The most resonant aspect of American Ninja Warrior lies in the story behind each of the people who work their tails off year round to compete in a seemingly improbably obstacle course. During an interview with American Ninja Warrior’s Akbar Gbajabiamila, Kristine Leahy, and Matt Iseman, I asked them about being part of a program where these universal stories of adversity and triumph are at the forefront.
Matt Iseman opened the response with “it’s a new story, every year” and mentioned stuntman Flip Rodriguez. an American Ninja Warrior vet who wore a mask on the show because, as he revealed this season, he was sexually abused as a child.
“When he first came on, he was 21 years old and we’ve seen him grow up as an athlete, grow up as a competitor, now grow up as a man (and) reveal something so personal to help others who are going through what he’s gone through,” said Iseman. “You see the power of this show to change not just on the course but off the course.”
Akbar Gbajabiamila spoke to Rodriguez and told him how that admission would have its share of positive repercussions, especially to people who have experienced sexual abuse in their own lives. “To me, that was the most powerful moment on American Ninja Warrior.”
Click on the video below as Iseman. Leahy, and Gbajabiamila talk about Flip Rodriguez:
Catch new installments of American Ninja Warrior on Monday, August 22 (NBC, 8 pm et/pt).