SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Competing against some of the world’s best powerlifters is an honor in itself, but in 2019 David Boutsomsy found himself on stage being interviewed by a legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The interview didn’t just happen by chance. It was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to athletics.
David Boutsomsy was born in French Camp, California in 1981 to parents from Savannakhet and Muang Champassak Laos. His father was a member of the Royal Lao Army who escaped to Thailand after spending time in an internment camp. The family relocated to Maryland when David was a child and he attended Stephen Decatur High School (Class of 1999) in Berlin.
He was an accomplished multi-sport athlete during his high school years competing in football and track. It was at Stephen Decatur High School that Mr. Boutsomsy was first introduced to powerlifting by one of his math teachers.
The sport of powerlifting has three competition lifts: the bench press, squat and deadlift. It is distinguished from Olympic-style weightlifting — with its snatch and clean and jerk — by an emphasis on raw strength.
Mr. Boutsomsy won first place in some local bench press competitions and took runner up at a Maryland state championship.
While at Stephen Decatur, he made his mark in track and field. At the 1999 Maryland State Championships, Mr. Boutsomsy tied for fourth place in Class 2A in the 300-meter hurdles, with a time of 42.10.
After graduating from high school, he attended Delaware State University, where he was a member of the football team.
Upon graduation, Mr. Boutsomsy unsuccessfully tried out for both the National Football League and Arena Football League. He played a few years of semi-pro football, but finally settled on Powerlifting as his sport of focus.
Mr. Boutsomsy lifted “raw”, that is, without the kind of specialized gear and clothing that can add considerable weight to an attempt.
He had a phenomenal year in 2016, at the age of 34, when he took second place at the USA Powerlifting Bench Press Nationals and secured an international record-breaking gold medal win at the Pan-American Bench Press Championships in Costa Rica, with a lift of 396.8 at a bodyweight of 179.9, raw.
Mr. Boutsomsy currently lives in Northern Indiana with his wife Megan and their four children. He is a member of the South Bend Police Department. He is the first Lao American known to have achieved notable success in powerlifting.
Information for this article was obtained through interviews with David Boutsomy, Open Powerlifting and USA Powerlifting. USA Powerlifting event photos are by Platinumnines and posted with special permission from USA Powerlifting.