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  1. ** This is an old Interview from 2005 By David Robson - Edited by: Strength Oldschool Dan Lurie would sadly pass away at the age of 90 in 2013. R.I.P Dan Lurie: April 1. 1923 - Nov 6. 2013 In the following interview Dan tells his inspiring story and shares the methods that have helped him to stay in excellent physical shape at age 82. Get the scoop about Dan Lurie right here! Anyone even remotely connected with the iron game will remember one of its greatest ambassadors, Dan Lurie. Back in the 40s and 50s, Dan carved a niche for himself as the worlds strongest, most muscular man. He went on to become arguably bodybuilding’s most successful promoter, starting the World Body Building Guild in 1965 as a way to enhance public awareness, and garner respect, for a sport that was, at the time considered an oddity. Along the way, Dan published several health and fitness related magazines, the most popular of these being Muscle Training Illustrated. From bent pressing with one arm 285lbs, to arm wrestling President Regan, Dan has lived a colorful life, while continually preaching the bodybuilding gospel. Indeed, whether it be through promotion, television, competition, publishing or marketing, Dan took bodybuilding to the masses and helped to transform it from curious spectacle to legitimate sport. His contribution to bodybuilding should never be forgotten for he truly was, and is, one of its more passionate advocates. In the following interview Dan tells his inspiring story and shares the methods that have helped him to stay in excellent physical shape at age 82. (Photo below shows Dan Lurie at the age of 85!) [ Q ] Hi Dan. What have you been up to recently? Well Dave, I just spent the whole day with my son and we went to the Hall of Records in New York. I’ll tell you something crazy Dave. I used to be partners with Joe Weider for several years in the early 1940s and we had a falling out in 1948. In 1947 I registered the name International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) and I held the first IFBB contest on January 15, 1948. Pic above: Joe Weider & Dan Lurie This was the first IFBB show in America. So I came up with the name, but had forgotten about it for 55 years until my son accidentally found the program for that contest, and what we are trying to prove now is that Joe Weider stole the name from me. The IFBB became very famous, but I was the first one to come up with the contest and use the name. So I went to City Hall to find all the records for 1947 – very interesting. [ Q ] And what do you hope to achieve if you can prove you came up with the name? My wife says, “what are you going to get out of it”. If I discovered the airplane, and was the first one to fly the airplane, and they said, “no it was the Wright Brothers who did it”, how would I feel? I am just hoping to get the recognition I deserve. I was forgotten in this field for so many years and would like some acknowledgement. [Q ] Your resume is quite an impressive one and you have been involved in bodybuilding for some time. How old are you and what kind of shape are you in now Dan? I am 82 years young! On April 1, 2006, I will be 83 years young. I am in good shape right now. I workout every morning and I don’t overdo it. I use about 50 lbs and do a lot of repetitions. Pic above: Dan Lurie at 79 years old [ Q ] At what age do you feel you reached your peak as a bodybuilder? At the 1945 Mr America show. Bob Hoffman ran this show and for four years he had everyone from York win the contest. I always wanted to win America’s most muscular man. I did this three times. No one in the world has ever done this three times. In 1945 they had me disqualified saying I was a professional. It was because I was getting too good and was in partnership with Weider. He didn’t want us to get too strong and competitive. They got the AAU to make me professional and I quit competing. You know what happens today when you quit competing. You don’t train like you used to train. In my case I got married. I always worked out, but not with the intensity of one who is competing. I had nothing to prove anymore. [ Q ] How did you get started in bodybuilding Dan? What gave you your big break? I trained for three years at the age of 13 and, at this time, the Daily News in New York was running the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. They put you in all the local arenas and at the end the main show would be at Madison Square Garden. Well I trained for three years and was a pretty good boxer. I was about 5’5″ and 118 lbs. When I was ready to have my first fight, they rejected me because they found I had a heart murmur. A man told me... “Don’t cry kid, I used to be a good boxer but sooner or later someone comes along and beats the dickens out of you so you are better off if you don’t fight.” He told me I had good muscular development and suggested I go into bodybuilding. You know what I said to him? What’s bodybuilding? His name was Terry Robinson (see pic below) and he was Mr. New York State. He will be 90 years old on March 9, 2006. He gave me directions to my first gym with weights. Terry Robinson was a great man. He raised Mario Lanza’s three children. He was the first one to know when Mario died in Italy. He raised Mario’s children after Mario’s wife died a couple of months later of a broken heart. Terry lives in California. He was my mentor and he gave me the direction I needed at that time. So I went into bodybuilding and entered my first New York City contest. I was so bad I came out last. I thought… these guys are monsters, what am I doing here. I was only 17 at the time. But by the time I was 19, in 1942, I was first runner up at the AAU Mr. America contest. They gave me a lot of body part awards and America’s most muscular man title after that. [ Q ] How did you prepare for your first show? What sort of mistakes did you make initially? I didn’t train right. I was too young. It takes time to make your body grow. You can’t just plant the seed and say, “let the vegetables grow tomorrow.” My body was growing and it just needed time and the right training. There were no supplements. I just ate whatever good food I had. My problem was that I could never put weight on. Until I was 125, 130, and then 140 lbs; it took a couple of years. I used to train so hard I burned all the calories. [ Q ] What was your weight when you were at your peak in the 1940s? 168 lbs. I did a one hand bent press of 285 lbs. I never knew how good I was at the time. I thought it was no big deal. [ Q ] And you traveled the country performing feats of strength? I did this when I got on television in 1950. I was a strongman on the TV show, the very famous kid’s show, called The Sealtest Big Top Circus Show. And there I traveled the country doing feats of strength and exhibitions and everything else. [ Q ] What was the bodybuilding culture like back in the 40s and 50s? Whoever did bodybuilding was considered to be a mental nut job. They went crazy and couldn’t see why people would do this. You have to remember, I started because I had a heart murmur. The exercise cured my heart condition. [ Q ] So bodybuilding helped you to improve your health. What else did you find attractive about the sport back then? I enjoyed running all the WBBG shows that I had. All the worlds best built men appeared at my shows, and I had the greatest bodybuilding shows ever. The highlight for me was to get someone that everyone considered a god to appear. They said I would never get him. He lived in Switzerland at the time. His name was Steve Reeves. Pic above: (W.B.B.G) Lou Ferrigno - Dan Lurie - Warren Frederick Pic above: Steve Reeves - Dan Lurie and Aline Reeves I got Steve to come to my show and we put on a great show. We had coming attractions on the screen and in a very famous part of his picture Hercules, Steve Reeves broke down the columns with all his muscles tensing. My son worked the projection room and as Steve Reeves broke down the columns he with his wife and myself walked out on stage and… I’ll never forget how wild the crowd went. They were uncontrollable. They all wanted to jump up on the stage. That would be one of the highlights of all the shows I ran. [ Q ] What other highlights have there been in your bodybuilding career? The hall of fame honoring dozen’s and dozen’s of bodybuilders and movie stars. [ Q ] What was it like to work with Steve Reeves? What kind of guy was he? A nice guy. We used to visit each other at each others homes. When he used to come to my house, he loved to go up to my attic and put on my Seal test Dan muscleman cape that I wore on the TV. I didn’t know, but from 1950 to 1957 he used to watch the show. At that time he was on a Broadway show called Kismet. But we never really met until the 70s when I honored him. We were very good friends and we used to go to Broadway shows together. In fact I had a big fight with him at one time. People were saying – did you have a fight with Steve Reeves. Yes. A snowball fight. We threw snowballs at one another and he loved it. Living in California, he didn’t see much snow. [ Q ] You have been involved in bodybuilding for a long time. At what period was bodybuilding’s greatest era do you think? The golden age of bodybuilding when they didn’t have steroids. Steroids have ruined bodybuilding, and not only for men. If I ever competed in the women’s division today in my best shape, I wouldn’t even place. They would make me look like a beginner. That is how advanced they are – like men. You know how many dozens and dozens of our greatest athletes have died as a result of these drugs. In 1971 I came out on the cover of Muscle Training Illustrated – my magazine – and alerted the world to the dangers of steroids. I said they were killing our athletes. Now some 35 years later it’s all coming out, what with the baseball and other sports also. It’s getting into the colleges and girls are taking them – they are dying by the dozen. That’s why I campaigned to them to save some lives. ** [ STEROID INFO ] ** Strength Oldschool Note: For 100% All Natural Drug Free Vintage Physiques check out the video below: [ Q ] In light of what you have just said, what are your thoughts on the current state of bodybuilding? I don’t follow it like I used to, but when I see these people I don’t believe what they look like. They make Sergio Oliva and Arnold look like beginners. They all seem to look the same. Probably using the same bottle of steroids. Strength Oldschool Note: A bodybuilder by the name of Paul Dillett would have likely made Sergio and Arnold look small. I don’t know if you heard about this in New Zealand, but Arnold’s calves were very poor when he first began competing, and lost to Frank Zane in his first contest in America. Then all of a sudden his calves went from 17 to over 19 inches. [ Q ] This was a result of hard training though. “No, it was a calf transplant.” Today he must have lost a lot of weight but his calves are the same size. If you drop a lot of body weight your whole body shrinks in proportion. Any doctor examining could tell you if he still has the transplants in his calves. [ Q ] This was never covered in the media. They didn’t want to say that about him. Before you say that you need 100 percent truth. I can only say it was rumored for many many years, but I never printed it. By the way, when Arnold came to this country in 1968, my wife and I were the ones who greeted him and Franco Columbu at the airport. Pic above: Thelma - Franco Columbu - Dan Lurie and Arnold [ Q ] Tell me more about this. It was good except he did certain things I didn’t like. He used to fondle the girls in the restaurant. [ Q ] In hindsight, it still must have been good to meet one of the sports icons. I publicized him and helped make him famous and he ended up suing me, period. The whole thing was, he needed money in those days and Joe Weider told him that in America you can sue people and settle, and make a lot of money. [ Q ] Did you get to know Arnold very well? We met a couple of times. We had dinner’s and breakfast’s together. We did TV shows together and he was at the AAU Mr. America shows. He always wanted the publicity and me being a publisher, I could help him. [ Q ] As a publisher what magazines did you have? Besides Muscle Training Illustrated I published Boxing Illustrated, Karate Illustrated, Wrestling illustrated, I had a couple of rock and roll magazines and I had a women’s magazine. [ Q ] How did you get into the publishing business and why? When I broke up with Weider there was no communication to reach bodybuilders for a contest. You can’t get contestants to enter if they don’t know about a show. You can’t get an audience. So I started my magazine in 1965 and I had a partner at the time. After 15 issues he said it wasn’t making money so he wanted out. I knew a little about publishing, but after two and a half years in the industry I got to know quite a bit and I took over the magazine at issue number 16. I started to make money on the first issue I put out because I cut my overheads. He had an office in New York City with secretaries. I didn’t have any of that. I used my own office and my office was my business. All I paid was for running costs for the office, pictures and for an editor. So I had a fixed salary; I would know what each issue was going to cost me. If I didn’t I would have gone broke. [ Q ] Before your publishing career you say you were in partnership with Joe Weider. Tell me more about this. I wasn’t involved in his magazines, only the barbell and exercise equipment. He lived in Canada at the time and if you ship anything from Canada they charge 10 percent duty tax. When it got to America you had to pay another 10 percent duty tax. So that means whatever was selling was going to have a 20 percent duty tax as well as all the freight costs. It was easier to find someone to ship from the United States. We became partners because he needed someone to help him distribute. Just like Grimek did for Bob Hoffman, he used me in his ads. I was shown as the skinny kid with a weak heart who became America’s most muscular man using his system. That’s what got me disqualified because I was in his ads and I was a professional. John Grimek was always featured in Bob Hoffman’s ads but he was considered an amateur. [ Q ] How did the falling out occur? When we started in business maybe we made about $ 5,000 dollars in each year. That was gross. By the time we got through maybe we made one thousand dollars or five hundred dollars each for the year, which was nothing. But when we started to go over $ 100,000 dollars he didn’t want to share the profits with me. So he just cut my name out of the ads in the magazines and put his own name in. He was established already so he didn’t need me. He is a very unscrupulous guy. No loyalty at all. There are a lot of things I could tell you about him but it will have to wait until my new book is out. [ Q ] What can you tell me about Joe Weider? “Joe Weider would put a knife in your back. He would use people, and throw them out.” All I can say is he was an extremely hard worker, but very ruthless in business. He would put a knife in your back. He would use people, and throw them out. There were lawsuits. He did a lot of bad things. But that was him. That was his character. I introduced him to his first wife. [ Q ] Have you had any recent contact with Mr. Weider? No, I don’t see him. Years ago I heard he was in hospital having a hernia operation so I called him and we spoke for an hour or so. We spoke about the good old days when we were kids. You tend to forget about these things. We went our own ways. I was successful as far as I know, but I always felt I was a fly and he was an elephant. I just wanted to make a living. Pic above: Joe Weider - Dan Lurie - Peary Rader [Q ] Tell me more about the World Body Building Guild. I started it back in 1965. I never knew I was the creator of the IFBB. Incidentally, Sports Illustrated is going to follow up on this and do a story on how the IFBB name was created by me and how I ran the first IFBB show in America. The World Body Building Guild was very competitive. Joe was always making it his business to run shows on the same day I would run mine in New York City. At one time Tom Minichiello, one of my gym members and a good friend, was involved with the IFBB and was told by Weider to bury me. He was told to run the contest the same day Dan Lurie runs his show. Of course I had such complete sell-outs. I never disqualified anyone. I don’t care who you were with. If you were a member of the IFBB and entered any AAU or my shows, you were disqualified. That’s not fair. A bodybuilder is free to do whatever he wants. Pic above: Owner of Mid City Gym Tom Minichiello Spots Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino (1966). [ Q ] What did the World Body Building Guild achieve? We started the hall of fame that had a lot of famous people being honored. I even honored President Regan. [ Q ] I read that you arm wrestled President Regan. Tell me about this. Who won? He beat me, twice. I wasn’t going to try to beat him. I wanted to give him respect. Besides, he was the oldest man who ever ran for president and they wanted someone to show how strong and youthful he was. So I helped with this, and I have a good ten minute tape. When we left you know what we did to each other? We hugged and kissed each other. Now that’s something for two men to do. And that’s what we did in the White House. [ Q ] What else do you remember about this occasion? He said “Dan when I was a kid I used to read all of your ads in the comic books.” I said, “Mr. President, what were you doing reading comic books.” He said, “I still read them today.” He was the president and he still read comic books. That was an amazing thing. He was a down to earth, warm guy. You see, I went there to honor him. I didn’t complain about anything, about what I wanted him to do. I just went there to honor him. We warmed to each other pretty good. And when we arm wrestled, and he beat me, he said “Come on, you dumped it, you let me beat you.” I said “No Mr. President, you beat me fair and square.” Pic above: President Ronald Reagan and Dan Lurie (60 years Old) Arm Wrestling - 1984. [ Q ] I understand President Reagan was very fit, and was bodybuilding enthusiast for many years. Yes, he used to chop wood on his ranch and horseback ride. We kept in touch after the White House thing. We were supposed to have a rematch but it never happened. It was planned just never happened. The picture of him and me arm wrestling went all over the world. It was on the front page of the New York Times. Many countries featured that picture and ran the story about how the president was so strong he beat a famous strong man. I loved President Regan. He was a warm, decent, down to earth president. Pic above: Young Ronald Reagan. [ Q ] What are some of the strength records you have set over the years? I did 1665 push-ups in 90 minutes and 1225 parallel dips in 90 minutes. I lifted 285 lbs. with one hand over the head. That one was a specialty. I did 1200 pullovers with 55 lbs. Crazy things. Things that involved endurance. People today don’t do this type of training. They train with heavier weights and they end up with injuries and have to stop for a while. I wasn’t going to get hurt. I found my body responded to hundreds and hundreds of repetitions with a lighter weight – 100 lbs. [ Q ] Is this the way you have always trained? Yes and I sweated like a pig. I wore a sweatshirt and people would say “don’t drink water while you workout.” But I was so thirsty I used to gobble it up. They now say “drink water when you workout, it’s good for you.” So who knows. [ Q ] What diet methods have you followed? I always wanted to gain weight so I ate whatever I wanted to. I would lose around three to five pounds every workout. I sweated a lot. Also, I tried not to do much resting in between sets. I rested as little as possible, and it still ended up being a three hour workout. [ Q ] How do you eat today to stay in shape? I eat very lightly, a lot of salads and health foods. And I exercise every morning for about half-an-hour, that’s it. I don’t do too much. I have nothing to prove. [ Q ] What training methods did you establish over the years? When I started manufacturing my own barbells I established the Dan Lurie Barbell Course. I gave it out with a book and pictures and posters. It was very instructive. I was the first one to sell barbells in sporting goods stores. They weren’t sold by York. They were selling mail order and I came out selling to stores. From a $ 5,000 dollar a year start it exploded. Many, many years later I was only doing a small amount because I was only one man. [ Q ] What were gyms like in your day? The equipment was mostly very crude and there were a few mirrors. Now everything is chromed. [ Q ] You discovered Lou Ferrigno. Tell me more about that? Yes, he came to me at 16 years of age. The first thing I asked him was “how far do you want to go in bodybuilding”. I said “You want to be Mr. America?” He said “Mr. America? I don’t want to be Mr. America. I want to be the best built man who ever lived.” That to me was shocking. So I put him on the cover of my magazine and I issued a challenge to Arnold. I said in three years this skinny kid of 6.5 and 185 lbs was going to give him some competition. And he did. And I kept showing the improvements he was making over the years. I had Lou for about six or seven years. Pic above: 1972 Muscle Training Illustrated - Lou Ferrigno Challenges Arnold Schwarzenegger. [ Q ] And Lou ended up switching to Weider. That’s right. He had no contract with me. It was more like a friendship. Weider offered him a $50,000 contract for five years. He did that with Arnold – paid him a big amount over a number of years. Lou switched the night I had Steve Reeves at my show and his father was upset with me because the year before he lost out to Bill Grant who represented Weider. Lou lost out because he took some sort of water pills. The night before he looked unbeatable and when he came the next day I couldn’t believe the change. I don’t know what the heck he was doing. He lost all his definition. [ Q ] How would you like to be remembered Dan? I would like to be remembered as a bodybuilder who loved bodybuilding and treated everyone fair and square. I never hurt any athlete. There were two bodybuilders who sued me – Lou Ferrigno and Arnold. I never said a word about it in my magazine. Now Weider claims he discovered Ferrigno. Bullsh*t. It’s a lie. Just like he said he started the IFBB in 1946. That’s a lie. We have all the old issues and his involvement is not even mentioned. We are doing the research now. He gave me a third page in the Your Physique Magazine when I ran the January 15, 1948 show. He lied and made up stories and people believed it. Joe was a big reader of the Hitler books. I said “Joe, you and I are both Jewish, why are you reading the books on Hitler?” He said, “Think of the power the man