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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan’s John Mack overcomes all the obstacles

Aug 04, 2022 01:31PM ● By Rachel Aubrey

What does NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and South Jordan have in common? The answer:  John Mack, who competed in his second season on the reality television show. Mack’s run through the obstacle course aired on July 11, for which he earned $10,000 for climbing to the top of the “mega wall.”

With so much talent among his competitors, Mack was able to create a game plan by watching them all run the obstacle course prior to his run. A great warm up left him feeling strong and ready, with adrenaline going through him all the while. 

“I knew I had to go fast and be efficient on the obstacles,” Mack said. “My strategy was to get on and off an obstacle as quick as possible.”

Although he does not have the typical ninja warrior build, the average ninja being 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing approximately 160 pounds, Mack says that his 6 foot 5, 190-pound build gives him an advantage, allowing him to make moves others can’t necessarily make, being able to reach further and longer, also giving him a longer stride over certain obstacles.

“I’m kind of an outlier,” Mack said.

Outlier may be the perfect way to describe Mack, who at a young age experienced a lot of physical and emotional trauma.  Like most kids, Mack was involved in lots of different sports, football being his favorite. His football career didn’t last long, however, as he suffered a lot of physical trauma due to head concussions. Doctors at that time advised that contact sports were no longer the best for Mack. 

Mack and his dad happened upon an episode of America Ninja Warrior on TV and the rest is history. Father and son took the next step and began building obstacles in their backyard. It was through ninja warrior courses that Mack was able to work through the emotional trauma of losing his dad to suicide. Mack said that what is now his passion, helped get him through some of his lowest points.

“It was hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” Mack said. “Ninja warrior was my outlet.”

Mack would take to his backyard obstacle courses to help work through the grief, going for hours and hours, until he was able to gain even the slightest amount of clarity. Since they discovered ninja warrior together, every obstacle Mack does, on screen or off, he does in memory of his dad.

“I miss my dad every day,” Mack said.

Despite the loss of his dad, Mack has received incredible support from his mom. Immediately following the death of his dad, Mack and his mother became very close and relied on each other so much for emotional support as Mack is the oldest of four children.

“She taught me how to work hard and how to do things even when I don’t want to do them,” Mack said. “If I was never taught that lesson, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Not only did support come from family and friends, it also came from Karson Voiles, owner of Ninja Warehouse and past competitor on several seasons of American Ninja Warrior. The two met when Mack was 13 years old, after the passing of his dad. 

“All of us use ninja as therapy in one way or another,” Voiles said. “Ninja has a funny way of building confidence.”

The confidence needed to work through loss and also prepare to be on national television is something Mack committed to when he was hired at Ninja Warehouse in 2019. The opportunity to train and work with the younger ninjas is something Mack uses as motivation to be better inside and outside the gym.

A mentor in his own right, Mack looked up to Voiles the way some young ninjas look up to Mack now. Voiles said he has seen his relationship with Mack come full circle, first as mentee, now as mentor.

Seven-year-old Emmet Gibson began attending Ninja Warehouse Summer camp in August of 2021. He enjoyed it so much he asked his mom, Leigh Gibson, if he could take more classes once summer camp ended. He now sees Mack at the warehouse weekly.

“Coach John is always motivating me to do better and telling me stuff I can do to do better,” Emmet said. 

Emmet and his family watched the first episode of the past season of America Ninja Warrior featuring Mack at the nearby Megaplex. Joined by other families and ninjas in training, they were all cheering for their coach.

With the money he won, Mack plans to continue working towards an MBA and eventually open his own ninja warrior gym. Mack is currently enrolled at Salt Lake Community College. 

For more information about Ninja Warehouse visit λ