BY JOSEPH MUCHIRI
On one bright afternoon in 1964, an 18-old-young old man was delivering his father’s coffee to a factory in an ox-drawn cart.
There were 14 highly extended bags of coffee cherry, each weighing approximately 150kilograms.
He was in a hurry to get to the factory before it closed. However, as misfortune would have it, the brakes of the cart jammed due to the weight. As he went down hill, the speed increased and he was afraid the cart would plunge in the nearby stream.
He pulled by the roadside to fix the cart lest it caused an accident. As he was under the cart, the oxen bolted.
The left wheel, bearing the combined weight of the cart and the coffee cherry ran over his abdomen. He was dragged for about a metre and then he survived, missing the possibility of losing vital parts by a whisker.
He lived to tell the tale, but that accident left him with food for thought.
“I stood up, wiped dust from my clothes, checked if I was okay and left. That opened my mind to the fact that I had a strong stomach that could bear heavy weights,” he says.
That was 48 years ago and Conrad Edward Njeru Karukenya aka Tiger Power who is now in his 60s is the self-declared muscle man in Africa. His 48 years of ‘weight lifting’ led to a Head of States Commendation award in 2008.
The mention of Tiger Power in Embu County and neighbouring areas evokes tales of the giant man who breaks six inch nails with his teeth, lifts a crate of beer with his teeth and lets a 4x4 wheel drive vehicle run over his stomach!
For his performance Tiger Power was invited for the Guinness World Record TV show in Italy in April to compete with a man whose show of power is lifting eight women. This may get Tiger Power to the Guinness Book of World Records.
People began to notice the extraordinary power in him while he was still in primary school.
“I never provoked anyone but those who did never dared again,” says the man who was a class ahead of the chairman of Kenya Airports Authority, Mr Martin Nyaga Wambora.
He attended St Pius X Seminary in Nkubu, Meru, where he was the sports captain throughout his years there.
“I was multi-talented in sports and excelled in volleyball and football, which were the only games at the school,” he says, adding that when he once took a penalty kick, the goalkeeper ducked rather than risk being felled.
In 1960, while in Standard 7, Tiger Power met an American English and PE teacher, Mr John Pettic who encouraged him to take his physical lessons seriously.
The teacher offered tips on building various parts of the body like biceps and muscles.
To date, Tiger Power, who has bagged international, regional and national awards for his unmatched abilities lives daily on the dogma the teacher told him innumerable times. “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Exercise properly. Although practice makes perfect, it is only perfect practice that makes perfect practice perfect,” he recalls.
Tiger Power has represented Kenya in many International Trade fairs including Festival Mundial in Tilburg Holland 2005, Womex in Essen Germany 2002 and in several East and West Africa Trade Fairs.
In 2003, he won a trophy and a certificate for the best performance in Nairobi International Trade Fair after competing with the best people in the police, the military and the general service unit and beating them all.
On the regional front, he emerged tops in the East African Trade Exhibition in Kampala, Uganda, while in 2001 he was tops during a similar trade exhibition at Mwanza, Tanzania in which Rwanda and Burundi also participated.
He says: “Preparation, timing and confidence form my secret to achieving these mind-boggling feats.”
For example, when a Land Rover is about to run over his stomach, he relaxes when the wheel touches him and when it is right on top of him he hardens his stomach while holding his breath.
“I always pray and bid people farewell just in case something goes wrong,” he says, adding that he also prepares his audience psychologically.
“Afterwards I warn people not to try what I do at home,” he says, fearing young boys could attempt such a dangerous undertaking.
Tiger Power attributes his rare power to genes he inherited from his family.
Aged 66 years and weighing 110kilograms, Tiger Power wakes up daily at 4am and exercises till 6am at his gymnasium and then in the afternoon from 4pm to 6pm.
He says because of his diet, mainly organic food, his recovery is fast and does not get tired easily.
He says he only takes whole grain foods and not processed ones.
His bodybuilding has its downside too. Some people think he uses magic or other dark powers. “Whatever I do is natural. I am a staunch Catholic and my abilities are God-given,” he says.
Apart from earning a living doing stunts to entertain people, he also trains people on physical fitness.
He also visits schools and colleges where he advises young people on diet and exercises and on the dangers of alcohol, drug and substance abuse.
Tiger Power is married with two twin daughters who are graduates. His last-born son is in Form Four.
He discovered his rare abilities after a near fatal accidentUpdated Friday, May 4th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3
BY JOSEPH MUCHIRI
Police in Mbooni have been deployed to the rural home of the departed Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo following an attempt by suspected thugs to break into his grave.
A 29-year-old Bulawayo woman from Matshobana suburb got the shock of her life when she woke up in the morning and realised her private parts were missing, it is alleged.