had.” He was a 19 year old kid. Who is looking for power at that age. One of Hitler’s sayings was, if you print a lie often enough people will come to know it as the truth. That’s what Joe does. [ Q ] What is most important to you Dan? The most important thing in my life is my wife, my five children and 15 grand children, and soon to be three great grandchildren. That’s the most important thing in my life. Not money. Weider, with all the money he could ever want, has no children although there was some talk around him having a girl at some stage, but who knows. [ Q ] What are the secrets to a long and healthy life? There is no secret. It is all in God’s hands. When I was a kid they said I would live to about five or six years old. People who are healthy die of heart attacks in their 30s 40s and 50s. People in their 70s and 80s… all their lives live until their late 90s. It’s all in God’s hands. We don’t know. [ Q ] Hi Dan. When you went to City Hall to look at the 1947 records to prove you started the IFBB, what exactly did you find? I went to downtown Kings to look for the registering of the name IFBB. But in those days they didn’t keep a register of a name, only corporations. So I could not find a record of it. No record of the sanction. That was done by private clubs. So what I have done is hire the law firm of Adam Atlas from Montreal Canada and I will know within the next two weeks. Ben Weider said he made the IFBB a Non Profit Corporation in 1946. That is not the truth. He never had it registered. So we are trying to find out when it first came up on the Canadian Government Records as an IFBB Non Profit Corporation. Ben Weider says he registered it as such in 1946. This will involve a complete search of records. It could be a Pandora’s Box I am opening up. Could you imagine? They never paid taxes on their shows and they never had the shows registered. When it first started it was no big deal. They (the Weiders) didn’t know what it (the federation) would turn out to be. [ Q ] What exactly did you find at City Hall? They found the records of the gyms I had formed in 1947. They found the corporation of the Dan Lurie Barbell Company that I formed in late 1948, the year I broke off with Weider. But they could not find any record of the International Federation of Body Building, as it was not a business, not a corporation, but only a sanction. They did not keep records in those days, but there is no question I ran the first IFBB show ever in the world, because Weider ran a show in 1947 (the Mr. Canada in October) but I have the program and nowhere does it say IFBB on it. They may have thought about it at the time though. There was a fellow who later worked for Joe Weider by the name of Emanuel Orlik. In 1965, when I published my magazine, he became my editor. So I never knew him from 1940 up to 1965, but I read his articles and he always mentioned his son, who was involved in the International Federation of Gymnastics. So that is how I came up with the name. I stole those three words “International Federation Of” and just added Body Building. [ Q ] And that’s how you say you originally came up with the name? Yes, because it sounded good to me. [ Q ] So now you are waiting on confirmation on whether Ben Weider registered the IFBB as a Non Profit corporation in 1946. Yes. We are waiting for the lawyers to conduct a search which will give me a complete report. This report will include taxes that were paid and everything you would want to know about the Weiders. [ Q ] In our last interview you say you forgot having started the IFBB. Did you get sidetracked? What happened here? This was because I came up with the name, and then broke off with Weider in late 1948. Then I had no way of getting enough contestants to run a show. If you want to run a show and you can’t reach contestants how do you advertise? So I was out until I started up my own magazine in 1965 – with Reg Park on the cover. Then I was able to start the World Body Building Guild and do what I have been doing for years. [ Q ] So you forgot about the circumstances surrounding your conception of the IFBB name? I forgot about it until my son went to look through all my junk as part of the process of doing a book on my life. Everything was put in boxes and my son said “What is this?” The program he found said International Federation of Body Building. I didn’t remember. I said, "Oh my God, who would believe me after all these years.'” This was about three years ago, since he found it. Weider (Joe) claimed they started the federation in 1936, but Weider is four months older than me. So even if he was born in 1922 he was only 14 in 1936. That’s ridiculous. Joe also claimed he discovered all the air in this world, as well as the peaks on the mountains. He discovered them all. I have a picture of what he really looked like when he started – pathetic. But he became large when he took a statue of the body of Robby Robinson and put his head on top. Pic above: Robby Robinson Posing for Joe Weiders Bronze Statue. Now there is a big lawsuit going on because Robby didn’t say anything initially, because Weider gave him a lot of free publicity. But now that it’s over, and he is not competing, he (Robby) wants his image back. [ Q ] So this clearly was not Joe’s physique you say? Joe Weider used retouching art work on several of his pictures. Putting his face on well built men is not new for Joe. I was in London in the mid-1940’s to cover the NABBA Mr. Universe. In the tall men’s class there were only two entries. “Joe said to me, ‘If I enter I have to come out third.'” Joe never had posing briefs. He came on stage with his pants on. Joe was awarded 3rd place. Now here is the kicker: when Weider printed the story and photos, Joe’s head was put on a very muscular body. He claimed this body was his. A real fraud. What a phony. Joe was always slender and never muscular. I still have the original photos. Joe as he really looked in those days. Earle Forbes took the pictures. How pathetic he looked. Remember Weider’s famous arms crossed chest shot? Joe, never looked like that in his entire lifetime. This picture was created by the late artist George Quaintance, in New York City. Pic above: Your Physique Magazine - Joe Weider on Cover - Artwork by George Quaintance. George was the art director of Your Physique. I was in Quaintance studio when he was working on Weiders retouched picture. George made a drawing of me that appeared on the cover of Weider’s Your Physique magazine. Quaintance was head judge at one of my muscle shows. [ Q ] Joe says he discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. What are your thoughts on this? Joe Weider did not discover, or develop the physiques of Arnold or Lou Ferrigno. Arnold was the NABBA Mr. Universe for several years. In 1969, my wife Thelma and myself went to see Arnold and Franco Columbu off at the TWA JFK airport. Arnold won the Pro and Boyer Coe won the Amateur event. Pic above: Arnold Schwarzenegger - Dan Lurie and Franco Columbu at TWA JFK Airport - 1969. Arnold was already discovered and his picture’s appeared in foreign muscle magazines. How strange it is that I printed photos of Arnold in Muscle Training Illustrated way before Weider did. Weider only printed results of his contests. Pic above: 1967 Arnold and Kurt Marnul. [ Q ] Have you had any contact with Joe since you called him at the hospital? I recently tried to reach his office because they said he had back trouble. His secretary told me he was recovering from his back surgery. [ Q ] So to your knowledge Joe Weider is doing well physically? His secretary says he doesn’t come into the office as often, but he would be 83 now. [ Q ] You explained in our last interview that you worked with Lou Ferrigno for six years. Exactly what was your role here? Lou Ferrigno developed his own physique. I gave him advice and helped him. All I could do was encourage him and give him advice on training, but I found out that he spoke to dozen’s of people and got advice from many different people. When I first met him he was a skinny kid. He told me at the time he would like to be the best bodybuilder that ever lived. Of course we made a challenge to Arnold in Muscle Training Illustrated, and I put Lou on the cover and started publicizing him. From the time he was 16 to the time he left me at around age 22, we had a little more than six years together. Pic above: Young Lou Ferrigno at 17. Pic above: Lou Ferrigno at 20 years of age. [ Q ] What actual involvement did you have in Lou’s training? I would correct his posing all the time. I even paid his expenses to go to his first AAU Mr. America show. I paid for him to go to his first NABBA Universe contest in London. I did a lot of things for him but we didn’t have any kind of written contact – it was like a father and son deal. I would meet Lou at least two times a week, especially on Fridays. He would come over to my office around six o’clock and leave around eight or nine at night. We would go through posing and discuss training. What got his father upset with me was when Bill Grant beat out Lou in 1972 at my WBBG Pro Mr. America. Pic above: 1972 WBBG Pro Mr America - Bill Grant Beating Lou Ferrigno. Although Bill Grant represented Weider, I didn’t care. I just wanted the best man to win. I actually wanted Lou to win. They had 18 or 19 judges. The night before, Lou looked unbeatable but he took some pills on the advice of his friends and I couldn’t believe how the definition was gone in one night. He was lucky he even placed second. His father was angry and said “why didn’t you make sure your number one boy won”. But I run an honest contest and the best man has to win, with the judges deciding this. The next year Lou never showed up at my show. He entered the Weider show and I had my Steve Reeves show where I had to put seats on the stage to fit all the people in. [ Q ] But you did have a pretty good friendship with Lou over the years you were with him? Yes. Lou’s friend Tony Badal brought him to me. In fact Lou was supposed to be the best man at Tony’s wedding. Lou never showed up. I was there. He never told Tony why he didn’t show up. [ Q ] What kind of training program did you have Lou on? I always told him to use a lighter weight. He didn’t agree with me. He couldn’t do the endurance that I used to do. I would take a lighter weight and do maybe five or 10 sets of 15. That was too much for him. He had to take a heavier weight and do three or four sets. That was not my way, but whatever he did it worked for him. Now here is the main thing: I always said “Lou, are you taking any steroids?” He always said, “Are you crazy, I would never take steroids.” He knew of the side effects and the fact they could kill so many people. Well, he lied to me. When I met his father I got proof that Lou was on steroids. And I told Matty (Lou’s father), “You know that Lou is on steroids and that could kill him.” You know what his answer was? “It is not important that he dies, it is important that he wins.” I said, “Matty you are crazy.” Who would want their son to die just so they could win a lousy muscle contest? It’s nothing. I always wanted to put Lou into the insurance business – he was a sheet-metal worker – and I said, “With the publicity you are getting, people would call you to handle their insurance. I would send you to insurance classes.” But he didn’t want that. He wasn’t interested in money. He just wanted to be popular and he almost succeeded in Africa when he came third to Arnold in the Olympia. My friend Reg