November 14th, 2007


As far as powerlifters go, Matt Poe is not big.

Poe weighs in at 255 pounds and yet he routinely defeats other lifters who tip the scale at more than 100 pounds heavier. 

Even more amazingly to some, Poe wins without using steroids. 
“Instead of steroids, I worked hard,” he said.

Poe is partnering with University Medical Center to spread his mantra of hard work and healthy living to area high school students as part of the hospital’s campaign to curtail steroid use among children.

Poe delivered his “Strength for the Game” presentation to Watertown High School students Wednesday and UMC officials hope other county schools will follow suit.

“You’re getting a chance to hear some of the things we tell you, but in a different way,” WHS Principal Jeff Luttrell told the students.

Poe is commonly ranked No. 1 in competitions in the United States in the overhead press event, routinely lifting more than 350 pounds. He did not match that total Wednesday. He “only” lifted 300.

“Think about taking a four-wheeler and lifting it over your head,” Poe he said.

Through a mixture of feats of strength and tough talk, Poe extolled the virtues of steroid alternatives.

“Whoever is telling you to get on steroids is sick. The moment you take steroids will be the weakest point in your life,” he said.

Poe said there is no alternative to hard work and a healthy lifestyle - a combination he used to become one of his sport’s leaders.

“I was 150 pounds in high school. As a college freshman, I walked-on at UT at 180,” he said.

After walking-on to the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team, Poe worked his way up, earning a letter and was a member of the All-Southeastern Conference Academic team.

“And I wasn’t on steroids when I did that,” he said.

Now, he spends his time lifting in competitions, speaking to student groups and training some of the country’s top athletes, which have included Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, formerly of the Tennessee Titans.

As with most anti-drug presentations, Poe’s included visual images of the more grisly side-effects.

“It’s real funny taking steroids now, but wait until you get into your twenties, it’s really funny. Severe acne, hair growth, men with female-type chests, women with male-type chests,” he said.

Poe said steroid use is up among teenaged girls, even non-athletes, who are using the drugs to lose weight.

He said many of the side effects came from the use of unclean needles for steroids, which can lead to conditions like “bleeding triceps.”
“Which looks exactly like it sounds,” he said.

Poe said there are viable alternatives, supplements and multivitamins, but even some of those are not perfect.

“Look for ‘FDA approved,’ most don’t have that. There are a lot of places with good products, they’re not illegal, they’re natural and you can’t overload on them,” he said.

Because of his success in a sport dominated by steroid users, Poe is regularly challenged on his perceived cleanliness.

“I’ve been tested a zillion times. I don’t have people coming to me for help because I’m a liar.” 

Staff Writer J.R. Lind can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.