“I just woke up like this”

Macethantile “Max” Kulati is South Africa’s first wheelchair bodybuilder and is on the rise.

Almost two weeks ago, Macethantile Kulati, better known as Max, was crowned World Champion after representing South Africa in the 2022 IFBB World Championship. Kulati found great success in bodybuilding despite being paralyzed from the waist down. Recently, the bodybuilder shared his story and his journey to where he is today.

Kulati started out as a weightlifter and is not the only professional wheelchair bodybuilder on the continent. He hails from Moeggesukkel in the Eastern Cape and has overcome all odds. There were times when Kulati was refused a taxi because some drivers thought it was too difficult to get him into the car.

All because of one morning when Kulati woke up and couldn’t feel her legs.

“I just woke up like this; that was in 2014,” Kulati said according to News 24.

“It was such a shock to me. I just wanted to pull the covers over my head and not get up. I didn’t even want the door to open and the light to come inside, but one day, I realized that I had to work on myself because crying wouldn’t help.

The journey of Max Kulati

Max Kulati explained that the paralysis was due to a growth on his spine. Doctors operated on his spine to remove fluid, but they believed Kulati would be permanently paralyzed.

According to Kulati, this is not the end as he can do things like wiggle his toes.

“I can move my legs now. I can also wiggle my toes and I can even smell when a fly lands on my legs, that’s how I feel. I just can’t walk because my abdominal muscles are still dead.

Kulati believes he can walk again if he receives the necessary medical support. He specifically mentioned the Aurora Special Care Center.

“The best thing for me to learn to walk again is to be in a swimming pool. Aquatic exercises do wonders for the body, especially the abdominal muscles. If only I had a way to use a swimming pool and someone to help me, I know I can walk again.

Despite the difficulties, Max Kulati will continue to compete on stage and train as a bodybuilder. It will serve as an inspiration to those in the same position or anyone who believes they are not supposed to do something.

“I will compete again soon and I could still compete abroad. Team Max helped me by fundraising so I could go to competitions. I am grateful that there are people who stand behind me every step of the way.

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Teresa E. Burton