9 June 2017

Faces of Canberra: Michael (Mongo) Aichholzer

| Rachel Moore
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Faces of Canberra - Michael Aichholzer - picture by Mark Aichholzer

Each week Rachel Moore is on the hunt to find out what makes Canberra special to all the wonderful folks who live here.

Not many people, regardless of gender, can pull off wearing a fedora or a kilt. Michael (Mongo) Aichholzer is the kind of man who can wear a fedora and a kilt, crack a joke and then casually bench press his boss to raise much needed funds for charity.

Michael is strong, last month he bench pressed Martin Fisk CEO of Menslink roughly thirteen times, but it is his solid substance of character that radiates strength in every sense of the word. An active and dedicated member of any community he participates in, Michael has seen enough of the world to believe riches in life come from reaching out and lifting all those around us up as high as they can go. Michael does just this in both his professional and personal life, supporting everyone around him to achieve their goals and sometimes just being there when they need a chat.

Michael does not think being strong is a physical state, sure, it helps, but to him strength is about being honest and doing the best you can. Michael was part of a cast who performed at Tuggeranong Arts Centre three weeks ago, sharing personal experience of living through mental illness in a production titled ’This is My Brave’. Speaking freely about the black dog by his side, Michael challenged us all to take our mental health as seriously as our physical health.

If you have ever heard the expression “your presence is present enough” they were talking about Michael (Mongo) Aichholzer.

Faces of Canberra - Michael Aichholzer picture by Catherine Rider-Aichholzer

Name – Michael (Mongo) Aichholzer.

Age – 56.

Occupation – I retired from full-time work last year. Nowadays I work on a casual basis with Menslink, a local charity, competing in powerlifting and strongman competitions, and attending to an endless list of ‘honey-dos’ from my wife Catherine.

How long have you lived in Canberra – 13 years. I had spent all of my military career avoiding Canberra and was deployed to Iraq when Catherine won a job here. We planned to give it 10 years, but we don’t look like leaving!

North, South or Q-town – The south of course. Lots of space and the neighbours can’t see in our windows.

Most memorable event attended in the ACT – ANZAC Day Dawn Service 2012. It was my last ANZAC Day in uniform. Catherine and I attended the Dawn Service at the AWM, a very moving experience.

Things you love about Da Berra – The space, the events, the weather, the food and the people.

What you loath about the city – Canberra is not good at advertising all the great events that occur in the city. You really have to be in the know and keep your ear to the ground. It’s probably one of the reasons people think the city is boring.

Most cherished memory in the capital – Buying our house. Catherine and I had both been gypsies all our lives, moving on a regular basis due to my military service. To have a home of our own and have the freedom to turn it into our nest has been wonderful

Faces of Canberra - Michael Aichholzer and Catherine Rider-Aichholzer - picture by Mark Aichholzer

Which Canberra local do you most admire and why – My neighbour Jim, rest his soul. Jim was a wonderful, giving man who was a friend more than a neighbour. He was always on call to help Catherine when I was away, and taught me a great deal about patience and the importance of taking your time to do a good job. He also inspired me to do what I do now, talking to guys about the importance of sharing your troubles rather than holding everything in.

Most precious item you own – A gold necklace that Catherine bought me on our first trip to her hometown in the UK. It was that trip that I decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It has since been augmented with a gold sovereign that her parents gave me.

First Canberra kiss and where – Definitely Catherine, circa 2004. We spent three days looking at over 3 dozen houses as we were on a short time-line to buy. We were knackered but one of the houses we looked at is the one we still live in now.

Most delicious Berra place you adore eating at – Undoubtedly the Maestral Seafood Restaurant in Weston. We’ve been going there regularly for the past seven or eight years and have never had a bad meal.

Faces of Canberra - Michael Aichholzer picture by Frank Quinlan

What do you want to be when you grow up – Strong – physically and mentally. I don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to quieten down as you get older. When I depart this mortal coil it will be with no regrets.

Your social media handles

Twitter – @silvermongo
Facebook – @silvermongo

What is a question you would like to ask everyone in Canberra – How’s your mental fitness regime going? Getting mentally fit now will help you deal with the challenges that life inevitably throws your way. Learn to meditate, sing, play an instrument, breathe or appreciate your natural surroundings. Your mind will thank you later.

Caption’s: Top, Michael Aichholzer – picture by Mark Aichholzer. Image 2, Michael Aichholzer – picture by Catherine Rider-Aichholzer. Image 3, Michael Aichholzer and Catherine Rider-Aichholzer – picture by Mark Aichholzer. Above, Michael Aichholzer – picture by Frank Quinlan.

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Kerry Marshall10:37 pm 10 Jun 17

Thank you for remembering Dad so beautifully Michael and bless you for your work helping men to open up to each other

Elias Hallaj6:05 pm 09 Jun 17

I’ve heard Michael speak (really well and from the heart) at a few Menslink functions – top bloke!

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