IT'S BEEN said 'if a man had a heart of gold, being that he is a man with a heart of a lion'.
If you are lucky enough to live in Carlow and lucky enough to train In Escape Gym then you would have the honour of training with this great man. He is Keith Maher.
Born and bred in Tullamore, Keith returned home from England to settle in Carlow and in 2005 marry the love of his life, Olivia. They now have two kids, Gavin and Kia.
When asked why did he become a strongman, Keith's reply was simple. He'd seen his hero James Fennelly on television and wanted to follow in his footsteps. So he tracked down James and they became training partners. That was a mere two years ago.
Since then Keith has rose up through the ranks of Irish strongmen at such a rate as to attract international attention.
His career to date; First event, May 2011 Republics qualifier 5th overall. Next event Republics finals 3rd overall.
Next came The 105's in Wexford where he came second overall. This year we had the qualifier for the Republics where Keith took his first victory and qualification for Britain's Strongest Man. The next big event was the All Irelands, a 32 county battle under the historic walls of Derry city. Keith prevailed here too coming a fine second to his hero and training partner James Fennelly.
This battle will be shown on Sky Challenge 125 on Monday night at 10pm. Don't miss it.
When asked what's next Keith said he'd been invited to compete in the second biggest strongman event in the world, the 'Arnold Classic' in which takes place in Ohio from the 27 of February to the 4th of March. And then the Europe's Strongest Man later in the year.
When asked who he's like to thank he replied "I hold my achievements to a few people, Jason Dooley of Escape Gym who supported my efforts right from my decision to start in this sport. My training partners, Lee Fagan and Gavin Condron, who pushes me to the limits every session.
'But most importantly, my wife, Olivia who has put up with all the highs and all the lows this sport brings. For cooking for me four times a day, listening to my groans and moans when I was injured but most of all for being at every competition over the last two years, rain or shine.'