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It’s hard to remember a time when Mat Fraser wasn’t dominating the fitness scene, but like all of us, he had to start somewhere. His journey to the top is not unlike his competitors’: it has taken endless hard work, dedication, and the strength to push through the hard times.

We did a little homework and scrolled back through his Instagram posts — way back — and there are a few in particular that really stood out. Here he is at 13 years old, snatching 50kg in the 62kg weight class. This was 2003. Look at that buzz cut!

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If you’ve followed Fraser over the years, you’ve probably heard him talk about the back injury that eventually required surgery. This was in 2009. Yes, the man who once suffered a broken back has now won the CrossFit Games three times.

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Fraser showed talent in the sport from the word go. Here he is at his first competition, back in 2012. He walked away with $1,000.

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The pros make it look so easy that we tend to forget the years of literal blood, sweat, and tears they put into their sport. Fraser has come a long way, and it goes without saying his journey has inspired all of us.

Main image: Mat Fraser/Instagram