Holley’s Accomplishments at National & International Meets:
Holley is an Olympian who competed in London 2012
-Total: 240 kilos
Holley Mangold seemed destined to be an elite athlete. Born to a family of athletes (her mother was an elite swimmer, her brother Nick an All American football player at Ohio State and All Pro for the New York Jets) she started early with gymnastics and pee-wee football.
She loved the contact of football and kept at it, all the way to high school. There she found that, strong as she was naturally, she needed to be stronger to hang with the boys at Kettering, Ohio’s Archbishop Alter High School, an up and coming program. She and her father enlisted the help of powerlifting legend Larry Pacifico to help her gain the strength to play offensive line for Alter. Larry also started her in powerlifting competition. By the time she finished high school she had played offensive line in a high school state championship football game (the first girl to do so) and held all the state and several national high school records in her weight class in powerlifting. In her spare time she threw the shot in three Ohio state championship track meets.
Around this time Holley realized that she could not go much further as a football player, and she craved competition at a higher level. She thought about trying to make the Olympics, however powerlifting was not an Olympic sport—weightlifting was. She and her father set out to find a weightlifting coach in the Cincinnati area. Chris Cleary, of the Cincinnati Weightlifting Club, became her first coach. Despite rudimentary technique, Holley’s already impressive strength vaulted her to the top; she won the first Junior National Championship in which she lifted in 2008.
The only sport that could put her through college, though, was track. Holley took a scholarship to throw for Ursuline College in Cleveland because she loved the school, the track coach would allow her to continue to train for weightlifting, and to be near weightlifting coach Dan Bell.
In the next two years Holley steadily climbed the rankings, finishing second in the 2009 Junior National Championships and competing at the 2008 Junior World Championships in Cali, Columbia (6th place) and the 2009 Junior World Championships in Bucharest, Romania (9th place). The highlight of 2009 was her win at the American Open Championships in Mobile, Alabama.
The stress of school, two sports, and the increasing demands of elite level training began to wear on Holley, so she made the difficult decision to leave school to train in weightlifting full time. Her total at the American Open placed Holley on her first senior international team, and after a summer of training with coach Bell, she joined the USA Team for the 2010 Pan American Weightlifting Championships in Guatemala.
The stress of losing a lot of weight to improve her speed, a nagging knee injury, an MTV camera crew filming Holley for a True Life episode, the pressure of her entire family watching, and her position at the Olympic Training Center on the line, all combined to lead Holley to her worst performance as a weightlifter. She didn’t make a single lift at the 2010 American Open. She lost her place at the OTC and came home to Ohio dejected and facing knee surgery.
Though she had doubts, she persevered. She got the surgery and eleven weeks later competed at the 2010 Arnold Weightlifting Championships in Columbus, Ohio. There she set personal records in the in both lifts. It was an amazing comeback by a remarkable athlete.
At the recommendation of coach Bell, Holley stayed on in Columbus to work with coach Mark Cannella, one of the best technique coaches in the country. Her technique improved steadily as she regained her lost strength. She followed her excellent Arnold showing with a breakout performance at the 2011 National Championships, again hitting personal records and briefly making the World Team, only to be beaten on bodyweight. But she climbed to fifth in the USA Weightlifting overall rankings and alternate for the World Team.
Holley has made steady progress under coach Cannella. Their hard work paid off which won her a spot on the 2012 London Olympic Team and the title of Olympian.
She continues to push her training forward with her eyes locked on Rio 2016.
*Holley Mangold has been the subject of an ESPN special on her football days at Archbishop Alter High School, an MTV True Life on her weightlifting career, and appeared on the Today Show, NFL Network, Good Morning America, and the Rachel Ray Show.