Rising to the Top – Sean Kennedy – 2012 UK’s Strongest Man u105kg class

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Sean Kennedy 2012 UK Strongest Man under 105kg
Axle Press

This weeks interview is with Sean Kennedy, the 2012 UK’s Strongest Man in the under 105kg class.

Sean Kennedy 2012 UK Strongest Man under 105kg
Axle Press

Sean shares with us, the story behind him getting involved in the sport and the twist and turns along the way, leading to him rising to the top.

Phil Burgess:  You recently won the 2012 Under 105kg UK’s Strongest Man Title.  What does it mean to you to win this?  What other titles have you won?

Sean Kennedy: It meant absolutely everything to me. 

My goal was always to be UK champion to make my son proud.  Also this year my nan who I was extremely close to passed away weeks before this competition. 

I trained extremely hard for 12 weeks leading up to the competition.


I had nothing else on my mind except that competition for those 12 weeks.

Hopefully I made my family proud.

Other titles I have won are:

  • Luton’s Strongest Man under 105kg, 2010
  • Only the Strong will Survive – Halloween special, under 105kg , 2011

Phil Burgess:  How much do you weigh, and do you think that you will be able to get stronger and still fit under the weight limit?

Sean Kennedy:  I walk around when I’m not dieting for a show at about 110kg. I am currently about 115kg as I’m not sure what my plans are for next year.

I am contemplating going into the open category, but right at this point in time I’m really not sure.

Gaining strength at a lower weight I do not struggle with so the weight limit has never been a problem for me.

2012 Under 105kg UK's Strongest Man Winner

Phil Burgess: In the UK are the under 105kg divisions getting stronger with greater numbers of people competing?

Sean Kennedy:   Strongmen in all classes are getting stronger.

We are very lucky too have such an amazing set of athletes in the UK.

I am very  lucky I had the opportunity to compete with world class athletes.   The standard in the UK is just as good as any other country in the world.

Phil Burgess:  How did you get involved with the sport, did you play any other sports beforehand?

Sean Kennedy: I played football (soccer) up until I was 18.

I trained as a bodybuilder before trying strongman.

To be honest, before I was a drinking and eating hardly ever and basically not taking care of my well-being.

My best friend Sam started training at a local gym called Rhinos. Over the few months he was getting in good shape and he kept on at me to come with him.

I was 9 stone wet through and felt intimidated to walk into a power and strength gym. Eventually I gave in and went down there with him for a look round.  

I joined Rhinos and was inducted and began training. Within 6 months I put 3 stone on naturally through eating properly, protein and hard training.

Eventually Sam became less interested and I ended up training with one of the instructors there Dan. I trained with Dan for about a year and then due to him leaving, I ended up on my own.

I was working the door at night so had all day to eat and train.

In 2009, I was training one Saturday and a few of the strongmen were training outside and as I went to leave Jo (the owner) and Marvin Service asked me to lift this Atlas stone.

I asked how much it weighed and they told me 100kg. Anyway I loaded it to the single platform and everyone was shocked.   Jo then decided to tell me it was 130kg!!!!

From there I started strongman training on saturdays and did my first competition (London’s Strongest Man Novice 2009), and I was on my way.

Cleaning the Axle

Phil Burgess: What is your next goal after achieving the title of UK’s Strongest under 105kg athlete? And what do you need to do in order to achieve that?

Sean Kennedy:  I do enjoy competing at under 105kg, but after going to the world championships this year and various other reasons I think there isn’t much further I can go in this weight division.

Ideally I would like to make it to Ireland and compete in the UK’s open class…. but depending on injuries, gains and all other personal things I will see how it all comes together over this winter’s training

Phil Burgess: Whereabouts in the UK do you live, and what do your friends think of you doing strongman?

Sean Kennedy: I live in Kent, near London. I have a really good set of friends and supporters around me that encourage me and help me where and when they can…. unfortunately in July 2007 my best friend and biggest supporter Sam Karim died.

I wont go into the detail, but he always was walking around telling everyone how strong I was and how he got me into it, the nutcase…. So he is the reason I compete as he always said I was wasted talent in the gym.

Im not so sure lol.

My family, especially my Grandad  follows strongman more than I do.   He’s always ringing me telling me Giants Live is on or another strongman comp.

He’s a great supporter of me.

Phil Burgess: If you had a magic wand what would you do to improve the sport of strongman?

Sean Kennedy: The politics and the sport needs a governing body.

Phil Burgess: How long have you been training, and do you train with any of the heavyweight competitors?

Sean Kennedy:  I have been training (seriously) since I was 18 so nearly 8 years…

My training partners are:

Marc Cherry (strongman promoter) He is a massive supporter and always there to help. Marc is a great guy and will help anyone.

Paul Wood (former UK’s under 105kg champion) He’s been my coach through 2011-2012. Paul competed against me in 2011 at UK’s Strongest Man and tore his bicep and retired.

He then decided to coach me, which I am very grateful for. Hopefully me winning UK’s Strongest Man under 105kg and going to the Worlds Strongest Man under 105kg event, made him proud.

Marvin Service (Under 105kg competitor) He’s my training partner. Marvin is great for enthusiasm. He wont let you stop or give up.

Chris Gearing
Chris Gearing

Most of all my training partner for the few years Chris Gearing (2012 England’s Strongest Man). We have both brawled it out in the gym and had plenty of blood, sweat, sick and tears, not just at comps or in training 🙂

Chris is top athlete in Strongman. He has competed in the worlds this year and is set to be the next big thing coming out of the UK. 

Phil Burgess: How do you psyche yourself up for a competition and specifically before each event?

Sean Kennedy: I used to really over psyche myself… Now I try to conserve all energy until a few seconds before lifting the weight.

I have a strange way with the log or axle. I totally calm down. Take deep slow breaths, and picture my son and then that gives me my motivation and energy to try my hardest to lift the weight or win the event.

Phil Burgess: Which Strongman athlete past or present do you respect the most in the sport and why?

Sean Kennedy: I respect every athlete who competes, seriously in strongman.

Every athlete puts themselves through hell to try and be the best.

That deserves respect in my eyes…… or maybe we are just stupid 🙂

Phil Burgess:  Final Question, is there any other people you would like to thank?

Sean Kennedy:  Training at Reflexions gym and the Cell has done more for me than anything else. Without these two training facilities I would never have been able to reach the level I have.

I’d also like to thank, Joanne Cutts and Terry Duxburry at Rhino’s Gym.

Also a Big thank you to Matt Smith (owner Reflexions gym and Mark Clegg (Vikingr-clothing) for sponsoring me.  It’s nice to know people believe in you.