Joshua Rucker: Adaptive CrossFit Athlete and Bodybuilder - Kill Cliff

Joshua Rucker: Adaptive CrossFit Athlete and Bodybuilder

Joshua Rucker is paralyzed from the belly-button down, but that hasn't kept him from living our his dreams and maintaining a high level of positivity towards life. In September 2002, A car accident that resulted in his vehicle flipping 14 times and Rucker was pronounced dead at the scene. After being in a coma for two weeks, Joshua thankfully survived the accident and thus began a new chapter in his life. 

Rucker details his recovery and how he was able to fall back in love with sports and fitness despite his injury in our Q&A with him. Continue reading to learn more about his inspiring story. 

KC: Were you athletic growing up? When did fitness become a priority for you? 

JR:  I grew up with the dream of being a professional athlete. My Dad trained me for years to get there. Before my accident, I made varsity football as a freshman in high school. After the accident, I came across wheelchair bodybuilding and also began playing wheelchair basketball. I originally attended Oklahoma State University on scholarship for wheelchair basketball but ended up transferring to the University of Texas at Arlington. I was forced to eat lean because of infections. After that, I was introduced to bodybuilding through a friend. I am currently #17 in the world of the professional division of wheelchair bodybuilding.

KC: Was it hard to motivate yourself after your accident?

JR: Now, it’s my life, but at first it was a little rough. I gave up a little bit. I was mean to the therapy doctors. I was previously a varsity football player. When I lost my lower extremities, I thought I couldn’t be the athlete I once was. People question how I continue to be this athlete, but it’s in my blood and how I was raised. I don’t know anything else.

KC: What got you into CrossFit?

JR: Rush club reached out to me for an event with adaptive athletes. It was a CrossFit event and I didn’t really know anything about CrossFit but was willing to research the workouts for the event. They gave away my spot because I didn’t know the sport. That motivated me to give up bodybuilding and go all in on CrossFit. I trained for nine months for Wodapolooza and qualified. I was one of six athletes to compete in the adaptive athlete division and won that division in 2018. That rejection from the CrossFit event motivated me to dominate CrossFit.

KC: What are your goals for the rest of the year? Any more competitions on the horizon?

JR: I qualified for the Wheelwod open and competed in the regionals and nationals. One of my national’s submissions wasn’t up to their standards and I wasn’t able to redo it, so I won’t be at nationals sadly. I’m training for a bodybuilding show called the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. It’s not a large group of us in wheelchair bodybuilding so I try to continue to help out with the group. 


You’ve got to work harder than your quit. When you want to quit, it’s time to work harder. If you want something bad, you’ve got to take it because nothing is given to you. You have to push past the hardships in your life whether it’s in your everyday life or in your workouts.

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