NIXLOT DAMEUS got involved in bodybuidling and powerlifting to stop the bullying.
The sophomore at Delaware Valley Charter School in North Philly is now 15 and 6-feet tall. But from fourth to eighth grade, he said he was "beaten up every day."
"I started thinking about suicide," said Dameus, whose family moved to Olney from Port Au Prince, Haiti when he was 9. "I was into cutting [myself]. I was really skinny and I thought, 'Maybe if I get bigger, they'll leave me alone.' ''
And so he began to lift weights and enter bodybuilding competitions.
"Now, I take my anger out on the iron," he said.
In his freshman year he won the Mr. Philadelphia Junior Teen title, which led to a remarkable coincidence.
"I won Mr. Philadelphia on a Friday," said Dameus "On Monday at school a security guard said, 'You know our counselor is into that stuff. I'll introduce you.' "
Turns out the counselor is accomplished bodybuilder Brett Lynch, who now helps train Dameus. That's no small thing because Dameus said he still has trust issues stemming from all the beatings he took.
He has gone on to set national and state records in bodybuilding and powerlifting, bench-pressing 340 pounds and dead-lifting 456. Along the way, he picked up nine bodybuilding titles.
And, oh yeah, he also plays linebacker on the football team.
No one bullies him anymore.
"I still see them," he said of his attackers. "Now, they're trying to be my friends."
Dameus will defend his state high school powerlifting titles on April 26 at Glen Mills Schools. In June, he's representing the U.S. in the IBFF World Championships in Slovenia. He is raising money for the trip at crowdrise.com/sponsornixlotdameus.
As for those bullies?
"I forgive them," he said sincerely. "When I get back from Europe, I want to help other kids learn to take out their anger on the iron."