May 2008

This strong man has youth on his side

Kevin Nee: A fierce competitor!

Only the strong survive.  If you are a competitor in the World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Competition, this statement can’t be truer. Kevin Nee is not only a competitor, but at 19, he was the youngest to enter the WSM competition.

Born in Hopeville, Mass., Nee first became interested in building his muscles at The Body Shop, a local gym in Milford, Mass. At 13, Nee learned as much as he could from the weightlifters around him and with a great deal of determination and commitment, he became much bigger and stronger in just a few years. “I tried to learn as much as I could and it paid off,” Nee says. “Soon after, I met a local strongman, Bruce Tessier, who had me lifting tires and atlas stones.” Both feats are part of the WSM competitions which air on ESPN.

Now 23, Nee competes about eight times a year around in the U.S. and abroad, including events in Poland, England, Ireland and China. He has been featured in Men’s Fitness in “The Top 25 Fittest Men.” In between competing, Nee managed to finish college at ArizonaStateUniversity and earned a BA in logistics management. But Nee has a goal in mind somewhat different from being a logistician. “I want to be the world’s strongest man,” Nee says. Nee finished in second place behind the the World’s Strongest Man, Mariusz Pudzianowski, in competitions at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut in 2007. Pudzianowski has referred to Nee as “The Next,” because he is bound to take the WSM title some day. The average age of competitors is 30, which gives Nee plenty of time to perfect his competitions and achieve his goal.

At 6-feet-1 and 275 pounds, Nee trains two to three hours a night, six nights a week. His training includes power lifting, bodybuilding and speed lifting. He can dead lift 870 pounds. Training like this can’t be done on an empty stomach though. Nee packs in between 5,000 to 7,000 calories a day eating steak, eggs, pasta, burgers, chicken, and he always leaves room for desserts such as ice cream. Maintaining this type of discipline is certainly tough for a young guy who, at times, would rather be out with his girlfriend, playing poker, fishing or listening to the Allman Brothers. But his discipline has sure paid off, as the WSM events are no picnics. The events include:

  • Log Press—Lifting a metal log (approx. 255 pounds) overhead
  • Atlas Stones—Carrying stones, each weighing between 300 to 500 pounds, to a designated finish line
  • Farmer’s Walk—Carrying two items, such as anvils, in separate hands (approx. 275 to 375 pounds) at maximum speed to a designated finish line
  • Yoke—Usually consists of carrying refrigerators on a crossbar across the shoulders.

Nee’s favorite competition is the Deadlift. “It’s just something I have always been good at. It’s my best competing event,” Nee says. Deadlifts usually include lifting cars, though some of the more unusual items he had to lift include slot machines and a truck filled with bikini-clad women. When it comes to his least favorite competitions, “The Fingal’s Fingers,” Nee explains, “I’m not that good at it; and when it’s done wrong it can be horribly ugly.” The Fingal’s Fingers involves flipping five poles in ascending order at 180 degrees. The competitor to flip all five poles first wins. Another area where Nee feels he needs improvement is his speed because many of the events require carrying items to a goal at the fastest speed. Nee admires Pudzianowski because he is so well-rounded in all the events. “He has it all,” Nee says. “He is an all-around athlete. He has boxed, played rugby, has speed and excellent stamina…he’s a machine.”

With such fierce competition and extraordinary events, the fear of injury is always there for Nee. “I hurt my back and tore some biceps fibers in VeniceBeach, but overall I’ve been very lucky as far as injuries,” Nee says. Nee’s family also worries about him being injured, but are supportive of his goal to be the strongest man and attend events when they can.

Out of the places where Nee enjoys competing, Mohegan Sun is his favorite. “It’s just a beautiful place and a great atmosphere to compete,” he says. He also enjoys taking in a little poker while he is there. In addition to his dream of being the strongest man, Nee has opened his own gym called Strengthworks in Tempe, Ariz. “I want to show people what a real gym should look like,” he says, “not just a place to jump on a treadmill.” As far as other aspirations, “I would love to settle down and raise a family someday,” Nee says. Considering the goals he has accomplished in his life so far, this goal should be within his reach too.