By Bob Gruskin - 1975
“Wait ’till you see the build on one of the kids! He’s absolutely fantastic! When he took off his shirt and I saw those razor-cut abs I felt like..” As I came tearing into the check-in area at Eastern Connecticut State University minutes before the 1975 AAU Teenage Mr. America contest. I was so greeted by 18-year-old Mike Torchia
Mike, himself, possesses one of the best teenage physiques in the East, and for him to make such a pronouncement excited my curiosity. “Which one is he, Mike? What’s his name?”, I asked. “His name’s Teufel. like “too-full,” Ron Teufel. No one has ever heard of him or seen him before.”
Peering down the corridor we could see National AAU Physique Chairman Ralph countryman checking in the contestants – but Ron wasn’t there. He had already signed in and was pumping up in another room. Wanting to get a good seat for the photography, I rushed upstairs and positioned myself next to the judge’s table as the contestants, 17 strong, began to file in from the opposite end of the room.
I didn’t have to wait very long nor did I have any difficulty in figuring out which one was Teufel. There he stood: 18 years old, a 5′6″, 174-pound package of power, thick yet chiseled muscle mass, washboard abdominal’s in a pair of red posing trunks – his now famous trademark!
There was an excellent group of contestants from all over the U.S., but one, and only one physique completely dominated. Ron’s posing routine was punctuated throughout with applause and shouts of approval, climaxed by a full 90 seconds of tumultuous acclaim. four out of five judges placed Ron first, and he walked away that memorable evening of July 19th not only with the 1975 Teenage Mr. America crown, but with honors for Most Muscular, Best Abs and Best Legs.
In return, he left an indelible impression on all those who saw him. That evening’s triumph was the beginning of the sunrise of a truly great personality and physique, which is destined to illuminate the entire physique world in the months and years ahead!
Before I had a chance to talk to Ron, however, he had disappeared in a crowd of friends, family, and well-wishers. Driving back to New York, I reflected on Mike’s words. He was absolutely fantastic!
The intervening three weeks passed rapidly, and on August 9th, I flew down to the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia for the Teenage Mr. U.S.A. contest. Arriving late again, minutes before the contest, and thoroughly frustrated at having missed the prejudging. I spotted Ralph Countryman talking with meet director Sgt. Herb Gowing. After a few words of greeting, I headed for the warm-up area. Ronnie Mangum and Brian Homka were busy pumping-up and I wished them good luck.
Teufel came rushing in, almost knocking me over in his exuberance. After greeting a number of the contestants, Ron exclaimed, “Gotta get big and powerful like a moose.” and proceeded to do several “light” benches of 300 pounds. Ron was so intent that I didn’t want to disturb him, but I slipped a picture I had taken of him at the Teenage Mr. America in his gym bag, and headed for my seat.
This time a total of 22 very capable young men lined up and posed. Then came the final pose-down between the top two contenders, Steve Shields and Ron Teufel. The judges had to go into a huddle a number of times over these two powerful men with differing physical proportions. By one point, Steve was awarded the title and Ron walked away with 2nd place honors plus trophies for Most Muscular, Best Abs and Best Legs.
About three weeks later I phoned Ron and asked if I could visit with him to get a story and photos, both posing and training, for publication in MD. Ron mentioned that he had already put on 10 pounds in preparation for powerlifting and he seemed reluctant. I did not want to press him further, so I said I would contact hi in the future.
On December 3rd I phoned Ron to see if he was still in winter hibernation. Like a powerful bear, he ha added additional pounds of muscle and adipose to his sturdy frame and was tipping the scales near 190. He protested that he really was not in shape for any pictures. Remembering that John Grimek told me that persistence pays, I would not take no for an answer. I told him that I would still like to get the story and some training shots.
Reluctantly, Ron agreed. The next day I was on my way to Philadelphia. Ron picked me up at the terminal and we went to his home in Prospect Park where I was introduced to the entire Teufel clan: his vivacious mother, Carol; father, Sam; older brothers, Bruce and Jimmy; younger sister, Terri; and 12-year-old brother and future physique champ, Tom; and pet poodles, Winston and Jeanie.
Ron’s success in bodybuilding is not only due to his magnificently endowed natural attributes and hard training, but stems to a large part form the support and encouragement he receives at home, and from friends at the gym.
After talking to the family for awhile Ron stuffed his training outfit and posing trunks into his gym bag and we headed for Ed Ryan’s Gym in Glenolden.
