Meet 27-year-old Vince Brasco – a ripped dwarf bodybuilder now set to be crowned the world’s shortest firefighter by Guinness World Records. Vince, who prefers to be known as a dwarf rather than a little person, bagged the accolade for his career in the life-saving role, and also has 40,000 fans on Instagram.
He was born with acondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, and stands at just 4ft 1in tall. But despite his height Vince, from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, learnt how to be the proverbial bigger man from an early age after experiencing years of nasty comments by cruel bullies in high school who called him ‘midget’.
To prove his tormentors wrong and show he was capable of achieving just as much as anyone else, Vince got into weightlifting and soon began developing some seriously-impressive muscles. After eight years of bodybuilding, Vince, who has been nicknamed the ‘Mini Hulk’, can bench press almost three times his body weight and has stepped on stage in front of huge crowds at several bodybuilding competitions.
Vince, who has carved out a niche as a champion bodybuilder while working full-time as a firefighter said: ‘The bullies made me stronger. I have proved I can do whatever I want with my body.
‘I started bodybuilding to show what my body can do, even if I do have dwarfism. My height doesn’t define me and I have learnt to work with what I have to achieve the best results I can.
‘I absolutely love my job and am just as capable as the guys I work with. Because I lift in the gym I can carry the heavy ladders and I can work with the hose.
‘I have always had a positive attitude but even I still I have achieved things that were beyond my wildest dreams when I was a teenager. I have been ambitious and I want to show other people who is different that you can be whoever you want to be in life.’
Vince is the only member of his family to be born with acondroplasia, or any form of dwarfism. The condition affects only one in every 25,000 births and is caused by a genetic mutation.
His short stature led to Vince being bullied by classmates throughout his school years and often endured name-calling because of his height. But Vince said he never got angry or retaliated and instead used to correct those who chose to make fun of him.
He said he prefers to be referred to as a dwarf, a person with dwarfism or the increasingly common ‘little person’ and has discouraged anyone from using the word ‘midget’.
Vince said: ‘My parents knew I’d be born with dwarfism before I was born, but I didn’t realize I was different until I noticed how all of the other children were much taller than me when I was growing up.
‘I did have to put up with a lot of name calling and pointing. It was worst in high school and I was called a midget many times.
‘I never used to bite back, I learnt to be the bigger person and take the moral high ground. It was those experiences that gave me the drive to want to see what I can achieve with my body.’
Vince landed his job at the Greensburg Fire Department in 2007, aged 15, initially as a junior firefighter and following three years of rigorous training earned his stripes as a senior firefighter at the age of 18.
A year into the job Vince deciding to make the brave decision to join his local gym, which he admits was a ‘scary’ step for him to take as he feared people would make fun of him.
Happily, Vince’s positive personality saw him quickly make friends with the gym’s most dedicated bodybuilders, who taught him how to lift heavy and get big.
Over the course of the last eight years Vince has dedicated himself to training five times a week to build muscle and try to lift the heaviest weights he can.
Vince might only weigh 110lb but he can bench press 285lbs and squat 225lbs. His extreme strength for his size has led to him developing a physique good enough for amateur bodybuilding competitions.
‘I have built a lot of mass and took part in my first stage show two years ago’, said Vince.
‘Getting up to stand on stage was a huge thing for me initially because I was worried people would think I had no right to be up there.
‘My whole goal is not to get first place in a show, it’s to prove to people that you achieve whatever you want to achieve if you try. I hope to inspire people to be ambitious.’
Vince has documented his journey in the gym on Instagram and has gained almost 40,000 followers thanks to his inspirational posts all about health and fitness regime.
Vince’s greatest achievement in bodybuilding so far came at the Pittsburg Pro competition, in 2016, where he cliched 2nd place in the bantam weight class after going toe-to-toe with regular sized men.
And later this year Vince will be handed yet another accolade, he said, when he’s crowned as the Guinness World Record holder for being the world’s shortest firefighter.
Vince said he has received word from Guinness that he will soon officially claim the crown and will be included in the 2021 edition of the Guinness World Records Book.
Vince, who is single, said: ‘It’s a great feeling of course and it will be made official soon.
‘When I started out I just wanted to prove I can still do the job just as well as any other firefighter. I love my job because I love helping people.’
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