Letcher County man named finalist in ‘Mr. Health & Fitness’ competition

WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) – 40-year old former coal miner Riley Cook of Whitesburg has been named a finalist in Muscle and Fitness magazine’s 2021 Mr. Health & Fitness competition after getting laid off from the coal mines and recovering from an ailment that nearly cost him his life.

“As soon as I got laid off [from the mines] I got kidney stones,” said Cook. “I got rushed into surgery and I ended up dying. I stayed in the hospital for a month and after my month was up the doctor said I wasn’t allowed to do anything for another six to eight months.”

After Cook’s surgery and recovery, his family pushed him to get back into weightlifting, which Cook claims saved his life.

“I don’t know if I’m more excited or my family is,” said Cook. “My wife is my main gym partner. She works out with me every day and she’s really the one that got me from surgery to getting back into this.”

As a father of four, Cook says he pushed even harder to set an example for his children and to teach them to never give up.

“You have to push yourself as a parent,” said Cook. “You have to show them that it doesn’t matter if you’re 25-years old or 40-years old. You can still keep going and still do something for your family.”

Along with potentially being named ’2021 Mr. Health & Fitness’, Cook has a chance to win $20,000 and a shot to be on the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine. Names such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Muhammad Ali, and 50 Cent have graced the cover of the magazine and Cook has a chance to add his name to the illustrious list as well as give back to his community and the next generation.

“If I win, I plan on opening a gym,” said Cook. “A gym for kids around here who can’t afford to come to this rec center or can’t pay for jiu-jitsu classes. I want to help them out.”

Voting for the 2021 Mr. Health & Fitness competitions begins on June 14th and Cook hopes his community and the entire region will support him. To vote for Riley Cook, visit Muscle and Fitness magazine’s website or Cook’s Mr. Health & Fitness Dashboard.

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