This CrossFit Athlete Calls Himself ‘The Fittest Dwarf on Earth’

small person lifting weights
This Athlete Is ‘The Fittest Dwarf on Earth'Hearst Owned

Roughly one in five of us live with some form of what’s usually called ‘a disability’. But difference is not weakness – in fitness, work or life. MH spoke to five men about how the things that once held them back have ultimately unleashed their potential

1 IN UP TO 40,000

Those are the odds of Mikey Witous’s average-height parents having a child with achondroplasia, one of several genetic conditions associated with dwarfism. While Witous has three average-height siblings, he became the family sports star: Inspired by the movie Rudy, he played football as a kid and wrestled competitively enough in high school to be recruited by college teams before a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column, forced him to quit or risk paralysis. He’s also earned a black belt in tae kwon do and dominated at CrossFit.


That’s how often each week Witous trains at his local CrossFit gym in South Bend, Indiana. ‘I believe in rest both mentally and physically,’ he says. ‘I don’t want to burn out, so I make sure I’m enjoying it and not making it feel like work.’


That’s the age Witous was when he attended his first Little People of America event, a place for people of short stature to connect. ‘I realised just being able to look eye to eye with another person, or not receiving stares or laughs or people trying to take your picture, was actually nice.’


That’s the weight the self-proclaimed ‘fittest dwarf on earth’ can back-squat. He can also do 30 pull-ups in a row. And he took first place in the inaugural short-stature division of WheelWOD, an adaptive CrossFit competition. ’I want to show parents of dwarfs that everything will be okay,’ says Witous, who is married to a woman of short stature and has a son. (Two daughters died from genetic complications.) ‘Your child will still have chances like any other child.’


@MikeySwoosh1 is crushing it on Instagram. ‘I am a dreamer, and my parents always made it known that dreams can be reality if you work hard enough,’ he says. ‘My favourite thing my mom ever told me was: Life’s not fair; get over it. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be happy.’

A version of this article appeared in the March 2023 issue of Men's Health.

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