Man returns to gym 10 days after amputation, earns World’s Strongest Disabled Man title
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WXIX/Gray News) – An Ohio educator who is missing an arm won two gold medals to earn the title of World’s Strongest Disabled Man.
By day, Mike Diehl is a teaching assistant for the Middletown School District. But once the final bell rings, you can find him at Powerstation Gym, putting in the work to defend his title.
The 42-year-old teaching assistant is a former Franklin firefighter. In 2015, he was involved in an on-duty accident that left him without an arm.
Diehl was guiding one of the trucks into the station garage when the unthinkable happened.
“The driver took a bad angle, a complete accident, and he ran into me, pinning my arm into the wall,” he said.
Diehl was rushed to the emergency room.
“The injuries were severe enough that they couldn’t really save the arm and any of its functions, so I told them to cut it off,” he said.
After having his right arm amputated, Diehl said his emotions were all over the place.
Then, he remembered a saying he heard while growing up.
“I grew up in a pretty tough household,” Diehl said. “My dad was an Army airborne ranger and a sniper in Vietnam. He raised me that you can cry, you can bleed, you can sweat, you can crawl, but you can’t quit.”
So just 10 days after getting his arm amputated, Diehl returned to his safe haven – the gym.
Powerstation Gym owner Michael Ferguson said Diehl is one of the “toughest men in the world.”
“To have gone through what he went through, losing his arm, being a firefighter, he never slowed down and never felt bad for himself. He’s one tough SOB,” Ferguson said.
For the past five years, Diehl has dedicated his life to becoming the World’s Strongest Disabled Man.
The first year he competed, he took second place. Fast forward five years, and the now teaching assistant is undefeated in National Strongest Disabled Man competitions in 2023.
In July, he added two more gold medals in London.
“I can’t control that I have one arm anymore, but I can control how hard I work,” Diehl said. “Work is the great equalizer. I’m not a talented or gifted or special athlete. What I do have is a sickening maniacal work ethic, and I’m just going to come in here and work harder.”
Next month, Diehl will defend his title at the competition in Orlando.
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