Not lacking for confidence, Canada’s Mitchell (Moose) Hooper made some bold predictions ahead of his first appearance at the World’s Strongest Man competition.
So far he’s been calling his shots.
In a recent YouTube video, the six-foot-three 315-pounder described his potential for the event and felt first- or second-place qualification results were realistic.
He backed up his talk this week at the Capitol Mall in Sacramento, Calif., by securing a berth in the weekend finals. Not bad for someone who entered the event as a relative unknown.
“I’m pretty in tune with what I’m capable of and what I’m not capable of,” Hooper said. “To put it simply, I knew that if I was one of the favourites I wouldn’t want me to be in that group.”
Strong showings in the loading race, deadlift ladder, car walk and log lift gave Hooper a healthy lead in his six-man group.
He only needed a single point in the wrecking ball hold Thursday to secure first place and one of two group berths in the two-day final starting Saturday.
“I was pretty spot on,” Hooper said of his predictions. “So yeah, I have a pretty good feel for what I can do.”
Hooper, 26, has a varied sporting background. He’s the director and founder of an exercise physiology business in Barrie, Ont., which helps people with injuries and chronic conditions.
Hooper played hockey as a youth, has run marathons and had varsity golf opportunities in the United States.
He played football at the University of Guelph and completed his undergraduate degree in human kinetics before becoming head strength and conditioning coach for the National Basketball League of Canada’s KW Titans.
“I have some family with chronic health conditions,” Hooper said. “I wanted to seek out something a little bit more meaningful. So I found exercise physiology.
“I looked up the No. 1 school in the world and that happened to be the University of Sydney. Off I went.”
Hooper completed his master’s degree in 2019 and “happened to stumble upon” strength sports while Down Under. He entered a few powerlifting competitions and got some attention by winning the Australia’s Strongest Man event.
A video of a Hooper deadlift in competition recently gained steam on social media and it wasn’t long before World’s Strongest Man organizers tracked him down and invited him into the 30-man field.
He hopes a top-three standing after Saturday’s competition would leave him in good shape for a Sunday showdown.
“I wouldn’t be surprised with first, I wouldn’t be surprised with seventh,” Hooper said. “I imagine I’ll land somewhere in between there.”
On a regular day, Hooper said he usually gets up at about six in the morning and eats five or six meals a day. He aims for about 2 1/2 hours of daily training.
“I try to hit 6,000 calories (daily) and about 330 grams of protein,” Hooper said.
“A couple of cartons of egg whites — one in the morning and one at night — that usually gets me covered,” he added.
Deadlift competition and the Flintstone barbell are among the events on tap Saturday ahead of the bus pull, Atlas stones and power stairs disciplines on Sunday.
This is the 45th edition of the World’s Strongest Man. Maxime Boudreault, a native of Kapuskasing, Ont., also advanced along with reigning champion Tom Stoltman of Britain and his brother, Luke Stoltman, the reigning European champion.
Hooper, meanwhile, is showing no signs of rookie jitters against such veteran competitors.
“It’s a psychological thing as much as it is a physical thing,” he said. “Consistency really trumps everything.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Author Salman Rushdie attacked on lecture stage in New York
CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. (AP) — Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man confront Rushdie on stage at the Chautauqua Institution and punch or stab him 10 to 15 times as he was being introduced. The 75-year-old author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was arrested.
State police said Rushdie was apparently stabbed in the neck and was flown to a hospital. His condition wasn’t immediately known. The moderator at the event was also attacked and suffered a minor head injury, police said.
Rabbi Charles Savenor was among the roughly 2,500 people in the audience. Amid gasps, spectators were ushered out of the outdoor amphitheater.
The assailant ran onto the platform “and started pounding on Mr. Rushdie. At first you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten,” Savenor said. He said the attack lasted about 20 seconds.
Another spectator, Kathleen Jones, said the attacker was dressed in black, with a black mask.
“We thought perhaps it was part of a stunt to show that there’s still a lot of controversy around this author. But it became evident in a few seconds” that it wasn’t, she said.
A bloodied Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest.
Rushdie has been a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes. He is a former president of PEN America, which said it was “reeling from shock and horror” at the attack.
“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil,” CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.
Rushdie “has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered,” she added.
His 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” was viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims. Often-violent protests against Rushdie erupted around the world, including a riot that killed 12 people in Mumbai.
The novel was banned in Iran, where the late leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death. Khomeini died that same year.
Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has never issued a fatwa of his own withdrawing the edict, though Iran in recent years hasn’t focused on the writer.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s attack.
A bounty of over $3 million has also been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.
The death threats and bounty led Rushdie to go into hiding under a British government protection program, which included a round-the-clock armed guard. Rushdie emerged after nine years of seclusion and cautiously resumed more public appearances, maintaining his outspoken criticism of religious extremism overall.
He has said he is proud of his fight for freedom of expression, saying in a 2012 talk in New York that terrorism is really the art of fear.
“The only way you can defeat it is by deciding not to be afraid,” he said.
Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. The Index on Censorship, an organization promoting free expression, said money was raised to boost the reward for his killing as recently as 2016, underscoring that the fatwa for his death still stands.
In 2012, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had used while in hiding.
Rushdie rose to prominence with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children,” but his name became known around the world after “The Satanic Verses.”
The Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, has served for more than a century as a place for reflection and spiritual guidance. Visitors don’t pass through metal detectors or undergo bag checks. Most people leave the doors to their century-old cottages unlocked at night.
Police said a state trooper was assigned to Rushdie’s lecture.
The Chautauqua center is known for its summertime lecture series, where Rushdie has spoken before. Speakers address a different topic each week. Rushdie and moderator Henry Reese were set to discuss “the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.”
Associated Press writers Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York; Michael Hill in Albany, New York; and Jennifer Peltz in New York City contributed to this report.
Trump calls for ‘immediate’ release of Mar-a-Lago warrant
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump called late Thursday for the “immediate” release of the federal warrant the FBI used to search his Florida estate, hours after the Justice Department had asked a court to unseal the warrant, with Attorney General Merrick Garland citing the “substantial public interest in this matter.”
In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, “Not only will I not oppose the release of documents … I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents.” He continued to assail the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as “unAmerican, unwarranted and unnecessary.”
“Release the documents now!” he wrote.
The Justice Department request earlier Thursday is striking because such documents traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation. But the department appeared to recognize that its silence since the search had created a vacuum for bitter verbal attacks by Trump and his allies, and that the public was entitled to the FBI’s side about what prompted Monday’s action at the former president’s home.
“The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” said a motion filed in federal court in Florida on Thursday.
Should the warrant be released — the request is now with the judge — it could disclose unflattering information about the former president and about FBI scrutiny of his handling of sensitive government documents right as he prepares for another run for the White House. During his successful 2016 campaign, he pointed frequently to an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information.
It’s unclear at this point how much information would be included in the documents, if made public, or if they would encompass an FBI affidavit that would presumably lay out a detailed factual basis for the search. The department specifically requested the unsealing of the warrant as well as a property receipt listing the items that were seized, along with two unspecified attachments.
To obtain a search warrant, federal authorities must prove to a judge that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed. Garland said he personally approved the warrant, a decision he said the department did not take lightly given that standard practice where possible is to select less intrusive tactics than a search of one’s home.
In this case, according to a person familiar with the matter, there was substantial engagement with Trump and his representatives prior to the search warrant, including a subpoena for records and a visit to Mar-a-Lago a couple of months ago by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how the documents were stored. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Neither Trump nor the FBI has said anything about what documents the FBI might have recovered, or what precisely agents were looking for. But the former president complained anew Thursday about the search.
Trump, who for years has lambasted the FBI and sought to sow distrust among his supporters in its decisions, said the warrant was served and the search conducted despite his cooperation with the Justice Department over the search.
In a post to his Truth Social platform, Trump said that his “attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully” prior to the search, and that government officials “could have had whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, if we had it.”
The Justice Department has until Friday afternoon to alert the judge about whether Trump will object to the release.
FBI and Justice Department policy cautions against discussing ongoing investigations, both to protect the integrity of probes and to avoid unfairly maligning someone who is being scrutinized but winds up ultimately not being charged. That’s especially true in the case of search warrants, where supporting court papers are routinely kept secret as the investigation proceeds.
In this case, though, Garland cited the fact that Trump himself had provided the first public confirmation of the FBI search, “as is his right.” The Justice Department, in its new filing, also said that disclosing information about it now would not harm the court’s functions.
Even so, Garland, in a hastily scheduled public statement delivered from the Justice Department podium, appeared to acknowledge the unusual nature of the department’s request as he declined to take questions or provide any substantive details about the FBI’s investigation.
“Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations,” he said. “Federal law, longstanding department rules and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time.”
The Justice Department under Garland has been leery of public statements about politically charged investigations, or of confirming to what extent it might be investigating Trump as part of a broader probe into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The department has tried to avoid being seen as injecting itself into presidential politics, as happened in 2016 when then-FBI Director James Comey made an unusual public statement announcing that the FBI would not be recommending criminal charges against Clinton regarding her handling of email — and when he spoke up again just over a week before the election to notify Congress that the probe was being effectively reopened because of the discovery of new emails.
The Mar-a-Lago search warrant served Monday was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this year. The National Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information.
The attorney general also condemned verbal attacks on FBI and Justice Department personnel over the search. Some Republican allies of Trump have called for the FBI to be defunded. Large numbers of Trump supporters have called for the warrant to be released hoping they it will show that Trump was unfairly targeted.
“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Garland said of federal law enforcement agents, calling them “dedicated, patriotic public servants.”
Earlier Thursday, an armed man wearing body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio, then fled and was later killed after a standoff with law enforcement. A law enforcement official briefed on the matter identified the man as Ricky Shiffer and said he is believed to have been in Washington in the days leading up to the attack on the Capitol and may have been there on the day it took place.
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Lindsay Whitehurst and Meg Kinnard contributed to this report.
More on Donald Trump-related investigations: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump
Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
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