Jamaica Observer Wednesday, August 24, 2016

At age 16, a ‘normal’ teenager might be celebrating the joys of acing his or her CSEC exams or looking forward to going to sixth form or university, but not Wayne Freeman.

At that age, Freeman was looking for a place to live as his mother told him that “it was time to go” and he had to move out.

“She told me to move out and take care of myself because she had the other children to worry about and there was no room. She considered me an adult and I could take care of myself,” he said.

Freeman, now 29, grew up in Scott’s Pass, Clarendon, with his mother and five siblings. Growing up was very hard, Freeman said. His mother, a housekeeper and the sole breadwinner for the family, worked tirelessly each day to make ends meet, but Freeman also had to take on the responsibility of supporting himself and his family, and this he said affected his academic performance.

A graduate of the Porus High School, Freeman said that being the oldest child meant he had a poor attendance record at school because he was juggling between going to school on some days and selling cashews and fruits on the street to help his mother send his other siblings to school. This, he said, he started doing at age eight.

Thrown out to fend for himself, working odd jobs to make ends meet, Freeman was clueless as to where life was taking him, where he would end up or how he could make life better for himself. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel — in the form of bodybuilding.

At age 18 Freeman said his life was transformed when Michael Bogle, a young pastor in his community and also a personal trainer at the Juici Patties gym, took him in and introduced him to the gym and bodybuilding.

“He encouraged me to do my very first competition in 2008, three months after starting training. He’s always been in my life to encourage me even now,” Freeman said.

For Freeman bodybuilding was seen as that avenue through which he could competitively do something that he was good at. It was that sport which created the framework for positive development and taught him discipline, commitment to bettering himself and the drive to push harder because he would ultimately see the results.

“Bodybuilding has given me something to focus on and direction in life and showed me that anything can be possible if I work for it,” Freeman said.

Last Saturday Freeman was crowned the 2016 MPC Florida state overall Classic Physique champion. He said his goal has been to compete in America since he migrated and he began training seriously for the competition in January.

In addition to this, Freeman has competed in several other bodybuilding competitions and has won several other titles, namely the 2015 Mr Beach Body; fourth place in the 2013 Jamaica bodybuilding heavyweight; second place in the 2013 Mr Caribbean international; best physique in the 2013 Mr Caribbean international; fitness challenge winner in the 2013 Mr Caribbean international; third place in the 2011 Jamaica Bodybuilding Mid Weight, and eighth place in the 2008 Jamaica Bodybuilding Junior Weight.

Freeman, who has lived in Florida for the past three years, works as one of the top personal trainers at Gold’s Gym. He was scheduled to return to the island yesterday, with the aim to claim the elusive Jamaica bodybuilding crown in the Supligen-sponsored National Championship. The Supligen JABBFA National Championships and Fitness Expo is an annual amateur Bodybuilding, Physique, Fitness, Body Fitness, Figure and Bikini competition. This partnership marks the fourth year running that Supligen will be title sponsor for the event. The 2016 Championships and Fitness Expo will host 120 athletes competing in 15 categories. The Championships will be held this Friday and Saturday at the Alfred Sangster Auditorium, at the University of Technology.