After a tragic accident left him paralysed from the waist down, Ephraim Gudgeon of Ngāti Porou is taking a new path in the world of wheelchair bodybuilding, winning the men's amateur wheelchair division at the Toronto Pro Supershow in Canada.
Pulling through adversity, Gudgeon is making the most of life through bodybuilding.
“Just because you're in a chair, or just because you suffer from any type of disability doesn't mean that life's over. You can have goals to achieve, you can still be healthy...life isn't over,” he says.
In 2017, Gudgeon injured his T12 vertebrae after jumping off a waterfall near Tauranga, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.
“Ever since my accident I've cautioned other young fellas, 'think about your actions, because every action has a consequence- enjoy yourself, have fun but just know what your limits are'.”
He won the NZ wheelchair bodybuilding national competition in November and after taking out the Toronto IFBB Pro Qualifier competition, he can now compete on the professional bodybuilding circuit.
“It was actually in hospital really. I was going through my social media feed and I came across this massive guy in a wheelchair with his shirt off and he was a wheelchair bodybuilder and when I saw that it was game over and I knew that's what I wanted to do,” says Gudgeon.
The 26-year old says the support of his wife, his brother and his family is what drives him.
“They just helped me realise that I can still be happy even though I can't walk and that I can still do normal things. I'm still a normal fulla, I can still play sports, I can still have fun, I can still be happy, enjoy time with my whānau, I just do it differently now.”
Gudgeon is looking to build more size and strength to compete on the pro circuit in the future.