Apr 26, 2018

Massillon: The Bodybuilding Capital of the World

Massillon, Ohio is a suburb of Canton, which is a suburb of Akron, which is in the metropolitan area of Cleveland:  it's at the end of an urban sprawl of Targets, Wal-Marts, McDonalds, and little houses made of ticky-tacky that began at Lake Erie, fifty miles away.

 Massillon itself,  population of 32,000,  is notable for the Jackson Bog State Nature Preserve (that's right, a bog), and the Ideal Department Store Building (an 8-story skyscraper built in 1918), and for being the birthplace of silent film great Lillian Gish.  It's a rust belt town struggling to find a new identity after the steel mills closed. Nothing to do but work out and drive into Canton.

Let's hear more about that working out.

As far as I can tell, Massillon has twelve gyms and fitness centers, including Cross-Fit, The Fitness Boot Camp, and Bodybuilders, Inc.  Massillon men regularly win regional bodybuilding competitions.

I found the obituary of Devin Dearth, a bodybuilder who grew up in Massillon and went on to win many competitions, including Mr. Kentucky.  He suffered a paralyzing stroke at the age of 40 (not related to drug misuse).  His attempt to recover was the subject of a documentary, 9,000 Needles.

Massillon has two high schools, with the usual swim teams lifting fingers to indicate that they have won some sort of competition.

Plus powerlifting.  The Massillon Tigers hold a Lift-A-Thon annually in memory of Steve Studer, the Strength and Conditioning Coach who died in 2004.

They have wrestling, too.

Zion Shaver, born in Columbus, Ohio, was adopted by a woman in Massillon.  Although he lacks legs, he went out for wrestling.  He weighed only 88 pounds, so he was placed in the lightest weight category, and got an amazing 33/15 wins his senior year.

He graduated in 2016.

Almost makes you want to go visit that bog.

1 comment:

  1. The glacial kettle bogs in northeast Ohio are fascinating. There are some open as parks in Ravenna and in Kent (where Kent State University is). I'll have to check out the one in Massillon. Thanks!


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