Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body

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9780399173066: Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body

After a decade behind bars for a murder he did not commit, Ryan Ferguson learned that physical strength and confidence are keys to survival – he now shares his strength secrets in Stronger, Faster, Smarter--the smartest, realest, and most doable fitness guide you’ll ever read.
 
How many of us really understand that every moment counts, and that physical strength and confidence enable our mind and spirit to make the most of our lives?  Ryan Ferguson does.  He survived nearly a decade behind bars for a murder he did not commit. 

An innocent collegian imprisoned at nineteen, Ferguson’s disbelief turned to resolve after his father told him: “Son, do whatever you can to get stronger, faster, and smarter.  This is now your number one priority.”

In his darkest hour, even after countless appeals and disappointment, in a place that threatened physical violence, malnutrition, and offered almost no medical aid, Ferguson knew his physical health was paramount. 

In this startlingly elegant, authentic, and inspiring guide, Ferguson shares his simple, universally attainable recipe for health and power.

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About the Author:

Ryan Ferguson spent the last ten years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now at age twenty-nine, Ferguson advocates for wrongly accused people and shares the fitness program that kept him alive and healthy. He has recently appeared on Dateline, Nightline, CBS This Morning, Today, and 48 Hours.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A Note of Gratitude

Many thanks are in order, for without the love, encouragement, support, and help I’ve received along the way, this book, my very first attempt at writing one, would almost certainly not exist.

I would like to first thank the two incredible individuals who played the central role of taking my crazy idea of a book from words handwritten on notebook paper in prison to something that felt real, professional, and, most important, presentable. If Myka Cain and James Dunn, a.k.a. Young Dizzle, hadn’t believed in my drive and vision, this exercise in creativity would likely have been nothing more than a short-lived moment in time. Worse, I’d probably still be staring at notebooks full of chicken scratch and useful information with no clue of how to transfer it onto one of those things I hadn’t seen in a decade . . . a computer! You two helped bring this to life with a lot of hard work, while not once asking for or expecting anything of me. Even more than for getting this book off the ground, I would like to thank both of you for showing me what true friendship is all about. As far as I am concerned, we are, and always will be, a team. I can’t wait for the day you get out of there, James, so we can work, and work out, together once again. As you know, I’d acknowledge more of your editorial skills here, but I don’t want the pettiness of prison to hamper your current existence.

Myka, my beautiful love, what can I even begin to say about you? So many times you have saved me on this book. The hours you’ve put in . . . you are an incredible woman! I don’t know how you do it, but this should be your primary job. Editing, communications, design, technical skills, social media expert, you’ve got it all. And that’s not even talking about your radiant personality and charming smile! I am one lucky man to have you in my life!

I’d also like to thank the individuals who helped on other aspects of this book, primarily reading it over for ways to improve it, as well as those who fought for my freedom and took the time to review the evidence, thus not only believing in my innocence but knowing of it. The reason for thanking both at once is because, more often than not, these people were one and the same. Richard Drew, your name pops up first in my mind, since you have been and continue to be a huge part of my life. I’m very lucky to have a friend who looks out for me as you have. Much love, man!

Ben Hamrah, Ashley Hennerich, Affton Hennerich, Mike Rognlien, Andrew Jenks, Anthony Galloway, Dylan Ratigan, Erin Moriarti, Gale Zimmerman, Jason Flom, and Chip Rosenbloom also come to mind here. I’m grateful for so many aspects of what you’ve done for me and this book. Whether you know it or not, you’ve all contributed a great deal to my success in not only various aspects of this book but also, and more important, my success in finding the freedom that had been unjustly taken from me.

Speaking of the fight for freedom, I must say a huge “thank-you” to the brilliant Doug Johnson and my “lifetime attorney,” friend, adviser, and mentor, Kathleen Zellner. If not for their drive, passion, belief, and superior skill in the field of law, my family, my supporters, and I would likely still be fighting for justice.

