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Under the Spotlight - Grip Profile - Richard Sorin


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Today's profile features Richard Sorin.

 

This profile is going to be a little different than those which came before.  It makes sense though, considering who is being profiled.  As a living grip legend…Richard has been interviewed many times.

Upon contacting him, I learned he preferred to have a simple phone conversation, rather than rehash many of the standard statistics and questions he's answered a dozen times.  Since he was casually tossing aside the script I had prepared, I was pretty darn intimidated when I got on the phone with him.  Although I had met Richard at the 2015 AOBS dinner, having some small talk in a crowded venue is much easier than trying to pick the brain of a Grip Pioneer.

However, after an awkward first five minutes, I was blanketed in one of the most pleasant hour-long conversations I've ever had.  I became so ensconced in the dialogue, I found myself forgetting to write things down…and would type furiously to try and catch up.  I may have only took notes on half of our conversation.  I hope to again have the pleasure of a chat with Richard…without the note taking.   

Those visiting the GripBoard will notice there is a sponsor called Sorinex.  Sorinex is the brainchild and exercise equipment company of Richard Sorin.  What few of you know however, its that 36years ago, Richard started this his company in his garage.  He created something from nothing, and worked extra jobs to finance his passion.  Today, along with his son Bert and loyal crew of 50 people, Richard and Sorinex supply hundreds of high schools, universities, military bases and 90% of the NFL with functional strength equipment. 

If you want a product that is virtually impregnable and built to last, you don't waste time comparing this company with that…you simply go to Sorinex. 

Before getting to the profile itself, it's probably a good idea to set Richard's place in history for any reading this who are new to Gripsport.  From his first set of weights at 5 years old, Richard was hooked on strength training. Most of the people who train grip today know Richard as the very first Captain of Crush.  They have no idea how ridiculously strong Richard was at his peak. 

With years of dedicated training, he was able Bench 470lbs, Squat 675lbs, Deadlift 714lbs, Clean 410lbs and Snatch 290lbs, and an unreal (no-strap) lockout of 1331lbs.  Even today, at 65yo, he is still stronger than I will ever be, 20 years his junior.  It has actually become a Sorinex tradition for Richard to deadlift 500+lbs on his birthday.  Just 4 years ago, at 61yo, Richard hit a triple with 521lbs.

 

Indeed, Richard Sorin was the first Captain of Crush in 1991, closing what would become the benchmark feat of Gripper Strength…the Ironmind #3.  However, a few years after the official "set" was changed to a CCS (Credit Card Set)…and 17 years after his original close, he RE-Certified under the new rules…at 57years old

But his Grip prowess has never been limited to Crush.  Richard has always been an innovator with Grip implements.  One day, while moving half of a broken 100lb Original York Dumbbell, he realized he couldn't pinch lift it.  Not one to shy from a challenge, he worked at it until he owned the lift.  So came to be "The Blob," still considered to be an "Elite" Gripsport feat.  In fact, Richard's pinch strength was so strong, that even today, he is one of only 3-4 people to ever Pinch Lift a pair of Old York Deep Dish 45lb Plates.  To finish off the Grip Trifecta, Richard was one of the original testers of the IronMind's Apollon's Axle.  He managed to pull an astounding 1112lb lockout with that 2" bar.  He also 2 finger deadlifted 552'lbs on a 1" bar.  For perspective…Goener pulled 595lbs.  To be in anyway compared to Goener is a tremendous honor.  Clearly Richard's Support Grip wasn't lacking either.  While this was an abridged version, hopefully that takes care of the sum up.

During my hour long conversation with Richard, we talked very little about feats.  While there is no doubt he is proud of them, at this point in his life, it was obvious he has moved beyond that, and takes much more pride in the company he's developed, the company he keeps and the very spark of his life…his son Bert.

I need to point out that Richard gave me carte blanche to arrange the Profile Pic as I saw fit.  I truly hope he likes it. 

