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From the Beach to the Boardwalk: Local strongman returns from Atlantic City showdown

September 12, 2012
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

David "The Mighty" Gonzales, local strongman and avid visitor/performer on Fort Myers Beach, recently returned from a short strong-man stint on the Atlantic City, N.J. boardwalk, where he continued to entertain the masses with his muscle-bound feats of courage and strength with a twist, all for Ripley's Believe It or Not.

"The shows went tremendously well," David said. "The audience response was nothing short of fantastic, and it was an all-around awesome time. Every crowd should be like that one."

During his three-day performance schedule, The Mighty Gonzales enlightened fans every hour on the hour, showing off an incredible amount of stunts and intense feats of strength and destruction.

Article Photos

David “The Mighty” Gonzales recently returned from performing in Atlantic City, N.J., for Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The local strongman has broken numerous world records, as well as helped many local charities along the way. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

"I bent 1/2-inch-thick steel bars over my head and between my teeth, ripped telephone books (from the spine) and license plates in half, laid on piles of freshly broken glass with no shirt (Yes, I was cut a few times), allowed audience participants to stand, dance and jump on my chest and abdomen, and had assistants break concrete cinder blocks over my chest, groin and stomach," the strongman boasted. "I performed every hour on the hour, from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. every day for three days, for a total of 17 shows in three days. It was quite a rush."

This is not the first time our local muscle man has performed for Ripley's Believe It or Not, and he certainly hopes it will not be the last.

"I really look forward to the next time I have a chance to work with Ripley's," David said. "Chris Collier, the company's general manager, was just simply amazing. I could not have done this gig without him. He and his staff, including Tammy, are as professional and gracious as the come, and I truly look forward to working with them as soon as possible."

Performing acts of strength as a strongman for several years now, David is no stranger to tackling tough feats, and has broken several world records along the way.

He likes to push the envelope and not just beat a record but beat it with a twist. Here are some of the amazing feats he's tackled and defeated:

Most deep knee-bends in one hour (4,360 reps).

Beer-keg lifting champion of the world, set at Miracle Stadium, lifting a 135-pound beer keg over his head 1,000 times in three hours. (This resulted in a torn rotator cuff injury.)

Most back hyper extensions in one hour (2,200 reps).

Most stomach crunches in one hour (4,000 reps), while laying on a pile of broken glass.

Most stomach crunches in 10 minutes (1,000 reps), while laying on a pile of broken glass.

20 sit-ups in one minute, holding two 50-pound dumbells behind his head, while laying on a pile of broken glass.

He's often broken these records while simultaneously raising funds for local charities and non-profit organizations.

"At the HammerHead Beach Gym about a year ago, I raised funds for Chapel by the Sea while breaking strongman records along the way. We raised literally a truck full of food and a barrel full of money for the local cause," he explained. "I also performed at Toyota Superstore, where I was given a check for $500. Instantly, I donated it to the local chapter of ACT ]Abuse, Counseling and Treatment Center, helping abused and neglected women and children]."

He's also performed at the Lani Kai during spring break in front of crowds of hundreds of people on a daily basis.

During his muscle-bound feats, David is proud to boast that he performs his acts of strength 100 percent legitly, and doesn't create an "illusion," like some "strongmen" often do.

"Many 'strongmen' make little snips in the metal of license plates beforehand, which makes their 'feat' a very simple one. I don't do that. I respect the intelligence of my audience, and actually work the metal, back and forth with my fingers," he explained. "After allowing them to examine that the license plate hasn't been tampered with I use my hands and forearms, working it up, down and sideways, until I get that tiny little rip in it. And believe me that is not easy. It's sheeted steel, not aluminum or cardboard. Some of these license plates you can shave with, they're so sharp."

Another fake feat David said some muscle guys do involves steel bars.

"Some 'strongmen' heat up steel bars before their performance, making it so pliable, a child can bend it. I don't do that," he said. "I use straight-up room-temperature steel rods, using only the power of my mind and my muscles to do the work. It's all about leverage, balance and weight distribution, but these feats are just as mental as they are physical."

Do you happen to have a Ripley's book just sitting around that you want signed? The local strongman has appeared in the Ripleys Believe it Or Not: "The Remarkable Revealed" edition, and has appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show three times.

"During an interview with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel was asked who the most interesting guest he's had on his show was, and he said me! I couldn't believe it," David said.

The muscle man goes to the gym three to four times a week, has a steady and stable diet of high protein, vitamins, minerals and essential carbs, gets at least eight hours of sleep a night, and does not smoke, drink, nor do drugs.

"Clean body, clean mind. Being a strongman is even more metal than it is physical," he said. "Performing is an expression of joy for me. Yeah, I'm sweating, cutting myself and busting my tail, but I'm having the time of my life. The sweetest sound in the world is applause, and the greatest feeling in the world is knowing I let my audience forget their troubles, even for just a short time."

David "The Mighty"?Gonzales is up for performing exhibitions and stunts privately, as well as public functions of all sorts. If interested in hiring him for your next event, or interested in being a sponsor, email



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