Shetland strongman Kenny Simm and fellow Afghanistan veteran Stevie Richardson will be at the Arnold Strongman Classic in Ohio on Sunday where Stevie will be competing on the global stage in the first Arnold strength competition to include amputees.
Stevie, 28, from Edinburgh, lost his legs and all the fingers of his right hand to an improvised explosive device in a tour of Afghanistan in 2010. He is now the subject of a documentary called IED (Improve Every Day) which charts his journey into the tough world of strength sport.
Stevie emailed Kenny last year approaching him to be his strength coach, unaware that Kenny, originally from Brae, had been in Afghanistan with the Royal Marines in 2011. The two met up and hit it off and the “very, very determined” Stevie has been hefting the weights with the assistance of a specially fabricated steel apparatus since then.
Kenny, who works as a steel fabricator, helped build the equipment that makes it easier for Stevie to get to grips with the weights. He has also developed remarkable strength by adapting his technique – having no fingers on is right hand.
In a video clip from the forthcoming documentary, Stevie says that he discovered four IEDs in the week before his fifth, which he found by standing on it, “which also counts”.
According to Kenny, the veteran had a very eventful tour of Afghanistan with daily contact with “the insurgents” culminating in his horrific injuries which were sustained in the middle of a firefight. Kenny’s own experiences there a year later were relatively quiet, though fear of IEDs was an ever present.
Kenny, who has competed in the Arnold Classic before and qualified again this year, said his protégé’s outgoing personality and determination plus ability to take everything with a pinch of salt were definite positives for someone involved in the sport.
The travel costs for the pair to attend the prestigious competition were met by Stevie’s father Ross, who owns a scaffolding firm in Edinburgh. The strong man competition is part of a wider Arnold’s Sports Festival owned by bodybuilder, actor, politician and entrepreneur Arnold Schwarzenegger. They are to fly out to the States tomorrow morning and return on Tuesday after Stevie’s competition on Sunday.
The documentary being made by director Ruaridh Turner is one of the first to focus on a disabled strong man. The trailer shows Stevie and Kenny talking about their efforts and Stevie training in the snow outside Edinburgh. It has been the subject of TV news reports but is still nearly £7,000 shy of its crowdfunding target of £9,000. Details of the project are contained in the Kickstarter website.