SOMERSET — Growing up in Massachusetts, Mike Bruce was physically and psychologically abused by his natural father, bullied at school, and briefly institutionalized for extreme anger issues—all before the age of 14.
But Bruce, now a 37-year-old personal trainer and owner of The Machine Shop Gym in Somerset, turned his life around through the love of his adoptive stepfather, a stint in Marines that saw him graduate at the top of his class of 68 at Parris Island, and years of boxing, wrestling, and intense weight training that earned him the nickname “The Machine.”
Bruce, also a professional strongman known across the globe through his website, www.mikethemachine.com, now plans to put his claim to have “the world’s strongest neck” to the test in a world-record attempt that will see him bend as many as five 5/8-inch steel bars across the front of his neck in only 60 seconds.
Bruce will attempt the death-defying record at a special fundraising event held on Aug. 25 in Somerset at The Center for Rural Development. A donation of $5 per adult will be collected at the door, with all proceeds going toward the Lake Cumberland Blue Star Mothers and the Bethany House Abuse Shelter of Somerset.
The Blue Star Mothers organization organizes efforts to raise funds for, assemble, and ship care packages to men and women serving overseas in the Armed Forces. The Bethany House Abuse Shelter is a safe house in Somerset for victims of domestic abuse.
Children and students under 12 years of age will be admitted free of charge.
The event will start at 1 p.m. and include a special strength show by Bruce’s Team Machine, a group of his teenage clients who he has mentored and taken under his wing. Several other nationally known professional strongmen, including Dave “Iron Tamer” Whitley (www.irontamerdavidwhitley.com) and Grandmaster Strongman Dennis Rogers (www.dennisrogers.net) will appear, with Rogers also serving as master of ceremonies.
Bruce will close the show with his world-record bar-bending attempt.
“Everyone is capable of doing amazing things if they truly have faith in themselves and I believe in giving back,” Bruce said.
“This is a great chance for me to give back to some organizations that are close to my heart and to hopefully inspire our community and kids with the belief that they can do anything—including overcoming abuse, bullying, obesity and tough times—if they just put their minds and hearts to it,” he added.
Bruce has become famous around the world for having the world’s strongest neck and is the only performer currently to have bent steel bars and horseshoes across his throat.
Upon his doctor’s orders due to the physical risk involved with such feats, this event will be Bruce’s last public performance of bending the steel bar across his throat.
If Bruce succeeds in bending at least five of the bars in 60 seconds, one of the bars from the performance will be placed in the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at the University of Texas at Austin (www.starkcenter.org).
The Stark Center is a nationally recognized library, archive, and museum dedicated to the study and preservation of the world of physical culture. Since its opening in 2009, the facility features the largest collection of its kind of materials on weight training, bodybuilding, athletic conditioning, alternative medicine, and other forms of self-improvement.
Bruce said the Stark Center has also agreed to officially recognize the world record should his attempt be successful.
“This is an incredibly dangerous feat that no one has had the training or strength to survive for over 100 years, so this record will probably last several hundred more,” says fellow professional strongman, Bud Jeffries. “This will be a once-in-a-lifetime event to witness, featuring one the greatest feats of strength of its kind ever performed. No one else in the world could survive this.”
Bruce, a former professional fighter, is now considered one of the strongest humans alive today by other professional strongmen. He is a respected community business owner, professional speaker, world recognized fitness expert, author and a dedicated husband.