TV

Las Vegan trained everyday to be on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ — VIDEO

Updated July 1, 2017 - 6:40 pm

There’s determination, then there’s whatever courses through Jelani Allen.

The 21-year-old “American Ninja Warrior” devotee drove more than 1,300 miles from his Las Vegas home to Kansas City, Missouri, with his 81-year-old grandfather in tow, then slept outside the audition space for 10 days with no guarantee he’d even get to try out for the episode that airs at 8 p.m. Monday on NBC.

Before that, the longest he’d ever waited for something was the eight days it took a pair of shoes to arrive from Amazon.

Allen, who moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and is studying sports medicine at College of Southern Nevada, discovered the obstacle course competition as a 12-year-old when the original Japanese version, “Sasuke,” aired on the now-defunct cable channel G4. “All I could do was read the subtitles and just watch the obstacles,” he remembers.

Once that show morphed into “American Ninja Warrior” in 2012, Allen began dreaming of being able to compete on it. On his 18th birthday, he began the conditioning process at Camp Rhino, 13,000 square feet of weights, obstacles and all-around pain.

For the past two years, he’s spent his mornings concentrating on CrossFit and weightlifting before working on his grip strength during a two-hour Ninja Warrior class at night. There’s also some cardio thrown into the mix.

“That’s every day, yeah,” Allen says, modestly. “We’re talking about four to five hours a day.” Sundays, though, are a day of rest. Sort of. “I always seem to find myself busy on Sundays,” he admits, “so I only work out in the morning.”

“American Ninja Warrior” contestants must be at least 21 years old, and the April 24 auditions in Kansas City were the show’s first since he turned 21 on March 27. (Allen missed the cutoff for the San Antonio tryouts by a day.) When he arrived outside the audition location, there were already 17 hopefuls camped out ahead of him.

While his grandfather, Fred Abdullah, slept in a hotel and investigated the city’s famed barbecue scene, Allen spent his time reading, playing games and getting to know the other athletes. “That kind of stuff kept me from stressing or losing my mind over having to be outside for 10 days.”

Abdullah would call and check on his grandson and bring him food whenever he needed it. Any time the athletes were given a strict hourlong break — if they weren’t in line at the end of that hour, they’d lose their place — Abdullah would bring him back to the hotel for a quick shower, hand him some food, then drive him back to the makeshift camp.

“I was so appreciative and grateful that he did that for me,” Allen says, adding that his grandfather always has been “very supportive in my adventures.”

Other than that, Allen’s only breaks were quick trips to the restrooms at Union Station or a nearby mall while a fellow athlete saved his place.

Sleeping outdoors for 10 days seems at odds with competing in top physical form on a grueling obstacle course that tests every fiber of your being — which, spoiler alert, Allen ultimately was allowed to do.

“It actually worked to my benefit to have those days of rest to where I stuck to just stretching and little pushups and pullups here and there,” he explains. “It gave my body time for a really good recovery. I probably needed those 10 days away from the gym.”

As for doing all that with only a chance that he’d get to compete for a spot on Monday’s show, Allen says, “I’ve always been told, ‘Keep positive thoughts.’ ”

Even if he hadn’t been able to try out, Allen says he kept the whole adventure in perspective.

“To tell you the truth, I was like, ‘Well, the experience, when I’m down there talking to other athletes, other ninjas, either way I don’t lose out. I still get some kind of experience out of it.’ ”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Get a sneak peak of Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like