My first experience with strongman was in 2002, when I got to my unit in the 82nd Airborne Division (HHB 319th AFAR).  I participated in a regimental-wide strongman contest put on by one of the guys from a different battalion. I didn’t train for it, and I had no clue what I was doing, but my First Sergeant told me the morning of that I was going to participate in it because I was “the big guy,” weighing in at a whopping 215 pounds and standing 69 inches tall.

The events were a loading medley of ammos and fuel cans onto a hummer, a howitzer deadlift, an ammo can hold, a hummer pull, and a makeshift atlas stone load (rolled up canopy nets). Out of 13 individuals, I placed third. I made mistakes, I was beat up, and my whole body hurt. The only thing I knew at the end of that day was that I wanted more.

Fast forward to 2007. I had been out of the Army for a few years, worked a construction job, and was going to school in New Jersey. I knew I wanted more, so I packed my bags and moved out to Ohio to attend The Ohio State University. At first, I loved college —the parties, the women, the freedom. But I still felt empty.

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For those of you that have never served in the military or something similar, it is an extremely different dynamic than civilian life. Everyday, you’re with the same guys. You fight, you get into trouble together, you train together, but most of all, you learn to have each other’s backs. With that comes purpose. The bond among soldiers is one of the most solid bonds I’ve ever found in my life. It’s really hard to find that sort of honesty and cohesiveness in the civilian world. That’s why so many soldiers leave the military and feel empty.

One day, however, while searching the internet to try and find somewhere to train strongman, I found Team BOSS’s founder, Rick Freitag. I asked him if I could come train with them, having little to no experience in strongman and, while hesitant, he obliged. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

I had been lifting weights seriously since middle school, but never like this. I had always been the “strong guy” in the gyms I’d trained at, but now, I was the nobody. I had never witnessed strength like I had when I got to train with Team BOSS, but most of all, I had never seen a bond like they had since my days in the Army. I was immediately hooked.

Fast forward to today. I’ve competed all over the country, in countless competitions, from your everyday local show, to nationals, to the amateur world championships. To this day, I still love this sport. So much, in fact, that I decided it was time I started giving back. I decided it was time to share the sport I love with as many people as I can. This is why I created Finding Strength.

My mission with Finding Strength is to bring humanity to the sport. My mission with Finding Strength is to connect everyday people with the athletes that dedicate themselves to such a brutal undertaking, for no other reason than the love of it. I want people on the street to know what an atlas stone is, what a log press is, and to know that there are other strongman besides that Polish guy.

I will continue to train and compete in strongman, but my focus now is it’s exposure, and I intend to be the catalyst that gaps that bridge. This is my journey: to help people find strength, like I found strength.

Finding Strength