Having survived a crash which could have killed him, Alex Bolshunov is now putting himself through a different type of pain as he seeks to become Peterborough’s very own Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Alex (40) needed an artificial bone inserted in his right arm after the serious collision on the A47 between Peterborough and Leicester in 2015, putting an end to his kickboxing career. Incredibly however, he is now undertaking a gruelling training programme as he prepares to be part of a UK team at an upcoming Mister Universe event in Turin, Italy.
The Latvian national, who moved to the UK in 2004, fits his punishing schedule around his day job in recruitment as he prepares to follow in the footsteps of film star Schwarzenegger who is famed for winning multiple bodybuilding titles.
Alex, who lives in the city centre and was a kickboxing champion in his home country, could barely move or look after himself after being seriously hurt, while his marriage also broke down.
But he said: “I was lucky to be alive and it changed my life. I started to look at my life from a different angle.
“When your health’s strong you rely on your body, but it’s not all you’ve got. You’ve got to use your brain.
“I could not straighten my arm properly and did not have full motion. I was bench pressing in tears. I can now lift less than before and can’t punch as hard as before as there is still pain. I could not kickbox any more, so when I had recovered I started lifting.
“Sport is like a drug. People have caffeine addiction and it’s the same for me with sport. Even on holiday I can’t rest for more than one week.”
Every day Alex wakes up at 4am before doing an hour of cardio. During weekdays he goes to work, and then to Fengate Gym where he undergoes weight training for around 45 minutes, followed by a cardio session of 30 to 45 minutes.
Throughout the day he will have six meals - four consisting of 100g of chicken and broccoli, one of 10 egg whites and avocado, and another of six egg whites - as well as many litres of water. There are strictly no carbohydrates.
Alex, who has a big scar on his right arm as a reminder of the crash, is competing in the 85kg to 95kg competition in Turin with the participants judged on factors such as how lean they are and the symmetry of their muscles.
Alex, who is coached by city bodybuilder Rob Reinaldo and is being sponsored to go Italy, hopes a strong performance can see him earn a pro contract so he can make some money doing what he loves.
“I moved to the UK in 2004 and have been doing kickboxing coaching,” he added. “I’ve coached English champions from the European Sports Centre in Norfolk Street and been an international judge.
“Now I want to show that nothing can stop you.”