17.1 Took Their Friend, 21.2 Brings Armor CrossFit Together to Heal and Honor Him

March 21, 2021 by
Courtesy of Jeremy Brassard
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Four years ago, 24-year-old Octavious King finished his final burpee box jump over during CrossFit Open workout 17.1 and dropped to the ground. 

  • At first, nobody at Armor CrossFit in Apopka, FL was concerned. They were used to seeing him be the hardest worker in the gym and crash after the workout. This time, though, was different. It quickly became clear that King was in medical distress.

What happened next: Two members rushed over to King, who was semi-conscious, and began CPR, as Jeremy Brassard, the owner of the gym, cradled his friend’s head in his hands and stared into his eyes, “trying my best to comfort and communicate with him as best as I could,” Brassard said. Moments later, King stopped breathing and was soon pronounced dead.

  • “It seemed impossible. None of us could believe it…This was Octavious, the guy who would wear a weight vest in every WOD if he could. The guy who would march three miles around the block with 135 pounds on his back just because. The guy whose smile lit up everything,” Brassard said.
  • “And his heart. Man, the thing that made him so special was eventually the thing that took him home,” he added. Needless to say, the Armor CrossFit community was shattered.

Four years later: When Dave Castro announced that “21.2 is…17.1,” last Thursday at 5 p.m., Brassard’s phone immediately started to blow up.

  • “I thought maybe people would be upset, but as soon as it was announced my phone exploded with texts…A billion emotions wrapped up within it, both for me and our box family,” he said. 
  • And while it would have been understandable for his community to want to avoid the workout that killed their friend, they took the very opposite approach. “Let’s effin go!” Let’s do it for O! This is O’s WOD,” Brassard said of the texts he received.
  • He added: “Quite obviously Armor CrossFit (was) ready for what is probably the single most important WOD we have ever done in our 10 years. This WOD means everything to us.”
Courtesy of Jeremy Brassard

Game day: More than 100 people did 21.2 at Armor CrossFit last Friday, leaving it all on the floor in honor of King, and Brassard expects another 100 will hit 21.2 before Monday at 5 p.m.

  • “It was emotional, but it was electric…Even people who didn’t know him, who have joined since, fed off the energy,” Brassard said of the environment 21.2 created.
  • For many, it was their first time doing the workout, because after King went down during the 5 pm class in 2017, Brassard cancelled the rest of the classes that evening, as well as Saturdays’ classes. Instead, his community got together at the gym on Saturday to talk and “just be together,” Brassard explained. 
  • So having a chance to do the workout again in the Open environment was particularly special and a real healing experience, Brassard explained. 
  • “It’s our way to honor him. He wouldn’t want us to shy away from the WOD. We know that he would be like, ‘What are you all waiting for?’ That’s who he was,” he said. 
  • And, of course, it was a time to remember their fallen friend, Brassard said. “He gave us all of him. And he will forever be missed.”

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