Insiders: Derek Boyer

Derek Boyer

Derek Boyer is well known in Australia and Internationally as Australia’s Strongest Man from 1997 to 2012 when he retired from Strongman competition. Derek maintained this title for a fifteen year period remaining undefeated in every single competition he competed on Australian soil against the best Strongmen Australia has to offer.  Remarkably Derek competed for a record 15 years at World Strongest Man Competition between the years 1996 till 2011 to be the only Australian ever to make the finals of World Strongest Man. On retiring from World Strongest Man Competition he immediately won the Masters World Strongest Man Competition in 2012 Belfast Ireland. Derek also holds a number of Guinness World Records, World Records and Australian Records for an impressive range of strength related achievements.  (www.derekboyer.com)

As told by Body Building.com, Strong Man, reduced to its essential parts,  is a sport in which the principle task is to pick up random heavy objects and move them. Essentially, you move objects of near-maximal weight and are scored by time, reps or maximum weight lifted. 

Strong Man obviously involves strength, but also requires a great deal of athleticism, skill and mental toughness.  

Is that something you agree with?

We as strong men are tested against any feat of strength imaginable in all environments. Therefore the events are always changing, they are never the same. It’s what makes it fun. In the real world, being a strong man means you should have mental strength and fortitude to overcome any obstacle. It’s the reason for us striving and pushing.

 

What were you doing before powerlifting?

My story begins when I was at Charles Sturt University. I Was 21 and studying for an Arts degree. I was playing a bit of Aussie Rules on the side and doing some gym training. My training partner said the Australian powerlifting coach was coming to town (Aubrey). I basically already knew the lifts and when he tested me I unofficially set new Australian records that day. The coach flipped out about the record lifts. His famous words to me were “Come with me boy and we’ll do big things!”.

I realized in that meeting that I had a certain gift and an opportunity;  I took both of them.

Six months later I had broken all the Australian power lifting records officially and I was on my way to the world powerlifting championships in England. I competed in the super heavyweight division and came in third. After that I was a buzz and wanted more. The next year I came second in the super heavyweight division. 

Not long after I became very sick with type 1 diabetes and almost died. At that time I had to do a complete reinvestigation of my body and lifestyle. After I rebounded my whole interest turned to the professional Strong Man Circuit. Until that time that I was an amateur power lifter. 

The Strong Man Circuit was a professional circuit. Before my rebound, I felt like Strong Man was a long way away, but then I met Bill Lindon, who, at the time, was Australia’s strongest man. I told him I was interested in the circuit. He advised me to put a portfolio together and send it to the Strong Man organizers in Scotland. I took his advice and before I knew it was I was flying to Scotland for the qualifying competition for Strong Man. I competed against 15 other guys and came 9th. Although I didn't win, I showed potential. 

I trained harder and the next year I came 3rd which got me an invitation to the Worlds Strongest Man competition. 

So for the next 15 years I toured the world competing.

 

Does being strong run in your family?

No, if you saw my father you would laugh, he’s only 5’3 and my mother is not much taller. 

I don’t know where the strength came from. I was just born lucky.

 

 

Where do you think your competitive drive comes from?

Yes, well to go undefeated in this country for 15 years does speak to someone who is very driven. After thinking about where it would come from I decided it started with my older brother. I would constantly try to beat him at everything; we had fierce competition, we were fanatical. I’ve taken that competitive drive with me throughout my career.

 

Do you believe any of your success is due to natural talent, or do you believe training and dedication is what has taken you this far?

Well you need both. You need to be gifted genetically but you also need to be in the right environment and willing to work hard in the process. When it all comes together that’s what makes someone truly successful.

 

What did you think of your first taste of fame?

I liked it. As a teenager, I wanted to shake the world a little bit, I wanted to leave a mark that would have a lasting affect. When I got that it was very enjoyable. It was very gratifying. 
Not just from big crowds, when little kids look at me like I'm something out of a comic book, I can see their awe. I get great satisfaction out of their admiration.

 

What is your favourite perk of the fame? 

Well I’m not famous, but I am known within certain circles. The best part of that is that I have had some very positive comebacks from people that I’ve never met before. People I have never met have reached out to let me know that I have positively influenced them.  
So I guess one of the best perks is knowing that unintentionally I am affecting and touching people in ways I could have never expected. When I hear those effects are good, I feel blessed. It makes me happy.

 

How do you handle being a role model? Is that something you let dictate what you will and wont do in your career?

There is a great responsibility in being a role model. As far as being a public figure is concerned, at any level, everyone has a camera. You must always assume that you are being watched. We live in a world that is politically correct spun out of control. I’m very conscious of my personified image when I’m engaging with anyone and deciding where to take my career. If it seems like I am heading in a direction that may put me in a negative light I politely disengage in order to keep a positive foundation. So not only do I let that dictate my career, it dictates the way I live my life. 

 

What’s one of the silliest things you have done for work?

The first thing that comes to mind is when I was on TV on Celebrity Splash.  It involved jumping from towers into a pool. I have a great fear of heights, but I overcame that fear. I almost broke my neck, but taking it on was the most awesome scariest and craziest thing all rolled into one! 

 

What was the biggest lift challenge you have faced?

The physically hardest thing I’ve ever lifted was when I moved a 120 tonne road train. It didn't move very far, but I did move it. That was by far the most difficult. 

