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Mark Henry competes in weightlifting in the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Mark Henry is probably one of the best representatives WWE can have among the wrestlers on their roster. He's a blue-chip athlete who's arguably the strongest man in the world, maybe even the strongest man ever to walk the face of this planet.
Some people have excelled in weightlifting, powerlifting or the more esoteric "strength athletics" ("World's Strongest Man" competitions). Henry is one of the few to be world class in all three.
Even when he had been in WWE and out of competition for years, taking several months off for training was enough for him to win the 2002 Arnold Strongman classic against world-class competition. He's the only man ever to cleanly lift the famed Thomas Inch dumbbell (173 pounds with a 2.5" diameter handle) straight up over his head (see the video here).
Before he blew out his knee, he could do more than just lift. He could dunk a basketball, run a 5.2 second 40-yard dash and do a full split. He is the type of athlete that comes along once in a lifetime, if not much less.
Throughout his run in WWE, Mark Henry hasn't really had any disciplinary issues. Instead, when Henry has been presented with conflict, cooler heads have usually prevailed.
When Smackdown head writer Michael Hayes reportedly told him "I'm more of a n----r than you are" while drunk at a party, Henry went to the human resources department instead of escalating the situation. When he was ribbed in a mean-spirited way to punish the fans who showed up to poorly-attended Smackdown taping, he considered quitting over the lack of respect and yelled at John Laurinaitis, but calmed down and was not close to as angry as those behind the curtain (who disappeared before he returned) expected him to be.
Meanwhile, Henry has also been more vocal about the evils of drugs in sports than most wrestlers. Shortly after the Benoit murder-suicide, he gave an interview to local newspaper the Austin American-Statesman (which is no longer on their website, but is archived via contemporary forum posts including one at The Burning Hammer) that was somewhat infamous for his comments on drugs in WWE:
"Henry doesn't ride with other wrestlers to any World Wrestling Entertainment matches. A husband and father of a 21-month-old son, Henry said one reason he drives solo is for safety, that he has less chance of getting in an accident that might cause an injury that could affect his career. The other reason, he said, is that he doesn't want to be in a car if recreational or performance-enhancing drugs belonging to another wrestler are discovered by law enforcement officials.
'If they get caught, then I'd be (considered) guilty, too. If we get pulled over, we're both going down,' Henry said."
Henry's attitude about the subject has been very consistent, going back to at least 1991, when Sports Illustrated published an article about the then 19-year-old Olympic weightlifting prospect. In addition to talking about his feelings on drugs, the relevant passage also goes into why it's not hard to believe that he's telling the truth:
"'He may be the strongest man in the world right now,' says U.S. national coaching director Lyn Jones, who is well aware that Henry is still developing his skills. 'He is the greatest natural talent I have ever seen.'
Henry wants it understood that he comes by his extraordinary strength naturally. 'I hate drugs.' he says. 'I drank a beer once and threw up. We broke my mom's cigarettes every day until she quit. I didn't even know what steroids were until two years ago, and I'll take a test every day if someone wants me to. I can't wait until they start the really refined tests, because everybody thinks I'm on some kind of drugs.'
Jones is among the coaches who are convinced that Henry is clean. They were further assured by a second opinion four months ago when Henry accidentally dropped a 352-pound weight on his foot and suffered only a bruise. The doctor who examined the X-rays of the foot was dumbstruck by the thickness of Henry's bones and the density of his muscles.
His body fat has been measured at 22 percent, which means if you took all the fat off him, he would still weigh 289 pounds. Henry bench-presses 542 pounds, squats 895, runs 40 yards in 5.2 seconds, dunks a basketball, can sink into a split and can belt out a Baptist hymn in a voice so sweet that you would swear some diminutive tenor is hiding behind him. 'Singing,' Henry says. 'Girls like that, too.'"
On top of all that, he's just a nice, funny guy that knew exactly what to do when he was a talk show regular in the run up to the 1996 Summer Olympics. WWE would be privileged to have Mark Henry represent them as their World Heavyweight Champion.