by: Adam benShea
The story of Chuck “The Truck” Braxton is a unique one and it brings to mind the words of legendary big wave surfer, Mark Foo, who said: “It’s not tragic to die doing something you love.” An elite level Masters powerlifter, Chuck had a few bumps in his road, but maintained a caring heart throughout the process.
Due to convictions of forgery and counterfeiting, Chuck spent time in correctional institutions in Georgia and Pennsylvania. It was while incarcerated that Chuck met the master strength coach E.J. “Doc” Kreis, who at the time was head of recreation for the Georgia State Prison. The mentorship of Kreis provided Chuck a path of strength to move from convict to respected strongman.
Before being released prison, Chuck also showed his strength of heart when a riot broke out and his actions in the midst of chaotic violence saved many lives and ultimately served to restore a degree of peace to prison life.
With his prison time behind him, Chuck would regularly workout at the Vanderbilt weight room (where Kreis was a coach). Chuck became active on the powerlifting circuit and with demonstrations of an unorthodox type of strength. He was known as Chuck “The Truck” after he let an eight ton semi-truck run over him, a stunt which put him in the Guinness Book of World Records. In another instance, he held four airplanes while they tried to take off. On the powerlifting platform, he set numerous national and world records with lifts of over 755 in the squat and deadlift and near 500 pounds in the bench press.
Off the platform, he showed his caring for children mirrored his great physical strength. Every year, the white maned lifter would dress up as Santa Claus. Throughout the year, he gave kids the most important gift, valuable doses of self-worth with words of encouragement. Chuck made wooden dumbbells and used them as tools to help bolster the self-esteem of local kids. He and his wife adopted two girls and Chuck adopted his wife’s daughter from a previous marriage, but the number of children he helped number in the thousands.
Unfortunately, even Chuck’s great heart had its limits. While warming up for a national Masters meet in California, Chuck put the bar back on the rack and just sat down. When medical responders attempted to inject Adrenaline into his hear, they couldn’t find a needle strong enough to penetrate his muscle.
It was as if Chuck held built up a protective layer of strength to protect his compassionate heart from the ugliness he had witnessed in life.