Kenneth ‘Flex’ Wheeler was born on August 23, 1965 in Fresno, California, USA and is described by Arnold Schwarzenegger as being one of the greatest bodybuilders he has ever seen. But Flex did not have an easy life although he was blessed with good genetics.
He grew up in poverty, which unfortunately included child abuse that resulted in suicidal tendencies. He also struggled a great deal in school because of his dyslexia, but always managed to excel in sports. Flex Wheeler first started training in martial arts and only later discovered weightlifting, which lead him to bodybuilding.
In an interview Flex said that he has always regarded himself as a "martial artist first, a bodybuilder second". The reason why he got his nickname Flex is because he has always had incredible flexibility as a result of his martial art training and can easily do a full split.
Although Flex started working as a police officer he soon decided to become a professional bodybuilder. He started competing in 1983 but only managed to get his Pro-card in 1989 when he got his first-place trophy at the NPC Mr. California Championships.
He later won the USA Championships where he took his weight division as well as the overall title. However when he entered as the favourite in the 1993 Mr. Olympia he came in second place in a very close competition losing to Dorian Yates.
But life has never been easy for Flex as he again came in second place in 1998 and 1999. But he continued to win many bodybuilding contests and is a 5-time Ironman Pro winner, as well as a 4-time Arnold Classic winner. Competing at the top of his chosen sport was something he took very seriously.
Flex also won the France Grand Prix and the South Beach Pro Invitational plus the Night of Champions and a few other major professional bodybuilding competitions. The result of all these wins made Flex unusually arrogant and self-confident about his ability as a professional bodybuilder.
Many say that this is result of his abusive childhood for which he was no over-compensating for. In the summer of 1999 Flex Wheeler discovered that he was suffering from Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis which is kidney disease. Despite the press saying that it was caused by drugs Flex is on record as saying that the disease is hereditary and not a result of drug use.
As a result of this Flex announced his retirement but he discovered that the disease was not as debilitating as he thought and competed again in 2002 and 2003. He placed 7th at the 2002 Mr. Olympia and 3rd at the 2003 Ironman Pro Invitational after which he received a kidney transplant and decided to compete in martial arts.
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