Once I lifted a V8 (190kg) engine off the ground and ran with it for 21 seconds and set a world record. 

 

Are you counting when you are doing these challenges, or are you just going as far as you can go and hoping you have beaten a record?

At that, time no one had walked with a V8 engine so it was my record to create.

 

What has been the proudest moment in your career?

I lifted the heaviest stone that has ever been lifted by a human being. There are a vast amount of great stones in Northern Europe, legendary stones. Once I lifted the stone, I was awarded a monument outside of Lismore in front of Oaks Oval their main stadium. 
The stone weighed in at 1100 kilos and is still there to this day. 

 

You wear a lot of hats in your career. You are a strength specialist, Worlds Strongest Man competitor, Martial Artist, TV Personality, Movie Actor, and Life Coach. Do you have a favourite? 

Yes, I definitely would say being a mentor of sorts has a great appeal. I love to see people shine. 
I am very successful in my own career and I feel it’s important to share those lessons with my clients.

 

If you could start again, would you do anything differently?

Absolutely not. No regrets, absolutely none. 
No doubts I’ve hurt and pissed some people off traveling through life and trying to push the envelope, but I’ve never meant any ill will towards anyone. 
The only downfall would be my being selfish to people in my life. With goals I’ve set for myself you have to train a lot.  Social life comes second and when you do have time off you are tired. At the end of the day, we all make choices, and hopefully we can live and learn.
I would say my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness, and that is my passion. It has driven me to achieve great things, but has also lead me to be very selfish in other ways. It can make me seem uncompromising. But I’m evolving and my mindset changing. We can only try to get better with each day.

 

Where can we expect to see your career going? Any big changes on the horizon?

I’ve been investing into a lot of online things and currently I am putting a lot of focus on the Gladiator $10 a week challenge. 

 

Yes, I’ve heard of this challenge. Please tell me more about it. 

The concept is very simple and it all started last Christmas when I heard there are roughly 3500 homeless people on the Gold Coast, and 1500 of them are children. 
It made me upset that there are people in our community slipping through the cracks. 
I thought to myself, what can I do to help amend that? I did a bit of research on organizations that helped the people of the community and I came across an amazing origination called Oz Harvest which rescues food and donates it to the less fortunate people in our community.
Lee Danahay is the amazing woman who runs the Gold Coast office. I told her about my mission to contribute to the people suffering. She asked me what I had in mind and I told her I would like to see how I would go not having much money to spend on food and see how I go. The amount $10 resinated with me. I wanted to see if I could survive on $10 without any freebees or handouts. If it were successful in my challenge, I would donate the rest of the money I would usually spend on groceries in a week to Oz Harvest
I knew there would be some backlash from nutritionists, so I decided I would do body scans throughout the entire experience. From there I decided instead of surviving on $10 a week I wanted to find a way to thrive on $10 a week. I decided I was going to do a two-hour workout a day, while consuming what I could with $10. The results ended up being remarkable. It made me start looking at food as fuel and energy rather than something we are privileged to. We’ve become so disconnected with food and where it comes from that we have become spoiled and wasteful. 

 

What did the $10 Gladiator diet consist of?

Oates and Gruel.  
To make it work, you’ll have to search out opportunistic buys, and find a good Gruel staple. In this part of the world I suggest oats. It’s inexpensive and full of protein. 
To shop within your budget, you will have to seek out the deals. For instance you could go to Coles and buy your packets of oats which will cost you around $6 when you buy enough for a week, then go to Woolworths when they are having their bruised produce sale and fill a bag up for $3. This will help supplement your oats. You will also make Gruel, which in Gladiator times was any cereal-based soup. 
The gruel might not be delicious, but you have to remember that it is a challenge. It’s not going to be easy, but you won’t die. 

 

You are originally from Fiji. How did you end up on the Gold Coast?

When I was 7 years old my parents brought my siblings and I to Australia for opportunity. I am very proud of my Fijian heritage but I also consider myself very blessed to be a citizen of Australia because of the vast amounts of opportunity. I ended up on the Gold Coast because I have a beautiful little boy here, so I’ve made this home. To tell the truth, I could think of worse places to call home. It’s an easy place to live. It’s easy to get around, it’s got beautiful beaches and only a ten-minute drive and you are in the country.

 

 

What advice do you have for people hoping to be a strong man?

Have fun with it. You don’t have to be a competitor to be a Strong Man, you just need to embrace the principals of being a strong man in any environment. Dominate your surroundings. It’s the essence of being a strong man. But ultimately, it’s all about having fun. 

 

What’s your favourite place to grab a coffee?

Gingernut Café in Burleigh

 

Favourite dinner spot?

Funny enough my favourite dinner spot is my back veranda. It just over looks the bush and is a hearty good place. I don’t need a restaurant to be happy. To me, good wholesome food in the comfort of my own home is my favourite.

 

Favourite outdoorsy spot?

Tallebudgera Creek. I enjoy picking up my son from school and the two of us taking a quick dip in the creek or having a paddleboard. 

 

Best gym on the Gold Coast?

World Gym is the gym that I work out of because it’s at the very highest end of the fitness industry. The best body builders and fitness models are all under the banner of World Gym. But to me, a gym is a gym. There is no such thing as the best gym. I believe the best gym for any person is the one closest to them. It’s where you will end up going and ultimately get results and improve your health. It doesn't matter what has the best equipment, it matters what you do.


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By: Marleigh Kelly