Uplifting Power

Coach Roy Jones has trained some of the world’s elite athletes.

Coach Roy Jones has trained some of the world’s elite athletes, proving that true power lies in not what you can lift, but in how you can lift up others.

As a younger man,  Ray Jones was willing to do almost anything to keep lifting weights. Including enlisting in the military and going through jump school for a spot on an all-Army team that recruited him at a competition in Atlanta.

Upon getting out, he put up a pre-fabricated metal building on a piece of land he owned in the Grays Hill area of Beaufort, South Carolina, and filled it with all the essential weightlifting equipment. Ray’s Gym was born, modest though it might have been.

By 1996, Jones had organized Team Beaufort, training children from throughout the Beaufort community and beyond. Within a few years, the team had developed into a national powerhouse, winning 10 consecutive team titles at the AAU Junior Olympics from 2001-10.

Then, along came a Cummings.

First, it was Omar Cummings, who in 2015 came out of nowhere to win bronze at the IWF Youth World Championships, then his younger brother C.J.

Omar eventually drifted back to football and went on to play on scholarship at South Carolina State, but C.J. stuck to lifting.

And he had unreal talent.

“Little Beaufort was already doing really, really well, but then along came this kid,” Jones recalls.

With every record C.J. Cummings shattered — and there have been many, including 15 at the Pan-American Championships in April — Jones’ profile rose. Instead of working 15-hour days at a local physical therapy clinic so he could carve out a couple hours for his passion, he was coaching Olympic-style lifters.

These days, Jones is able to devote much more of his energy to coaching world-class lifters and Olympic hopefuls, including Cummings and part-time Beaufort resident Mahassen Hala, who hopes to become the first female weightlifter to represent her native Lebanon in the Olympics.

Find out more about Jones’ journey at rayjonesweightlifting.com.

Subscribe now to the print edition for the full article.