Hear and Now

By Lon Wagner

In CrossFit, Special Populations

February 01, 2012

PDF Article

Born deaf, Jordan Levin runs a CrossFit affiliate and is a motivational speaker. Lon Wagner tells the story.

I am talking, on the phone, to Jordan Levin. Normal. Mundane, even.

When I emailed Jordan, I wasn’t sure how this would go, how we would do the interview. Maybe it’d have to be done through email. Or a chat window. Here’s the thing: Jordan Levin was born deaf. And he still is.

“Right now,” Jordan says, his voice sounding pretty normal after having traveled 700 miles from Michigan to my cell phone, “I am talking to you on my iPhone, and everything you say is showing up on the screen.”

This is just all so “normal,” I think. This is not about faking normal with an iPhone. It’s not being made normal through the technological advancement of hearing aids. It’s not about making do with sign language. Jordan became normal through the to-the-core stubbornness of his parents, through his own striving and persistence and insistence.

It took Jordan every minute, hour and day for many years, but eventually he broke down abnormal. He pinned disabled to the mat.

Jordan Levin earned normal.

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8 Comments on “Hear and Now”


Doug Chapman wrote …

Awesome Jordan!!!


wrote …

You and your story are such an inspiration Jordan!


wrote …

Great article, good read.


wrote …

Well, that was a tad motivating!


wrote …

Thanks for a great story. Not exactly related to your Crossfit Box success, but could you say a bit more to direct me to the iphone app you use?


wrote …

What an inspiring article. Keep up the awesome.


wrote …


It's great to see coverage of deaf athletes and business owners. But I really do encourage you to learn a little more about deafness.

"Making do with sign language."? I wonder if you have any idea just how insulting that is to the tens of millions of deaf people who weren't born speaking your language.

Put it another way. Should everyone who grew up speaking French learn English to communicate with you, instead of making do with French? Or would it be reasonable for you to make an effort to learn to say a few words in their language too?

With hearing parents, its no great surprise that oralism formed a big part of Jordan's upbringing. I suspect manualism (using sign language) would have played a bigger part had they been deaf. And he still could have made that phone call, using a video relay service and sign language.

They key here is to avoid generating some kind of general expectation along the lines of: "Deaf people. If only they worked harder, they could be like us." The fact is, many of my athletes will never hear a starting pistol, a referee's whistle or a teammate's shouts. And people should be fine with that.

Thanks again for your interest in deafness.

Mark Cooper
Chief Executive, International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (and tired from a heavy deadlift / run met con this morning).


wrote …

@Susan: It's hard to be sure from the article. But it reads as if Jordan was using a speech to text transcription service. There is a human in the process doing the work of the transcription. A good example would be the Hamilton CapTel App.

These services are particularly useful for those who can speak but who lose their hearing, either through old age or through service (80,000 young Americans are on disability after having lost their hearing in Iraq and Afghanistan. As many as 75% of UK troops returning from Helmand Province are coming home with serious hearing problems).

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