It doesn't happen every day when a 16-year-old can steal the spotlight from his 91-year-old record-breaking uncle.
But at the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters in Reno, Nev. that's just what Meir Jablon did when he broke the deadlift world record for the 12-15 age group, lifting 397.8 pounds. He weighed in at 131.9. It was his first weightlifting competition.
"I feel like I was meant to do this," Jablon said, who broke the record on his sixteenth birthday. "It's my passion."
The deadlift is a weight-training exercise where a loaded barbell is lifted off the ground from a stabilized, bent-over position. A “deadlift” refers to lifting dead weight, or weight without momentum.
A sophomore at Mercer Island High School, Jablon started lifting weights almost by process of elimination. He was looking forward to participating in wrestling and lacrosse, when an autoimmune issue with his back forced him out of action. As he was missing wrestling season and part of the lacrosse season, he decided to try weightlifting. After all, he had a great-uncle making news in the world of weightlifting.
"My Uncle Sy is influential in my life," said Jablon. "He's kind of like a grandpa to me."
His 91-year-old great-uncle Sy Perlis, a WWII Navy veteran who began lifting weights at 60 years old, gained notoriety in June when he broke the WABDL world weightlifting record for the 90-and-over age division, lifting 187.2 pounds on the bench press. The previous mark was 135. At the world championships in Reno, Perlis broke his own record, benching 190.7.
"I wanted 195," Perlis said.
Perlis invited his grand-nephew to train with him in Surprise, Ariz. in October before the WABDL Worlds in Reno. "We took him over to the gym, and the coach looked him over and gave me the high sign," said Perlis.
"[The WABDL Worlds] was the first time he lifted," Perlis said. "I thought that was absolutely the greatest. He came in without any local contests. I'm very, very proud of Meir."
Jablon's mother, Vicki Rackner, said they're still figuring out what's causing Jablon's back pain. "What we do know is that he doesn't have any pain when he powerlifts, and he does have pain when he tries something else," Rackner said.
Jablon trains at Seattle Strength and Power in downtown Seattle three times a week with his trainer, Todd Christensen. While his dead lift record stands at 397.8 pounds, Meir maintains he has lifted 405 pounds in the gym. He is planning to compete in a Washington state meet in March, where he hopes to go for a world record in bench, squat and deadlift. He wants to keep competing and breaking records. But his main goal is spreading the word about weightlifting.
"I want to influence kids about weightlifting and show them something that excites them," Jablon said. "The records aren't as important, spreading the word out about how weightlifting can be beneficial, that's the important part."