Dating back to his childhood days, Len “Buck” Bokuniewicz has always been involved in athletics.
When he turned 50, Bokuniewicz began competing in the Michigan Senior Olympics. His glory days of winning championships in the sprint events are behind him, but when it comes to weight lifting, he’s at the top of the class.
Bokuniewicz, 65, who recently moved to Grand Haven with his wife, Debbie, won the bench press competition in the 65-69 age group by putting up 275 pounds.
He also won the overall best lifter trophy, which is calculated on a formula called the Schwartz-Malone method. The formula takes into account body weight, age, and the weight lifted.
Winning the bench press competition is nothing new to Bokuniewicz.
“I can’t remember how many years I’ve done it, but I’ve won it every year but one,” Bokuniewicz said. He explained that athletes can begin competing in the Michigan Senior Olympics at the age of 50.
“I got into the track and field part of it, where I ran the 100 meters, 200 meters, until I was maybe 62,” Bokuniewicz said. “Then some arthritis in me knees caused me to give it up. It was about that time, maybe a few years earlier, that they had introduced a bench press competition.”
Bokuniewicz, who competed in football, basketball and track in high school, got into weight training during his time as a student at Michigan State University.
It’s a passion he’s continued to harbor throughout his adult life. He worked out several times a week at the Powerhouse Gym in Clarkston, then began lifting at the Grand Haven Powerhouse location when he retired to Grand Haven last year.
“There are a lot of people that do a circuit, where you can compete in other state’s Senior Olympics,” Bokuniewicz said. “I’m not into it to that extend. What I like about these competitions is, if I’m feeling a little lazy, well, if I’ve entered a competition, it’s like I’ve got to keep going, because someone else out there is going. It causes you to get better work-outs in, and as a side effect, you’re so much healthier.
“I have a wood burning stove in the house, and I think nothing of hauling wood in or unloading a trailer. I have some aches and pains in my joints, but other than that, I can go pretty hard.
“There are too many adventures for me to pursue. I have to stay healthy to be able to pursue them.”