Bill Kazmaier, better known to anyone who meets him as “Kaz”, was for a period of time one of the world’s strongest who ever lived. In a most incredible feat of strength at the age of 25, Kazmaier won the American Power Lifting and the International Power Lifting Championship’s in 1979. He then went onto win the World’s Strongest Man title three years in a row from 1980 to 1982. From the late 70’s and up until today, Kazmaier continues to demonstrate unparalleled strength. He has set records and in his 50’s still manages to pull buses filled with children as he goes around the country bringing his positive message of hope and inspiration to kids of all ages.

By his own admission, Kazmaier was academically challenged while growing up in the mid-west. While on a football scholarship at the University of Wisconsin, Kazmaier was looking for an outlet but didn't have any money. He snuck in the back door of the YMCA for a few days until that door was closed one day, forcing him to go in the front entrance.

"When I walked in the front door, they said, ‘Bill, do you need a towel?” For “Kaz”, that introduction to the YMCA led to his ultimately becoming the world's strongest man. At the YMCA Kazmaier learned to love weightlifting and decided to leave school to pursue the goal of becoming the top power lifter in the world.

As he progressed to strongman competitions, Kazmaier demonstrated incredible powers of concentration and perseverance over his life challenges. Only a few years into his career as a strongman, Kazmaier was injured, tearing his pectoral. His injury caused him to lose more than one-hundred pounds off his bench press, and the World’s Strongest Man organizers decided not to invite him back for the 1984 competition.

Despite this setback, Kazmaier continued to compete in lesser known strong man tournaments, following his motto: Conceive, Believe, Achieve! He came back to the World’s Strongest Man competition in 1988 and placed second. “I tend to like the things where I overcome adversity. After tearing my pectoral in the bar bend in 1981, I came back to squat the world record in the World’s Strongest Man competition and beat Dave Waddington who was commonly referred to as having the world’s strongest legs.”

Kazmaier has moved on beyond strong man competitions despite his impeccable physical shape. “There are many other facets of life, and so many other routes to explore, that to be focused for a while and to excel in one thing is great, but if it totally consumes your existence and you limit yourself and your capacity to do other things, it’s counter-productive.”

In his speaking tours at YMCAs across the country, Kazmaier recounts the special place the YMCA holds in his heart. It was at the YMCA that he was first taught how to grow physically, mentally and most importantly, spiritually. It was at the YMCA that Kazmaier learned the most significant message of his life, "I was taught how to put my hands together, my head down and pray," said Kazmaier.

During his competition years, nothing seemed impossible for Kazmaier. Beginning with power lifting, where he dominated and made himself a legend, Kazmaier wanted to challenge himself with Strongman competitions. He also competed in football for a brief period with the Wisconsin, Green Bay Packers and worked for a time as a professional wrestler under the WCW.

Through the many physical and mental challenges he confronted in these tests and championships, Kazmaier learned the importance of discipline and the way to demonstrate strength through adversity. These lessons he now takes to children as well as adults.

“Perception of reality is reality. I teach children that they can be champions even when they are just ready to quit. Find something you are good at and do it. Dare to dream.” This message of the perception of reality is particularly important in Kazmaier’s message to the children of the YMCA.

As he explains it, the mind is a powerful thing. If you think you can’t do something and you tell yourself that you can’t, then you will be right, you won’t be able to accomplish your goals or dreams. But if you tell yourself to do something and really believe in the possibility of achieving, there is nothing that can hold you back.

As a part of Kazmaier’s passionate and active support of health and fitness initiatives, he travels to fitness facilities nationwide. Kazmaier educates both children and adults about active lifestyles and motivating them to overcome challenges in order to achieve their full potential in life and fitness. One of the YMCAs initiatives, Activate America, is one that Kazmaier supports.
"I want to deliver a message of hope and inspiration and let children know the strongest words are ‘I can’ and ‘I will’.

Most accomplishments in life don’t come easily or quickly. With very few exceptions, great successes come only after we face setbacks and learn how to overcome adversity. As we struggle toward our goals, we will encounter obstacles that seem almost insurmountable. Yet it is these times—when our mettle is truly tested and we are forced to make the life changing decision to persevere or accept defeat—that can change us for the better and help us achieve great things. If we choose the hard road, and don’t allow challenges to debilitate us, we have the opportunity, like Kaz, to allow adversity to bring us strength and gain clarity of conviction in pursuit of our ambitions.

Author's Bio: 

In my present work I am an author, international speaker, and "wellness ambassador" focused on developing the human potential within business. My experience includes serving as an investor, board member, and president of a leading global fitness manufacturing company. That work, and my present business at "The JMac Performance Group" has allowed me to play a leadership role in the health and fitness industry for more than twenty years. Elements of my pursuit have found me studying the lifestyle trends and cultural views of wellness in over sixty countries. This has led to a robust consulting practice developing healthy people - thus leading to a healthy, innovative, and more profitable business.

In my work I have given keynote addresses, seminars, and "High Performance Culture" workshops around the world. Of note are events in China, Israel, Australia, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Dubai and throughout the U.S.

Much of my current business advisory work and speaking demonstrates a philosophy I call “Crosstraining for Life"™. New research has been introduced this year that focuses on uncovering the potential that lies within a company - through work developing the potential of the people employed inside the business.

Currently I sit on the Board of two health and wellness related companies in California, and some of some of most recent work has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers including; The Register and Times of Los Angeles, Club Business International and The Business Journal in Southern California.

Human Performance Company dedicated to improving the health and profitability of a company by unlocking the potential of it's employees. Business and people development through seminars, workshops, and executive retreats.