Who is Mat Fraser?
Mat Fraser is one of CrossFit’s greatest names, but it did not happen overnight – it was a result of years of effort, endurance, and commitment that brought him to total dominance. He gained the title of the Fittest Man on Earth at the 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 CrossFit Games. The 2016 triumph was three years in the making after he took back-to-back second-place finishes in 2014 and 2015.
He got interested in weightlifting at the age of 11 and showed outstanding commitment. According to CrossFit blog Box Rox, he obtained his first national title at 13, was school-age champion in 2003, 2005, and 2007, and became junior national champion in 2009. He began training full-time when he left school, hoping he would make it to the Olympic weightlifting team.
But an injury got in the way, and he broke his back. His passion for sports never left him, though. After recovering from surgery, he returned in 2011, finding new love in Crossfit. Fraser achieved second at the CrossFit Games in 2014 and 2015 and then gained five straight titles from 2016, earning him the title of “The Fittest on Earth.”
For Fraser, second place is not good enough, and he strived harder and went from strength to strength. He won four events in 2017, and in 2018, he won two and only completed outside the top 10 in one event – enough to secure first place overall.
In 2019, he almost lost the fourth title when he dropped a weight on the Ruck Run and did not realize it and, by mistake, proceeded with a lighter load. He had to claw back the lead, and a win in the final event secured him his record-equalling the fourth title.
The year 2020 was the highlight of his fame in Crossfit. Because of Covid-19, a shortened format suggested there were two rounds. The first was online among 30 men and 30 women, and the top five went to an in-person final in California. Fraser dominated and won 10 of the 12 events.
Reason for His Retirement
It was a hard decision, but Mat Fraser decided to retire more than eight years after starting his career in competitive CrossFit. He said, “CrossFit is how I’ve met my best friends, business partners, and even my wife. CrossFit is how I found the artist who tattooed my chest, how I was able to travel across the world, and how I bought the home we’ll soon move into in Vermont.”
He recalled how he and his training partner broke the record for the most CrossFit championships in history and how he fully committed himself to the sport. But in all his accomplishments, there was a price to pay.
“I’ve passed up vacations, bachelor parties, and more dates with Sammy than I can count, all so I wouldn’t miss a single training session or a full night of sleep. For eight years, every day has been roughly the same: wake up earlier than I’d like, sell my soul to the Assault Bike and the swimming intervals and the 40-minute AMRAPs, eat, sleep, repeat,” Fraser said.
What will happen on the 2021 CrossFit competition season?
Fraser won in a dominating form in the 2020 CrossFit Games Final, holding 10 of the 12 events. But now that he announced his retirement, who will fill the void at the top of the men’s division at the CrossFit Games, and who will replace him as the Fittest on Earth?
It is important to note that Mat Fraser not only held a monopoly on the peak of the podium for the last five years but is also the single man in history to rerun as the runner-up at the Games. But since the scope is broadened beyond the podium, let’s take a look at the possible challengers for the 2021 Games, who are both physically and mentally strongest.
– Had a back and knee injury in 2018 and came back stronger
– Games Finishes: 2016, 16th; 2017, 20th; 2019, 13th; 2020, second
– Competing at Regionals or equivalent since 2014
– Lost to Fraser by only seven seconds on the 2020 CrossFit Games Finals
– Games Finishes: 2020, third
– Competing at Regionals or equivalent since 2017
– Lost a part of his finger in an Army training accident but came back stronger than ever
– Games Finishes: 2019, 15th; 2020, sixth
– Competing at Regionals or equivalent since 2016
– His elite competition career is on the longer side in the men’s field
– Games Finishes: 2014-2015, eight; 2016, 15th; 2017, fourth; 2018, sixth; 2019, second; 2020, fourth
– Competing at Regionals or equivalent since 2012
– His last two Games had him achieving lower than his first three years, but he has displayed his capacity to push for the win
– Games Finishes: 2016-2017, third; 2018, second; 2019, 16th; 2020, ninth
– Competing at Regionals or equivalent since 2014
What is next with Mat Fraser and where to find him?
“The hard work paid off. But now, I’m ready to make decisions based on how they affect my family, friends, health, and happiness, not only my performance,” Fraser said. “I’ll always be involved in CrossFit. I just won’t be doing it from the competition floor any longer,” he added.
Fraser also said that he is still figuring things out, but he doesn’t have any plans of opening his own affiliate. He said he is looking forward to taking a step back from competing and allowing his personality to come out more. Fraser is about to start constructing a home gym, which will be shown on the Youtube channel he and his fiancée are launching soon.
Sources of information for this article included:
Tim is the founder of FitAtMidlife.com – an avid gym rat for 30+ years, he’s a reviewer of many, many shoes – and founder of the Speed Bag Gathering – the world’s only gathering of speed bag punching enthusiasts. See more gym reviews at Tim’s YouTube channel.