Supporters! Yes, I have a special place in my heart for all of the beautiful people out there who have supported my family and me. It is you who showed me that even though there is much evil in the world, particularly from those in positions of authority, there is also an overwhelming abundance of kindness, generosity, and love. Just when I was about to give up on humanity, it is you who bonded together, bringing me the gift of peace and happiness that comes with knowing you’re part of something much larger: a worldwide family!

Which brings me to the last and ultimately most important people in this book, in the fight I’ve endured, and in my life in general: family. Bill Ferguson, Leslie Ferguson, Kelly Ferguson, Don and Kappy Frazier, Alberta Ferguson, Bob and Steve Frazier, the balance of the Fraziers, and the Norrises, as well as the rest of my extended family. Thank you so much to all of you for showing me what family is all about. I could not have made it through this past decade without you. This book wouldn’t be a reality or have even been a dream of mine if you hadn’t chosen to sacrifice, suffer, and endure the pain of the reality that held me hostage. You had the option not to care and I will never forget, or take that for granted. You are everything and I love you so much!

Especially Bill, Leslie, and Kelly Ferguson. No one in this world could have anticipated the brilliance of one family. Both in their fight and their love. I’ve said it a million times, but what’s once more? I would be nothing without you. My life begins and ends with you three. Always. I love you.

Thank you.

—Ryan W. Ferguson

Preface

God asks no man whether he will accept life. That is not the choice. You must take it. The only choice is how.

—HENRY WARD BEECHER

My Life Behind Bars

Hello, my name is Ryan Ferguson. Thank you for picking up my book. This is the story of a young man who came of age within the confines of a maximum-security prison. What makes this story unique is that this man was locked up for a crime he did not commit. In total, he lost nearly 10 years of his life. Friends turned their backs on him. The world called him a murderer and a liar. The experience could have broken him. Yet he chose to fight back and persevere. That man is me, and my story began on March 10, 2004. That was the date I was arrested for murder.

Over the last decade I have experienced more setbacks and defeats than most people experience in a whole lifetime. I have seen the inner workings of the U.S. justice system at its very worst and how the truth comes second to securing a conviction. I never gave up, though. I fought endlessly to prove my innocence, and now I continue to fight for others.

Once convicted, I was faced with two options: fight or flight. I was a terrified 19-year-old kid who had never been in trouble with the law and who suddenly found himself locked up in county jail and later in a maximum-security prison. It didn’t seem possible. After the initial panic attacks subsided and I faced the grim reality of a possible life sentence staring down at me, the only thing I knew how to do was fight. Fight for my future; fight for my life; fight for my mind, my body; and, most important, my innocence. I knew I had to find a way. More than that, I had to find my way. My way to fight through the stresses, the pain, and the fear in order to make myself tougher.

Throughout this torturous journey I have endured many trials and tribulations that probably should have destroyed my strength, my hope, and even my will to carry on. That is not me, though. Backed by an incredible family and an overwhelming set of documented facts, I refused to allow someone to get away with taking my life for something they knew I did not do. As time went on, media attention rose and my case was featured on several national television news programs. Maybe you’ve seen these or know my story from another source. If not, I’ll start with the basic facts. Here’s where it all began: Halloween night 2001.

Around 2:10 a.m. on November 1, 2001, Kent Heitholt, sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune, logged off his computer and left his office in Columbia, Missouri. Within minutes he was savagely attacked and murdered next to his car in the newspaper’s parking lot. A tragic death, Kent’s murder shocked the local community.

Sitting in the empty lot that night was Kent Heitholt’s colleague Michael Boyd. Boyd claimed the two spoke briefly and then he drove away at around 2:20 a.m. Heitholt, a large man standing six feet three and weighing 315 pounds, was struck from behind on his head multiple times and strangled with his own belt. Nothing of value was stolen from the victim, aside from possibly an inexpensive watch and his car keys.