The profile that follows won't be complete.  No man can be encapsulated in a single page, and especially not this man.  As much as I tried to take notes and retain the information gathered, it can't fit into the familiar outline I prepared for these profiles.  After this introduction, you will be reading a mish-mash of Richard's words combined with my attempt to fill in the many blanks where I was unable to keep up.  Any errors are assuredly my own. 

Let's hear from the man they call "Pops."

 

Sorin Profile Pic.jpg

 

A conversation with Richard.

 

Grip Board name: "1stCoC"

Age: 65

Height: 6'5" (195.5cm)

Weight: 254 lbs (115kg)

Dominant Hand Size: Right 7 7/8" in (20cm)

Country/City:  USA/SC, Columbia

Relationship Status:  Single

Children:  one son, Bert Sorin

Occupation:  Founder/Owner of Sorinex

 

How did Sorinex come about?

I was always creative…always trying to make better pieces of equipment.  When I was in my garage fabricating, I'd take odd jobs to get enough money to buy a tool.  Although I've been in business for 36 years, it grew very slowly. 

Word… good or bad spreads.  Enough people call this guy up to do work…it gets around.  I'd show up at a powerlifting meet and they'd want to buy something that I built.  Yes, it was mechanical…but I loved  it.  I was a one man show for many years. 

At the time, people started saying "Big Black Ugly and Built to last forever."  People today really get it.  A bench today hasn't changed in 70 years…but that doesn't mean it can't be better.  People that were my heroes in my youth, are my friends now.  If I didn't have the business…

Eventually Sorinex moved into a large unused building.  It would fit the titanic in it.  We outgrew it in a year.  And now we have the expansion.  Like people together come up with ideas.  "If you build it they will come."  It is a "Field of Dreams" quote.  I can watch that movie and understand. 

I've always told my son good things are ahead.  There's one great thing I still have to do.  I don’t know what it is…the great thing that I will do. 

Maybe I'll just leave a legacy for others…

that’s fine with me.

    

How did you started with grip?

At 5 years old, I got my Billard Jr. Champmaker Barbell Set.  I was so proud of it, I took it into show and tell at Kindergarten. I still have a picture of me curling it at six years old.  That was the beginning of my interest in strength training.  It seems that I always had a strong grip.  I still remember my mother telling me not to squeeze her hands so hard.  

I used to look at the strength magazines and at 12yo, I could pinch a pair of 25's and 35's.  Because I trained in a low basement, I couldn't lift overhead.  By high school, I could clean 260 on my knees.  If you've never cleaned from your knees, you should try it.  I learned, designed and built equipment because I had very little.  When you have little to work with, you learn to be creative.

When I was 13yo, I would travel 190 miles to York, PA, alone, to attend a picnic or Senior Nationals.  There I am at 13yo, staying by myself in a motel, walking to the York Diner…and eating with the greatest lifters in York history.  I didn't know it at the time, how pivotal it would be.  I wasn't supposed to do all this, but somehow I got to.  I met people like Paul Anderson and Bob Bednarski.  After Bob set a World Record, I didn't hear…"Give it up, you skinny kid."  I heard, "Come here kid.  Let's get a picture together."

Weightlifting and strength training keep the body strong in spirit and mind.  As a kid, I didn't spend money on toys.  I would cut grass until I had $10 because I knew that $10 …equaled 100lb of Jackson Barbells.  I would buy a set…then I would start saving again.

 

I heard you had cancer…?

Yes.  About 11 years ago, my mom passed from cancer.  I would never go to the doctor, so as a nod to my mother, I took myself in for a checkup.  As it turned out…cancer.

It took a 12 hour surgery to cut it all out.  7 weeks later, I was lifting again.

Somehow, I feel if you have an agenda...it makes things easier.

 

Are you still training?

Before I had my bleed, I'd work out  Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.  I'd hang with 25yo gangbusters.

The bleed?  About 1 year ago, about a month and a half before Summer Strong, I deadlifted 400x10 and got a pain in my stomach.  I kept training but had to stop because I was getting winded every day.  Training took forever.  It could take all day to do something I'd knock out in an hour before.  At Summer Strong, Bert looked at me and said…"Dad you look gray!"  At the E.R. they told me that my oxygen levels were like half of what they were supposed to be.  Apparently I was bleeding internally for six weeks.  The Aleve I had been taking had burned a hole in my stomach.

