ONEIDA NATION HOMELAND — The Oneida Indian Nation today applauds its 71-year-old member Ray Fougnier for his stellar performance at the 2014 International Powerlifting Federation Championships in South Africa this month. Fougnier, whose travel was sponsored by the Oneida Nation, medaled in each of the three powerlifting events – squat, bench press and deadlift, and earned the overall silver medal for his division. He also received at the tournament his U.S. national champion medal, the achievement which qualified him for the worldwide powerlifting championship.
Along with fellow medal winners, Fougnier was honored during an awards ceremony similar to that of the Olympics where the victors had the medals placed on their necks and stood on a tiered podium as the national anthems from each country played. Fougnier described the event as having an overwhelming sense of camaraderie, despite language barriers between competitors.
After bringing home for the United States the overall silver medal, bench press bronze medal, silver medal for the squat and the gold medal for the deadlift event, Fougnier says he felt pleased about the competition, but continues to strive to improve. He will participate in the USAPL Raw National Championships in Denver, Colorado, next month, where he hopes to once again qualify for the world championships to be held in June 2015 in Finland.
Fougnier, a retired teacher who grew up on the Oneida Nation’s homelands in central New York and now lives in Tennessee, only joined the sport within the past year. He views his success as a competitive powerlifter as a unique opportunity to encourage exercise and healthy living in Native Americans, particular children, whose community faces many ongoing health issues.
“It was such an honor to represent the United States and the Oneida Nation at this prestigious internal competition,” said Fougnier. “Health and fitness have always been a priority for me, but it is my hope that with this new national and international platform, I can serve as a positive role model who helps inspire Native peoples and children to embrace an active lifestyle.”
Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said: “I would like to applaud Ray Fougnier for his fantastic performance at the international powerlifting championships. We continue to be inspired by his rugged determination, which mirrors the underlying values of the Nation. We are proud of all that he has already achieved, and look forward to watching Ray’s continued success.”
A Native American tribe which lives on its ancestral homelands near Syracuse, the Oneida Indian Nation operates Turning Stone Resort Casino and a number of additional successful business enterprises. The Nation has been a close ally since before the founding of the United States, fighting alongside George Washington and his troops during the Revolutionary War.