Sunday 20 January 2019

Meet Ireland’s Strongest Man: The ‘Freak of Nature’ (26) is nearly 7ft and weighs in at 30 stone

Mark McConville

Picture 2kg of meat... now picture eating it every day.

Standing a half an inch shy of seven feet and weighing in at 194kg, Sean O'Hagan is Ireland's strongest man and a juggernaut of a mammal.

Hailing from Banbridge, co Down, O'Hagan has always been a big specimen but his muscle growth has accelerated since 2012.

"I have been training for the Strong Man for around four years, and I’m now currently Ireland’s strongest man," he told

"I’ve always been big, my whole child hood. I played Gaelic from a young age up till I was 16.  I played mostly as a full forward, mostly because I was able to catch any ball kicked up to me.

"I got into the weights when I was about 20, so started out late in the weight lifting game.."

Meet Ireland’s Strongest Man
Meet Ireland’s Strongest Man

He holds a number of Irish records and is closing in on being able to compete with the world's best.

"The 1000lb  tyre flip, I hold the record at that which I got last year at 11 reps in 90seconds. The car flip as well, two flips of a car in 17 seconds. And I pulled an 18tonne truck up a 20 metre course in 30 seconds."

Physical therapist Aaron Donaghy, based in Banbridge, has been spearheading Sean's coaching and admitted that he heard of the 'Giant' while he was working in Sydney.

"Well I first heard of Sean around six years ago. I was actually working as a strength and conditioning coach in Sydney at the time when one of my members of my old weight training club told me about this absolute freak of nature that walked into the gym," Aaron said.

"He was only 19 at the time and he was already  shoulder pressing 60kg dumbells in each hand. Massive weight for somebody at 19 years of age to be pressing.

"So whenever I came home I made sure to track Sean down as soon as possible, and whenever I met him it was kind of funny because he had injured his shoulder from doing that massive pressing.

"So he obviously hadn’t built up the proper stabilising muscles he needed to handle that massive weight. So from that period I started working with him, rehabbing his shoulder  - a lot of soft tissue work and different therapies like active release techniques on his shoulder and then that coupled in with weight training, and whenever he got to a good level I was able to push him onto Strongman.

"And from that I got him introduced into the right circles to be competing in the Strongman. So he has been going away with the top people in the country who train strongman and then he has been coming here to do all the gym based work.

"And usually during the week he’s up on the table getting different problems looked at he might have with his knees and shoulders.

"So it’s an approach from a few different angles. We have the weight training side of things , injury prevention – getting treatments, help him with his diet aswell.

"I put a diet plan together for him but whether he keeps to it is another thing (he laughs). The last time he was on the scales he was 194kg, it’s obviously hard to keep that mass with totally clean food, but massive quantities, huge calorific intake and I wouldn’t like to be paying for his shopping bill."

Sean gave us an idea of what he consumes in a given day.

"I would eat anything up to 2kg of meat a day on top of my veg and spuds and carbs. For breakfast I’d start of with a large bowl of porridge and large bowl of eggs followed by a protein shake. I eat every two to three hours (as he laughs) it’s some food intake. I’m at the shop all the time and it’s some weekly food bill."

He has a long term goal of competing for World's strongest man in the next four or five years and his training consists of two days on and one day off with three to four hours training a day.

In the coming weeks, O'Hagan travels to the FIBO International Fitness Wellness Expo in Cologne to compete in Strongman and the Mass Wrestling. The events is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe.

O'Hagan has been funding his Strongman dream himself and knows he would benefit from greater sponsorship.

"There’s a lot of shows across the World that I know I could win if I was able to afford to get over to then. There was an LA Expo which was on in January which I got an invite to, but especially after Christmas it gets hard to fund the trip over.

"I was invited over to the Arnold Classics as well which was on last weekend, it’s a £2000 trip which you have to pay for yourself. So it does get a bit dear to travel about to the shows.

"A sponsor can obviously help a brave bit, as the cost of the shows add up and to keep up with the food intake. I would be able to progress a bit faster the more events I enter."

Sean admits that there are drawbacks to his size, especially when he is out socialising.

"‘It’s easy getting turned away from clubs and pubs because of the size of me and it’s frustrating as hell. But I know it comes with the territory, they look at me and think the size of this man, if something kicks off how are we going to stop him."

There are positives, however, including the gobsmacked expression of children who clap eyes on him.

"It’s funny to see their faces. Look at that mum (as he laughs) that man is massive. It’s funny at times; it’s a bit of fun."

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