Park ran the show. Reg came to some of my shows to guest pose. Pic above: 1975 Mr Olympia - Arnold Wins Beating Serge Nubret (2nd) and Lou Ferrigno (3rd). [ Q ] Why did you get sued by Lou Ferrigno? I was sued because I used his picture in the back cover of my magazine selling Jet 707. He was featured with Steve Michalik. I had releases from both of them, but Lou stated that even though he signed the release he was under the age of 21. He claimed that he was under 21, but I proved that he was over 21 when he signed the contract. The release contract had the date and this proved he was over 21. My office secretary put her name down as a witness, and it wasn’t until I had to go through the records and check that I discovered this. In fact, I have the complete file – I looked at it last week. [ Q ] And Lou was successful in suing you? Yes. They had two good lawyers and one of them was associated with the judge. So I ended up having to pay quite a bit of money. And then when I went to a Mr. America contest in California, a couple of years later, and I went backstage. At this time, Lou had forgotten that he sued me, and he greeted me with open arms. He was so glad to see me, an old friend. But when I went backstage again a second time, as Lou passed by, this is what he said to me: “You dirty Jew son of a b*tch, the day my father and I bury you will be the happiest day of our lives.” I was ready to kick him in the testicles, but he would kill me. I’m a little guy. I had one chance, but nothing happened because people separated us. I said, “Lou, there is only one person in this world who is going to take care of you. God will take care of you and judge how I tried to help you and what you turned into.” That was the last contact I, or any of my family made with Lou, except for a few years ago when they were having a sports show in Atlanta Georgia. My son was in the crowd. Lou was on stage talking about the people he was representing. He spotted my son and got off the stage, and he said, “I have to say hello to a very dear old friend,” and they hugged each other. Of course, Lou had nothing against my son Mark. Mark was almost his age. They grew up together. Mark did nothing to hurt him, they were like friends. Mark said Lou was so nice he was like a different person. That was the last contact my son had with him. This would have been around 15-20 years ago. [ Q ] Did you have any contact with Lou at this time? No. He left me after the appearance of Steve Reeves at my show. It was verified at the time that Weider offered him $50,000 for five years. Sounds good, but when you break it down it is only $10,000 per year. That is all he was getting for writing and letting Weider use his name for advertising. That was how Weider operated. By the way: Weider didn’t bring Arnold Schwarzenegger into this country. It was someone who worked for him. A guy called Lud Shusterich. He won America’s Most Muscular Man in 1941, and he worked for Weider in Europe. Pic above: Joe Weider - Arnold Schwarzenegger - Franco Columbu - Lud Schusterich. Lud came from Brooklyn. Later on I became partners with Lud in an equipment company I opened in his home town. He made the arrangements to bring Arnold to America. He said to Joe, “I have someone who is going to be good for you in the magazines; he’s known in Europe and has won NABBA (National Amateur Bodybuilding Association) five or six times.” Pic above: 1969 Letter from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Dan Lurie. Pic above: 1969 Letter Response from Dan Lurie to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course Weider never publicized the NABBA Universe – only the IFBB shows. Arnold also got a $50,000 contract for five years. Then they worked things out and it became like a father and son deal. Lud Shusterich was an architect – he built the Weider buildings in Woodland Hills. [ Q ] Why did Arnold sue you? He sued me because he claimed he never knew about the Sergio and Arnold Challenge, which was to take place in New York City, on September 1974. I offered, at the time, $5000 to the winner of this contest. He accepted and Sergio Oliva accepted. I waited until the show, and the Arnold and Sergio Challenge was to be one of the main features we had. The day before he was supposed to come, a fellow by the name of Andy Bostinto who was a friend of mine and Arnold’s, said I have Arnold’s private number in California and we (Dan and Arnold) spoke for about 20-minutes, making arrangements and determining what flight he was coming in on so he could be picked up. He was telling us that Weider didn’t want him to go because I would fix the contest so he would lose. I said to him, “I have some other news. Sergio has agreed to split the prize two ways.” Whoever comes out first or second, still gets $2500 each. At that time Arnold was getting paid $500 to do an exhibition. Plus I had to pay his expenses to come in from California to New York. Arnold said, “with that money, I’ll be there.” Of course he never showed and all I ever printed in the magazine was that he lost on default, because he never showed up. That’s all I ever said. A couple of years later, while running my first WBBG show in Los Angeles, Arnold calls and wants to have breakfast with me and Franco Columbo and, of course, my wife. So we met at the Century Plaza Hotel, and we had breakfast for about two to two-and-a-half-hours. They must have eaten about three breakfasts – steak, eggs. They ate like they had never seen food in their lives. The bill came to close to $300, just for breakfast. I had a normal breakfast – maybe $15-20. Arnold was telling us how unhappy he was with Weider, that Weider was not publicizing great European bodybuilders. He asked if I would publish some of their pictures, along with some of his articles. Of course I said yes, I would be happy to. Arnold had a bunch of papers in his car and when he pulled up to leave, he gave me the package – about an inch thick. I looked at the package and saw a blue paper. That is how he served me with a summons. I immediately called Franco Columbu and asked him if he knew about this. He said, "Dan, Arnold is my best friend and all I know is that he laughed like a madman after the breakfast". Not only did Arnold get me to pay for the breakfast, he got to serve me with papers at the same time. Franco said he swore he knew nothing – he gave me his word. Franco did however say that Arnold laughed like he got the greatest pleasure in the world. Years later, at another AAU Mr. America in Atlanta City, my wife and I walk in and behind us is Arnold. So I walk in the opposite direction. He went to the left so I went to the right. All of a sudden an arm was put on my shoulder and it was Arnold. He said, “Dan, let’s be friends again.” I said, “Arnold, I could never be your friend after what you did to me.” I helped make him famous. In one issue of Muscle Training Illustrated Magazine, I had 19 pictures of Arnold, before Weider ever published any of his pictures. I said, “I helped make you famous.” He said, “I needed the money then.” We left and my wife said, “Wasn’t Arnold nice?” and I said “No, screw him.” Years later I was scheduled to give Regis Philbin an award for being the most physically fit announcer on television. Regis started with my weights when he was 13 years old and kept in great shape. He said, "Dan I will let you know when you can come and present me with the award". Pic above: Regis Philbin and Hulk Hogan. A couple of weeks went by and I get a call, which asked me to be there on a certain date. When I got there, everyone in the green room was saying that Arnold was there. I didn’t know he was going to be on the show. I was reading my newspaper and my son was with me and I have this big plaque that I’m going to give Regis. Arnold walks into the room and he says, “Dan is that you?” I hadn’t seen him for 20 years or so. I didn’t answer him. Then he said “Lurie, is that you?” I said, “Aren’t you ashamed to even talk to me after what you did?” Again he said he needed the money then. I said, “Arnold, I have three words for you. Give it back.” He went on first and did what he was there to do and then left. He wanted to know what Dan Lurie was doing on the show. He thought I was going to expose him for the rat he was. When I did my part with Regis I didn’t say a word about Arnold. I presented Regis with a nice plaque and that was the end of it. [ Q ] So what exactly did Arnold sue you for in the end? What was the outcome? He claimed he new nothing about the contest between Sergio Oliva and him that I had organized. He wanted a million dollars because I had made a fortune on the show, and since he never gave his permission, which was a lie, he sued me for using his name without his consent. He wasn’t really known at that time though. He was just known among a few muscle fans. It wasn’t until he made the picture Pumping Iron that he got known nationally. He sued me on a false claim. We both agreed not to expose what he got but it was well over six figures, plus the legal costs I paid. Read this great article entitled: "Pumping Iron at 40: An Interview with George Butler by Shawn Perine". Also, I had all my witnesses going back and forth. Every time I had my witnesses go there it was postponed, so we went back about three or four times which cost me. In the end, the judge said he had to settle the case. He got me in the corner and said, “Dan, you could lose a fortune, you are better off settling.” Then he got to Arnold and said, “Arnold, you could lose everything. This guy (Lurie) has a strong case, anything you get from him, take it.” He worked one against the other. I was stubborn and didn’t want to give a penny. My lawyer said my fees were going to be more than that if I were to continue like this. [ Q ] People want to know more about Arnold. What else can you share? I’ll tell you one thing. When I first met him at the airport in 1968, when my wife and I greeted him there, we took him out for lunch and he would grope the waitresses. He would touch their breasts and their behinds, and say to them three words, "I vant sex". I said to Arnold, “You don’t talk that way.” Now he is accused of so many things of that nature. I called him on television a slimy snake. [ Q ] Is there anything about Arnold that you did like? He has a good sense of humor, but he is very sneaky, very untrustworthy. He’s not honorable. He uses people like Weider (Joe) did – he had a good teacher in Weider. Weider was the one who encouraged him to sue me, I know that. Do you know how I know? Because the lawyers Arnold had were Weider’s lawyers. How would he get Weider's lawyers if Weider didn’t give him the name of the law firm. Of course, Weider didn’t like me to be successful with my magazines. He even took me to court to try to stop me from using the name Muscle Training Illustrated. He said it was too close to Muscle Power and Muscle and Fitness. Of course, he lost. He tried to stop my distributors, tried to do everything possible to hurt me. [ Q ] Who would you consider the greatest bodybuilder of all time and why? In my opinion it would be Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves had the most beautiful face to rival any Hollywood actor. He was a soft-spoken gentleman, and he never took steroids. He had a natural body, used to ride his bike up the hills of San Francisco all the time. To me he was the greatest of all time. We used to visit each other at our homes. He loved to put on my Seal test cape. I never knew that he watched the Big Top Circus