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The Gentle Giant called Mount Kenya.

He surprised many by dominating the five gruelling tasks, including pulling a 7,000-kg truck at Aspire Zone, which saw him being crowned as Qatar's Strongest Man, recently. Joseph Iroo Ekadeli, nicknamed Y[pounds sterling]Mount Kenya' is a body builder at a fitness centre in Gharaffa.

The soft-spoken 32-year-old is married with three children and hails from Kenya's Turkana tribe. According to him, Ikadeli, inherited his power from his father who was a boxer. Recently, Qatar Tribune's Catherine W Gichuki met up with him to get to know about him and his life. Excerpts:

When did you start getting involved in sports? Please give us a background

I started indulging sports when I was about 15 years old. I used to play basketball. I was a basketball player. Besides basketball, I also played rugby, football, boxing and body-building. After school, I didn't have anything to do because I did not have a job and I got interested in body-building. I did training. I did the body-building for about two or three years and at the same time, I was working as a sports trainer and a gym instructor. I have been in body-building for about 10 years now.

What inspired you to become a sportsman?

When I was young, I used to be asthmatic. I met a doctor who told me that the only thing that would cure me was sports. And after that I got involved in sports, and miraculously, asthma disappeared. Now sports, is a part of me.

As you have explained, you loved basketball with passion. Why did you shift from being a basketball player to a bodybuilder?

Basketball and bodybuilding are different sports. Everyone now is playing basketball. Body-building is something unique and due to the condition I had (being asthmatic), I thought with basketball, it would not help me that much. It is not as strenuous as body-building is. Body-building is strenuous and builds strengths.

How did you land in Qatar?

I came here two years ago to look for greener pastures. Back home (Kenya) they don't pay that well. If I was still in Kenya, you wouldn't even have a chance to know who the strongest man is, because we don't have that kind of competition, something to push you to the absolute limit. I work at Wellness Fitness Center in Al Gharaffa. Before coming here, I was in Dubai where I worked as a personal trainer.

How did you prepare for the Qatar's Strongest Man competition? How did you learn about the competition and have you ever participated in such a contest before?

This was the first competition that I participated in Qatar. I used to watch Strongest Man contests on television which I used to admire a lot. And I thought that one day I will try to challenge myself. I learned of the event from flyers that were distributed at our centre. I filled up the forms and decided to give it a try.

I prepared for the competition for two weeks, whereby I did circuit training. It involved single activities, doing them over and over again and power training. That's what gives me more strength and cardio for endurance. For the kind of training for Strongest Man competition, you require endurance and strength. For the strength I lifted heavy weights. First week, I used to do light weights and heavy weights during the second week. I was focusing more on the strength because I just came from vacation and knew that my strength was down. It was an off season for me. I was doing more of circuit training, power lifting and cardio exercises to prepare for the competition.

There were some gruelling challenges including moving a truck in order to win the Qatar Strongest Man title. Could you please brief us on some of the tests in the contest?

The day was based on a car lift whereby the contestants lifted a car (Camry), sand bags (weighing 120, 110,100 and 90 kg), flipping giant tyres (weighing over 100 kg), pulling a truck that weighed about 7 tonnes and suitcase walking each of them weighing 85 kg and the contestants had to walk for about 25 minutes carrying the weight.

How did you manage to pull a truck?

It is all about believing in yourself. People usually say, Y[pounds sterling]I can't do this because I am like this and like that'. It's all about trying. I was trying to work more on my weak points. What your body requires for that kind of competition is legs and back. It was all based on bending and pulling. I used to focus more on that. That's what helped win that competition.

Did you endure any injuries?

Yes, I endured. I only got muscle injuries but there was no tear of muscle. I had only muscle pain. Two days after the contest the pains were gone after I had a relaxing massage.

Does body weight play a part in such competitions?

Yes it does. At the moment, I have lost weight. I am about 125kilos. I was 145kilos. I managed to lose the weight because with the body-building if your weight is higher, it is complicated for your body. Therefore, at times we have to go off season which is 145 kilos, so I have to reduce that to get lean muscle. Now that I have finished the competition, I have to go back to my usual weight. When you are overweight you cannot do several activities. I cannot do cardio, I feel heavy. I can't walk for long. My legs hurt. I get short breath. Even the sleeping posture changes. You have to balance yourself. For health purposes, you have to reduce your weight.

What is your diet like. Do you change your food or do you eat the same, day in day out?

I am a meat lover. I love meat. I mostly eat chicken and fish. My diet is based more on the protein and high carbohydrates like brown rice, sweet potatoes, steamed rice, broccoli, and anything that has carbs to give me strength. I have seven meals in a day which I consume healthy meals. I take my breakfast at 8am and then take meals after ever 3 hours. It is only once in a week that I eat a cheat meal (junk food) to confuse the body.

What is your daily routine like?

I wake up at around 8am, I prepare my own breakfast. By 10am I am in the gym training, About 2 oclock, I start my duty as a personal trainer and then 11oclock I go back home.

At that time I study. I am studying because I want to get more knowledge about the profession that I am in, trying to expand my knowledge. Then I sleep between midnight and 1am. Those are my usual timings.

What keeps you going? What motivates you?

It's a passion to me. And since someone helped me change my life and overcame the condition that I had, I also like to help other people. What inspires me is that I want to see people improving their lives.

Is anybody in your family involved in sports?

My elder sister is a sports manager in US and my younger brother is gym instructor, my dad used to be a boxer, my mum was an athlete. I think the strength that I have was inherited from my dad, he used to be a strong guy.

What are your plans? Where do you see yourself in the coming years?

Before reaching 45, I want to retire. I want to find myself getting more medals and awards in sports. I want to continue with the Strongest Man competition. In future, I wish to open a gym in Kenya.

How do people perceive you? For example, many people especially if they know that you have all that strength would get scared?

My friends especially the ones whom I live with, are used to that. When I am training them, I am stronger than them. I am the one supporting them with the tricks and all that.

Where were you born?

I was born in Nakuru, Kenya. That's where I was raised and attended primary and high school. I moved to Nairobi to attend college and then I worked in Kenya for about 6 to 7 years before coming to Qatar. I studied mechanical engineering but I couldn't finish due to financial constraints. Then I tried fitness because it was cheaper than mechanical engineering.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Feb 4, 2014
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