I was expecting to see a modest training facility and was astonished to find one of the best equipped gyms I have seen tucked away in this corner of Pennsylvania.
Some were there training for bodybuilding, others for lifting, and still others for general conditioning for various sports. I counted 17 working out and most seemed to be between the ages of 15 and 22. Although teenagers predominated, I saw upon subsequent visits to the gym that there were men up to their 60’s and several paraplegics working out – all ages working and helping one another.
This was one of the few gyms in which you could feel and see cooperation and a spirit of comradeship. Ron introduced me to a few of the teenagers. Some like John Hall and Ron Weakly had already won teenage physique titles and others such as Larry Jackiewicz, Mike McDevitt, Ron Shllhase and Bob Walter were looking quite good and were planning to go into physique competition in the near future.
At Ryan’s, everyone is called “Moose” because each one’s goal was to get bigger and stronger like this animal. The chief moose, “Big’ Ed Ryan shortly appeared. Ed’s a lean six-footer, in this mid -thirties, and I later found out that he holds a black belt in karate and has won several major titles and competitions.
Ed told me how he spotted Ron running around the high school track one Sunday three years ago. Ron was 16 at the time and had been training in his attic for about five months in order to increase his weight and strength for high school wrestling. He had managed to bring up his bodyweight from 112 pounds to about 125. Though skinny, his muscles were beginning to thicken and become solid, and his abdominal’s showed deep indentations. Ed shouted, ‘Hey, you got a pretty good build. How about coming down to my gym and see if you would like to train there.” Since that fateful meeting, Ron has been training regularly at Ryan’s and attributes his success to a large part to the excellent facilities, Ed’s guidance and encouragement, and the assistance and encouragement of his friends at the gym.
While talking, I was still keeping an eye on Ron as he pulled off his shirt and pants and changed into his shorts. True, Ron was a bit heavier than at the teenage contests but the cuts and massive muscularity were still evident. Even out-of-shape he was more in shape, and could win 1st place honors at many a physique contest then. I marveled at the massiveness of his proportions. Ron asked me what pictures I would like. I told him to go through a normal training session and I would click away. Needless to say, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Ron’s routine was more strenuous and intensive than most would endure, and he demonstrated tremendous strength and stamina. I saw Ron bench 405, deadlift 525, and squat 475 pounds. I’m sure you are most interested in learning Ron’s training routine, especially what he does to cut those famous abs. The following routine is the one he used in training for the Teenage America and USA contests:
Monday & Thursday
CHEST — Sets — Reps
- Bench press — 5 — 6-8
- Incline bench press — 5 — 8-10
- Incline dumbbell press — 4 — 10
- Dips — 4 — 10-12
- Wide-grip rows — 4 — 8-10
- Close-grip rows — 4 — 8-10
- Seated rows — 4 — 12-15
- Dumbbell rows — 4 — 8
- Chins — 6 — 10-12
- Lat-machine — 6 — 12-15
Tuesday & Friday
- Seated press — 5 — 6-8
- Behind-neck press — 5 — 12
- Dumbbel shrug — 4 — 12-15
- Upright rows — 4 — 12-15
- Lat raises — 4 — 12
- Preacher curls — 5 — 8
- Curls — 5 — 8-10
- Dumbbell curls — 5 — 12
- Triceps pushdowns — 4 — 15
- Triceps extensions — 4 — 10
- Dumbbell triceps extension — 4 — 12
Wednesday & Saturday
- Squats — 6 — 15
- Hack squats — 5 — 15-20
- Leg press — 4 — 20
- Leg extensions — 6 — 15-20
- Leg curls — 4 — 15
- Toe raises — 5 — 20
- Toe presses — 5 — 20
Monday – Wednesday – Friday
- Sit-ups — 1 — 100
- Roman chair — 1 — 200
- Leg raises — 1 — 200
- Twists — 1 — 200
Sundays would be a day of rest for most, but for Ron it means an early morning run of four or five miles.
During his routine, he supersets throughout. In most of his exercise he uses weights heavy enough to tax the muscles within the set/ reps indicated. However, a month before a contest, Ron trains two times a day, five days a week and once on Saturdays. He also works his abs six times a week. In addition, he goes on a strict diet which consists primarily of protein and little else with the exception of a green salad.
After training, Ron changed into his trunks for a few minutes of posing, showered, and we headed back home for dinner with the family.
