When Charles King crosses a busy street, he calls upon his ears rather than his eyes to determine when it’s safe to step off the curb.
King, 71, happens to be blind. He also happens to have type 2 diabetes. What he lacks in vision and pancreas function, he makes up for in strength. Quite literally.
He’s the oldest blind powerlifter in the United States and has multiple gold medals to his name as a member of the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA).
“I can’t see the world, but I’m being all I can be in the world,” he explains.
King didn’t start exercising until he was almost 60 years old, proving that it’s never too late to tend to your health and be who you want to be.
At one time, the West Philadelphia native determined that he didn’t have any “fight” left in him, so he threw in the proverbial towel.
He turned to alcohol and drugs, and ended up on the streets after going blind at the age of 39 due to a genetic condition. A severe case of frostbite led him to treatment at a VA medical center, which is where he began his journey to sobriety and learned how to navigate the world—from how to make phone calls to how to ride a city bus—without sight.
Then, his world became even darker than blindness. After reconnecting with his family, he lost his 14-year-old daughter in her sleep. Following that came a prostate cancer diagnosis and a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Through it all, he maintained his sobriety and handled each blow with the help of his wife, Gloria, and by focusing on the things that were in his control: his nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress management tools.
King learned that maturity isn’t measured by age. It’s measured by a person’s willingness to change and embrace new ideas about what it means to truly live. And, along the way, he discovered a new kind of love: self-love.
“In spite of all the hardships and medical and physical issues I’ve been through, I love me today,” he says.
Ready to see King in action? Click the video below to learn how he guided himself to good health even without sight.
If you’d like to help Charles King compete in powerlifting and CrossFit events, consider making a donation to his GoFundMe page.