Mililani Resident Carl Ibaan: Past Powerlifter Building Up Lifelong Strength

Jenna Nakanishi

     Though now retired, current environmental engineer and MHS ‘82 alumnus Carl Ibaan was an accomplished powerlifter in his youth. Powerlifting is a physically intense sport that tests strength, and consists of attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift.

    “As I started lifting weights, I became relatively strong for my weight. I was fascinated with being strong and I wanted to see my potential,” said Ibaan.

    His brother Ross Ibaan initially inspired him to start powerlifting. “He was really strong physically with a strong mind. He was set to compete and shatter a state record at the time,” said Carl Ibaan. “He got pneumonia after a trip to Maui and was hospitalized. He never got the chance to compete and family obligations later sidetracked his training. So skinny, scrawny me competed to hopefully get him back into competing. Even then, he never did compete to this day.”

     Despite his initial reasons behind becoming a powerlifter, Carl Ibaan grew to enjoy the sport. “I enjoyed being around other powerlifters and the competition as a powerlifter. I also enjoyed the compliments. After a heavy lift, I’ve been asked, ‘Brah, how much you weigh?’ One time I was benching 105 pound dumbbells each hand for two reps and the spotter asked me if I was taking steroids. I just took that as a compliment,” said Carl Ibaan.

    As a physically demanding sport, powerlifting requires intense training in order to be a contender. “The hardest aspect to achieving my goal in the sport is getting into the gym to train. I worked a desk job and I have to motivate myself to train because I can get lazy. Sometimes, there are other activities that I have to give up in order to train,” said Carl Ibaan. “For me, eating a healthy diet is probably the second hardest aspect of the sport because I need to stay within my desired weight class. I can’t just eat all the cake and ice cream that I wanted. Also, I need to eat the right foods to fuel my training regiment.”

    Through the hard training, Carl Ibaan had his brother to help him through it. “The kinds of support that I had given my brother as he trained and competed were going to the gym to train, spotting him on the squat and bench press and providing lifting technique advice,” said Ross Ibaan.

     Though the training was difficult, Carl Ibaan persevered through it due to his drive to accomplish his goals. “Although working out has health benefits, I realized my goal to be the best that I can be as a powerlifter. I’m a pianist as well, and I wanted to be the strongest pianist in Hawaii. In retrospect, I looked at the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication to the sport and I know any reasonable endeavor that I want to achieve will require the same, if not, more effort,” said Carl Ibaan. “The lesson for me is that achieving a personal goal requires hard work. There’s always someone better than me, but if I put in my utmost effort and attain my personal goals, which is most important, then I consider myself successful and a winner in my eyes.” Ross Ibaan added, “I was proud of my brother because he set a goal to compete and he accomplished it by entering in the Aloha State Games and the Hawaii Powerlifting Championship. I would say that he had a great career in powerlifting. The experiences he gained through powerlifting are things he is applying to everyday life. For example, hard work, dedication and perseverance.”

    Carl Ibaan retired from competing after tearing his bicep while training for a meet. Yet, the sport is a significant part of his past that is still influential in his life. “I’m not as strong today as I was during my competing years, but I still enjoy lifting weights,” said Carl Ibaan.

    During his career as a powerlifter, Carl Ibaan won first place in the novice division at the 1993 Aloha State Games and in the 1994 Hawaii State Powerlifting Championships.