Guillermo Bujanda knows his strengths. Literally.
Growing up, he was always gifted athletically. He succeeded at just about any sport he pursued and even became a nationally ranked swimmer in high school.
But no matter which sport he dedicated his time to, the one constant strength was his weightlifting ability.
“I started lifting weights when I was 11,” says Bujanda, who goes by Will. “By the time I was 12 years old, I was already back-squatting 315 pounds. As a kid, I was always freakishly strong.”
Even at 40, his abilities haven’t diminished. He continues to crush the competition at pretty much any event he enters.
Most recently, he won his division and weight class at the World Masters Championships held in Barcelona, Spain. It was just the latest in a series of weightlifting titles the Venezuela-born, Kenner-raised athlete has garnered.
Bujanda certainly loves competing—and winning even more. But as he gets older, he knows his days of domination are numbered. So he’s reshifted his focus onto the future of the sport, which very well may lie within his own genes.
“My son, Liam, is 7, and I’m kind of passing the torch along to him toward the end of my time,” Bujanda says. “He recently became the youngest kid in the nation to qualify for nationals. My shot to go to the Olympics isn’t there. The person that could go to the Olympics is my kid. He has that potential because of the knowledge I possess about the sport.”
Bujanda has begun coaching others, too, working as a trainer for Future Fitness Wellness Center in Baton Rouge. He’s worked with local weightlifting legends like Gayle Hatch and Matt Bruce to continue perfecting his own craft while also soaking in all the knowledge he can in hopes of passing it along to future generations. He’ll be the first to tell you that sometimes mental strength is just as important as physical.
“Someone asked me, ‘What does it mean to you to go to the World Masters?’ I want my kids to see that—that I trained and worked really hard and then I got to go there and compete. The chunk of metal isn’t as important as me having the clout to tell other people, ‘I want you to achieve this.’ In the past 40 years, America hasn’t done anything in weightlifting. My mission is that maybe my son, daughter or another kid I coach could be next to put USA back on the map.”
Editor’s note: Quotes have been edited for clarity and brevity.
This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.