One of the guys I speak to regularly and greatly respect is Eben Le Roux, the currently Southern Hemisphere’s Strongest Man, and Australia’s Strongest Man.
In this interview he speaks candidly about himself as an athlete and also the sport in general.
PB: I rate you in the top 5 greatest Australian Strongmen ever, what would you say to that?
Eben Le Roux: Well honestly if that is accurate,and I don’t know if it is,it would be an honour to be on that list. With athletes with the likes of Bill Lyndon,Nathan Jones,Derek Boyer etc etc. It’s a big deal and I appreciate the question.
PB: Is Eben Le Roux over the hill in his Strongman career or is your best still to come?
Eben Le Roux: This is a hard one to answer because I’ve had mixed feelings about this. Let’s be honest Phil, strongman in Australia has been suffering,we have been pretty directionless.
I mean we can all see that the potential is there but it just won’t take off….,so am I gonna pull the pin, well I’ve been hanging around hoping for something juicy around the corner.
I keep saying I’m gonna retire but then I start hitting pb’s and it’s full steam ahead again haha,let’s see how I go at the Arnold’s and how the body feels afterwards!
PB: What are your next competitions, and do you know who and what you will be facing at the Arnolds?
Eben Le Roux: At this stage the Arnold’s of course, then maybe the record breakers in Adelaide, after that I got a little strength stunt that I’m doing with an Australian celeb( it’s a secret). In the meantime I’m sure something will pop up, let’s just say I’m hoping for an invite to a specific comp in the UK.
With the events I can’t say 100% and also I want to give the organisers a chance to announce it officially first.
I’ve also heard that a handful of the best in the world is coming down under, records will be broken for sure,that is all I can say for now.
PB: If you could improve the sport in anyway how would you do it?
Eben Le Roux: Improving the sport…. well I know this is in the pipeline but we need a solid federation, look at the NAS North America Strongman fed,it’s working. We can certainly give that a go,but let’s start small, I think we need to educate the young and upcoming guys about what we are planning on doing,what the direction is and what will be expected from them.
There are already promoters putting alot of work in to run regular comps,and we all appreciate that!
I am always willing to give advice to younger guys,( most don’t listen haha) but it’s all about training correctly and sticking with it I reckon,there are no short cuts!
I’ve also found that social media can sometimes do more damage than good, those old strongmen we all look up to so much weren’t posting how strong they are on FACEBOOK,they spent that time training!
The only way to grow the sport will be with discipline, meaning everyone is on the same page and know what is coming next.
PB: What will you do sportwise once you finish competing?
Eben Le Roux: I am actually interested in a few things.
I really like discus and shot put,so I might try that for fun! But hey I don’t think I’ll ever stop lifting!
I’ll definitely drop my body weight a bit and start working on those explosive lifts, well let’s see what I end up doing, I don’t know phil,I’ll need your advice! (Laughing)
PB: How does your wife Marlien support you in the sport?
Eben Le Roux: Well marlien does everything!
She’s the one that cooks my meals, that’s alot of work, just ask the guys at my work, it looks like I’m having a picnic at work when it’s lunch time.
Then there is the mental side of it, she knows how to help me stay focused when things are not working out, I think she knows more about the sport than most of the guys I compete with (laughing), she really is an amazing woman!
PB: Which one of the Australian and New Zealand Rat Pack (under 30’s guys) impresses you the most and you think has the greatest potential from what you have already seen?
Eben Le Roux: Well I’ve said this to Colm Wolfe a few times,he has got insane potential!
He will go far. And then there is Rongo Keene who has proven his strength with his great pressing,I know he is training hard and he will be one to watch.
What about young Coco!, I’m curious to see what he will do in a few years, definitely a quiet achiever!
In the meantime there are a few lighter guys that are coming up fast and will be our next generation of strongmen.
PB: Who excites you the most in the sport of Strongman and why?
Eben Le Roux: The most exciting and also my idol, I have made up my mind now, is Mark Felix! I met him at WSM.
He is a great guy! A fantastic athlete, but what I love about him is how calm he is,even before he will be lifting, and then he will just blow your mind with his incredible strength!
I was lucky enough to hang with him for a bit at WSM and what a true gentleman.
PB: What obstacles have you had in your career and how did you overcome them?
Eben Le Roux: I’ve had so many obstacles I won’t know where to start and we will be here all week, but my worst was probably my back injury years ago.
I was out of it for about a year, I thought I was never gonna be able to lift anything again but I recovered and slowly started lifting again. It took me a long time to get back to a 250 deadlift, now I’m hanging around 400 lol,I think I’m doing ok!
Then another obstacle that I’m sure a lot of people underestimate is when I migrated to Australia from South Africa, it really threw me back, as there was no time to train and I lost a ton of weight and strength. It’s not easy when you know no-one but I can only thank my wife for being so strong and helping me achieve my goals, in the meantime I’ve met some great guys and that helps a lot.
Finding a good place to train,also equipment can be painful, but luckily enough I’ve had some great people help me, today I’ve got guys like Jamie Christensen from PTC Sumner park helping me heaps at his gym!