Ron’s mom really set a copious table! We had beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, fresh vegetables and a green salad. Ron’s favorite beverage is iced tea and he usually drinks` it unsweetened. Ron confided in me that he has a terrific weakness for natural ice cream as he downed a hefty bowl. “That’s some meal you put away” I mentioned. Ron replied that he was still bulking up but is very careful about his intake while preparing and training for a physique contest. “What’s the difference in your diet?” I queried. “Well,” he responded, “breakfast always consists of five fried eggs, two slices of toast if I’m not preparing for a contest, and two cups of hot tea. For lunch I’ll have meat or poultry, a salad with French dressing, and iced tea. Dinner usually consists of a steak or other cut of beef, fish, or chicken, salad and tea. And, if I’m hungry at night, which is usually the case, I’ll snack on a bowl of ice cream, but only if I’m not in training, otherwise it’s a broiled hamburger.” What about supplements, Ron?” He replied that each day he takes two multivitamins, tow B-complex tablets, 600 mg. vitamin C, 800 units E, four lecithin capsules and 10 desiccated liver tablets.
We took leave of the family and headed up to Ron’s room for a gab session. What would you expect an all-American boy’s room to look like? The first thing that struck me were the walls covered with memorabilia – score-cards, awards, newspaper clippings, photos, and medals from his high school wrestling achievements and recent physique contest honors. One banner read, “Go Tuffy Tuffel.” “What’s that about?” I asked. “Oh, the cheerleaders would scream that at the wrestling meets to encourage me.” “Did it work?” I questioned. “You bet,” he replied, “especially if the chicks were good looking!” I thought to myself that little could they have foreseen that 112-pound bean pole in just three years would turn out to be one of the ‘toughest” and most sensational new faces to hit the physique world since Schwarzenegger. Another full wall was covered with covers and centerfold pictures of bodybuilding greats. “One day,” said Ron pensively, “my picture will be on one of those magazine covers.”
Ron still had the original 110 barbell he purchased three years ago next to his bed for “light” warm-ups. Rolling it out of the way, I sat down on the second bed while Ron reclined on his and related the following information; “You already know that I started to lift weights while in my junior year in high school to gain weight and strength for wrestling and football. By the time I graduated in June of 1974, my bodyweight was up to 150. I wrestled in the 132-pound class and won 1st place in district, regional, and statewide competitions. I was also active in football and swimming. In my senior year I was offered a total of 14 college scholarships for wrestling and football but none of the schools had decent weight training facilities, so I passed them up. But this time I knew what I wanted. I wanted a number of things – to be healthy and fit all my life; to get to the top in bodybuilding; and one day to open up a gym of my own. I love the sport, competition, clean way of living, and I’d like to help others. After graduation I got a job driving a school bus. It’s great in that I work form 7 to 9 in the morning and from 11:30 to 4 in the afternoon. This means that I can train in the mornings, and in the evening if necessary. But don’t get the idea that all my time is spent training and working. I have a great chick, Pattie Martelli, and love to go dancing at the local discotheque. Patti says I’m cool but wild at times.
You know, Teufel in German means devil – and I can get devilish! I like cars, motorcycles, like to attend wrestling matches, football games, and like to help out and coach wrestling at the high school. I also like to attend concerts and listen to music at home – my favorite group is Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. I have lots of friends, so many that between them. Patti, work, family, ant training, my days are full. But they are extremely rewarding because I KNOW where I’m heading!
“In 1975 I entered a total of nine physique contests and came in 1st in five and placed in all the rest. This coming year I’m going to get bigger and better before I go back into competition.”
“Why did you decide to bulk-up?” I asked. “For two reasons,” he responded. “I’ve set my sights on winning the Mr. Pennsylvania title in April and want to come in bigger and more ripped than at the Teenage America. I’ll start cutting down in mid-February or March for the contest. One of my greatest ambitious is to win the AAU Mr. America and I hope I can do this within one or two, perhaps three years. I also enjoy powerlifting; so while I’m bulking up and getting stronger, I’ll probably enter a few bench press contests.”
It occurred to me that when Ron was at the Teenage USA contest in Quantico, the National Teenage Powerlifting Championships were also being held. Ron weighed in at 174 and could have lifted in the 181-pound class. He told me at that time that he was squatting 455, benching 390, and deadlifting 525 for a total or 1370. “You know, Ron, I think your totals would have topped the 181-pound class record.” Sure enough, when I later had an opportunity to check the official results I found the top total was 1315 and Ron could have bettered that!.
