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Nothing ‘average’ about Beau

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I am a regular guy. I'm the average Beau instead of the average Joe." — Beau Babka

Beau Babka, the cop who is running for Congress, is a regular guy.

Like most regular guys, he played professional football briefly.

He's a regular 6-2 1/2, 250-pound cop, a scaled-down version of his prime when he tipped the scales at 330 pounds. He once bench-pressed — and this is no typo — 665 pounds.

This average Beau went off to college when he was just 17, thus escaping a regular childhood that included an alcoholic and abusive father. His father, by the way, was a regular guy, too — a world record holder and Olympic silver medalist.

Beau dabbled in business for a few years, then moved into a converted chicken coop in Utah and started a new life.

Regular? The only thing regular about this guy is that he lives paycheck to paycheck. He's not just another rich guy who is seeking political office because he can. And that's what he means when he says he is a regular guy.

But this is no average Beau.

There is nothing regular about a cop and teacher who decides to run for Congress against a three-term Republican incumbent in Utah.

"I've been bucking the odds my entire life," he says. "I hope people don't just look at the 'D' in front of my name. I hope they look at me as a person who is trying to do the right things. It would be fantastic to have a cop in Congress."

Babka and his wife, Kim, are raising six kids in Draper. While serving as a cop, he has worked extra jobs to make ends meet, sometimes with as many as four or five employers at once. These days he teaches a full load of criminal justice courses at Salt Lake Community College. He hopes to go to Washington and apply lessons learned as a cop.

"Hook-'em and book-'em wasn't satisfying to me," he says. "We need to make changes in people's lives and neighborhoods. We need to get the community to help us — I'm not the greatest politician in the world, but I like listening to people and problem solving."

The notes on Babka's story are these: Grandparents emigrated from Czechoslovakia. Mother was French (hence the name Beau). Grew up in California. Parents separated when he was 12.

He was pretty much on his own after that. He describes his family life as "horrible." Rink Babka pushed his son to excel in sports, as he did. Rink was the first man to throw the discus 200 feet. With two throws to go in the Tokyo Olympics, he was in first place and might have won the gold if he hadn't told Al Oerter to make a technical change for his fifth (and winning) throw.

A four-sport high school athlete, Beau Babka went to the University of Hawaii to play football. He was touted by some as one of the world's strongest men — "Everyone was always poking me for drugs, but it was just a lot of eating and lifting," he says. In college, he began sorting through the baggage of his childhood and growing up.

After 2 1/2 years, Babka left Hawaii, questioning life and football. He returned to California and became a junior college all-American football player at Delta State. He played briefly for the University of Arizona, then spent a year on the practice squad with the Seattle Seahawks.

He started a restaurant/sports bar business, then lost it all to a crooked partner. In 1991, he and Kim and their old sheepdog moved to Utah with all their belongings — which filled only half of a U-Haul trailer — and started over. He worked construction, converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, attended the police academy, became a cop and a teacher and started his family.

"I haven't looked back since," he says.

Babka has made many things of himself during his 41 years — but a regular guy isn't one of them.

Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. E-mail drob@desnews.com.