The WZA Strong Experience:
Friends, Competitors, and Business Partners Dominick Maurici and Rafael Paredes

Last year, Wodapalooza introduced WZA Strong, a brand new competition. It was inspired, petitioned for, and run by a CrossFit legend, Rob Orlando. He has been wanting to do something like this for a long time and was absolutely ecstatic about being able to do so this year in Miami. Rob programmed the events and tested them all himself. We asked him if he would have won the competition and he smiled saying he wouldn’t have won, but maybe top five or ten.

As the competition got underway,a variety of shapes and sizes of athletes came in. There were big guys who looked like they could handle heavy farmer’s walks and stones all day, but when it came to large sets of double unders or an AMRAP of muscle ups, might struggle. Then there were smaller guys, no doubt strong, but you still had to wonder how they would cope with a 250 lb atlas stone or an 800 lb yoke.

We picked out an athlete early on who was recognizable from the CrossFit scene, and he was gracious enough to talk with us between events and tell us a bit of his story.

Dominick Maurici was a 6 times regional athlete in the southeast, he finished as high as 5th in 2012. His last Regional competition was in 2016. He has three kids now and primarily does the one hour class workouts at his gym these days. He also works with Rob Orlando for Crossfit.com, coordinating strongman seminars in the southeastern United States. When he heard about WZA Strong coming to Miami he called up his business partner and friend, Rafael Paredes,and suggested they sign up.

Maurici owns Caution CrossFit in Hialeah,FL just outside of Miami. Paredes, is the owner and head coach at GMA Crossfit in Pembroke Pines, FL. They co-own Caution Strong which is an online programming platform, which offers programming for athletes in CrossFit, Strongman, or a combination of both.

In events 1-3 Dominick looked like the regional athlete we used to know him as. He repped out 54 reps on a Tabata style, increasing weight, deadlift event, including 9 reps at the final bar which weighed 405 lbs. Then he turned around and ripped out 16 muscle ups in a two minute window to put himself in first place overall after the first round of events. Paredes also did great in the morning events, accumulating 53, 9, and 7 reps respectively on that triplet of workouts.

Watching these two men on the deadlift portion of the event was awe-inspiring, because they both fall into the category of athletes whom you would have thought could crush the muscle ups, but might struggle with the heaviest deadlift bar. Maurici is 5’7” and told us he only weighs 175 lbs these days. Paredes is one inch taller and weighs 5 lbs more. When we asked Dominick about the event mid-way through the day he couldn’t stress enough how great it was to be back on the competition floor, especially here at Wodapalooza, and even more so to be competing alongside his good friend.

As the event went on Dom and Raf continued to do really well even when the weights were heavy. In the double under portion of the event 5 and 6 combo Maurici placed second. In the same combination of events Paredes was incredibly impressive with the atlas stone, which as previously mentioned got as heavy as 250 lbs; he took a 3rd place in that portion of the event.

Heading into the final event, which was an ascending weight yoke carry race, both men were solidly in the top ten, and Maurici had an outside chance to podium. The weights started off light, but eventually got very heavy, building from 260 up to 800 lbs. Both Maurici and Paredes held their own against some much larger men, they finished tied for 6th on that event.

Minutes later the podium was announced and it turned out Maurici had done enough to stand on the podium in 3rd place. Paredes finish 6th overall in the competition. Both men punched well above their weight classes if you ask me.

Maurici said being able to get out there and compete again in this less stressful setting was more than just fun, but also reinvigorating for him. He said he’s going to try and find a way to get more competitions in going forward seeming to have rediscovered his passion for them.

Dominick and Rafael are an example, of which there are countless at Wodapalooza. Thousands of athletes competed in either the Gauntlet, Weightlifting Faceoff, or WZA Strong last year; or in one of the 34 divisions that competed over the subsequent three days of competition. Every athlete has a story, every athlete has a life outside of competition. But the joy, thrill, and the fulfillment that comes with being up there on that stage, that’s the celebration of the hard work we’ve put in, and a validation of that fact that we are all Strong.

Written By Brian Friend