Interview with “Flying Push Up” NEW World Record holder, and very interesting guy Ahmed Valentino a.k.a. Iron Monkey
1. A lot of people, including you, call you the “Iron Monkey”. Could you tell us why?
I was given the name by a good friend of mine, who I call “Big Brother”Iron – the bars, strength, power and the countless times I have fallen or injured myself but never stopped. Put simply, this represents my will. Monkey – Cause I was never afraid to try something new. I was the crazy one at the park always swinging around, you could never find me at the same bar for long. I would try everything and anything I saw on youtube or hear about from someone else, even though I did not yet possess the strength, not letting any fear or doubt control me.
2. Please tell us more about your past, that is, before street workout?
My life before Street Workout was not a life I am proud of, but I have learned to embrace it because I believe without my past this would not be my present or my future. I’ve endured a life of crime with little room for ambition, not having goals or dreams. My survival skills involved using violence, force and abusive language which gave me a fake identity. I had built resentment and lots of hate against the world when my father abandoned us and left my family with nothing. I didn’t see another way of supporting my family so believing it would help us, I went down a long dark path. I never had a role model or anyone to look up to. I turned to illegal supplements for my workout as I was lifting weight, and sharpening my skills in MMA & boxing. Learning self defense was my way of letting go of the anger inside me, using it as an outlet. I wanted to make myself better to be able to protect myself & the family. Weightlifting while using steroids seemed to be the sure way to get bigger, stronger and to be respected and feared. Never wanting anyone to harm my family again, I was blinded – not knowing that in the long run I was causing them and myself more harm than good.
3. What has street workout changed in your life?
Street Workout; Not only have I become more physically fit through the discipline, it has become an effective vessel that brought me to a brand new level in life. It has provided me the key to unlock a glimpse of a skill set in which I’ve only thought about when I saw the likes of todays legends in practice. More importantly it has proven in essence to be so much more than swinging from bar to bar. I believe many bar athletes can relate to the raw feeling and passion that I have for the sport. I will attempt to put it in words for the less enlightened to understand.
“Street workout taught me how to be me, the real me and be comfortable and confident with all of who I am. It held a mirror up to me every second of the day, forcing me to look deep inside. Getting to know the good as well as reflecting my faults so I could no longer hide from them, I was left with no choice but to move on continuing to grow. Street workout showed me how to care & respect others, how to forgive & learn from the mistakes of the past; not forgetting them but taking what I needed to learn from the experience in order to free myself and move on. I learned how to love a person that is totally different, no matter the size, color, shape or creed. Anyone can be your family even though you’ve never seen them and live on the other side of the globe. In this sport no one laughs at you they laugh with you. No one looks down on you even though you’re a beginner as we are on the same level. I grabbed the bars for the first time as a Nobody but that bar turned me into Somebody ”
Winning a championship, being number 1 is a dream but inspiring, motivating and saving lives of others is a blessing. When I realized even with the simple sound of my voice, my experience & actions could help wake people up, I used my power for others this time. The ones who want to change but don’t dare cause the environment, or had bad company around them not allowing it, I made it a priority to show them what I was shown. I’m no saint but I want to give them something that someone once gave me – a chance. Without the Street workout community, and the following bar athletes- Michael “Status” Brown(Calisthenics Kingz) – “Hit” Richards (Calisthenics Kingz) – Lasse Tufte – (Tufteparken), Jay Cupcake & Emiel (Bar Monsterz Amsterdam) & my own team members (Team Physix) I would’ve never seen what I see today or felt what I feel ’til this day.
4. I know that dancing used to be your passion. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
“Dancing was my meditation it brought a distance to all my pain & nightmares until they shut off the lights”
It all started when I was handed off to a youth/children’s home at the age of 16. It was either there or prison. I lived there 4 almost 5 years, with the first couple of them never allowed to see my family or go anywhere near my home town. It was for my own safety, away from bad company and the bad habits. Those were the most painful moments of my life not getting to see my family. My world came crashing, tumbling down. It came to a point where I needed to find something to do to make time go faster. To keep myself busy and in shape, so that’s when dancing came in. I loved music, I use to sing and write but I could never dance. I always wanted to move like Usher, Omarion or MJ. I searched for music videos on Youtube. I would watch 1 video about 500 maybe 600 times while pressing pause and play to create a slow motion effect so I could see and study the movement. A 3 minute video would last like 30 minutes to an hour. So for 2 whole years I literally locked myself into my room learning how to dance with no instructor or guide. It was the mirror vs me while the music played. I found I felt free, filling up with inner peace until they shut the lights off and all I could hear were my own thoughts.
5. You have a World Record in doing the highest push-up. What you did was amazing! Considering that you have also been featured in all Norwegian newspapers, how did your life change after that? Are you planning to beat your personal record?
Thank you very much! I received a lot of a positive feedback for that. It was an amazing moment which I will always carry with me. What makes it special is that World Record was never in my thoughts when I was doing these super push ups; it was a fun thing to do and I wanted to see how high I could push myself. I receive a lot of mail through Facebook from people all over Norway & the rest of the world, each asking for help to reach their goals. I feel that’s the best change in my life, and instead of being a negative influence like the past, I can actually be a role model and help. I have plans of beating the record in the near future but not sure yet when that will be.
Video of this World Record: http://youtu.be/NypiKHNkNiA
6. How do you see the future of the street workout game and where do you see yourself in it?
The future of Street Workout – that is something that has been on my mind a lot lately.If we who are involved (as athletes, trainers, fans, the chairmen, President and those who even do it just as part time hobby) keep sharing and spreading the warmth & love among the many benefits that this sport has created so far..If we work hard and reach out to everyone and anyone around the world from the rich to the poor and give that warm brotherly one-love welcome like we received when we started. If we help build communities and parks, keep ourselves open to learning each day, one day teaching and having others learn from us not just the skills but the values of WHO a bar athlete is. If we can do that and I believe we already do, then Street workout will be respected, appreciated and not only remembered as a legacy from the rest of our lives but received on an world wide commercially competitive level as a sport and way of life. I see myself as an athlete but mostly I would like to see myself as a coach or a mentor, working with the youth as a full time job. That is my dream and goal. So I will keep working hard, learning and visiting other teams around the world and doing what needs to be done until I reach
7. What would you wish to those guys who are reading this interview and perhaps realize that they have so much in common with you.
If there is anyone reading this now and feels the way I felt or has experienced hardship & struggle in life, I won’t tell you to do what I did cause everyone walks their own path. What I will say though, is do what you can to find what makes you happy. Put more of your time and energy to find your happiness instead of money, parties & bad friends. Find your true self and be in peace, remaining true to yourself. You don’t need to be someone you’re not. Never hate and never look down on anyone. You will experience hate; people will talk bad about and will try to break you down. At times they will be successful, but if you get back up every time and play your own strengths, you will grow even stronger. One of the most truthful acronyms I have come across, was created by someone I am inspired by: Staying True Always Triumphs Under Stress. It means to be you no matter the odds and you will find yourself where you need to be at the end of the day. Believe in what you believe in no matter what cause I promise you that someone or something good is out there watching and waiting for the right moment to reach you.
“So if someone drags you down, just do what I did and PUSH UP”