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Australia is a part of the world that has a strong passion for bodybuilding and fitness. Aside from legendary promoter and gym owner Tony Doherty, some of the greatest champions to come from Down Under include Lee Priest and Sonny Schmidt. The latest superstar to emerge in the IFBB Pro League was Josh Lenartowicz.
“The King of the Gym” made his presence known in the sport in 2015 when he won both the Ferrigno Legacy Show and the San Marino Pro. He then made an even bigger impact when he placed third at the 2016 Arnold Classic. He would go on to place 9th at both the 2016 and 2017 Olympia. Fans were certain that they were seeing the rise of a superstar.
Then, he placed 11th at the 2020 Arnold Classic, which came as a surprise to many fans, who thought he could win the show. He explained to Dennis James on The Menace Podcast that he was dealing with several issues at once leading up to that contest. He recalled that it began with headaches.
“I started getting these weird headaches, and I was like, ‘I never get headaches, what’s going on here?’ And so I went to the doctor, and I just said, ‘Hey, I’m getting these headaches and I never get headaches,” Lenartowicz said. “And he’s like, take some aspirin.’ And I said, ‘no, I got like a little lump here.’”
That lump was actually a tumor, and this wasn’t the first time he had heard of this. His brother had one in his past as well. It took some convincing, but doctors eventually decided to get a scan to confirm it. Lenartowicz had surgery to have it removed, but his problems weren’t over yet. His brain started swelling, and he would have to be put in a coma. He almost died at one point due to fluid buildup in his lungs while he was out. By the time he woke up and was able to go home, he was a far different athlete than he used to be.
“Days before, I was doing super heavy squats, like seven plates a side, and that was days before. And then after a week (in the coma), I couldn’t even stand up,” said Lenartowicz. “So, I had to learn to walk again. Imagine that, getting ready for the Olympia, and doing all this cardio, then I couldn’t even stand up.”
Lenartowicz had a long road to recovery ahead of him, which he talked about during the episode. However, due to his extended absence from the bodybuilding scene, many fans speculated that he quietly retired. James asked him outright if he has called it a career.
“No, not at all,” he said emphatically. He didn’t say when he will return to the stage, but that news will be enough to excite bodybuilding fans for the future.