Grunts and groans blast through the open door in a Henderson business park.
The guttural sounds reflect pain and, at first listen, they could alarm passersby who are unaware that they're from weightlifters hoisting loads overhead in weights that are incomprehensible to anyone who has feared a hernia from lifting an old TV.
Pat Mendes is the strongest man at the Average Broz Gym, which is tucked in a corner of the CrossFit training center. But he's a gentle giant, quietly lifting his bar loaded with steel that's the weight of a full-grown bear or an upright piano.
The 21-year-old, 280-pound Mendes is saving his vocal outbursts for the 2012 Olympics in London, where he plans a hearty yell after he becomes the first American to win a medal in 36 years.
Mendes didn't wail after winning three super heavyweight titles on July 17 at the USA National Weightlifting Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for lifters weighing at least 105 kilograms (231 pounds).
He expected to be the best.
He won with lifts of 390 pounds in snatch and 467 pounds in clean and jerk for a personal-best total of 857 pounds.
No one came within 18 pounds of him in any category, and he was well off his personal bests of 456 pounds (snatch) and 507 pounds (clean and jerk).
"I knew I was stronger than everyone else," Mendes said, "but anything can go wrong in weightlifting."
His motivation to begin lifting came in 2005, in trying to become a stronger football player at Del Sol High School, and it has led to his status as America's top-ranked super heavyweight lifter, according to USA Weightlifting.
Mendes competed in both sports during high school and earned all-state honors as a two-way lineman for Del Sol as a senior in 2007. But he received only partial football scholarship offers from two small colleges.
His grades weren't a deterrent, not with a weighted 4.4 grade-point average. He played at 250 pounds for the Dragons, so bulk wasn't a stumbling block.
He was strong enough, based on winning National High School Power Clean Championship lifting titles in 2007 and 2008.
"I guess I was too short," he said, with a little grin, of his 5-foot-10-inch frame.
But he knew well before his senior year that weightlifting -- not football -- was the sport that provided a championship future.
"It was the one thing I knew I could excel in, something I could be better at than anyone else," he said. "The Olympics had such an appeal, and weightlifting is an individual sport; it's just me up there on the platform."
Mendes knows the decision was the right one.
For the past three years since shifting to Olympic-style lifting, he has put every ounce of his 280 pounds into getting to London.
"I'm definitely looking forward to winning a medal in 2012," Mendes said, "and in 2016 I'll be in my prime, and that's when I'll go for gold."
Then he added, without sounding a bit cocky: "I plan on dominating the sport for a long time."
He did that in Iowa after he briefly lost focus and missed his first snatch lift. But he didn't miss again.
Mendes' coach, John Broz, a four-time masters-age world champion, expected the championship results despite Mendes competing at only 85 percent and lifting conservatively to protect a shoulder he injured in November.
Broz says genetics isn't what separates champions.
"One common thread is the ability to push yourself every time," Broz said. "When you go to max weights, you are going to miss, but you keep pushing more and more. You're at war with the bar every day. Pat has the intelligence and that conviction."
Mendes has a solid grip on raising the bar to become an Olympian.
He trains seven days a week, totaling 30 hours, at Broz's gym, where he also works as an occasional instructor. That doesn't leave much time for a paying job away from the gym.
He receives a stipend of less than $500 a month from USA Weightlifting and gets most of his financial support through room and board provided by local attorney Virginia Hunt, whose oldest son, Jason Weinstock, played football with Mendes at Del Sol.
"Pat stayed with us for part of his senior year when his family was moving (out of state)," said Hunt, who joked, "Then he came over about a year-and-a-half ago and just hasn't left.
"I like helping him. He's such a good kid and devoted to his sport. I don't mind being part of someone's Olympic dream."
Offering a room is one thing, but buying food and cooking for Mendes is off the scale. He must consume 6,000 calories a day to maintain his weight.
Mendes, who ranks third in the world in his weight class, intends to be the first American weightlifter to win a medal in a nonboycotted Olympics since 1976, and the first American of any weight to win gold since super heavyweight Charles Vinci did it in 1956.
Mendes' next major competition will be at the Pan American Games from Oct. 23-27 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Three weeks later, he will take part in the World Weightlifting Championships in Paris.
Winning both titles would ensure a spot on the USA team, but the bigger challenge is for the Americans to perform well enough as a group to earn automatic Olympic berths.
Broz said he believes Mendes' personal accomplishments should get him to London.
Hunt, his house mother and cook, promises she'll be there. And she's looking forward to not having to buy his groceries for a couple of weeks.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0247.