EXCLUSIVE: LeRoy Walker Speaks On Recent Controversy Surrounding Strict-Curl World Record

LeRoy Walker sat down with Generation Iron to address the issues.

It has been almost two weeks since LeRoy Walker set a new world record with a 114kg (250lb) strict curl. Walker beat the previous record held by Denis Cyplenkov back in 2019 by a single kilogram. This is not the first record that Walker has locked up. Back in June, he set the American strict curl record with a 102.5 (226lb) lift.

Walker has become a huge force in powerlifting but his world-record lift has not come without controversy. Russia’s Nizami Tagiev believes that Cyplenkov should still hold the record and does not recognize Walker’s lift as legitimate. He took to Instagram to share a post explaining why he believes Walker’s lift should not be recognized — highlighting technique and calling for rule changes.

Tagiev ended his Instagram post with a call to action to judges when looking at lifts in the future — and even got backup from the likes of CT Fletcher, who commented “I totally agree with you.” Fletcher once held the record in strict curl for many years at the mark of 102kg (225lb).

With all of this out in the open, Walker decided to sit down with Generation Iron and discuss recent issues and controversy surrounding his record. Below, you can find the full interview with Walker.


Q: The bench press, squat, and deadlift have been the big three lifts in competition. The strict curl is one that seems to be coming back, how important do you think is the lift and should it be considered as the fourth pillar along with the other three lifts?

Leroy Walker: “You know, I think and thank you for acknowledging that, I think it’s a great lift. I think everything kind of goes in cycles. I think it’s a great lift that led people to make great strides and progress at home, especially when gyms were shut down for so long. I think bicep curls have always been something that people have gravitated to at the gym in one way or another and it’s one of the easier pieces of equipment to pickup during COVID when gyms were shutdown.”

You have guys like the Russians have been doing a great job, Larry Wheels, Nick’s Strength & Power have always kind of kept it in the spotlight. CT Fletcher made it famous with his YouTube. As far as the sport, I think we’re seeing people revisit it. I don’t think it’s going to replace the major three but it’s one of those things that, once you get into it, you realize that it’s a lot more challenging than it looks initially. The fact that it has to be done with certain commands and a certain structure.

I think another thing that is making it really popular is the rise of arm wrestling. If you look at it historically, a lot of your top arm wrestlers are strict curlers and a lot of your top strict curlers are arm wrestlers. that’s something I’ve dabbled in but I have not gone full force because I have some goals that I want to hit in strict curl but I can see how it landed itself to have the rise because there are a lot of great people getting involved in arm wrestling.”

Q: A couple weeks out now since you set the world record of a 250-pound strict curl. You attempted bigger numbers at that event — what was the overall mindset on stage and what made you land on that 250 mark?

Leroy Walker: “The 250 mark, that’s a great question, because it’s led itself to a lot of controversy. I always have known since I started that there’s always the factor of what are the numbers and what are the numbers gonna be? In America, the coveted number was 225. I think that stood for 20+ years, set by CT Fletcher. No American was able to touch that number. When it was broken, it was broken pretty handily by Denis Cyplenkov of Russia, who set the world record at 249.

I’ve always made it a point to say that when I start something, I want to go after the biggest and the baddest so 249 was always the number in my mind. It wasn’t to take anything away from anybody else. It wasn’t to take anything away from CT, it was just mathematics. If I wanted to get to 249, 225 was naturally going to fall.

When I started off curling conventionally, my numbers were already in the 200’s. I didn’t showcase anything strict per say because I believe to be a great strict curler, you actually have to curl less against the wall. In my bench days, I would showcase every video and every workout. Some people didn’t agree with it so I started going and competing and they started seeing ‘okay this guy knows what he’s talking about.’ So with strict curl I wanted to keep it close to heart and I wanted to kind of just troll everyone and let them say ‘oh this guy is just a gym lifter, he’s afraid to go strict, Larry Wheels is better,’ so I said ‘fuck it what do I have to lose.

I never really made it a point to go after the American record. I just knew that it would fall. I attempted it in my first one. That was one of my first big fails. I opened up over 200, which no one in the sport has ever really done. Just like 700 is coveted for bench press, 1,000 for deadlift, 1,000 for squat — 200 is kind of what separates the elite from the unelite in strict curl so to start out my first couple lifts over 200, I was happy with that. It took me until my second meet to get to 226, which was the American record.

