“Was Leaking Protein in My Urine”: Pro Bodybuilder Flex Wheeler Once Opened Up About Being Confronted With a Severe Illness at 14

Published 10/21/2022, 7:45 PM EDT

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If we think about massive bodybuilders who didn’t win any Mr. Olympia titles, Flex Wheeler comes in the top 5 of them. However, other than Mr. Olympia, Wheeler has won several other global titles. He has an accomplished 5-time Ironman Pro winner, and a 4-time Arnold Classic winner, and has won the France Grand Prix, Night of Champions, South Beach Pro Invitational, and Hungarian Grand Prix.

The way wasn’t easy for the pro-bodybuilder. He had several health issues from his teenage with him. However, leaving everything behind, competing for a long time, and leaving a mark is an achievement of its own. In a 2016 interview, Wheeler revealed the kidney disease he had when he was just 14 years old.


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Flex Wheeler battled his kidney disease throughout his career

Flex Wheeler did not have a good relationship with his health throughout his life. He revealed in an interview in 2016 that had to face a major kidney problem. Moreover, it persisted throughout his career. According to the interview, he suffered from FSGS (Focus Segmental Glomerulosclerosis), a condition in which the glomeruli get developed with scar tissues that restrict proper filtration of blood in the kidney.


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The interviewer asked, “You actually mentioned your kidney disease. I read that you know; you have been plagued by it your whole career and you have been battling it, right? Flex replied, “When I was 14, uh, was the first time that they found out that I was leaking uh protein in my urine and that’s a tell-tell sign now for that disease FSGS.”

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He added, “Now they know once a person is leaking protein in the urine, they need to do more in detailed tests to see what’s going on. Well, back then they didn’t know about the disease wasn’t that famous. Not too many people had it at that time.”

Flex’s kidney disease led to the amputation of his leg


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Flex has a history of unclear retirement. Firstly, he retired in 2000 but continued competing till 2003. Moreover, he came back and competed in the 2017 Mr. Olympia. His kidney has plagued him all his life. In addition, in 2019, the effect of dysfunctional kidneys went to another level. The arteries began to get blocked. Blood circulation became impossible.

However, he went to several doctors, but nobody could properly diagnose him. Eventually, in 2019, it was against his life or his leg. Flex chose life. With a very heavy heart, Flex decided to get his leg amputated, and he got through the darkest phase of his life.


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Living and conquering the world with such a disease is phenomenal. Flex has set a totally another level of work out here. He has surely inspired millions of people with chronic diseases that they can also achieve anything they want in this world.


Written by:

Kaivalya R Pillai


One take at a time

Dr. Kaivalya R Pillai is a US Sports author working at EssentiallySports. An accomplished academician, he recently completed his doctorate degree in pharmacy.
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Edited by:

Pritam Priyedarshi