A BODYBUILDER has been crowned Mr Universe after a decade vying for the title.
Max O’Connor, from Stratford, has never given up on his dream despite having eight surgeries in the past four years due to old rugby injuries.
The 30-year-old has dedicated the last ten years trying to take the top bodybuilding title of Mr Universe, which saw him place several times as a runner up but never crowned the champion.
But Max finally got his hands on the coveted trophy at this year’s competition held close to home in Birmingham.
Max – who is a personal trainer at The Workout Mill in Leamington and the Fitness Factory in Coventry – said the news had yet to sink in.
He told the Observer: “I was very confident going in to the show and I carried that through to the show itself while hitting my compulsory poses. I still got nervous when they were calling out the top six as I’ve been there a few times before.
“All of the top three competitors were representing the UK so I flinched every time they called UK out. It was only when I heard my name being called out in first place that I finally raised my hand. I smiled until I was asked to leave the stage.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will, probably when I can switch off properly.”
Max – whose brother is Rogan O’Connor, star of hit TV show Ex on the Beach – turned to bodybuilding after being plagued by rugby injuries.
He got a gym membership to help with rehabilitation and after quickly building up muscle was pushed by family and friends friends to take part in competitions – and was left shocked when he won.
Max has gone on to scoop a number of top bodybuilding titles across the world, even winning the NABBA Pro award at the age of 23 – a feat only previously accomplished by bodybuilding legend turned film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is also the brand ambassador for sports nutrition brand USN.
But even after being crowned Mr Universe, Max – who eats 5,500 calories a day – has no plans to rest on his laurels.
He said: “I’ll definitely continue to bodybuild – my body feels great and the fittest it’s felt in years. As for which competition next, that one’s still to be decided.”