Sport | Hākinakina

Strongman Rongo Keene proud to represent Māori on a global stage

Australia's 2016 Strongman, Rongo Keene, says he had been involved with sports, particularly rugby, as he grew up in New Zealand.

But he tells Te Ao Toa that when he moved to Australia he started lifting weights "and I found out fast that I was really good at lifting weights. I started competing and, before I knew it, I was winning competitions all around the world."

Although he has accomplished a lot, Keene still aspires to promote Māori culture around the world with the aim of showing Māori can sit with the greats.

The strongman also touches on his encounter with famous strongman Arnold Schwarzenegger and how he had the honour in performing the celebrity's first haka for him.

"It was an amazing experience. We see him [Schwarzenneger] on TV, we see him on magazines and for me to actually shake his hand was a dream come true."

Keene also reveals his dietary schedule, saying he eats about 7,000 calories a day, which he estimates to be around eight meals a day. This is harder than the weightlifting itself, he says.

"In my prime, I could have a whole chicken for morning tea and I could do a family feast on my own."

Hard work is important for Keene and it is shown in his efforts and achievements. However, representing Māori is more important as he says being up there with the best is and being able to showcase Māori culture is a proud achievement for him.

"It's something that doesn't happen overnight. I've put a good solid eight years into training to do what I do. It's a commitment and every professional athlete will tell you good things take time. You have to put the work in to get the results."