Growing up in the Southport section of Fairfield, Hunter McIntyre always wanted to become a Navy SEAL. However, that dream faded the moment the former high school wrestler and cross-country/track runner began dabbling in drugs.

“I had a troubled youth,” McIntrye, now 28, said Thursday by phone. “I was a little bit of a party animal. I went to college not really knowing what I wanted.”

Before heading to Rhode Island College, where he walked onto the wrestling team before dropping out of school, McIntyre, a 2007 graduate of Fairfield Ludlowe, spent a year in rehab at an outpatient facility in Montana.

Fast forward to today, and McIntyre has remodeled himself as an elite professional endurance athlete. He’s now in Minnesota preparing to compete in Tough Mudder X, which is a mix between CrossFit and obstacle course racing. The event will take place Friday and air on CBS Sports Network in the fall.

The course is a mile long and comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

“I hope to be the champion. There’s going to be a lot of bad [expletive] athletes testing us,” he said. “Pull ups, sand-bag lifts — really, really advanced obstacles like doing all these things you’d see on American [Ninja] Warrior.”

McIntyre, who has been featured in Men’s Fitness and Men’s Journal, ran his first obstacle course race in 2012. He began earning professional sponsorships in 2013 and is now regarded as one of the top competitors in the sport. He hopes to compete for at least the next five years.

“Yeah, man, I totally changed my life,” he said. “I kind of just put the partying and girls to the side and just focused on channeling myself as an athlete with the opportunities I had.”

Nicknamed “The Sheriff,” McIntyre is made of muscle at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and lives in Malibu, Calif. He estimated that he spends roughly 15 to 25 hours each week lifting weights, running and biking. The style of training depends on what event he’s preparing for.

McIntyre will compete in somewhere between 10 and 12 events around the world each year. He said his proudest accomplishment to date was winning CMT’s Broken Skull Challenge back-to-back years. Those wins earned him $115,000.

“It’s a mixture of wrestling meets running and strongman competitions,” he said.

McIntyre wrestled at 152 pounds in high school but, in his own words, was a “wuss.” He didn’t really take sports seriously. Times have certainly changed.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour