“The LW (lightweight) pro strongman class originated during the second year of my strongman career. After my first and only amateur LW nationals, they decided to put the class into play and from the moment they announced it – my sights were on it. They announced 3 shows where they would have pro-ams, the first was in late April in South Carolina, the 2nd was on May 15, 2004 at California’s Strongest Man and the 3rd was in Boise, ID in June I believe. I sent in applications to Cali as my main target and Boise as a back up plan.
All of the top LWs went to these shows and the field was stacked, including 2 former LW amateur champions, a heavyweight amateur champion who dropped down to get his LW pro card, and various other regional champions. I knew that I had to be at the top of my game to win my pro card at any of these shows. We also had about 7 guys with the same goal in mind at the Freak Factory at the time. So imagine competing to win your pro card in training every single weekend for 3 months leading up to the show. Everyone was like-minded in our group… if there was any sign of mental weakness or negative energy, you were handed ”The Letter” and removed from the group permanently.
Everyone was expected to inspire and bring their “A” game to every session. The energy was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I personally thrive on competition and competing against Beau Gertz, Kevin Kinzy, Josh Bryant, Joe Miller, Charlie Kaptur, Ralph Sulsona and Jon Hergert every weekend, it would take a natural disaster to stop me at that point. I was mentally the strongest that I had ever been in my life, unstoppable. My training partners were all the same exact way. We talked an absurd amount of shit to each other, constantly antagonizing each other to prove who was the best that day in every single thing that we did in training. Our training volume was super-natural, looking back I can’t believe how much we actually did at such a high level of intensity.
Personally, I knew in my head that I was the best in the country at my best events and I took it as an insult if anyone even thought that they could beat me in a tire flip/anchor chain medley, or a Truck Pull or the Farmer’s Walk. I think that having that kind of confidence is essential in becoming a champion. You have to train and compete with a grudge or an attitude that nothing can stop you.
The goal has to be your #1 priority with nothing else taking precedence over that goal. Eating on schedule, sleeping appropriately to recover, icing, contrast bathing to recover from tough gym sessions, making every training session productive in some way, analyzing the events obsessively, incessantly trying to improve technically. Using your direct competition to motivate you in every single training session. Visualizing them trying to take that goal from you. Imagining like that goal is the only meal that you will eat for an entire week. When you can put yourself in that kind of a place mentally in every single training session, there is a fight or flight response demanded of your body. Your body will respond by getting stronger because it believes that your life depends on it. That’s what we have been doing for thousands of years – adapting, surviving and evolving. I was just asking my body to do it over a shorter time period.
When the contest finally came around, I knew it in my heart and soul that I was leaving there with my pro card. I sacrificed everything in my daily life and in training that I could to reach that goal. To this day, the memories that I have training for the show and the physical and mental journey that I shared with my training partners will always have a special place in my heart. It has certainly taken a role in defining the way that I accompish all of my goals in life. Life is short and precious, I remind myself of that every day. I don’t take anything for granted, I believe in testing my mind and body in every way that I can and leave no room for regrets. Make your family proud, be a role model for the people that you love, never feel sorry for yourself and inspire others to get the most out of their lives.”