Strongman Rob Kearney is uniquely positioned in the sport of strongman. At five-foot, 10-inches tall, and sub-300 pounds, Kearney has referred to himself as “small” compared to other premier athletes he routinely competes against. He’s nearly a foot shorter than the towering six-foot, eight-inch tall frames of 2021 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Tom Stoltman or four-time WSM champion Brian Shaw. Even the 2020 WSM champion Oleksii Novikov has a few inches on Kearney, standing an inch over six feet.
That size differential — both height and weight — between Kearney and the rest of the elite strongman field can put him at a disadvantage in some events like truck pulls or frame carries where the physics of “weight moves weight” is a factor. Additionally, the size discrepancy translates to Kearney’s diet. Shaw recently changed his diet to consist of 9,700 calories per day. Kearney took to his YouTube channel on Oct. 20, 2021, to share an eating challenge, wherein he eats 30 boneless chicken wings of various flavors that total 10,500 calories. Check it out below:
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An extra foot of height and an additional 100-plus pounds on Shaw’s frame compared to Kearney’s changes the scope of what eating challenges can realistically entail. Shaw’s gorged on upwards of double the calorie count of Kearney’s eating challenges, consuming his old 15,000 calorie strongman diet, a seven-pound burrito (Kearney’s wing challenge above totaled 5.5 pounds), and the entire 20,000-calorie Taco Bell menu.
On his YouTube channel, Kearney’s first eating challenge was successfully consuming an 8,000-calorie sundae that included 15 scoops of ice cream — approximately 29 calories per pound of bodyweight.
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Prepping for Competition?
The most unique aspect of Kearney’s boneless wing eating challenge isn’t necessarily overcoming the gluttonous calorie count in one sitting, but rather the timing of the challenge itself. In just over a week’s time, Kearney will be in Round Rock, TX as one of 10 strongmen competing in the inaugural strongman competition at the 2021 Rogue Invitational. That contest features the largest single-competition prize purse in strongman history — $130,814 awarded to first place at the time of this article’s publication, and that prize could increase as more tickets are sold.
Presumably, if Kearney is endeavoring in an eating challenge like this so close to competition, he is at the point in his prep where the goal is simply consuming as many calories as possible. WSM mainstay Robert Oberst believes that there is no such thing as too many calories right before a competition. He told BarBend that if he could consume 20,000 calories right before a competition without feeling sick, he would.
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Heading To The Lone Star State
The odds seem to be stacked against Kearney heading into the Rogue Invitational. As is often the case, Kearney will be the smallest strongman competitor at the Rogue Invitational. The next two smallest athletes are Novikov and Mikhail Shivlyakov. They both stand at six feet, one inch tall. Additionally, he recently recovered from his ruptured triceps tendon injury and underwent surgery for his testicular cancer diagnosis three months ago.
Before his health difficulties, Kearney emerged victorious at the 2019 Arnold Strongman Australia. Two of the five events scheduled at the Rogue Invitational are strengths in Kearney’s game — the heavy dumbbell and the yoke carry & overhead medley. However, events like the Rogue Elephant Bar max deadlift and The Wheel of Pain naturally put lighter athletes at a disadvantage. We will see if Kearney’s extra couple thousand calories from his eating challenge can help him overcome his underdog status at the 2021 Rogue Invitational and secure a spot on the podium.
Featured image via Rob Kearney’s YouTube channel.