Yeah, so first, thank you so much for having me, David. This is awesome.
I literally was listening to your podcast with Silent Mike right before we start recording this. I dig what you’re doing, so I really appreciate you having me on.
Yeah, my story’s an interesting and very unique one. The small town where I come from in Maryland actually has a ton of super athletes for lack of better term that win a ton of gold medals, or become professional athletes, or one of my buddies who I went to high school with, was Mike Jenkins.
Some of your viewers or listeners may recognize that name, and strongman because he got up to number two or three in the World’s Strongest Man. He was a fan favorite because he had such a positive attitude.
He and I went to high school together, and actually were personal trainers together, and training partners and things like that.
We ended up splitting parts because I went into counterterrorism, and he left to go to continue to pursue his strongman career as well as open a gym up in Pennsylvania. We’re both from Maryland.
We were literally apart for probably close to 10 years. Just every once in a while you get contact over social media, or text, or whatever. Pretty much like as friends do. You just separate, right?
Then I actually randomly ran into Mike’s very first sponsor who now is a huge part of my life, but I’d never met the guy before. He told me that he was going to have a Christmas party. He had seen me lifting on YouTube before, said he wanted to sponsor me for a strongman competition except I had never touched a strongman implement. I’d never thought about it.
He sponsored Mike Jenkins, and he said that he was going to have a Christmas party, and that Mike will be there and maybe I should show up. Catch up with Mike, and maybe Mike could convince me to do the strongman contest. I was like, “Yeah, yeah. I’ll placate you, and say that I’ll do that.” but whatever.
I’ll come to the Christmas party then I’ll see my friend. Except that Thanksgiving morning instead of playing on that Christmas party, we got the call that Mike had died.
He died in his sleep of an enlarged heart. That was pretty much a blow. Instead of going to a Christmas party, we ended up going to a funeral. At the funeral, I was sitting there and I’m surrounded by all these strongmen who…these guys flew in from Iceland, and all these crazy places just because Mike was such a good guy.
I saw an intensity in those people. I was involved in the mixed martial arts world at the time, but I just found out that I had a brain tumor. I couldn’t no longer get hit in the head anymore. Those dreams that kind of died, and I was searching for something with intensity.
Honestly, all that kept going in my head was when Mike and I used to train together. I always placated him and said, “Man, yes, I will do a strongman contest with you.” because he was always saying, “You’re going to be great at this. You’re going to be great.”
All that I knew about strongman was guys who were 6’8″ and 400 pounds. I’m like, “I’m not that. I’m not a big fat guy.” I’m not interested. I had no idea there were weight classes and stuff.
Anyway, I’m sitting at the funeral going, “I always told my friend that I’d do this. I never did. Here we are on the other side. It’s a promise that I never fulfilled, and that means a lot to me.”
They’re at his funeral. I turned — I was sitting next to a sponsor — and I said, “Sign me up for the next strongman contest. I never touched an implement. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it for Mike. I always told him I would. I’m going to stand up to that and do it.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had been lifting weights seriously for this entire time. It’s been part of my life since I was 13. It’s not like I was unfamiliar with stuff.
Literally, I got signed up. The weekend prior to my competition, I drove up to Mike’s old gym where his wife, Keri, who is now Brian Shaw’s wife — who is four-time world Strongest Man, awesome guy — but she showed me pretty much how to pick up an atlas stone and how to press a log. Then the next weekend, I went out and competed in my first strongman competition.
Then literally, about four months later, I quit my counterterrorism job because I was tired of being gone from home all the time, opened my own gym, strongman gym, and started learning about this stuff, started a YouTube channel. Now, I’m doing things that I never thought I would ever be able.
Later this week, I’m hanging out at Elite FTS with Dave Tate, lifting with those guys, being on this podcast, hanging out. Dave Tate’s a pillar in the strength world. I’m like, “I never thought Dave Tate would know my name.” Now, we’re hanging out.
Like I said, before this podcast started, I have no business being where I’m at. It’s just been the grace of a lot of good people. I work hard and things worked out after a whole lot of pain, I guess.