Show. He liked my kids and my kids would visit him at his farm in San Diego. [ Q ] Did you ever train with Steve Reeves? No, but we used to go out to Broadway shows and share lobsters and steaks together, after the shows. We always enjoyed one another’s company. Strength Oldschool NOTE: Check out this book by Steve Reeves: "Building the Classic Physique The Natural Way". [ Q ] What other qualities did Steve Reeves have that made him, in your eyes, the greatest bodybuilder of all time? He had what the French call ‘armench,’ which means he was a very, very, nice person. [ Q ] I understand you had some involvement with Bernar McFadden and his man Charles Atlas. I was the associate editor on Bernar McFadden’s magazine Physical Culture. He used to take me for lunch to the downtown athletic club – where he was a member. I had him judge some of my muscle shows in the 1940s, and every time he judged a show he would hand me a check for $1000 when he left – for being kind to him. Pic above: 1910 issue of Physical Culture Magazine by Bernarr Macfadden. I gave him a nice build up. But people didn’t respect him in the muscle field. He gave Charles Atlas the title of Worlds Strongest Man. This was done through his magazine. I was supposed to honor Charles Atlas in 1971, I believe. I gave him the date and he phoned me a month before and said he had a problem with some property in Florida, and asked me if I could hold the plaque and give it to him in 1972. That was the year he died, so I went to his funeral and was the only bodybuilder there. I gave the plaque to his sons. The Beach that Atlas went to was Point Lookout in Nassau, Long Island. He had a summer home there. Did a lot of running on the beach. He always treated me nicely. In Charles Atlas we lost a great man who helped many thousands to develop their bodies. Atlas always knocked weights saying only his Dynamic Tension could do the job. It was a lot easier selling paper courses than shipping & packing heavy barbell equipment. Atlas used weights to build up his tremendous body, but never gave credit to the exercise equipment. He was a gentleman all the way. [ Q ] What about Bernarr McFadden did you respect most? He treated me very nice. I was a young kid in my late 20s early 30s. He died at the age of 87 I believe. He always liked to walk fast and in his later years he would jump out of airplanes. He was not a tall man, probably only about 5′ 6″, but he was a very good looking man. Pic above: This book can be checked out and purchased from here. [ Q ] Tell me more about your Instant Action Positrain course. Is it still selling? They aren’t really selling that well today. I had an injunction brought against me by someone who posed in the book. I was partners at the time with a fellow by the name of John Lima, who at one time was partners with Joe Weider. With the lawsuit, they said they didn’t give me any permission to use the image and they missed out on thousands of dollars with the sale of the books. I have a couple of hundred books left. I don’t sell many of the books today. I used to sell them to Amazon, and they were doing very well – I sold maybe a thousand or so copies, which was good. And then they put a new rule in that if they didn’t sell X-amount, the amount I got would be cut in half. So it didn’t pay for me to continue selling them, so I stopped. [ Q ] What exactly did and/or does your course, provide? Well, you have to try to satisfy all people, from beginners to advanced. It is hard to put it all into one book. The book is a good way for a beginner to get started. In a lot of gyms today, people don’t lift enough weights. They put them on the treadmill. Back in those days I must have had a dozen different gyms running. It was different then because you knew everyone by name. Today it is completely out of hand – you don’t even know who the members are. So there are more in the way of different fitness needs today. [ Q ] And the book provides different ways for people to train, gives people different options? Yes, as much as I could. I always say the most important thing, even today, is walking. It is the greatest thing people can do. [ Q ] What is so great about walking do you think? Because with walking you strengthen the heart and live longer. People, who have walked long distances for most of their lives, have a record of longevity. Anything that is good for the heart is a great thing. I’m coming out with something and we are in the production stages – my grandson is pushing me. It will be called the Dan Lurie Fitness Rope. This will be a type of rope that no one has used before. A beginner finds it very difficult to jump rope, because the rope hits their feet. With my rope, there is no hitting of the feet. A person will never have to stop because the rope has not gone the complete turn. It is in the works of being patented, so I can’t talk about how it works right now. The new rope will be for people of all ages for weight loss. They don’t have to go out in the rain to walk. They will get just as much benefit if they can jump a rope for 30-minutes-a-day. That would be tremendous for the average person. 30 minutes non-stop with the rope is a long time. There is going to be an infomercial – I have people from television interested. First I want to get everything right. [ Q ] I understand you began your own corporation in the 1980s? I became 50-50 partners with John Lima in the 80s, in a separate Corp. We formed a separate Corp and had our office and Fitness showroom located on West 48 St. and Broadway in New York City. Right in the middle of Times Square. I had my own Dan Lurie Fitness World in my own building located in Queens, New York. I was 100 percent owner and it had over 40,000 square feet of space, with a large Parking area. At that time, it was the world’s largest fitness store. [ Q ] In the 40s and 50s would you have considered yourself one of the worlds strongest, most muscular, men? I won America’s most muscular man three-years-in-a-row: 1942, 43 and 44. I was the only one in the history of the AAU to win it three times in a row. The closest was twice. [ Q ] On that basis, would you consider yourself to be one of the most muscular men of that era? Oh sure. I didn’t realize how strong I was until I started out with the bent press. Maybe I was able to do 150 lbs. I remember the first time I did 100 lbs with one hand I thought, wow am I strong. But it’s all in the technique. I then went up to 150 lbs. At Sig Klein’s show I think I did 200 or 210. As the years went by I kept practicing. It has to do with strength, but the strength is not as important as the technique. [ Q ] Could you describe exactly how you would perform the one arm bent press? Bending away from the weight. Getting under the weight – you had to be flexible. The heavier you are the less you could do. Then I ended up doing 285lbs with one hand, at a bodyweight of 168lbs. [ Q ] Was this ever verified? Yes. The AAU people watched it. It was all done in front of a panel of AAU people. They were there also when I did my push-ups and parallel dips. I didn’t know who they were, but I know the names of them now. One was Rudy Zabo. He was in charge of the AAU in New York City. Another by the name of Morris Weissbrot. He was one of the judges in the 1972 Munich Olympics, which was held at one of the Jewish camps where 11 athletes were killed. [ Q ] Was the weight you lifted ever recorded? Yes, but I don’t know what they did with it. They gave me a certificate and that was it. Records weren’t kept like they are today. [ Q ] How close did you come to winning the AAU Mr. America? Bob Hoffman controlled the sport of bodybuilding in the 40s. Four of his men won. In 1942, Frank Leight (photo below), who represented York, won. In '43, Jules Bacon (photo below), who also represented York, beat me although we both won three body parts each. The contest was only between the both of us. Although the other guys were good, they weren’t in our class. In '44, Steve Stanko (pictured below) won. He also represented York and was the only Mr. America in history that could not walk on the stage, and walk up a posing platform. He had trouble with his legs, and he died from that. When it came time for him to pose, they put the lights out and they helped him out on stage. The 1944 America was held in a boxing ring in Chattanooga Tennessee. They turned the lights out, carried him into the ring, helped him up the steps, and put him on the platform. Then the lights went on. When he was through posing, the lights mysteriously went off, and they helped him off the stage. Same thing when they announced the winners. They had to put the lights out. People didn’t know what was happening – they thought it was a black-out or something. All of a sudden you have 20-30 people on stage and they announced the finalists. He won the 1944 Mr. America. Here’s something interesting: in 1942, Frank Leight won the Mr. America contest in Cincinnati, Ohio, but I was picked as the winner the night before. When they gave out the awards, they announced it as a tie between Frank Leight and myself, and they were going to have an independent judge break the tie. You know who the judge was? Sigmund Klein (pictured below). Frank Leight was the manager of his (Sig Klein’s) gym in New York City. Sig should have disqualified himself. So he picked his man. His answer was a taller man is always better built than a shorter man. [ Q ] When was the World Bodybuilding Guild started? It was started in 1965 or 1966. My first dinner was for Sig Klein. The guy who took away my title. I honored him. He never entered any competitions, but he was built nice from the waist up. His legs were weak though. He never competed, just like Jack LaLanne who never competed in any of the AAU Mr. America contests. Famous People Dan Has Met: Prime Minister of the UK, Winston Churchill. Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the US. USA Senator Jacob Javits of N.Y. Mayor Abe Beame of N.Y.C. Mayor Ed Koch of N.Y.C. Mayor Ed Juiliani of N.Y.C. Mayor David Dinkins of N.Y.C. Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Bagin Prime Minister of Israel, Sholm Peres Prime Minister of Israel, Itsik Schmere Prince’s Grace Kelly of Monaco Prince Reniure of Monaco Senator Al Da-Mato of N.Y. Gov. Soapy Williams of Mich. Gov. Hugh Cary of N.Y. and Son Chriss Gov. Mario Como of N.Y. