Martin Tye was a lance corporal in the British Army in 2009 when a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle in the back of Tye’s Humvee.
The subsequent explosion left Tye with no feeling from the knees down, and inflicted significant damage to his shoulder and lungs.
Ten years later, Tye has undergone 20 surgeries — on one knee alone — he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and has had metalwork inserted in his legs and shoulder.
Still, Tye shows no signs of regret about his service — in both Iraq and Afghanistan — or the attack that changed his life forever.
“It was a war zone, we knew what we were going into, and it was the day before the elections so we were preempting something anyway," he told the Guiness Book of World Records.
"The day before we had a suicide bomber on the front gate. Then we went out on a pretty routine patrol, we were in a convoy — I was commander of my vehicle. We drove around the corner and a suicide bomber drove into the back of my vehicle and detonated.”
The time that followed his injury tested Tye’s mental fortitude, a valley he was mired in until getting into power lifting.
“Before that I wasn’t really engaging with anything, I didn’t want to know, sat in the house all day," he said. "Since I found sport, and particularly disabled strongman, the confidence has come back.”
Confidence is key, but pure strength is another thing entirely, and that’s something Tye has plenty of.
That much was evident on May 6 — a full 10 years after the attack — when Tye set a world record for the heaviest seated deadlift of 1,113 pounds, 5 ounces, the Guinness Book of World Records announced.
Now into his third year of disabled strongman events, Tye has flourished in a number of lifting categories, but getting over the mental hump in the wake of his injuries proved to be one of the most difficult obstacles he faced.
That’s where his partner Beckie Ingram came in, signing him up for the Invictus Games years ago without his knowledge after one night, while watching the games on TV, hearing Tye claim he could do it.
“Mentally when I first met him he was pretty withdrawn and had no confidence whatsoever,” Ingram told Guinness. “I knew he’d never apply himself. So I sat in work one day, sent an email and applied for him to be a part of the team.”
Ingram then broke the news to Tye about her behind-the-scenes support — over the phone, however, because she was “too scared to go home and tell him.”
The nervousness was unwarranted, though, as Tye was happy for the unexpected nudge, thriving ever since in a variety of weightlifting events and sports.
Setting the seated deadlifting world record, however, was new territory that necessitated an other-worldly training regimen — and an 8,000 calorie-a-day diet.
“People will think it sounds really good but it really is a lot of food, sometimes you have to force feed," Tye told Guinness.
"But as a strongman I get to eat nicer meals than bodybuilders. One of my meals is half a (family) cheesecake.”
And the cake paid off, with Tye holding the colossal weight for a few seconds to cement his name in the record books.
“People said it looked easy — believe me, it wasn’t," Tye said. "My back’s sore, emotionally I’m a bit drained but I’m over the moon with the outcome.”
Eddie Hall, who once achieved the heaviest Strongman deadlift at a weight of 500 kg (approximately 1,102 pounds), called doing so “one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done.”
But danger has seldom, if ever, deterred Tye, and with one world record now under his belt, the strongman is already setting his sights on what comes next.
“I know I’ve not hit my potential yet, there’s still more in there and hopefully when I unlock that I’ll go on to lift an even bigger weight," he said.
“I want to show the world what disabled people can do. Okay, we do it in a different way but that doesn’t mean we’re weaker.”