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Strong People - Rolonde Bradshaw

Strong People

Rolonde Bradshaw is a humble and kind man with a dogged drive and determination. To overcome a troubled past and find his way to help others do the same meant it was an absolute honour for me that he took the time to write this piece for Clean and Pressed. 

I was asthmatic, wore glasses and was thin as a kid. I also lived in several abusive households and developed a lot of unhealthy coping strategies including drug use. I joined the army as soon as I could aged 16, however my cannabis use earned me 28 days in the Army Jail and a dishonourable discharge just weeks before my 17th Birthday. Too scared to go home I moved into my mates’ mums house; she was in prison for supplying a lad who then died in the flat. It was then inhabited by a heroin dealer and his cronies. I

Rolonde Bradshaw Strong People Clean and Pressed Image

started down a road that culminated in a detox from heroin, crack and benzodiazepines in 2008 aged 32. I had a lot of hang ups and stuff to address when I got clean which I started to do there in a rehab. During my time there I wanted to look stronger, healthier and be more confident. I had hang-ups about being frail and too weak; I hated myself and wanted to feel better.

I started off trying to be a bodybuilder and did a gym instructor course to learn how to get jacked and then uni. I did lots of stuff, achievements and accoladesthat temporarily buoyed me but can’t convince me I’m a good enough man. One of the things I did was go to a gym in Clitheroe; Absolute Fitness and found Strongman equipment there. The owner there is a giant of a man and had competed successfully in local Strongman comps. I waited till nobody was around and tried to pick up one farmers handle (about 120KG) no movement. I started to copy, watch and read, I started to learn from Colin and other helpful members. Then I watched Chris compete for the 1st time; he struggled with the yoke event and coming off I tried to console him by saying “there’s a hundred people here who didn’t have the balls to have a go, be proud”, I realised I should take my own advice and signed up for SMB (Strongman Bolton) competition about six months away. I hate and fear being laughed at, failing, rejection or appearing weak; these fears have meant I never really tried anything good so I didn’t have to deal with them. I put my money down and started training.
Rolonde Bradshaw Strong People Strongman Training

On the day of the competition I was nervous as hell but when I got there I just started helping out and making friends. I loved how approachable and supportive everyone was. People encouraged their opponents and consoled each other, it was beautiful. A lad with one leg missing at the knee competed with us as an able bodied athlete, there was triumph and loss. I frigging loved it. Since then I’ve competed my way through a divorce, job loss, grief, arguments and more. I’ve kept lifting and it’s kept me anchored to the world, it’s given me strength, it’s taught me discipline, resilience and respect. It’s taught me the value of a friendly word when you’re arse is twitching

Rolonde as well as being a Personal Trainer is also available as an Inspirational Recovery Speaker and does a lot of work with recovering addicts. If you would like to get in touch with him please go to his Facbook page - Rolo the Walker - Recovery Speaker

Several of the photos shown in this article are credited to Steve Strongmanfan who is a fantastic photographer and a regular on the Strongman scene. Thank you Steve for your continued hard work!

To tell us your story please have a look at our Strong People page for guidelines, ideas and how to submit your article.