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of Calif. Special Awards To Dan: AAU Hall of Fame Downtown Athletic Club. NYC King Neptune in Coney Island Parade Daughter Sandy Carl – Queen in Coney Island Parade Sports People: Jackie Robinson – Baseball Mel Allen Yankie – Announcer Joe Louis – Boxer Al “Bummy” Davis – Boxer “Schoolboy” Bernie Freiken – Boxer Rocky Graziano – Boxer Jack Demsky – Boxer Tiger Woods – Golf Sonny Liston – Boxer Red Hollsman – Basketball Ivan Putski – Wrestler Super Star Billy Graham – Wrestler Bruno Sammartino – Wrestler Vince McMahon – Wrestling Promoter “Captain” Lou Albana – Wrestler “Andre the Giant” – Wrestler Antono Rocca – Wrestler Show Business People: Alan Burke Regis Philbin Jan Murry Johnny Weismuller Buster Crabbe Mae West Steve Reeves Clint Eastwood Jack Sterling – Ringmaster, Big Top Circus Bob Russell Barker – Big Top Circus, Miss America TV Show Ed McMahon – Clown on Big Top TV show, Johnny Carson’s Sidekick George Burns Woody Allen Lou Costello Eddie Cantor Al Johnson Soffie Kucker Ruth St. Dennis’s husband Ted Shawn Georgie Tapps George Gerswin Ira Gershwin Steve Allen Walter Cronkite Joe Franklin Marilyn Monroe Jerry Lewis Milton Berle Jane Mansfield and husband Mickey Hagerty Bing Crosby Eddie Fisher Eddie Gormay and husband Steve Lawrence Joey Bishop Alan King Jackie Mason Buddy Hackett Carol Channing Excvia Cuget and Wife Charro Mario Lanza, Terry Robinson Shecky Greene Joel and Joan Gray Billy Rose and wife Joyce Matthews Todie Fields Ray Parker Norm Crosby Harry Bellefonte Dom DeLuise Bob Hope Jerry Colona Jan Pierce Debbie Reynolds and her Mother Ed Sullivan Sam Levinson Jack Albertson Danny Styles Jack Albertson [ Q ] Can you elaborate on the World Bodybuilding Guild, and what exactly is the bodybuilding hall of fame? I started it because I wanted to give credit to top bodybuilders in our sport. I felt it was a nice way to get closer to all the people who are interested in our sport. You go to a muscle contest; you sit in your chair. You may wave at some people there and say “how are you?” At a dinner, you can walk around and talk to people – everyone has a badge on with their name. You can go up to the Dias and talk to whoever is being honored, and you are free to take any number of pictures. It was a good thing to do for the people, and it was a good thing to publicize it in my magazines. And we would run a weekend. The Saturday night would be the contest and Sunday would be the dinner. So all the people who entered would come to the dinners too. It was a nice thing to do, and I enjoyed doing it. Of course, after a while I felt there weren’t enough muscle men to honor and I wanted to get a bigger crowd. I therefore went to sports people and movie stars. Dan’s Hall Of Fame Honorees: WBBG Hall Of Fame Dinners & Awards 1965- Sigmund Klein 1967- Bill Pearl 1968- Ricky Wayne 1969- Boyer Coe 1970- Dennis Tinerino 1971- Sergio Oliva 1972- Reg Park 1973- Steve Reeves 1974- Peter Lupus & Bert Reynolds 1975- Robert Redford & Mae West, Joe Bonomo-Chris Dickerson, Dave Draper & The “Mighty Adam” Joe Greenstein 1976- Johnny Weissmuller-Buster Crabbe, Sergio Oliva-Bruno Sammartino 1977- Steve Reeves-Billy Graham, Serge Nubret- Sylvester Stallone & the Greatest Boxer-Joe Louis 1978- Robert Blake- Clint Eastwood, James Bolin-Sen. Jacob Javits, Jack LaLanne-Jim Morris, Bill Pearl & Ivan Putski Special Awards To: President Ronald Reagan Three Prime Ministers of Israel: Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, and Menahem Begin Prince Rainier of Monte Carlo George Burns Regis Philbin Charles Atlas Joe Franklin Mayor Abe Beame NYC Mayor Ed Koch NYC [ Q ] Were many of the other honorees bodybuilding enthusiasts. Were they in any way connected to the bodybuilding scene? Some were, some weren’t. Clint Eastwood was a bodybuilder. Sylvester Stallone was always a bodybuilder. He was a member of my New York gym. His brother Frankie reminded me that when he and Sly were 13 or 14 years old when they were thrown out of my gym. I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You asked me for dues and we didn’t have the eight or 10 dollars to pay.” Stallone was a very nice person. Then when we had Clint Eastwood, he called in the night before and he said he had a problem. He was in the middle of a movie and the producer left so he had to do it himself. This is something not many people could do. So he sent me someone to take his place, to give the award to – James Roland. He was the one who was married to Barbara Streisand and had a very popular show in New York called “Hotel,” based on a nice hotel in San Francisco – the Fairmont Hotel. [ Q ] You honored Mae West with an award for sexiest woman of the century. Why did you choose her for this award and what was she like? Yes, I met Mae West at her home place. After being with her the first three hours, I told her, “Ms. West, I can’t give you any more of my time.” Of course she was the one who was helping me. I said, “My wife is downstairs and she is going to be quite upset.” She asked if my wife would like to come upstairs and meet her. I said, “No, she’s not one of your fans.” She told me to go downstairs and bring my wife up. And that’s what we did. After a half an hour they were the best of friends. We found out something strange. Mae was born in Brooklyn and her father’s name was Jack West – he was a fighter. In between fights he would rent a horse and wagon and sell fruit in his neighborhood. As a kid, she would go to Rockaway Avenue to pick up the horse and wagon. My grandfather owned the place where the cart was kept so we got very warm – I mean, what a connection. We spoke more about her father and what she did when she was living in Brooklyn. She never flew, but always took the train. She was scared of flying. And of all places, she is now buried in Brooklyn. [ Q ] What else can you tell me about Mae West? I must have sat no more than two feet from her and her skin was so soft – no wrinkles, nothing. She was in her 80s at the time. She looked great. She kept saying, “Feel my arms, I work out.” I felt her arms. She said, “Feel my breasts.” I said, “I’m not going to touch your breasts.” [ Q ] A special time in your life. Yes. I’ll tell you another story that is very special to me. In 1943 I went to Los Angeles to compete in the AAU Mr. America. I had a room-mate who was a 118 lbs weightlifting champion, Joe DePietro. He was like a dwarf – about three feet tall. He came from Patterson, New Jersey. Joe said to me one day, "come with me I want to visit my old friend, he has just bought a house in Beverly Hills". Pic above: Weightlifter Joseph DePietro - 1948 Olympics. He didn’t tell me who this friend was. It turned out to be the home of Lou Costello from Abbott and Costello. But Lou Costello had a heart problem and he was on a hospital bed. They would wheel him from room to room. He couldn’t walk, but we spoke and he grabbed my chest like he was going to beat me up. He was just joking of course. Pic above: Abbott and Costello - 1950s. I took pictures of his swimming pool and his yard. But when I developed the pictures, I found a picture of a baby carriage right next to the swimming pool. The day I left his house, after taking the pictures, his son, who was less than a year old, climbed out of the carriage and drowned. I have the only picture of the baby in the carriage before he died. Last picture probably ever taken of him. I tried to give it to the family but this never happened. This story will be in my book. ** More on this sad and terrible tragedy can be read here. [ Q ] Very touching story Dan. When will your new book be out and what will it entail? It is in the hands of the agents and publishers right now so I don’t know just yet. This book will be my life story and also about the dangers of steroids. It will teach how to become a champion without the use of steroids. ** Dan Lurie's book (Heart of Steel: The Dan Lurie Story) can now be purchased by clicking here. [ Q ] You had some dealings with another anti-steroid campaigner, Steve Michalik? Yes, the 1972 Mr. America. He now talks about the dangers of steroids. They made him mentally crazy. His brother worked for me as an artist and when Steve was about 13, he would come with his brother to my home in Long Island to deliver me the artwork. That’s how far back I go with Steve Michalik. Steroids almost killed Steve – he went through divorces and beat up his friends. The anger. He used to eat the glands from monkeys skulls to get big. [ Q ] Joe Louis and Superstar Billy Graham were others you presented awards to? Yes. I honored Joe Louis the day I honored Steve Reeves. Superstar Billy Graham and his boss Vince McMahon, who was just a youngster at the time, were there. Superstar Billy Graham introduced Steve Reeves. Billy Graham was not a speaker, but no one could have done a better job of introducing Steve Reeves. The God coming down to earth to the people was what Billy Graham said about Steve Reeves. It probably embarrassed Steve Reeves, but he was so loved by the people there. I was Superstars manager for a while, then my son picked out his home no more than five miles from me, and Superstar trained at my gym in Lynbrook L.I., New York. Pic above: Superstar Billy Graham. I gave him a key so he could train at five o’clock in the morning. I also found out that as big as he was, Superstar was taking steroids. He almost died from them with kidney problems and other things. He is crippled today. He could have been the biggest star in wrestling but drugs destroy and they destroyed him. [ Q ] On that note we have to end things Dan. We should talk again. I would like that Dave. Thanks.
  2. Little has been written on the amazing Sergio Oliva in recent years. So when the opportunity presented itself to have a seminar at the Iron Man's Gym conducted by the former Mr. Olympia and Mr. Olympus [that'd be Dan Lurie's contest before the ambitions of the Weider Empire overflowed and drowned pretty near everything else], the only man to hold both titles, I jumped at the chance. Let it be known at this point, I am a Sergio fan and have known Sergio for 16 years and have yet to see anyone - in my opinion - equal him in his prime. I first saw Sergio as a fellow competitor in the Mr. Mid-States contest in Whiting, Indiana in 1964 and all the other contestants might as well have stayed at home. He stole the show! He has a rare combination of having a large bone structure yet extremely small hips and a waist with an incredible flair at the joints that puts him in a class by himself. Sergio came into the Iron Man's Gym in the strong arms of the law. Nope, he wasn't under arrest but escorted by Oceanside Detective C.C. Sanders and the guns C.C. was carrying were 19-inches hanging from his shoulders. C.C. is a respected competitive bodybuilder as well as a top promoter and was co-sponsor of the Iron Man Muscle Classic at which Sergio would guest pose after the seminar. To accommodate all the Sergio fans three seminars were conducted over two days so the following info is compiled from all three seminars. Let's pull up a bench and get the straight scoop from the man they call The Myth. Take it away Sergio! Sergio: Well, I'm going to tell you the story of my life, Sergio Oliva! Don't be afraid. Just ask me anything you want to know. Q: Can you tell us about your early days in powerlifting? Sergio: I never did that! I was in Olympic lifting. I never was a big guy to start with but I was always real powerful. I competed in the 148, 165, and 181 pound classes. This was the way I got out of my country of Cuba and came to the United States in Miami. I started to bodybuild there and I was more powerful from the weightlifting. Three months later I was in the Mr. Florida contest. From there three months later I was beating guys that had been training five and 10 years! So I started training real good and training for the big contests. It was funny! When I was in the A.A.U. I was competing in Olympic lifting and physique contests at the same time. So this is the way it started. Q: How old were you when you started? Sergio: I started in bodybuilding at what I consider a late age. I was 22 at the time. To me the right age to start is around 16. I started late but I made it. I was working hard! I wanted to be the top one and I made it! What really makes me happy is that nobody gave me those titles. I was the winner! Lot of those guys I don't know but those days you had to win it. There were no deals! I was working real hard in a factory. It was a foundry and when it was 85 degrees outside it was almost 500 degrees inside! I saw guys twice my size pass out on a regular basis because of the heat. I worked there 