Because this competition truly caters to all levels. In 2018, a lifter from CrossFit Craigieburn snatched 27kg and clean & jerked 40kg. The cheers she received from the crowd were just as big as those for the top lifter of the day, who snatched 115kg and clean & jerked 148kg.
“From the start we partnered with Again Faster [a fitness equipment company] who donates both a 15kg barbell and 20kg barbell to use on the day and then the winning male and female gets to take it home with them,” Damo explains. Before Western Warriors, giving away a top-of-the-line barbell to competition winners was unheard of.
Damo has been a trailblazer within this community, proving that weightlifting competitions can be exciting, vibrant and full of comradery. He has given an opportunity to athletes who never expected to compete in weightlifting, and ignited in them a passion that may never have been found otherwise.
On July 20, 2019, CrossFit Westgate will be hosting its sixth Western Warriors Weightlifting Competition. So if you don’t believe the hype, you can check it out for yourself! Doors open at 8am for a 9am kick-off.
Start lists will be out one week prior on:
If you have any questions about the comp, would like to support it or to find out if it’s the right competition for you, feel free to contact Damo.