May Beast of the Month: Joshua Johnson (aka Dozer)
by Andy Laughlin
Drop by any given Strongman Saturday in Hayward and you're guaranteed to spot some truly monstrous human beings moving equally monstrous amounts of weight.
Among these monsters is a nearly-six and a half-foot tall specimen, often clad in Golden Girls pajama pants and signature tank top, sporting a mullet--seemingly straight out of a wrestling ring, circa 1989. That man is Joshua Johnson, AKA Dozer, AKA The Strongman Club's latest Beast of the Month.
The pro-wrestling impression is no accident: Dozer is one of a number of crossover athletes with The Strongman Club, and until the Covid 19 pandemic interrupted our lives, wrestling was his chief athletic pursuit. He's since returned to training in the ring, where he (and no doubt his opponents) has developed a newfound respect for the strength which strongman training has given him.
He also sets an example when it comes to introducing others to strength. When a newcomer shows up to Strongman Saturday, there’s a good chance they were invited by Dozer. The invitation has been particularly extended to fellow members of the wrestling community.
Clearly, you're a man who's gone by a lot of names. What do your friends call you?
A: "Most folks just call me Dozer."
How did you get started in professional wrestling?
A: "Years ago, I hit up a bunch of wrestlers on Myspace (yes, Myspace!) trying to find out what to look for in a school. Francisco Ciatso responded with a detailed breakdown of what to look for, and I found several that met his description. I drove out and visited most of them and eventually settled on the All Pro Wrestling boot camp. Sadly the owner (Roland Alexander) passed away in 2013. I eventually found my way to Bryckhouse and trained under Big Ryck (formally known as Ezekiel Jackson). I trained there until the pandemic hit."
What attracted you to the sport of strongman? How were you introduced to The Strongman Club?
A: "I've always loved strongman. I watched it growing up and always thought it was so cool ... It's like watching real-life mutants do some real super-human stuff. But I was always told that it wasn't for me, or was mocked for liking it. Sadly, I was naive enough to listen. And those telling me this weren't strongmen or powerlifters."
"It was Darryl who invited me to Strongman Saturdays. We wrestled together (I was his first match, he was my second) and have remained good friends. I was in decent shape at this point, and I was down for any kind of training or workout with gyms being closed. Plus I REALLY missed training with a team. I love pushing myself and finding out the limits of my body and then trying to figure out how to exceed those limits in the future."
What sort of carryover, training-wise or other, have you noticed between wrestling and strongman?
A: "My workouts before were mainly focused on hypertrophy and muscle endurance. Now my focus is on stability, flexibility, power, and strength and a little less isolation work. I've been back in the ring training a few months now, and I'm able to carry people and toss them up a lot easier. My workouts have become more about purpose and less about pleasure."
What are some competitions you've done? How have you placed?
A: "I did a novice competition with The Strongman Club last year (Pledge of Strength) and placed sixth. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I'm looking forward to competing in Static Monsters in October, which will be my first sanctioned competition."
What are your best/favorite events?
A: "Deadlifts, sled pull, and Conan’s wheel. Deadlifts are badass. No other way to say it. I was struggling to lift 360 lbs, and then my teammates in TSC fixed my form and suddenly I was able to lift 400! That blew my mind and was one of my favorite Strongman Saturdays. Sleds just made sense to me. I grasped the pulling technique right out of the gate and it was easy for me. The Conan's wheel is just a ton of fun. I forgot to breathe one time and kinda passed out, Hah! But my teammates caught me and I learned my lesson. My breathing has been on point since."
How has Covid affected wrestling over the past year? Did you find yourself shifting your focus to strongman when it became apparent things might be shut down for a while?
A: "During the pandemic, I switched my focus to fitness in general. I created my own workout with sandbags, chains and cinder blocks. I bought boxing equipment to help with cardio, and started training in yoga and tai chi. I realized that most wrestlers wouldn’t be working out because gyms are closed. They wouldn’t be training or working ... most were just going to sit at home and get fat and lazy. I saw this as an excellent business opportunity to separate myself from everyone else and was determined to come out of this in the best shape of my life, so I trained my ass off. I also became a certified personal trainer through NASM. I used to weigh 400 lbs, and I love what the human body can do and how it can change, and I love my fitness journey. Nothing would bring me more joy than to help others on theirs."
How has The Strongman Club affected your life, outside of just training?
A: "It's so cool to be in a sport where people crack jokes at me for having too small of a belly ... I'll take those jokes all day! And this might sound sappy, but when they surprised me and celebrated my birthday with me, that meant a lot. I never had a lot of friends and became accustomed to few people celebrating or acknowledging my birthday. I was cool with it and just figured that's life. But when The Strongman Club surprised me, it felt amazing and I can't express the joy I felt inside. It's honestly the best community I've ever been a part of."