PENDLETON — The nickname fits a little better these days.
With a middle name of Quinn, Dawson Allen, was often referred to as “The Mighty Quinn.”
His dad, Blake Allen, gave him the nickname. He had a boxing background and there had been a former heavyweight boxer who had the same moniker.
“Since he was little I called him The Mighty Quinn,” Blake said. “It was kind of comical when he was this little tiny thing. Even then, for his size, he was so strong, a natural God-given strength. Now, the nickname sticks a little bit more.”
Allen — a 2021 graduate of Lapel High School and currently a personal trainer at Pendleton’s Community Sports and Wellness Center — is the state’s best powerlifter in his age group.
An 18-year old, Allen had a record-setting performance, breaking five state records, including a 611-pound deadlift at the recent U.S. Powerlifting Association of Indiana 2021 Hoosier State Power Lifting Championships, held at Peak Fitness in Indianapolis on Nov. 13.
Allen won the 180-pound (85 kg) division junior championship, the 180-pound division men’s open, top lifter of the competition, and broke the overall pound state record of 1,344 pounds in three lifts; squat, bench and deadlift.
It was a repeat performance for Allen. He had won the state title when he was 17, too. That was his first powerlifting competition. He also competed in an event in Columbus, Ohio where he finished second to the eventual national champion. The most recent state championship was only his third time competing.
The Allen family has always had a fitness background. Blake’s dad had competed in the state body building championships at age 40. The Allens had also formerly owned a private training facility. Both Blake and his wife, Angel Allen, still workout regularly.
The lifestyle was always around him, but Dawson didn’t begin getting serious with his weightlifting until five years ago.
He said he didn’t like how he looked and didn’t have a lot of confidence.
At the time, the Lapel grad was only about 5-feet, 6-inches tall or 5-7 and weighed about 120 pounds.
Now, he’s 6-2 and 180 pounds.
“I can definitely tell a difference,” Dawson said. “The main thing for me is the whole mental game. I was never really confident at all. With getting into better shape and putting on some size, it has helped me mentally. I’ve never really liked my body (and lifting) has really helped me out, mentally.
“It’s 100%t a lifestyle now. I look forward to going to the gym every day. It’s just become a part of my daily routine. It started out, I did it if I wanted to; now it’s a priority for me.”
Blake said Dawson began lifting right around the time you would expect a growth spurt for a young teenager, but he admits, it’s quite amazing seeing such a dramatic change.
“It was a perfect time period for him to get started,” Blake said. “He hit that growth spurt that was going to happen anyway. He started out as this little, skinny, smallest in his grade — height and weight — tennis player. He was a fantastic tennis player, one of the best around this area.
“He just got sick of it and was ready for something new. One thing about Dawson, whatever he is involved in, he dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s. He throws himself 100% into everything that he does. He has done that with the lifting.”
Blake got his son started in a bodybuilding, powerlifting type program and the naturally-strong Dawson has taken it to the next level.
“What he’s done in the powerlifting world around here is just really — I’ve never seen anything like,” Blake said. “We were hoping for some personal records (at state), but the fact he ended up breaking five state records (four deadlifts) and having a 611-pound deadlift, that’s crazy numbers. The big heavyweight guys are barely lifting that.”
After returning to school after a summer’s worth of workouts, Dawson’s classmates didn’t recognize him. Along with getting bigger, he had gone from wearing glasses to contact lenses.
They couldn’t believe it was him. Even though he looked different, Dawson, with his height, doesn’t have the stereotypical lifter’s build. His friends, literally, couldn’t believe how much weight he was able to lift.
“I am happy I’ve made progress, but I am not very show-offy,” Dawson said of his change in look and lifestyle. “I try to stay pretty humble. I would say I am a pretty humble person.”
Still, after school one day, his classmates had to see Dawson at work. They came to the Allen’s home where they have a workout area. They wanted to see if he could really lift that much weight.
“I came home from a 24-hour shift at the fire station (in Noblesville) and there are 10 cars parked in our yard,” Blake said. “I thought, ‘What is going on?’ All those kids came over to watch him lift because they didn’t believe he could lift that much. He lifted that much and more. All of a sudden these kids are coming over and lifting. We’ve got 5 to 10 kids lifting with him that had not lifted before.”
Along with winning championships and setting records, another plus from Dawson’s life change has been helping others start their own journeys in weightlifting.
At the Columbus event, one of his Lapel classmates, Eli Weeks, also competed.
“Just the fact he has really been a role model for a lot of these other kids around here and changed their projection and insight on how they look at each other, their confidence level, that’s as big as anything,” Blake added. “Seeing how he can change not only himself but others around him by how he carries himself, we’re as proud of that, his mother and I, as any of the pounds that he has lifted.”
Dawson’s next step is just to continue to improve his numbers. He wants to compete in the national championships next year, but knows there is more training to do to get to that step.
“I just want constant improvement,” Dawson said. “I don’t have any lifetime (competition) goals. I just want to continue to improve myself physically and mentally, just keep building. The process is the most fun part of it.”