The Beast, otherwise known as Adebayo Akinfenwa, is a big guy. He weighs in at 16 stone, which for Americans is along the lines of 224 pounds. When we say big, we’re not just talking about his stature, which is remarkable: he’s known as world’s biggest professional soccer player, and the FIFA ‘17 video game series has him ranked as the strongest player. But it’s also his personality that’s larger than life. There are few pro soccer players, in the UK or elsewhere, who have his easy charm and infectious laughter. It’s won him a great deal of popularity on social media and in the press. There may be something to the ironic tension of being called The Beast, while displaying a totally disarming demeanor.
Recently, we caught up with Akinfenwa, because in addition to being a goal-scoring machine as a forward on the League Two English football team, the Wycombe Wanderers, he also loves cars. “I’m into cars, I’m into fast cars,” Akinfenwa reports. He’s a big fan of the Lamborghini Huracan, but when asked about his dream car, he says, “As I’ve gotten older, my taste has matured.” For an everyday car, he’s drawn to Aston Martins for a more understated kind of luxury. “You could take it to a nice, elegant place or you could take it to the hood. I like black cars, with tinted windows and black rims, that night rider, stealth mode.”
Akinfenwa is also a family man with a brood of five kids so he doesn’t own flashy cars. Instead he’s opted for a Range Rover and an Audi Q7, which easily accommodate his family. “They dirty up the cars, they’re kids,” he says. He loves being a father because, he admits, he’s just a big kid himself. However, when the kiddies aren’t around, Akinfenwa is free to drive whatever he wants. On one of his favorite trips to the US, he and his three brothers all rented Camaros and drove from LA to Vegas. “It was the best drive and it took us six and a half hours, because were were constantly pulling off to look at things.”
This weekend he and his brothers are back in LA to enjoy the sunshine and attend the BET Awards. They wanted to show up to the ceremony in style, so Akinfenwa will be driving a Ferrari. It wasn’t easy for him to decide on a car. “I love the Huracán, I love real American muscle. There are so many different cars to love, and I don’t like to be put in a box,” he expresses.
None of this is surprising given his MO, which Akinfenwa calls Beast Mode — the mindset he attributes to his success. He has even written a book that will come out in November, chronicling the tough journey of his soccer career. “It’s really about defying limitations and realizing your aspirations or dreams. When you look at me, automatically, people always see my size, and I get attention for being the world’s strongest football player, but it’s my mind that’s my strongest asset,” he says. Akinfenwa has spoken about discrimination he experienced and about rejections he received early in his career. “It’s my mindset that allows me to persevere through the hard stuff, not just going to the gym,” he explains. “Like mums, all mums, they get up everyday and defy limitations. They keep going, no matter what. That’s what beast mode is all about.”
These days Akinfenwa finds himself at awards ceremonies and he’s starting to audition for roles in Hollywood movies — “I think I’d be a good a superhero, though maybe I’d like to play a villain” — but he’s still baffled by his fame. “I don’t see myself as a celebrity. Even now I live in South London, my area, and people ask me, ‘What are you doing here?’ But where else would I want to be? I’m a simple person who likes what he likes.”