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THOMAS, Okla. (KFOR) — It can happen just about anywhere, the heavily muscled finger of fate lands where it will, blessing certain people with almost superhuman power.

Elijah Yoder was born with a strongman’s name but didn’t recognize his gift until a growth spurt in high school.

“I grew into it,” he smiles. “Until my sophomore year, I’d say I was a little pudgy kid. I guess you can’t say fat.”

For 2 hours every day, sometimes more, Elijah works out at a gym in Thomas, Oklahoma, called The Dog Pound, converted from and old tractor repair shop.

He recalls, “My first sanctioned meet was in 2020. I got 2nd in my first show ever and thought, ‘hey. there may be something to this’.”

From a hobby only a few years ago, then to a good showing at a strongman competition, Yoder is still pushing to find his maximum.

A national championship last year and 2nd place in the Arnold Strongman Competition this spring have him dreaming of bigger things.

“I won nationals last year so I’m the reigning national champ and I’m number 2 in the world so I’m in a good spot, but that Number 1 and Number one sounds better.”

He was a welder in the oil fields for 15 years.

Yoder works for a local gas company now, but still builds strongman stuff he markets under the Mr. Meathead label.

Beyond hobby now, he’s got a coach and a nutritionist.

Whatever belly he has left is there to help him lift more.

“We have power bellies,” he chuckles. “That’s what we call them. It’s just something to rest that log on, or an axle.”

Where this strongman journey will take him?

Who knows.

It’s already gone well past the still green winter wheat crop growing outside town.

He might be on the way to re-defining what it means to be ‘country strong’

Yoder represents Oklahoma for the U.S. Strongman Association.


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He is pointing his competition efforts to his next big meet in June, 2023.

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