I’ve been prepping for the Arnold Invitational, which is supposed to be the best of the best, in March. So with that being said, I do my own programming and I knew my numbers were around 240-245. So I went into this last one, which was only my third competition, and wanted to make some headlines. I thought I would go 226 to prove that the American record wasn’t a fluke because I still had a lot of doubters. Then I wanted to go 240ish then I had a choice to make and the number 250 is a great number.”

Q: There was a bit of controversy after this lift — where do you think that came from and what do you have to say about it?

Leroy Walker: “I get it. It’s kind of the new-age kind of imperialism. The Russians have been the top dogs for the longest time. They kind of have their right to throw around what they think is what. They have the top lifters, they have a very strict federation, the WRP, so a couple things came to me.

I’m a Ghost athlete and I’m sponsored by Ghost. Ghost made a prototype strict-curl setup for me and it’s also competition certified. Different federations have different regulations on what a competition rack is supposed to look like. They make a great rack, it’s regulated to be at certain widths. Other federations use a wall. When Ghost made the racks, that’s the one measurement we probably didn’t nail. The racks sit right in the groove like every kind of strict curl bar imaginable.

The conference that I’m in allows that if there is something impeding the rack then you can get a self liftoff. That was the first thing that people had a problem with. Well it’s allowed in bench press. If you go to the gym, you can’t tell me that it’s harder to pick up a 25-pound dumbbell off the rack then it is to pick up a 25-pound dumbbell if someone hands it to you in mid air. It takes that much more time to take control of it. So I don’t understand why people think that me having 250 handed to me by two different sets of hands and have to control it, still get set and come to a complete pause and then start the lift — why people may think that gave me an advantage, I have no idea. But here we are and next time, Ghost is gonna reconfigure it. I’m gonna be able to get my hooks in and have a more stable lift. I welcome the criticism because it’s only gonna put me on a platform that is gonna be easier for me to do.

Then there was controversy about the lift. We had to spread everything out like hey these are calibrated plates, the same ones you guys saw on the video. Then people had something to say about the bar. Which is funny because, here is something that people don’t know about the technicality of the sport, WRP allows for two bars however, the top curler gets to decide which bar they’re going to use. So a lot of people have opted to use a different bar than Denis Cyplenkov. I use a different bar. I use a bar that is more aggressive like most of the Russians use. I thought it was kind of cheeky to call out that I use a different bar.

You know what, I get stronger too. I’m not near the end of my career. This is my third meet. I’m just getting started. Between now and March, I’m going to perfect, I’m not going to go 255, I’m not going to go 260, I’m going to go 250 every single time. I’m going to bury this record three times in a row so it is so picture perfect and flawless. Those are the headlines I’m going to make.”

Q: CT Fletcher commented on an Instagram post about this lift and agreed with the criticism. Is this something that you saw right away and if so, what was going through your head at first?

LeRoy Walker: “I respect CT, he’s done a lot of great stuff for the sport. I respect Denis, great lifter, done a lot for the sport. It’s just funny that we live in this day and age where people have to piggy back and make issues out of non-issues.

“The past couple years, there’s been this liftoff at Venice Beach. I abstained from going to the Venice Beach Liftoff. It’s not sanctioned. It’s a broham kind of competition. My thing is this, there was a lot of speculation that says ‘oh his head wasn’t against the board.’ It’s not a fucking rule but in CT’s, it’s a rule. We’re talking about the same federation that doesn’t require people to wear a singlet. One of the things that makes a sanctioned lift a sanctioned lift is the uniformity of everybody being in a singlet.

There’s a bunch of clowns on the Internet saying ‘this guy is wearing a power suit.’ I’m pretty well-versed in everything powerlifting, I don’t know of a single company that makes a power suit to fucking strict curl in but if there is, let me know, I’d love to use it. Anyway, it’s called a singlet, I’m wearing one. CT doesn’t require it. A lot of time weights are called into speculation. I just think that it’s funny that the guy who set the American record who didn’t do it in a sanctioned event, didn’t do it in a singlet, and used pig iron, non-calibrated played is trying to call me out about technicalities that his own federation doesn’t even adhere too.

People can call me out but it’s like don’t throw stones at a glass house. If I have to go out and bury 226 a million times to make it a point, that’s what I’ll do. It has a lot of weight, he has a lot followers, he’s a great guy but why he’s choosing to not embrace the new American and world record holder makes no sense to me but it is what it is.”

