Rob Kearney is a multi-time World’s Strongest Man competitor and the 2019 Arnold Australia Strongman champion. He’s one of the rising stars in the sport, even while weighing up to 150 pounds less than other top competitors in his division. In addition, Rob is one of the most visible openly gay strength athletes in America. Rob joins us to discuss his training, career goals, and the impact he hopes his success can have on breaking stereotypes and increasing acceptance across sports.
Our conversation gets pretty heavy in some sections. Rob discusses his experiences facing hate for his sexual orientation. He also shares some stories of others in the LGBTQ+ community struggling with issues of identity and discrimination. For some, that includes thoughts regarding self-harm. If you or anyone you know are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255 as well as online.
In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, guest Rob Kearney and host David Thomas Tao discuss:
- Rob’s current training and schedule in the strongman offseason (2:16)
- The stress of extra bodyweight for strongman athletes, and whether athletes should lean out before competition (6:15)
- Rob’s unconventional path to strongman and time in the CrossFit community (7:30)
- Rob’s 8 year progression from starting in the sport to reaching the World’s Strongest Man stage (9:00)
- “I’m not over 6 foot, and I don’t have the frame to be over 300 pounds, I’m never going to be able to do that” (11:20)
- First time qualifying for World’s Strongest Man (12:40)
- Competing in Botswana in 2017, when homosexuality was a criminal offense in that country (14:50)
- The competitors who most surprised Rob (15:55)
- The origins of Rob’s Instagram handle: @worlds_strongest_gay (17:35)
- How being an openly gay athlete impacted Rob (18:30)
- Dealing with social media hate, and what more than makes up for it (21:00)
- Finding acceptance from other top strongman athletes (23:00)
- Rob’s competition schedule for 2020 — over 12 competitions! (27:00)
- Future career goals (28:50)
- The strength athlete Rob most admires (31:30)
Relevant links and further reading:
- Follow Rob on Instagram and Twitter
- Visit Rob’s website!
- Rob goes in-depth with BarBend on the Z-Press.
- Relive Rob’s Arnold Australia victory.