It was a long day for both of us. I thanked Ron for his patience in putting up with me, all the photos and questions, thanked his family for their hospitality and headed home.
The next time I saw Ron was at Bill Steven’s AAU Colossus Bench Press and Physique contests in Baltimore on January 17th. Ron decided to enter the lift. He weighed in at 193 pounds and was placed in the middle heavyweight (198-pound) class. I as fortunate in getting a series of shots before, during, and after. They are noteworthy in that they not only show his breaking the record by benching 420 pounds, but they also show his thick musculature at top bodyweight. He is truly most remarkable! According to the latest national powerlifting statistics, only five persons have lifted over 420 in this weight class and six have equaled it.
How did Ron become a double superstar? It wasn’t easy – and it still isn’t easy! Ron’s luckier than most because he has a natural symmetry, huge, thick, and powerful muscles, and thick bone structure to support this mass and weight. He also has terrific drive and determination to be the very best in whatever he does, and is always pushing himself to the limit while yet demanding still more.
The weeks passed, and on March 1st Ron phoned to let me know hat he was down to 181 pounds, ripped, and was planning to enter the Mr. Delaware Valley contest at the Wilmington YMCA. When I saw him that Saturday, I could hardly believe that this was the same young man I had seen seven weeks ago. The metamorphosis was spectacular! He was bigger and better than ever before! All seven judges placed him first. What a way to begin the new season!
On March 27 Ron entered Ken Peterson’s Mr. Eastern Seaboard contest in Woodbury, New Jersey. Again he walked away with 1st place honors plus Most Muscular, Best Arms, and Best Abs, heating 22 very good contestants including Steve Shield who came in big, powerful, and 2nd.
The next day, Ron headed to the Passaic, New Jersey YMCA for the Mr. Passaic-Clifton contest Once again he took 1st place and Most Muscular. After the contest, Ron gave me his statistics: neck – 17, biceps – 18, forearm -15, waist – 30 1/2, thighs – 26, calves – 18, chest – 47 nd weight – 185.
On April 10th the “Teufel tidal wave” continued to engulf contest after contest. This time it was Ton Marbell’s Mr. Garden State held at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, N.J.
But the fateful day of April 25th was approaching. Since last August Ron was preparing himself for this all-out effort, and now it was time. Assembled for Bob O’Leary’s Sr. Mr. Pennsylvania contest at the North Scranton High School Auditorium were 22 of the best physiques from throughout the state. The quality of the contestants were exceptional.
Weighting in at 185, however was and even more impressive Ron Teufel than I had seen just two weeks previously. He had intensified his training and cut his carb intake to near zero. Every muscle was chiseled and sculptured. His back was thick and knotty. Lats large and tapering down to a thin 29 1/2″ waist. His rectus abdominus muscles showed one inch indentations and obliques were heavier yet firmer. Legs were tighter and a webbing of veins appeared in the thighs. Arms thicker, chest larger, pecs harder! Every muscle pulsed with new vitality and power!
Would all the months of preparation, training, and sacrifice be rewarded for a few minutes of posing? To the accolades of a capacity crowd, and with family and friends beaming with joy and pride, 19-year old Ron Teufel was crowned 1976 Mr. Pennsylvania! It was a triumph that Ron and all of us will remember for years to come. Not only did he carry away the five-foot 1st place trophy, but also trophies for Most Muscular, Best Abs, Best Arms, Best Legs and Best Chest – almost a clean sweep!
In less than a year, Ron has catapulted from relative obscurity to national, nay, international fame. We will certainly be hearing lots more of this physique giant in the months and years ahead.
As for the immediate future, Ron plans to enter the Mr. America contest this June 19th and he stands a very good chance of winning Best Abs and possibly his height class. And either next year or the following it could be the title!
Not only does Ron posses the greatest teenage physique ever developed in the United States, he is destined to be one of the greatest physiques in the world. Even now he surpasses many of the top stars senior to him in age and training. It is frightening to contemplate his future potential!
I’ve met a lot of very fine bodybuilders while covering contests and doing photography, but one of the best, the very best – physique-wise and personality-wise – is Ron Teufel. It was my good fortune to get to meet him, his family and friends, and to know him. I hope you too will one day have the opportunity to meet this exceptional and dynamic young man!