Middletown teacher earns World’s Strongest Disabled Man title

An Ohio educator who is missing an arm won two gold medals to earn the title of World’s Strongest Disabled Man. (Source: WXIX)
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 5:56 PM EDT
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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WXIX) - A Middletown educator won two gold medals to earn the title of World’s Strongest Disabled Man.

By day, Mike Diehl is a teaching assistant for the Middletown School District, but once the final bell rings, you can find him here at Powerstation Gym putting in the work to defend his title.

“It started in 2015 when I got into an on-duty accident as an on-duty firefighter,” says Diehl.

The 42-year-old teaching assistant is a former Franklin firefighter.

Seven years ago, he was guiding one of the trucks into the station garage when the unthinkable happened.

“The driver took a bad angle, a complete accident, and he ran into me, pinning my arm into the wall,” explains Diehl

He was rushed to the emergency room.

“The injuries were severe enough that they couldn’t really save the arm and any of its functions, so I told them to cut it off,” recalls Diehl.

After having his right arm amputated, the former fireman says his emotions were all over the place. Then, he remembered a saying he heard growing up.

“I grew up in a pretty tough household,” said Diehl. “My dad was an army airborne ranger and a sniper in Vietnam. He raised me that you can cry, you can bleed, you can sweat, you can crawl, but you can’t quit.”

Ten days after getting his arm amputated, Diehl returned to his safe haven, Powerstation Gym in Middletown.

“This man right here is one of the toughest men in the world,” said Powerstation Gym Owner Michael Ferguson. “To have gone through what he went through, losing his arm, being a firefighter, he never slowed down and never felt bad for himself. He’s one tough SOB.”

For the past five years, Diehl has dedicated his life to becoming the World’s Strongest Disabled Man.

“The first year, I took second,” Diehl said. “Actually, I took second in the world to a guy named James Spurgin. He’s the GOAT.”

Fast forward five years and the now Middletown teacher assistant is undefeated in National Strongest Disabled Man competitions in 2023.

In July, he added two more gold medals in London.

“I can’t control that I have one arm anymore, but I can control how hard I work,” says Diehl. “Work is the great equalizer. I’m not a talented or gifted or special athlete. What I do have is a sickening maniacal work ethic, and I’m just going to come in here and work harder.”

In 19 days, he will defend his undefeated streak in Orlando.

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