Rob Kearney will retire after the World's Strongest Man competition. | Rich Storry

Rob Kearney has spent years lifting just about anything — logs, cars, sandbags, very heavy weights — in his job as a professional strongman athlete. It won him the title of the “pound for pound world’s strongest man” among many accolades.

After this week, though, Kearney is done with strongman events, deciding to retire after the World’s Strongest Man competition in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Thus will end the pro career of the self-proclaimed but hard to dispute “World’s Strongest Gay.”

“The 2024 Worlds Strongest Man will be my final competition,” Kearney announced this week on Instagram. “I have been so fortunate to live the life I have as a Professional Strongman and honestly have achieved more in this sport than I could have ever dreamed. Starting this sport as a 17 year old in 2009, I never imagined I would one day call my self one of the worlds strongest men. Through perseverance and consistency I worked my way to the biggest competitions in the world by the motto ‘Train to be the person they said you’d never become.’

“Thank you to everyone throughout the years who have given me love and support while following my dreams. [Husband, Joey Kearney], none of this would have been possible without your love, enthusiasm and commitment to me. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me. To my coaches who helped guide me … thank you for your believe in me as an athlete. To my sponsors, thank you for finding value in my voice. And to my fans, this life would not have been possible without you, so thank you for dancing with me, laughing with me and always cheering me on.

“I have so much love for this sport, and the people in it, and I am excited to give back to the sport that gave me so much. Thank you all again, and let’s go out with one last HOORAH!”

Throughout his career, Kearney has been out and proud as a gay man, winning legions of fans with his honesty, his love for Joey and smashing stereotypes of masculinity and power. In 2019, we chose Kearney as our Male Hero of the Year for his advocacy, writing:

His profile has also led him to become an advocate for LGBTQ people. This is what Kearney told a group of middle school students in Massachusetts, where kids are at an age where they start to become aware of their sexuality.

“The biggest thing I want you all to realize is, you know, once you aren’t afraid to actually be yourself, that’s when you actually get to experience real happiness,” he told the middle-schoolers, sporting his trademark rainbow mohawk. “For me, it’s when I got to experience real love, once I was finally able to break down all those walls and accept me for who I actually was, it completely changed my life and let me be able to talk to students like you about the things that I’ve done in this world.”

Rob Kearney, left, is competing in his fifth World Strongest Man competition. Credit: World Strongest Man

This is Kearney’s fifth appearance at the World’s Strongest Man competition, which started Wednesday, where competitors perform in categories such as “car walk,” “stone off,” “globe viking press” and “sandbag steeplechase.”

In retirement Kearney will still be involved with fitness, as he and Joey just opened a CrossFit gym in Long Meadow, Mass. We wish them the best and know Kearney is far from retiring from making a difference.