Rob Kearney

Professional Strongman | Educator | First and Only Openly Gay Strongman


As a professional strongman and the only openly gay man competing at the highest level of his sport, Rob has plenty of experience in overcoming obstacles, tackling stereotypes, and setting goals and achieving them. Rob went from an unathletic high school kid to an amateur strongman competitor (a bad one), working his way up to become one of the World’s Strongest Men. In 2020, Rob was crowned the Pound for Pound Strongest Man in the world, a title he has carried with him with the highest honour. 


Through his years of competing in one of the most hyper-masculine sports as an openly gay man, Rob has constantly had to prove his self-worth to his competitors and the fans of Strongman. Rob has lived the experience of feeling what it means most to live your most authentic life in a positive way that can impact you. Because he has been able to be himself, he has found what it truly means to be STRONG.


Along with being a professional athlete, Rob is a husband and lives with his partner (Joey) in Massachusetts. He also serves as the Strength Coach to HWPO Training, a fitness training platform serving thousands of fitness enthusiasts worldwide, and coaches elite-level CrossFit athletes.


Leadership Levels - "Finding your Zone of Brilliance"

All too often, as leaders, we are tasked with working on a team of peers, students, colleagues, athletes and a number of other individuals. What I have found in my years of working with these groups is, being a leader isn’t just about delegation and organization, we often have to motivate as well. But how do we motivate others? What can you, as a leader do to pull out the genius of each person? How we approach these conversations can drastically dictate the effectiveness of your team. Simply asking “What are you good at?” or “What are your strengths/weaknesses?” is unassuming, boring and not exciting. Reframing these conversations and verbiage to ask “When you look at this project, how can you make an impact?” or “What would you consider your zone of Brilliance?” Leadership is often said to be about “Walking the Walk”, not just “Talking the talk”, but what if we change the way we talk, to get our team to run, not walk?

Building Inclusive Communities

Inclusivity is more than putting up a poster, or hanging a flag to show support for an oppressed group of individuals. Inclusivity is in language, it is about sweeping acceptance and support for people who may not look, love or feel the same as you but you understand everyone is human and deserves to just live life as they are. In order to build an inclusive space whether in your classroom, workplace, sports team or gym, leading with a message of support is what makes people feel safe. It allows each person to let down some walls for them to realize “I’m ok here”, because at the end of the day, we all just want to be ok.

Overcoming Adversity - "Train to be the person they said you'd never become"

My career as a Strongman has not been one of rainbows and butterflies. My first 8 competitions I took last place in each one. When I realized I was performing poorly I had to reshift my goals and not focus on winning, I had to focus on not taking last place! What I did was make small, but attainable goals that I KNEW I could achieve. So my first goal in Strongman was “Don’t take last”. The road from taking last in every competition to becoming one of the Worlds Strongest Men is a long and windy one with a lot of exits between your start and the destination to quickly go off course. I was always told I could never get to Worlds, or be a Professional Strongman which is when I came up with the Mantra ” Train to be the person they said you’d never become”. I worked so hard and used all of the negativity as motivation to prove everyone wrong. This is a great way to look at negative energy that people are giving you because it can sometimes overwhelm you and take over your thoughts. But if we change the narrative from negativity, to using those words as motivation to succeed, THAT IS POWER! At the end of the day, there is no greater feeling than succeeding in the face of people who wanted to see you fail.

LGBTQ+ Advocacy - The Journey of The World's Only Openly Gay Strongman

People often talk about the importance of representation in professional settings whether it be sports, TV, Film, Music or the workplace. But WHY is it so important? When I came out in September of 2014, I did it because I was in love and finally accepted myself for being a gay man. I never imagined the platform I would have simply by being myself, but what I quickly realized was how I can use this platform to make positive change in such a hyper-masculine world. Growing up, we constantly see successful relationships between men and women with their happy families. Growing up gay, the only gay characters I could connect with  were flamboyant, exuberant, and outgoing characters because that is the stereotype gay men fit. What I came to understand was, never seeing anyone like me made me feel that what I wanted was never possible. I grew up thinking I WASN’T POSSIBLE. As a gay man who loved lifting weights and loved playing sports, the dream of being an athlete, let alone a strength athlete, seemed unattainable. This is why representation in all facets of life proves so important. Showing kids, teens and adults that your sexual orientation, gender identity and ethnicity have 0 bearing on what you can achieve is amazing, but those people realizing that their differences should be celebrated in their passion is POWER!

Accessibility / Adversity / Change Management / Communication / Diversity and Inclusion / Fresh Perspectives / Health & Wellness / Leadership / LGBTQ2+ / Motivators / Next Generation / Social Change / Social Change/Social Justice / Teamwork / Women / Women-Speakers / Women's Leadership / Workforce/HR