A BODYBUILDER from Stratford is hoping to be crowned Mr Universe after spending the last ten years preparing for the competition.
Former rugby player Max O’Connor caught the bodybuilding bug after getting a gym membership for rehabilitation following a sports injury.
After quickly building up muscle he was pushed by his family and friends to take part in a bodybuilding competition – and was left shocked when he won.
Since then Max – whose brother is Rogan O’Connor, star of hit MTV tv show Ex on the Beach – has dedicated his time to training for competitions and increasing muscle mass.
The 30-year-old said: “I ruptured a ligament playing for my local team which led to a big operation to sew it back together. Part of the rehabilitation was to get into a gym.
“I got into strength training and really enjoyed it. I saw my body change and the results came quickly. Then someone mentioned I should do a bodybuilding show.
“I went and the rest is history. You get such a buzz from winning and – I was hooked from there.”
Max is now a personal trainer at the Workout Mill in Leamington and Fitness Factory in Coventry, along with brand ambassador for sports nutrition brand USN.
He previously played junior rugby for England, but was forced to swap the pitch for weights in 2008 after being plagued by injuries, which have seen him have eight surgeries in the last four years.
Now he eats 5,500 calories a day and has scooped a number of top bodybuilding titles across the world.
He even won the NABBA Pro award at the age of 23 – a feat only previously accomplished by Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He said: “Bodybuilding has given me a new focus, something to work towards. I would spend so much time in the gym trying to overcome my injury setbacks and it made it feel like it wasn’t worthless and just for the sake of it.
“My ultimate career goal is to win Mr Universe after twice finishing runner-up. Since 2008 it’s been my main goal.”
The Mr Universe competition will take place in Birmingham in November.
Visit www.usn.co.uk to find out more about the supplements Max takes.