Born: May 22, 1956 in Port Arthur, Texas
Donnie Cole attended Prairie View A&M on a track scholarship. When a leg injury required physical therapy, Cole's coach recommended that he try power-lifting. In 1981 he earned a fifth-place finish in the state competition. Cole went on to win the state championship at the University of Texas at Arlington campus in 1983. By 1985, he had transitioned to the National Powerlifting Championship level. Sponsored by the American Drug-free Powerlifting Association, he finishing third at Nationals. A year later, he set an American record of 705 lbs. in the squat at the University of Texas at Austin and finished second in the Nationals.
Shortly afterward, Cole teamed up with Gene Rodgers to enter the two-person deadlift championships, establishing a new World Record in that event of 1,103 lbs. Shortly after that, a devastating knee injury sidelined him for almost two years. After extensive rehabilitation, he returned to power-lifting with a vengeance, joining the recently-formed Natural Athletes Strength Association in 1990. Cole capped off his return by winning N.A.S.A.'s national competition that year. He also competed for the U.S. team in international competition in the Soviet Union. There he won the World Title in the 181 lb. Division, and repeated the same feat the following year in Finland.
His lifetime achievements are considerable: six national championships; two times as World Champion; once as Pure Athlete of the Year; twice as Male Athlete of the year; one as Master's Athlete of the Year; and one as Overall Athlete. As recently as 1997, Donnie Cole set both the Master's American and World Records in the 198 lbs. Division, with record lifts in the squat (614 lbs.) and dead-list (705 lbs.), his combined total being 1,649 lbs.
Donnie Cole was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sports Hall of Fame in June of 2001.