12- and 14-hour days and from there I'd go to the gym and work out for three or four hours. Even in those days when I was the top one I didn't make a penny from it. I was the best but I didn't make a penny from it. Photo above: Sergio Oliva with Roy Velasco I'm a phony bodybuilder! I eat anything! Now I know my physique and my potential. I don't say you can do it. For you should know yourself and know your limits! I'm the kind of guy that does anything he wants and I don't want you to tell me what to do. How can you tell me what to do when I know my own body better than you do! I drink Coca Cola. I eat peas and beans and rice, chili, hot dogs! I don't care! I eat anything! Now I don't say I eat like that all the time. When I prepare for a contest I drop all the garbage and eat good but I'm not going to tell you that I spend all of my life eating vitamins and protein because that's bullshit! If I tell you that and one day you see me in a Pancake House eating pancakes you're going to wonder what's going on. You're the only one that's going to find out the right way for yourself. Nobody has to tell you! They used to tell me no way you can eat like you do and improve. You can ask anyone that was against me. How about that crazy Cuban! They'll say he eats any kind of junk! They know! I don't care. This is me! I know what I can do. I know my limits. Q: What's your opinion on the use of steroids? Sergio: I'll tell you what it is. When I started in this game we didn't use any of that stuff! Nothing! I didn't even know what it was then. Now all the top guys are using it. I see guys come in the gym and only work out for three months and start using steroids. It's wrong! In my personal opinion it's wrong! How can you know how much development you can get on your own without the drugs? You should see the maximum development you can get without it. Maybe some day you'll get to the point where you're going to get into a big contest and have a decision to make about taking the drugs. Some people really don't need it! There's a lot of ways to take it. You can take it through a doctor where you have a thorough checkup and the doctor will show you exactly how to use it and and how much, or you can go out and take it on your own. I don't believe anybody that's only been in the bodybuilding game for one or two years should use it! Q: Have you used it? Sergio: Oh yeah! But I don't believe in the stuff. I only prepared for this show for seven weeks. I was doing squats and pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I needed something to prepare myself quick. However, I know my limit. But I've been in this game a lot of years. You get in the gym and one year later you're using the stuff. You don't know your potential this way! You might find you can have the same development without it. Q: What do you believe in sets and reps? Say, like an arm routine? Sergio: My routine! It all depends! If I'm trying to gain weight I do less sets and increase the weight and eat anything! Now as a show gets closer I quit eating the garbage, I drop the heavy weight and train light. I increase the reps because I'm trying to burn! Say for instance I'm doing 12 sets when I'm trying to gain weight. Maybe I keep the 12 sets but not heavy anymore. I used light weights and when I used to do 10 reps; maybe I did 30 or 40 or 50 reps! So I work two different ways. Do you follow what I'm saying? I know some guys can go to the gym and do 3 sets and get pumped like hell. All right? Now this guy knows what he has to do. He knows his limits. He doesn't need to do 10 or 20 sets. It's just like vitamins; you only need to take so many. But people think the more you take the bigger you get. Your body can only handle so much protein and vitamins at one time. I know some guys that 3 sets is all they need. For some guys 3 sets is just a warmup. They have do do a lot of sets to get the same benefit. The sets and reps, training heavy or light all depends upon the individual and how he responds to it. It doesn't make any difference how Mr. Magoo trains! You might never get to look like him. Find out what works for you! It doesn't make any difference if someone else has 23-inch arms. Maybe you can kill yourself for years and never get to look like him with his routine. You follow what I'm saying? Do what works for you! Q: Once you feel the pump is this the point to stop? Sergio: No. Say you do a heavy curl and get a tremendous pump. Then you drop the heavy curls and do some preacher curls and other movements to keep that pump going. Q: Are you worried about getting robbed wearing that big gold medallion? Sergio: (A lot of LAUGHTER!) I got that medallion when gold was seven dollars an ounce. Now what's it worth? Maybe $500 an ounce? Hey, there's a lot of crazy dudes out there. If one pulls a gun and puts it to my chest and says give me that chain, he can have it! I'm no Superman! I can't fight bullets! However, once he puts the gun out of my view he's dead! If he lets me talk he's not going to shoot me! I'm not worried about it. Q: What are your future plans? Sergio: I would like to keep on competing because I don't consider myself down yet. Q: What was your maximum bench press? Sergio: I wasn't too strong in the bench press. The most I ever did was 525. For a bodybuilder that's a lot but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I can do 20 reps with 400. Q: Is it true that you bench pressed 350 x 50? Sergio: Yeah, I used to take 315 and do 40-45 reps. I bench press a little different than maybe you guys bench press. I don't lock each rep. I do it at a fast pace of short reps. I lock it every once in a while to release the pressure in my shoulders and chest and then keep going again. Now everybody in Europe benches like that. Somebody asked me why I didn't lock every rep and I said - what for? They said they lock every rep. I said how big is your chest, 32? I wasn't trying to put the guy down. I was trying to explain to him that it worked FOR ME and that's what counts! This is the way I grow so why should I change it? I create my own style of exercise that works for me! I don't know if this made a difference in my development. Maybe I would look the same training in a different way. I don't know! This is the way I'm going to keep training! Q: Do you do anything special to keep such an incredibly small waistline? Sergio: My waistline? I'm going to tell you the truth. This is my structure and always the way I was. Even when I was little I had a V-shape. When I prepare for a show I'll do situps and leg raises but maybe 3 or 4 sets but not a lot. These pants I'm wearing are a size 28 waist. I respond immediately to situps and leg raises and my waist gets even smaller. Q: When you train for a contest do you use the tape and scale a lot or do you go by the mirror? Sergio: I don't go by either. I judge how my clothes fit me. You can ask my friends, I don't look in the mirror. I never pose in the gym. I pose at home in private. Q: You've been all over the world putting on seminars and exhibitions. Can you give us some idea of where the most enthusiasm is? Sergio: There's a lot of enthusiasm all over the world for bodybuilding. Everybody is looking for more knowledge to make improvements. Q: Besides yourself, who do you think the top bodybuilder is in the world today? Sergio: To me they're all tops! I said this years back and I say it now. To me they're all tops. It's a lot of sacrifice. I know what it means to be a bodybuilder. I'm talking about the bodybuilders who have a regular job and then go to the gym after work. To go to work and then go into the gym takes a lot of determination. Q: Do you work a split routine? Sergio: Yes. Monday I work my chest, back and shoulders. Tuesday I work shoulders again but a different section and then I work my arms. Wednesday I work my legs. Thursday I do the same as Monday. Friday the Tuesday routine and Saturday the same routine as Wednesday. Monday I do benches and chin-ups. I develop my pectorals and lats at the same time. I do a lot of stuff. Monday is a long routine for me. I do flyes and dips. Dips are one of my favorites. I used to do a lot of dips. The dips are excellent for the whole upper body. I do a lot of sets in the bench press. I start with 135 and keep adding weight until I'm finally doing singles. Then I work back down on the weight. On declines I do 3 or 4 sets. 2 or 3 sets of inclines, 3 sets of flyes. Q: Do you do supersets? Sergio: I do what I call a combination - bench presses with chins. I go at a fast pace. If I sit down and get a drink and rest up, I don't feel like doing anything. So I take a shower and go home. So I go at a fast pace. For arms I do heavy curls, preacher curls, seated dumbbell curls. Q: Do you train 4 days a week or 6? Sergio: It depends how close I am to a show. If a show is close I train 6 days. Q: What kind of chin-ups do you do? Sergio: I do wide grips on a V-bar. I do the front, behind the neck and also chin with a close grip. I do lots of reps. Many people hate doing chin-ups but it is excellent for the lats and a V-shape. It's like doing squats. Everybody hates squats. Everybody likes to bench press and build a big upper body but if you go to the beach you have to keep your pants on. When you go swimming you have to swim with your pants on! You can't take your pants off because your legs look like spaghetti. It's better to train everything because then you'll grow in proportion. For a contest you're going to have to train every body part. The strongest parts of your body are your legs and back. To me the chin-ups are a must and a tremendous exercise for the back. Q: What do you do for your thighs? Sergio: If you do squats and thigh extensions for the front of the thighs and leg curls for the leg biceps you have a well-rounded routine. Leg presses and hack squats are good too. Q: Do you do your reps to failure or do you pick a certain number and do them? Sergio: It depends. I base my whole workout on how I feel that day. For example, if I put 300 on the bar Monday and do 45 reps on the bench press it doesn't mean I'm going to do the same thing on Thursday. The weather changes, a problem on the job, family problems; it all affects your mind. If the mind gets weak you're going to be weak. Q: Do you believe in a workout partner? Sergio: Yes I do. I don't like to work out by myself for many reasons. Try to find someone better than you because then you work your ass off to beat him. Look for somebody that's strong and you'll really push each other. If you're looking for tremendous development find somebody better than you and you're going to be motivated. This way you'll work to your maximum. Also it's very dangerous to work out by yourself. I had a lot of problems before. I worked to my maximum bench press and got stuck. The bar ended up on my chest and there was nobody in the gym so I had to roll the bar off me and it really scared me. That was the end of me training by myself. Also with a training partner there's days you don't feel too good but your partner's motivated and pushes you. Then you end up having a good workout that you wouldn't have had. For a partner to be of benefit it has to be the same routine for both of you no matter what weight you're handling the weight should be the same. Q: What do you do for the shoulders? Sergio: A lot of exercises for the shoulders. For tremendous shoulder development do presses behind the neck. Then do lateral raises to the front, side, and back and you'll get all the shoulder development you want. Whatever