Madison football coach wins disabled world strongman trophy in London

With the heart of a world champion and a full-bodied spirit, the only thing missing from Madison High School assistant football coach Mike Diehl is his right arm.

Diehl, a former fireman who lost an arm in a 2015 fire truck accident, recently returned from an international disabled strongman competition in London, England with a first-place trophy.

The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Madison Twp. father of two, said through the international and American strongman competitions, he helps inspire the young athletes he coaches to see all challenges can be overcome.

“When I went through adversity myself in losing my arm, I had the choice of either laying down and quitting on life or getting back up and fighting back,” said Diehl of his accident that ended his firefighting career.

“When they (doctors) gave me the option to cut off my arm, I said, ‘Cut it off, I’ve got stuff to do,’ because I wanted to get back to doing the things I did before. Adversity causes some men to break but it causes others to break records.”

Diel, who also works at Middletown Schools as a truancy officer, and has coached area youth football for years.

ExploreThis Middletown teacher lost an arm in 2015. Now he’s inspiring in international competitions

Before his accident and after, Mike played semi-pro football and for years has coached youth football for area leagues in Warren and Butler counties.

In 2016, as a member of the Ohio Crush Semi Pro Football Team, he helped his team to an undefeated season en route to a berth in a national championship game. The season earned Diehl a spot on the Ohio Football League All Star Team.

Among his many honors, in 2019 he won first place in an Indiana power-lifting competition and later that year finished second in the World’s Strongest Disabled Man in Smith’s Falls, Ontario, Canada.

In 2020 he battled to second place in the Arnold Classic Disabled Strongman in Columbus, Ohio. And in November, he’s headed to Iceland’s capital city Reykjavík to compete against similar athletes from around the globe.

Madison Head Football Coach Dan Baker said his defensive line coach and his strongman pursuits show his team – and all athletes at the high school and local youth leagues - what grit and determination look like.

“Coach Diehl is a great example to the young men and women in our program. He is a shining example of what it means to overcome adversity and can speak to that every day,” said Baker.

“He does a great job of challenging our young adults to find a way to get better and overcome any obstacles that are placed in their way,” he said.

Diehl is looking for help to fund his upcoming trip to compete again internationally in Iceland and those wanting to help can go to his My Venmo account: @gorillastrong80.

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