Like most of us do, Kelly Branton had a few "gym friends" he would say hello to before or during his workouts.
One particular friend stood out to Kelly: Zachary Ghazali.
Not even 20 years old, Zach was training day in and day out. He worked hard. He kept his headphones in, his head down.
Kelly was impressed by Zach's persistency, especially considering he had a unique obstacle facing his weight training: Zach was in a wheelchair.
One day, Kelly was working on his bench press when he noticed Zach waving him over. Zach had heard about Kelly training with a blind powerlifter and was hopeful Kelly would be able to show Zach some new things.
At the time, Kelly was working long days and training even longer. He could barely find time for sleep, and personal training wasn't on his radar.
He politely declined, and they both went back to their workouts.
After hitting his next set, Kelly noticed Zach training on the other side of the gym. He had crawled out of his chair, loaded 45lbs to one side of the leg press, got back in his chair, and went around to do the same on the other side. He then began to train legs for the day.
His body was weak, but he was determined and succeeded.
"His body was weak, but he was determined and succeeded."
Kelly could not believe what he was seeing. Most of the guys his age in the gym weren't training legs, and here he was, building himself stronger.
He walked up to him and said, "Zach, I'll see you Sunday for your first session."
Zach joined the Ontario Powerlifting Association, and after two months, Zach was finally able to gain enough stability to bench press the bar at 45lbs.
A year and a half later, competed in his first meet at the Power Pit gym and hit a solid 205lbs bench press.
"A year and a half later, competed in his first meet at the Power Pit gym and hit a solid 205lbs bench press."
As the years continued, Zach explored other sports but the two friends always kept in touch. To this day, Zach is Kelly's greatest supporter and eternally passionate about powerlifting. As his condition continues to challenge him, he continues to fight back and hits the weight section when he can.
Zach has a rare form of neurological muscular dystrophy, and has faced other health issues including diabetes and a stroke. He has been told how he will most likely live the rest of his life, but he keeps thriving.
"It breaks my heart to see what Zach has gone through," says Kelly. "He's what keeps me going every day. Any time I have problems to face, I step back and think of Zach and all that he's overcome. He truly inspires me to just keep pushing."
"He's what keeps me going every day. "
A powerlifting dream
This past March, Zach surprised Kelly by showing up in Columbus, Ohio at The Arnold Sports Festival powerlifting competition to support his buddy. He is the first person to text him when a meet is approaching, and the first he hears from after a meet ends.
As a major supporter of both Kelly and Ray Williams, what better place for Zach to go than to the 2018 IPF World Championship in Alberta, Canada and sit front row?
With the 'Moving Weight' KMB signature series tee, we hope to do just that: cover all expenses to have Zach watch the powerlifting match of a lifetime and cheer on his good buddy, Kelly.
Grab yours here!