 

What activities do you enjoy doing?

I now enjoy many things that I seldom had time to do in my youth.  However, I made it a priority to do these things with Bert as he grew up.  I have spent numerous hunting and fishing trips with friends and my son.

I also love my work. 

If your life's work something you enjoy to do…then you win the game.

 

Do you have any personal anecdotes, topic or thoughts you'd like to share?

There's saying…and there's doing.  I don't care what you say…I care what you do.  The closer together those two things are…then you really have something. 

Help Gripsport grow and spread.  

Great gentlemen don't have to be a badass all the time. 

Great gentlemen look at the gifts they are given…then do something with them.  Then they give something back

I spent a moment with Joe Weider when he was sick and near the end of his life.  I thanked him for all that he did for the growth of strength and weight training.  He shook his head no.  I said…"You've done so much!"  He gestured for me to come closer and said in a weak voice "never enough."  

Do all you can and then some.  If you have a stage or have a presence…Don’t waste it!  There are too many people who look up to you for inspiration.

Don’t wait to go fishing.  If you have time to go fishing…go fishing. 

Be there when your parents are alive.  It's not easy…otherwise everyone would be doing it.  It's a commitment…it really is.

Life hasn't been easy…but maybe it's not supposed to be.  Maybe you should be challenged.

Man up…every day.  That's it.

 

Who's Grip profile would you like to see?

There are a number of excellent and worthy people in strength…but for Grip…for grip, I'd like to see two people, each for different reasons.  For his innumerable contributions to Grip, from developments and innovation of events and equipment, to his work spreading Gripsport itself, I'd like to see David Horne's profile.  For his insatiable enthusiasm for grip and determination to see that Grip equipment is captured and cataloged for the future, my friend, Joe Musselwhite.

 

Thanks Richard.  David Horne will be profiled in three weeks, and Joe will be profiled in the future.  This series will return next Wednesday with Delmar Carter.  In the mean time, I'll leave you with the Sorinex Mustache.

 

                                            download.png

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Another great interview! Pops is a true grip legend!:bow

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Really really beautiful Pops! I loved this. Very wise words. Especially the be with your parents. Very wise Richard! 

 

Edit: Again, thanks a lot anwnate for making this happen!

Edited by Alawadhi
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Great write up about one of the first guys who inspired me the most when I first started chasing grip strength.  Thanks for taking the time to do this Richard and thank you Nate for making it happen, especially since I requested it in my profile.  Richard is a good man who has been very generous to me over the years and has given back much to the game that has given him so much.  Hats off to you Richard Sorin! 

Edited by 3Crusher
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Excellent profile.  Back in 2010, I attended the Arnold and had the opportunity to watch the first Mighty Mitts contest.  I was walking around to all of the different booths with my wife and at one point we stopped at a booth where Mr. Sorin was standing off to the side (I don't remember which booth it was).  I recognized him from pictures I had seen, but I was a little intimidated about walking up to him, so we just stood in the background.  Anyway, their was a 50# blob sitting on the floor right near where Mr. Sorin was standing and he leaned down and nonchalantly picked it up with one hand and lifted it up about 4 feet or so and set it down on some staging by this booth.  My wife is well aware of what a great feat of hand strength this is, so she has this huge smile on her face and I'm standing there in awe of what I just witnessed..........and Mr. Sorin looks up and realizes that we're both watching him and he gives us a wink and a thumbs up!  It was very cool!

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Amazing profile. I knew Sorin was strong, but mah god Maggle

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Also, I now know where I'm eventually getting my new power rack when mine inevitably collapses. 

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  • 5 years later...

What a legend! First heard about him through Sorinex, knew he had beastly grip but didn't know he was a strong powerlifter as well! 

Re-certifying for the 3 with a CCS at 57 is insane. Absolute unit 💪

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