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Kidney Disease Forces Wheeler Retirement

He?s said he?s retiring in the past?more than once, in fact?but this time it?s for good.

Reported May 14, 2003

Kidney Disease Forces Wheeler Retirement

He’s said he’s retiring in the past—more than once, in fact—but this time it’s for good. Due to a congenital kidney ailment, Ken (Flex) Wheeler has officially called it quits from bodybuilding competition.
One of the greatest bodybuilder’s of all-time, whose resume includes a record five wins at the Ironman Pro and four at the Arnold Classic, Wheeler has suffered from various health ailments over the past few years. He spent two weeks in the hospital after the 2002 Mr. Olympia, then fell ill again after returning to the stage for the Ironman Pro in February 15.
Soon after, the 37-year-old Wheeler was forced to begin dialysis due to a condition termed Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which involves the formation of scar tissue in the internal structure of the kidneys.
An important note here: the medical community has not been able to determine the cause of the condition, and it is more prevalent in black people. It is not caused by anabolic drug usage. Wheeler says both of his parents have the disease. He’s now hoping to find a matching donor, in hopes of having a kidney transplant.
Wheeler, who turned pro in 1992 after winning the USA, is in good spirits
, and has been pushing the sale of his book, "Flex Ability: Flex Wheeler’s Story of Strength and Survival," which can be purchased on
To find out more about Wheeler’s condition, and what’s happening in his life, log on to

TEPER’S TALES: Don Youngblood, who upset Vince Taylor en route to winning the Masters Olympia last year, says he will not be able to defend his title in 2003 due to a torn triceps suffered shortly after his victory last year…. Taylor says he will not be competing. Johnny Stewart, who earned his pro card with a victory at the Masters Nationals last season, is making his pro debut at this year’s Masters Olympia, to be held in August in Charlotte, North Carolina…Kris Dim, who won the Lightheavyweight class at the USA and was second to Mike Valentino at the Nationals, says he’s 228, 12 weeks out, and is happy with his progress…Vinnie Galanti, third in the LH division in 2000, says he’ll be back on stage at the Las Vegas competition at the end of July…Richard Jones, the Shawn Ray look-alike who dominated the bodybuilding scene in California before retiring in 1997, is also scheduled to compete. Jones, a 5’7", 196-pound Deputy Sheriff in Orange County, returned to the stage in 2002, scoring unanimous victories in both the Police Olympics and the Los Angeles Championships…former NPC USA Bantamweight champion Randy Leppala, out of competition since 1997, is making a comeback at the Masters Nationals in July. The 47-year-old from Minnesota will also be making his initial appearance at the Team Universe three weeks later.

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