The first people on the scene were two janitors, Shawna Ornt and Jerry Trump. Ornt had gone out for a break and observed two figures beside Heitholt’s car. As suspicion mounted within her, she quickly retraced her steps and got her coworker Trump. The two peered out into the parking lot but couldn’t see anything. Finally, Trump called out and two men stepped out from behind the car. The man at the rear of the car walked toward Ornt and spoke to her, saying, “Somebody’s hurt, get help,” before calmly rejoining the other man and walking away. Ornt got a good look at the man, including his face, before he left the scene. They then called 911 at 2:26 a.m.

Later that night, Shawna Ornt helped police create a composite drawing of the man who had spoken to her. Police considered her the “sole witness.” Her colleague Jerry Trump was also questioned. Trump told the police, and later others, that he couldn’t identify or give a detailed description of the individuals. Meanwhile, Boyd, the last known person to see Kent Heitholt alive, was only briefly questioned by the police and never investigated as a potential suspect.

Investigators discovered a trail of hair, blood, and fingerprints at the crime scene. The killer would likely have been covered in blood. There were also two sets of shoe prints leading away from the scene. A police K-9 unit tracked the scent from those shoe prints to a University of Missouri dorm. For the authorities there seemed to be a trove of evidence to follow, yet the murder of Kent Heitholt remained unsolved.

On the second anniversary of Heitholt’s murder, the Tribune printed an article in hopes of gaining information about the unsolved murder. The article displayed the composite sketch that Shawna Ornt assisted investigators with and urged the community members to speak up if they had information about the murder.

For those in the Columbia Police Department who appeared so eager to crack the case that the facts became secondary, a lead arrived in the form of a troubled young man who read the newspaper article. Charles Erickson, a high school friend of mine, saw the composite sketch and thought it vaguely resembled him. He then appeared to have a dream that he was involved in the murder. On account of these newfound “images,” Erickson began airing his fears and his dreams to his friends, including myself. Needless to say, I clearly remembered that Halloween night. Erickson and I had been at a local bar called By George. We left at closing time; I then drove him home and drove home myself. Erickson’s dreams didn’t make any sense. But his story was taken seriously by at least one friend, John Alder, who reported Erickson’s dreams to the police. Following Alder’s tip, for which there was a $10,000 reward, Erickson was picked up for questioning in March 2004.

What followed was one of the most shocking and disturbing police interrogations ever caught on camera. Erickson had no actual independent knowledge of the crime. He didn’t know what the murder weapon was, how many times Kent Heitholt had been struck, or even where the murder had taken place. And those images from his dreams . . . not one of them fit the actual crime scene. Nevertheless, the police, desperate to clear up a high-profile cold case, proceeded to coerce and spoon-feed Erickson key unique details about the crime.

This, unfortunately, is where I came in. That morning, right outside of Kansas City, Missouri, was like any other. I was attending a history class at Maple Woods Community College and the only thing on my mind was the next day’s exam. I had no worries. I had a decent job, good friends, an amazing family, and what I considered a bright future. All was going well until I left class and headed home. On the way there, two huge guys in an SUV were riding my bumper. This, of course, happens from time to time so I didn’t think anything of it. Just a couple of douches with no respect. Nothing new. Once the lane I was in went from one to two, they stared me down as they passed. I soon turned off into my apartment parking lot, and no sooner had I put the car in park than that very same SUV flew up behind me, essentially blocking me in. My life would never be the same.

What followed was something I don’t think I’ll ever understand. These people I’d never seen before proceeded to treat me like the dirt on their shoes, rushing at me screaming “FBI,” telling me not to move. From the arrest, to locking me in a car handcuffed with no explanation, to instantly and randomly stripping every right I had, things got intense. I didn’t know what to make of it. I even thought for a time I was being arrested for a recent bomb threat at our school. I had no idea what was going on. I was totally and completely lost.

Within an hour I found myself in an interrogation room much like the ones you’d see in a bad movie. I told the police time and time again, over multiple hours of redundant questioning, that yes, I had been at the By George bar with Erickson on Halloween night 2001. I stated the obvious, that I had left around 1:30 a.m., when the bar closed. I told them repeatedly how I’d driven Erickson home before heading home myself. These were the simple facts and I never wavered from them.

In a neighboring room, however, while I sat there doing what I could to help, those same police were apparently doing what they could to wring a confession, right, wrong, or indifferent, from Erickson. Even though he had no personal knowledge of Heitholt’s murder, and had stated multiple times that he’d blacked out and didn’t know what happened after he left the bar, they didn’t seem to care. After many grueling hours of blatant threats and damning lies from the detectives, Erickson folded under the pressure. Assuming the police were being straight up with him about this false evidence, he figured he must have been present at the crime scene and simply told detectives what he thought they wanted to hear.

Over the following months, as Prosecutor Kevin Crane charged the two of us with murder, Erickson’s statements slowly evolved, changing a number of times. Aided by “discovery,” which contained fabricated police reports bolstering Erickson’s supposed guilt and an exhaustive source of details about this crime, Erickson eventually came to believe his dreams were true; he and I had murdered Heitholt in a robbery gone wrong. Due to these false beliefs, and the fear that he must have committed the crime, Erickson panicked and agreed to a plea deal that would frame me for the murder of Heitholt in exchange for a lesser sentence for himself.

From the time of my arrest in March 2004 until my trial in October 2005, I found myself, a person convicted of no crime, trapped inside the county jail. Apparently those who wield the power within our criminal justice system find the Eighth Amendment of our Constitution to be nothing more than a joke. Case in point, the “Honorable” Judge Ellen Roper chose to ignore the whole “excessive bail shall not be required” part of the Constitution and gave me one for $20 million. The largest of its kind in history. We sought accountability for what appeared to be an outright senseless...

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Book Description Tarcher/Putnam,US, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. After a decade behind bars for a murder he did not commit, Ryan Ferguson learned that physical strength and confidence are keys to survival he now shares his strength secrets in Stronger, Faster, Smarter--the smartest, realest, and most doable fitness guide you ll ever read. How many of us really understand that every moment counts, and that physical strength and confidence enable our mind and spirit to make the most of our lives? Ryan Ferguson does. He survived nearly a decade behind bars for a murder he did not commit. An innocent collegian imprisoned at nineteen, Ferguson s disbelief turned to resolve after his father told him: Son, do whatever you can to get stronger, faster, and smarter. This is now your number one priority. In his darkest hour, even after countless appeals and disappointment, in a place that threatened physical violence, malnutrition, and offered almost no medical aid, Ferguson knew his physical health was paramount. In this startlingly elegant, authentic, and inspiring guide, Ferguson shares his simple, universally attainable recipe for health and power. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780399173066

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Book Description Tarcher/Putnam,US, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. After a decade behind bars for a murder he did not commit, Ryan Ferguson learned that physical strength and confidence are keys to survival he now shares his strength secrets in Stronger, Faster, Smarter--the smartest, realest, and most doable fitness guide you ll ever read. How many of us really understand that every moment counts, and that physical strength and confidence enable our mind and spirit to make the most of our lives? Ryan Ferguson does. He survived nearly a decade behind bars for a murder he did not commit. An innocent collegian imprisoned at nineteen, Ferguson s disbelief turned to resolve after his father told him: Son, do whatever you can to get stronger, faster, and smarter. This is now your number one priority. In his darkest hour, even after countless appeals and disappointment, in a place that threatened physical violence, malnutrition, and offered almost no medical aid, Ferguson knew his physical health was paramount. In this startlingly elegant, authentic, and inspiring guide, Ferguson shares his simple, universally attainable recipe for health and power. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780399173066

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