SMALL TOWNS: Howard man’s incredible journey to becoming a strongman competitor
HOWARD, Wis. (WBAY) - Overcoming incredible adversity all because of a botched surgery, a Brown County man is demonstrating incredible strength in his mind and body.
This week in Small Towns, we visit Howard for the inspirational story of Tyler Kapla.
If you’ve never met a really strong man, like really strong, then spend some time with Tyler for some instant humility.
“I like to keep my elbows bent a little bit and just bring my hands together,” says Tyler demonstrating one of his weightlifting routines.
“And how much is this?” I ask, about to give it a try.
“A lot, 322 pounds,” says Tyler.
“Three-hundred and twenty-two, so if I do 10 reps,” I respond joking.
“You’re the baddest man in the whole town,” says Tyler.
I can’t even budge the weights, and then it’s Tyler’s turn.
“Be ready, I haven’t done this today yet, but I don’t like to go back there and mess with the weight so I just leave it really heavy because it’s one of my favorites, I like being strong,” says Tyler.
To Tyler, the weights are like feathers as he does rep after rep.
And what’s even more impressive, he conquers the gym with just one lower leg.
“I’m Top 10 strongest foot amputees in the world,” states Tyler proudly.
A trip to the doctor in 2016 revealed why Tyler felt pain in his ankle.
“I had a bone spur attached to the ball joint in your ankle and it was about the size of an egg and they said i either had it removed or it had to be a replacement within five years,” explains Tyler.
For Tyler, the decision was easy, do the surgery.
“So they did that first one and then they left a hole, that’s what happened, it was so big, every joint has a synovial capsule and that bone spur was so big that it tore that synovial capsule when they tried to suture it back together and then it led to a hole for ten weeks and then my bone died and it was just like a whole Tommy Boy effect, like that snowball into just like what’s happening with life right now. Four inches of my leg died, my whole ankle joint was dead,” says Tyler.
Over the next 800 days, Tyler underwent ten surgeries, including two ankle fusions with rods and screws to try and correct the damage.
But nothing worked, and he finally told doctors, enough.
“So it’s like I had to win a debate in a room with four doctors to get my foot removed. That was the day that taught me how to separate business and personal, because there’s always personal business, but you sometimes go to put a line in the middle and separate them out, you can definitely discuss business as your life and that’s really sometimes the only way to make decisions you don’t want to make right, is to break it down that way to this has to happen,” recalls Tyler.
In the spring of 2018, doctors amputated Tyler’s leg just below his knee.
“I woke up from the amputation and I said, Lt. Dan,” says Tyler with a chuckle, referencing the movie Forest Gump.
Within weeks, Tyler recalls his attitude turning extremely positive and driven.
“It’s crazy that it happened, but I’m grateful it all happened because it adjusted my brain to a point where I couldn’t make excuses anymore, because we’re all good at it, we’re all kings and queens of excuses because not doing something is one of the best things ever,” says Tyler.
Always a fan of the weight room, Tyler returned with a vengeance.
“I don’t know, it just hit where it’s like I can do this, I can do this just as well as anybody else. Then it turned into three days a week and then five days a week, and then at one point I went like 70-some days in a row, like this drive just kept building,” says Tyler.
In 2020, Tyler stated competing in adaptive strong man competitions around the country, always placing first or second.
This 350 pound gladiator keeps getting strong and bigger.
“I’ve exploded, in the last year my shoulders went from 24-inches wide to 34-inches wide and I don’t take supplements, I don’t take anything,” explains Tyler.
A lot of whole milk, chocolate milk and protein powder every day does the trick.
And as Tyler sees it, he’s just getting started.
“What’s five years going to bring, what’s 10 years, like who knows, I’m excited, I’m made to do strong stuff, so I do strong stuff,” says Tyler.
He’s on a journey that’s required tremendous strength, every step of the way.
“I’m very proud of myself, I know many people that couldn’t even nightmare the life I’ve lived and I dominate this, and it’s crazy, I get goosebumps and I might cry because it’s powerful to me, there were days I prayed to die, I didn’t want to be here anymore, those days where I sat alone, it’s so heavy, but those days will never exist ever again.”
There is certainly no doubt about that.
Tyler now has his sights set on strongman world championships in the years to come, and he would also love to become an inspirational speaker.
Spend a little time with him and you quickly realize he would be awesome.
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