Some people we encounter in life move us in such a way that the word “inspiring” is probably a severe understatement. I’d like to introduce you to John McGrath.

I talk with folks from around the world in search of amazing people who have not only followed their own dreams but also inspire others to do the same. Everyone’s story is wonderful and unique and each is moving in their own way. John McGrath is as humble as they come yet his story is truly amazing.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” — T.S. Elliot

John grew up in Ireland during a time of poverty and strife. His tough upbringing taught him numerous life-lessons. While many people in the same circumstances may have given up, John learned to continually turn obstacles into opportunities. He not only turned his life around but also took his experiences and eventually decided to help others.

In spite of tough times, at 13 years old John discovered the sport of rowing. This physically taxing sport required teamwork and discipline and he loved everything about it. He not only loved it, but he absolutely thrived at it. John worked hard and with exceptional determination, he keenly developed his talent. At 23, he was selected to row for the Irish team where they competed in Belgium, winning the International Open Championship’s gold.

Rowing took John around the world and changed his life forever. Not bad for a poor Irish kid.

During this time he also won a scholarship to Waterford Institute of Technology where John studied Sports Management & Science. This priceless experience not only solidified his love of sports but also taught him discipline, determination and tenacity.

Unfortunately though, John sustained a debilitating back injury and was ultimately unable to return to rowing. While most people would have thrown in the towel, John ignored doctor’s advice and took up martial arts to try and rehabilitate himself.

In exceptional John McGrath fashion, he once again refused defeat and not only decided to go for it but he went for it with 110% of his ability.

He once again traveled the world but this time to master both body and mind. He trained under Ji Han-Jae (Bruce Lee’s teacher) and earned his black belt in, not one but four disciplines: Hapkido, Karate, Kombatan, and kickboxing and is working on his fifth in Kung Fu!

At 39 years young, John fought for Ireland in the European Kickboxing Champions in Macedonia, making the semi-finals. Truly unbelievable!

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” — Zig Ziglar

As if conquering both rowing and the martial arts wasn’t enough, John continued on his quest for greatness. He always had a fascination with Vaudeville, specifically the old-time strongmen who demonstrated extreme acts of strength. He saw a likeness to his martial arts background because they both required physical ability and extreme mental power.

John decided that by age of 50 he wanted to mirror the shape he was in 25 years ago. Now, as a remarkable 21st century strong man himself, he continues to travel the world and break records. He plans on breaking a world record this summer at a competition in the U.S. where I hope to witness this powerhouse in person.

John continues to break boundaries but now he does that by helping other break theirs. John is a motivational speaker and coach who helps people unlock their greatness. Like everything else in his life, this is not an easy feat but it’s one that he takes seriously and does with conviction.

Read about John’s journey and how he helped take South Africa’s, Luvo Manyonga, from addiction to Silver medalist at the 2016 Rio’s Olympics.

You see, the only limits we have in life are those that we impose on ourselves. If we ignore them and depend solely on our determination, we can achieve anything. John has proven this not once, but over and over.

What makes John McGrath’s story so inspirational is that he never gave up, never gave in and truly learned to put mind over matter overcoming every single obstacle that came his way.

Most people would have given up and lived a life of “what if.”

Not John McGrath! He lives a life of “why not”.

Originally published at

Originally published at