Flex Wheeler, the iconic pro bodybuilder who has won the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition four times, has undergone leg surgery that resulted in partial amputation.
According to EIN PressWire, Kenneth “FLEX” Wheeler, described as “the legendary/iconic professional bodybuilder and 4 time winner of the Arnold Classic,” underwent emergency surgery “last week which required the partial amputation of his right leg.” The release was issued on October 20, 2019.
The press release did not provide additional details.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wheeler Is In ‘Good Spirits’ Reports Say
Fitness Volt reported through sources that Flex Wheeler is “in good spirits and intends to speak on it in the next few days.”
Although there aren’t a lot of details released about the leg surgery yet, the Fitness Volt reported that Wheeler had been rushed to the hospital for emergency leg surgery. Once there, complications resulted, necessitating the partial amputation.
Wheeler has had other health issues over the years, including kidney issues that forced his retirement, Fitness Volt reported. Flex’s last post on Instagram came on October 11, 2019, and it didn’t indicate that anything was amiss at that time.
A 2004 article in the Mercury News described the toll that steroid use had taken on Wheeler’s health, although there’s no indication his leg issue has anything to do with that. “For 18 years, Flex Wheeler pumped anabolic steroids into a body that became so rippled with muscle that even he described himself as a comic-book character,” the article noted, adding that he underwent a kidney transplant due to a hereditary disease that escalated from steroid use.
“I was caught between a rock and a hard place,” Wheeler told The Mercury News in that article. “When you stop taking drugs, you can’t be competitive and you can’t make any money and you’re finished. I got caught up in a game.”
2. Flex Wheeler Is Known as One of the Best Bodybuilders of All Time
Flex Wheeler is well-known in the field, and he’s considered a legend. According to Generation Iron, Wheeler (whose real name is Kenneth) “is known by many to be one of the best bodybuilders of all time.”
No other than Schwarzenegger himself has said as much about Wheeler. According to the EIN news release, “Arnold Schwarzenegger once described ‘FLEX’ as one of the greatest bodybuilders he had ever seen. Ronnie Coleman, who won the Mr. Olympia title 8 times in a row has stated that ‘FLEX’ was the best bodybuilder he competed against.”
Wheeler has never earned a Mr. Olympia title himself, however, according to Generation Iron.
3. Kenneth Flex Wheeler, Who Was Born in California, Briefly Worked as a Police Officer
Kenneth Flex Wheeler was born on August 23, 1965 in Fresno, California, according to his IMDB profile, which says he began training in the martial arts as a teenager.
His bodybuilding career came next, but the site credits his martial arts training with his flexibility. Wheeler briefly worked as a police officer, before quitting that profession to focus on bodybuilding, IMDB reports.
It wasn’t until 1983 that he was joining professional bodybuilding competitions and not until 1989 that he’d one first place in a major one.
4. A Decade Ago, Wheeler Already Had Issues With His Legs
In 2009, Flex Wheeler gave an interview with Martial Arts Illustrated Magazine in which he discussed a leg issue. It’s not clear whether it’s the same leg, though. It does show the taxing nature of his career on the human body.
“I still train hard but I injured myself a few times recently and that forced me to take stock of things and consider my age,” he said then. “I got a serious knee injury when trying to make the Taekwondo team – I often get carried away with my competitive approach to sports! I guess it comes from being in professional sports for so long.”
He spoke about his continued martial arts training in that interview, saying, “I normally train in the style of the local instructors in any area that I live in. I believe martial arts training is more about the fighter than the particular style studied. A good fighter is a good fighter – regardless of his/her martial arts style. I currently do Olympic Taekwondo and was really getting into it recently, despite the fact that I am in my mid forties now!”
5. People Offered Well Wishes & Prayers for Flex Wheeler
As word spread about Wheeler’s leg injury, people offered prayers and well wishes on social media. “Prayers up for the bodybuilding legend @Flex_Wheeler ??????,” wrote one man.
“This is insane!!! I’d love to see him come back and make some waves!!!” wrote another.
“God Bless. Wishing you a speedy recovery #flexwheeler ?,” said another fan. “Everyone’s Rooting for FLEX WHEELER, Get Well Soon!” wrote IronMag.
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