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It is impossible to definitively say who the fittest man ever is, for obvious reasons. But among the billions of men to have inhabited this planet, you'd struggle to find one with a stronger case for the title than Mat Fraser.
He is the first athlete ever to have won five CrossFit Games titles, winning the competition in consecutive years from 2016 to 2020, before hanging up his boots/trunks/sweatbands.
If you're not familiar with the CrossFit Games, the event is described as the 'ultimate proving grounds for the Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth and are world-renowned as the definitive test of fitness'.
Competitors take part in a series of varied unannounced events, meaning athletes have to train for anything and everything, from long-distance swims and obstacle courses, to rope climbs and 'odd object carries'.
Having been crowned the 'Fittest Man on Earth' more times than anyone else, 32-year-old Fraser is regarded by the CrossFit Games community as the 'Fittest Man in History' – a lofty title none could have predicted for him growing up.
The son of Canadian Olympic figure skaters Don Fraser and Candace Jones, competing in elite athletic competition runs in the family; however, it was another family trait that looked as though it might get the better of him from a very early age.
"It wasn't every time I drank, I got in trouble, but every time I got in trouble I had been drinking," Fraser told LADbible.
He started dabbling in booze when he was in fourth grade, aged just nine or 10, and decided to go sober when he was 17 – when a lot of people are only just getting started.
Explaining why he decided to part company with booze, Fraser recalled: "I think that with the realisation that alcoholism runs in my family, I've seen people close to me battling with it for years and years.
"I saw the writing on the wall, I saw the end results of it."
At the time, he had no idea how significant the consequences of his sobriety would be, but looking back now he feels it's a 'pretty safe' bet that he would never have been able to achieve what he has as an athlete if alcohol had remained a part of his life.
He said: "You know, if you're walking into the gym hungover every Saturday morning, well, there's one out of six of your training days that's non-ideal.
"And then once you start seeing the studies of like, oh yeah you're hungover for one day, but how long does it actually take for your body to recuperate from that and mitigate all that damage? I mean, it's more than just a non-ideal training session, it trickles and it compounds over weeks and weeks, years and years.
"So yeah, I'm very glad that I made that life change at such a young age."
While the idea of an alcoholic becoming the fittest man on the planet may seem far-fetched or counterintuitive, Fraser realised this wasn't the case – he just needed to turn his curse into his superpower.
"One thing I say is, I'm just a 'holic'," he explained. "Anything I do, nothing is in moderation.
"Early on, I looked at it as like, I have this curse, I have this bad thing that follows me around – because I only ever experienced the negative side effects of drinking."
He continued: "Once I put the pieces together, I went, 'Oh, I have this blessing. When I decide I want to work, I get consumed by it.'
"When I did weightlifting, I was consumed by it. I went to the Olympic Training Center. That's what my life revolved around.
"With having an addictive personality, one's good, two is better. And so when I went to college, I got a double major, double minor, because I was like, 'If one degree is good, two is better, and then add in two minors on top of it, it's awesome'.
"And the same thing when I got into the sport of CrossFit, it was like, 'Alright, if doing rowing intervals for 1,000 metres is good, 5,000 has to be awesome'.
"And so I intentionally found these outlets that doing them to the extreme had a positive benefit."
This extraordinary dedication has seen him make history, and he's now hoping to help others follow in his footsteps with his new book, Hard Work Pays Off.
The book is described as a 'total training manual' and the 'definitive guide to building peak strength, endurance and speed', penned by a man who really has done it all at the top level.
But for any average Joe just looking to get into shape, the 'fittest man in history' has one top tip.
"Small progressions," he said.
"I've seen it time and time again, with friends and family, people I've seen do it from afar, I've seen people that are very, very close to me, that they finally have a case of – for lack of a better term – the 'f**k its'.
"They're like, 'Dude, I'm all in, I'm making these huge life changes and turning my life around'.
"And then you see this huge amount of progression – and then regression. They lose 20lbs, but they're miserable the whole time they do it, they're not comfortable with it, with what they're doing. They don't like what they're doing, 'cause they did a 180 on their life habits.
"Then at the first speed bump, they have a case of the f**k its, and they go back to their place of comfort or what they're familiar with.
"So what I always tell people is – tiny, tiny little changes at a time."
You can buy Hard Work Pays Off here.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@mathewfras
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