Strongman, althlete, marathon runner, survivor. Pontypool’s Mike Williams raised £50,000 in 25 years for cancer research while struggling with his own demons. His new book shares his story for the first time. He spoke to reporter SAM FERGUSON about his life.

“I hope that by telling my story I’ll help other people. I want to help people see that abuse doesn’t necessarily mean the end. You can turn something destructive into something positive, which is what I’ve tried to do my entire life. 

I’ve written a book about my life. No one knows why I did what I did, and it’s time for me to tell people.

I was raped as a child at seven years of age. 

After it happened in some woods near my home, I ran home and told my mother straight away, but nothing was done about it. I was very young, so I thought it was normal. But as an adult looking back now, I think people should know. 

Later on I was bullied at school and beaten up by a teacher when I was 14 years old. After that I just couldn’t go back to school, so I dropped out and fell out with my dad because of it.

I ended up moving out of the house because he didn’t believe what had happened to me. We didn’t speak for eight years. 

Shortly after we started speaking again, he died of cancer. That’s why I started doing all my events and fundraising for cancer research.

The person who raped me is dead and the teacher who beat me up is retired, but I’ve had to live with what they did to me and channel that destructive energy into something good.

Something like that could have ended with me going to prison, killing someone or doing drugs. But I didn’t do any of those things.

I’ve raised £50,000 in 25 years for cancer research, and I think all those people who donated should know the truth.

My book is called The Truth, because that’s what it is. I’ve had 50 copies printed and, so far, I’ve had a really good response. 

I’ve done so much with my life that sometimes I look back on it and I can’t believe it.

By 2015 I achieved my goal of raising £50,000 for cancer research. I’ve run three London marathons, and I was third in the world at power lifting. 

I’m originally from Pontypool. I’ve always done all of my charity work in this area because I’ve got a strong connection here. 

After I moved out of my dad’s house at 14 I was very depressed. I saw a picture of Arnold Swarzenger and thought, I want to be that big. 

I had moved in with my sister, and she went out and bought me a set of weights and a book on lifting. I’ve never looked back.

The seven years in between getting raped and leaving school were tough. I had to go and chop trees down out the back for our firewood.

Kids in school used to call me ‘wood chop’ and I used to get bullied in school.

But the wood-cutting built up my strength and when I went to the gym I was so much stronger than everyone else.

At 14 I walked into a gym and dead-lifted 220kg. The owner called me a freak, but he got me into lifting then and helped me a lot.

I started the charity stuff in 1990. I wanted to raise money for cancer research following the death of my father. He died in 1988 shortly after we started talking again.

It started with the truck pulls. I ended up doing 22 over the years. From double deckers and single deckers to articulated lorries. 

It’s definitely as hard as it looks. You have to be so strong in your back and legs, which I was.

The very first truck pull I did was in 1995. I trained for 18 tonnes, but when it pulled up it weighed 22 tonnes. I almost died doing that, I only weighed 15 stone. I almost had a heart attack in the ambulance afterwards and broke my thumb, too.

The one I’ll always remember is raising money for little Amber Heartland in 2003. 

She was a lovely little girl, only six. She had a brain disorder and everyone in Cwmbran was raising money for her. 

I was going through a divorce at the time but when I read about that little girl I knew I had to help her. So I met the family and trained for three months to pull a double-decker bus in Asda’s car park, Cwmbran.

When I found out she died while getting the treatment she needed in the USA, I just felt so bad. I feel bad about it now. She shouldn’t be there, you see. Why didn’t they just take me, rather than her? I still cry at her grave sometimes.

It just destroyed me, but I had to keep going.

I did two London marathons, the Great North Run and a skydive too. All the money went to the same cause.

I had two mental breakdowns over what happened to me when I was a kid, but both times I got myself back on track and got myself focused.

I know there are always people worse off than me and I need to help them to help myself.

I was heavily into powerlifting from the age of 14 until I was 39. 

I was ranked third in the world, lifted for Wales nine times and won Welsh championships. I even broke the Welsh dead-lifting record of 320kg.

I’ve never taken drugs and in 2005 I opened Lean Machine in Risca, which I owned for five years.

My past has always meant that I need to keep training, keep healthy.

Otherwise I could go down a very bad path.

In my 40s I got into boxing competitively. I had seven fights and I won every single one, with all the money going to cancer research again. 

When I fight I’m there to kill. I’m fighting my rapist. That’s what made me so good as a boxer.

After my seventh and last fight in 2015 I finally reached my £50,000 total. They even gave me a belt. I wanted to hit £50,000 by the time I was 50, but I got there at 49.

But I became seriously ill after that last fight. 

No-one knew what was wrong with me, but my bowel shut down and eventually they diagnosed me with clostridium difficle.

I was within a few days of wearing a colostomy bag for the rest of my life, but they managed to get me the right medication and I recovered. 

My past has been eating me up inside or a long time. I’ve been seeing a counsellor and he said to get it off my mind, which is why I’ve written the book.

I feel so much better. People have been great with their feedback and support. They just can’t believe I did what I did after what happened to me.

I was a bit worried about it, to be honest. 

I thought people would judge me. But I’ve done nothing wrong. I didn’t deserve to get raped at seven, and I didn’t deserve to get bullied or beaten up by a teacher at school.

I didn’t’ deserve to fall out with my father over it and miss out on those last years with him. I left home when I was 14 over this.

It goes without saying that the book was really hard to write. 
I finished it in February this year.

I’ve spent £3,000 to get this out there, but I don’t want the money back. I just want people to know. All the money from the books, which cost £8 each, is going to charity.

I want to help other people who have been through what I’ve been through. That’s what it’s all about. 

I haven’t done anything with charity since my illness. But this is going to get some money for charity. I’m going to keep going with raising money until the day I die. 

If I can save one person, it will be enough.”

*Mike Williams has ordered another 30 copies of his book, 'The Truth'. He has given the South Wales Argus permission to include his phone number.

Each copy costs £8 and all proceeds will be donated to cancer research.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of his book, please contact him directly on 07736587809.*