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Meet the face behind Kenya's Strongest Man competition

My Man
 Photo; Courtesy

James Mbuga runs a platform for people who are passionate about lifting weights, he tells us all about it.

Who is James Mbuga?

A 33-year-old father of one who is passionate about sports. I am the CEO of a sports marketing company, Stealth Mark Africa. Our flagship project is Kenya’s Strongest Man Competition.

Your marital status?

I am married to one wife ...

Man, you sound like a guest pastor introducing himself on a Pentecostal pulpit.

I know ... and they always throw in this rider; “She is with me in town, not upcountry”. Well, I am a music minister at Nairobi Lighthouse Church.

Okay, man of God who is married to one wife; tell us about this platform?

It is a platform we created to tap potential talent in the strength sport area. We created a platform for people passionate about weightlifting – but are uncomfortable about flexing – to give them another outlet. We also want to create great sporting entertainment.

Can you give us a brief history about the competition?

We held our first competition in 2015. Thereafter, we were inundated with feedback. People asked us to take the competition to other counties. In 2016, we had regional qualifiers in Mombasa, Kakamega, Thika, Kisumu and Nairobi.

We have the defending champion, Stephen Wamalwa from Kawangware, and three wildcards that we gave out to competitors who showed certain potential. In total, 14 athletes are coming to the national event.

What does it take to become Kenya’s Strongest Man?

Raw strength. Power to lift, pull, push, speed, strength and endurance. The activities range from dead-lifts, giant tyre flipping, giant log-carrying, pulling a seven-ton truck ... among others. We have numerous activities in one day.

All these activities – “among others” - in one day? Kenyan men already have a bad rep, bro; is this a competition or a stealth mass extinction plan?

In international competitions, all these activities happen over several days. But we are doing them in one day. That’s why we have Deep Freeze, the makers of Deep Heat, as one of our sponsors!

What does it take to be the Strongest Man?

We do not have weight categories. It is an ultimate competition. Definitely, before you enter, you know for instance, that you have an “x” factor in, for instance, the way you bench-press. And then there are people who are not in the gym.

I am passionate about identifying them. I would love to go to remote villages, and identify that man who is strong and does manual jobs, like the way he slashes grass or chops down a tree.

What is in it for the winner?

Our partner, Red Oak Properties, will give a piece of land in Ole Polos to the national winner.

A piece of land is up for grabs? You definitely know how to grab the attention of Kenyan men.

This is not just about entertainment. We want to change lives. This year the winner will also go home with Sh200,000.

There will also be cash prizes for the first and second runners-up. We are grateful to our other partners, Nutritech East Africa, Courtyard Security, Showbiz International and Foremen, who are into men’s leather footwear.

What did you study in college?

My background is in nutrition. I am also doing a Masters in Public Health.

You are the “maker” of strong men, what is your weakness?

 I am an ideas person. I am quick to think about ideas and I get ahead of myself. I was taught that every weakness is just a strength that was not directed well. If you misdirect any strength it becomes a weakness.

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