Q: Is there any plans to break your record? We’ve seen on social media ‘The road to 275,’ so what’s your plans for the near future?

LeRoy Walker: “That is the plan. You guys have done a great job covering someone who I have a great admiration for and respect in Julius Maddox. Julius got so much criticism the first time he broke the world record. I’ve had many talks with him about what it’s like to receive all this criticism and animosity. No one likes to see records get broken so I didn’t expect people to congratulate me when I broke the record.

The point I’m making about burying and forgetting about 250, is that my road is to 275 and eventually I want to be the first person to strict curl 300 in a sanctioned event. That makes me have to quickly forget about the 250 or the 249. So all that is going to end up being, is when I get to where I want to get to and not worry about what the world says about curls, I don’t do it for the approval or the criticism. I do it for the love of the sport. If I put out great content then people are going to cover great content. If I go out and bomb, people are going to cover me bombing. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Q: Who can you tell me about your training regimen and work in the gym on a weekly basis and especially leading up to competitions?

LeRoy Walker: “I just train relentlessly. I train everyday. I would say the biggest thing that changed for me, and I got asked this question on a podcast the other day, they said ‘well, what is so much different know versus a yea ago.’ And I just said that I perfected the techniques. Now, it’s just more or less the validation.

I’ve been doing the same shit. I’ve been doing basic curls, preacher curls, and curls in a squat rack. People still say ‘you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t train that way.’ As soon as I get a couple records, then all of a sudden what I say is gonna be right. Six months ago, I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now, I get a couple records and it’s like ‘go this guy kind of knows.’ You’re always gonna have your contractors and naysayers. If I’m doing it and I’m the best, then it probably works.”

Q: Is there any specific diet plan that you follow on a regular basis?

LeRoy Walker: “I always have to say this, and I kind of joke around about it, in some aspects you have a responsibility to kind of personify the teaching. With that being said, I’m probably a great example of the work ethic and the workout part of it, but as far as the aesthetics of it, I’m not going to win a swimsuit fit contest anytime soon. I’m like what I like to call ‘functionally fluffy.’ I have a certain amount of weight that I carry around that probably makes it a little easier.

Functionally, and I’m doing a great job at that, it’s always something I’ve kind battled and struggled with it. I think if you ask most powerlifters and they’re honest about it, why they got into powerlifting, they’re gonna say that they were the chubby kid that didn’t know how to diet to become a bodybuilder. I think most powerlifters wanted to become bodybuilders but we didn’t know how to control the macros or the urges. I have no problem saying that. It’s something that I’m trying to level up with.

As far as the functionality of it, I’m better and what’s changed in the last couple months is to eat for a purpose and with a purpose. Meaning if you have a choice between good carbs and bad carbs, I always think ‘is this going to help or hurt my lift.’ Same thing with the protein in terms of recovering. I think there’s no excuse for it. There’s no excuse to have no comprehension.

I would say go out and pay the money, it’s a good investment, go out and get a nutritionist. If you want to have great success financially, you get a financial planner and if you want to do a better job with your workouts, you get a personal trainer. I think we’re too reluctant to settle for mediocrity because we don’t want to seek other people’s advice. I think that’s a pitfall for a lot of men. It’s an excuse.”

Q: Is there any closing thoughts that you would like to leave us with?

LeRoy Walker: “I’m thankful for media being present to cover the sport. The good and the bad and getting the truth out there. I’ll say this again, I have nothing but respect for the people that have paved the way. The people that have given hope and grind to the sport and the country and hope to the people who might be down on their luck and want to see everyone be the best version of themselves.

A lot of this stuff, I don’t really take it too far out of context. If I was at a restaurant and I saw CT or I saw Denis in passing, they’re great guys. On the platform in competition, in the business world, they might have different viewpoints. I think CT is a great fucking person, I have nothing but admiration for him. Do I like the way that this is being handled? I don’t but to each their own. I think controversy sells. When it is all said and done, I think many records are going to get smashed and broke, I think we’re gonna shake hands, and probably have some meals together and I look forward to it.”

For more news and updates, follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Greg Patuto
Greg has covered the four major sports for six years and has been featured on sites such as Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, SB Nation, NJ.com, and FanSided. Now, he is transitioning into the world of bodybuilding and strength sports.