Local competitive powerlifter still benches 500 pounds while awaiting new kidney


INDIANAPOLIS — He was once able to lift weights with the strongest men in the country. Now kidney failure has the local competitive powerlifter simply trying to stay alive, so he can help others achieve their goals.

“It’s a decision you make every day to get up, and to live your life, and I refuse to be unhappy,” said powerlifter Steve Gentili.

In his competitive days, Gentili used to squat more than 800 pounds. After suffering a few injuries, he went to see doctors for help. It’s there that he discovered his kidneys were failing due to an illness called Focal Segmental glomerulosclerosis or FSGS.

“It attacks the filtration system of the kidneys and scars the lining of the kidneys, so it’s no longer able to filter out toxins,” explained Gentili.

He had been trying to get on the kidney transplant list for two years. In the meantime, he opened Indy City Barbell in downtown Indianapolis where he trains and inspires other powerlifters to compete. His proteges say he still bench presses 500 pounds with a dialysis port in his chest.

“It’s not about breaking records anymore. I’m not trying to be the best like I used to be,” remarked Gentili. “I have aspirations of competing again, but not to the same levels I ever was.”

“I would say he’s definitely walking motivation. That he needs to start thinking about finding a kidney, that would break most people,” says Philip Hayes who is training under Gentili at his gym. “If I had a kidney to give him I’d give it to him, that’s the honest truth.”

Gentili says he is officially now on a donor list, however he is still looking for the right match. Until then, he undergoes at-home dialysis treatment five days a week to survive.

“Dialysis isn’t meant to make you feel better. It’s meant to keep you alive,” said Gentili. “It’s cleaning the toxins out of my blood that are being built up daily.”

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