One look at Bakersfield resident KC Mitchell and it's plain to see. He can squat lift a lot of weight. While it's impressive enough to watch on it's own, it becomes downright inspiration when you see that he's doing it with a prosthetic leg.
After growing up in the Central Valley, Mitchell joined the Army right out of high school and six months later was deployed to Iraq. After his tour, he re-enlisted and was part of the first striker team into Afghanistan where casualties were all too common.
"You can never train for someone to die in front of you," Mitchell told 23ABC. "You can only just move on and hope to get through the deployment yourself." On one of the last night's before returning he web chatted with his fiance telling her he'd see her in just a couple days.
Hours later an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up under Mitchell's Humvee on a night patrol. He would survive the blast but the wreckage would crush his left leg. After a number of surgeries he and doctors decided to amputate.
"I started abusing narcotics, drinking beer, playing video games," Mitchell said. "I just didn't have to get up to do anything." After a wakeup call on a family trip to Disneyland, Mitchell came home, flushed his pills and decided to get into power lifting.
Few if any amputees have the ability to squat lift weight close to competition levels. But Mitchell made that a goal and began to document his training and growth on social media. He now has more than 85,000 followers on his instagram account That1legmonster.
Mitchell refuses to call what he's gone through post traumatic stress disorder, instead calling it post traumatic self growth. It's a message he recently told to kids at his former high school. He's even gone to the Kern County Jail to speak to inmates saying, "If I can go in there and just get one of them when they come out to get away or change their life...that's mission accomplished to me."
Lord Elliot, the owner of NAS Power Training Center where KC trains, thinks Mitchell is one of the strongest amputees in the entire country. "What he wants he's going to get because he works so hard for it," Elliot said.
Mitchell was just featured in the September issue of Flex magazine and next month he'll be competing in his first power lifting competition against able bodies. "I set goals and I try to get to them," he said. "I'm slowly conquering all my goals that I'm going after."
October 15th with lifting starting at 9AM inside NAS Power Training.
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