exercise you do, if you can get a good 12 reps you should use more weight. Q: What about your biceps routine? Sergio: Like I said before, curls, preacher curls, dumbbell curls. It's the way I do it, the FORM that counts. We can both do the same exercise and get different results. IT'S ALL INDIVIDUAL! Calves and forearms are hard to develop. If you don't have some natural development it's hard to get them to grow. I don't even work forearms and they're thick all over. In my opinion the easy muscles to develop are the chest and biceps. I find the calves and forearms are the hardest to get to grow. Q: What would you suggest for the forearms? Sergio: Reverse curls for 10 to 12 reps each set. Q: How do you do your squats? Sergio: I use a 4x4 with my heels elevated. I like it better that way and get better development than by doing them flat-footed. I do a full squat and come down all the way. I have my feet at a 45-degree angle in all my squats. I use my legs and nothing else when I squat. Q: Do you plan on competing again? Sergio: Oh yeah, as long as I have about four to five months notice. Sure I'll kill myself for the money and contest as long as I know it will be fair. Q: Any more advice about the steroids? Sergio: Like I said before, I personally don't recommend that you use them. I see too many beginners come into the gym and then six months later want to use all the garbage! It's no good for him! A couple of years later it's still no good for you! How do you really know what your potential is without it! The way for you is to go without it! Then if you're a top man some day and you feel by using it it will give you an increase and you want to try it, then try it. But do it through a doctor and not on your own. Q: What kind of diet do you go on? Sergio: I diet for a contest but not a strict diet. I know my metabolism and the type of skin I have. So I know how much time I need to cut up. I don't need to go for months and months. The most I stay on a diet is for two to three weeks. I cannot go for more than that. Between contests I eat anything! You name it! Rice, beans, chocolate shakes, Coca Cola. Why not? I don't care! But I balance the meals. Like last night I had a pizza so tonight I'll have a steak and salad. That's the trick! I don't eat junk every day! Then when I come down for a contest or show I come down slowly. I don't try to rush it. Q: What do you recommend for intermediate and beginning bodybuilders as far as diet is concerned? Sergio: You find some beginners that look better than some guys that have been training for years. So what I'm saying is GET TO KNOW YOUR OWN METABOLISM. We all have a different metabolism. If you have a slow metabolism you have to watch what you eat. Everything you eat you gain very rapidly. If you have a fast metabolism you can eat anything! I personally have a fast metabolism. I have no problem. I know my metabolism, I know whatever I eat today isn't going to stay in me to until tomorrow. I'm going to go in the gym and burn it up. If you have a slow metabolism then watch what you eat! As far as recommending a diet I leave it to the individual to LEARN HIS OWN BODY. We're all different. I can tell you to eat this and eat that but maybe your metabolism is way different than mine and it wouldn't work for you. Q: Do you eat anything special before a workout? Sergio: No, I don't. I eat whatever I feel like eating but I don't eat two hours before I train. I have my breakfast like anybody and my lunch like anybody. Then I go work out. After I work out I have my supper. Q: What's the latest you have supper? Sergio: I don't have a set time. Every day it's different. Now it's better for you to have a set time. Sometimes I come into the gym at different hours because of my work, so I have to eat at different times. This doesn't affect me. A different person might be affected by it. I have a friend who has to have all his meals at the same time. Q: Can you recommend a routine for a beginner or intermediate who wants size? Sergio: You gain size by the amount of food you eat, the amount of protein and calories you take in every day and by lifting heavy. You have to work heavy and do less sets than you do when you're trying to cut up. Say for instance you bench press with 200 pounds and you're doing 15 to 20 reps. You're not going to gain much size. Add about 20 or 30 pounds and do about 8 to 10 reps. Now you're working for size. Keep adding weight. This is the way you'll gain your size. Also, whatever you can eat, you eat! Train four or five times a week and eat anything but check your metabolism to see if you're burning it up. If you have a very slow metabolism, you have to work on the sets and reps like crazy! While someone else does three sets you might have to do at least 10 sets. There's no secret as to weight or so many sets and reps. Don't let the magazines and books fool you with that kind of garbage! It's bullshit! There's no secrets!!! Look at all the champs there are! Now find me two physiques in all the world that train the same way exactly! No two even have the same physique! If there is a secret and everybody does the same routine we should all develop the same way but for some reason we don't. Right! It means do your own thing! You can try somebody else's routine but it doesn't mean it will work for you. Eventually you'll find routines that work for you. Not the ones I say! I say that one because it's good for me but it doesn't mean it will be good for you. You know what I mean? This is the one you have to work on! A titleholder tells you a routine that works for him but he doesn't know if it's going to work for you. NOBODY KNOWS YOURSELF BETTER THAN YOU!!! Q: So when you're working for size you should pretty well eat what you want? Sergio: As long as you balance your meals. Again, base it on your own body. You might gain and gain but get fat. This is not what you want. So you have to see what your metabolism can handle. You want to gain solid muscle size. Don't waste your time by adding a lot of fat. That's not what you want. If you gain 40 pounds of fat and start cutting up you have to drop the 40 pounds and you'll be right back where you started from. You follow? You can't turn fat into muscle. Bruce Randall went from over 400 and dropped down to under 200 pounds and won the Mr. Universe. Q: I train at a gym in Riverside where there are no advanced bodybuilders. My training partner and I ave two different theories on building bulk. I say stay with the basic exercises - squats, rows, curls, cleans and so on. He's more into the exotic exercises - hack squats on a machine, this type of thing. What do you say? Sergio: Here's the trick and the mistake we all make from the beginning. I did it and they all did. If you work only one area of a muscle, say the triceps, you're only working one part of the muscle. This is a mistake! You have to hit the muscle on three different exercises to hit all the sections. Q: What are some of the exercises you would do for the triceps for example? Sergio: For example, I do lying triceps extensions with a cable. Then I do seated triceps extensions with a barbell. Then I do a lying French curl with barbell. So I've worked the triceps from all angles. There's plenty of exercises to do. You have to find out the ones that work for you. The mistake is to say to do 10 sets of one exercise for a muscle because you're not working all the parts of the muscle. Q: Have you worked with any women in bodybuilding? Sergio: I don't like the ladies with muscles. The muscles are for the men. That's my personal opinion. Okay? I like the women feminine! I dig any lady that's feminine. There's plenty of exercises the women can do to stay trim and in good shape without getting muscular. That's not for the women! Once you get muscular you lose the feminine look! Q: Didn't you work in Florida for a while for Arthur Jones? Can you tell us a little about him? Sergio: He has some good machines but if you take somebody like me who already has the body and put him through the machines you're not going to be able to tell how great the machine really is. The only way you're going to be able to prove how good the machine is would be to put a beginner on it and see what kind of progress he makes with it. If you put a top bodybuilder on it how can you prove how good it is? I'm already developed from the free weights so who can say what the machines are doing? It's really hard to tell! Q: Don't you believe everybody develops differently? Sergio: Definitely. Everybody is going to respond differently to the weights even on the same routine. Everybody has a different metabolism. Q: What do you think about powdered protein? Sergio: Yes, you should take protein. If you're training hard you're burning a lot of energy and with the food itself you might not get it all back. So you need the extra supple such as the supplements. Any supplement that has all the amino acids is good. It doesn't make any difference if Mr. McGoo made it. As long as it has all the amino acids in it, it's good. Q: If somebody squats, do you think full squats are the best or half squats? Sergio: Full squats. I do squats until I sit on my calves. I use a 4 x 4 piece of wood under my heels. You have to do full squats for complete leg development. I used to squat between 650 and 750. That's a lot for bodybuilding but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I have a friend in Chicago that's a powerlifter. He weighs 165 and does over 700 in the squat. I'm not a powerlifter. That's not my game. My game is bodybuilding. Q: How much do you weigh right now? Sergio: Now? 210 at 5'9". I feel good. I'm light. I hurt my knee so I haven't done any heavy squats lately. I need another 15 to 20 pounds of bodyweight. If you want to look good you have to suffer like in anything. Q: I heard that your forearms were so big that you couldn't flex your biceps all the way. Is that true? Sergio: Yes, at one time my forearms were well over 17 inches and they were so thick up high that when I flexed the forearms would hit the biceps. Q: What's your waist right now? Sergio: 28 inches. I always have a 28. These pants are a 28. Q: How do you ever get pants to fit you? Sergio: It's easy . . . tailor made! My legs were always bigger than my waist. I was the only one to have a smaller waist than thigh. My thighs measured 29 inches. It's my structure. Even when I was skinny I had the V-taper to my body. This was just the way I was even before I touched a weight. This was a disadvantage for me when I was an Olympic lifter. I was never good at the Press. I was good at the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk but not the Press. For the Press you need a big waist. I always had a problem with my back on the Press. Q: How do you know when you're over-training? Sergio: When you hit a sticking point on the weights and can't go beyond it for a couple of weeks. Q: If you work your back today and then work your arms the following day aren't you still using the same muscles? Sergio: For every exercise you do you're using the arms but not directly. Don't pay attention to the routines in the magazines. They'll drive you crazy! Keep in mind you're an individual and what works for you doesn't always work for someone else. Q: I read an article that said once you work up to your maximum weight set you shouldn't do any more pumping sets. Do you agree with that? Sergio: I don't know about that! My theory is a little different. I work on the bench for example. I start off with 135. I warm up and keep adding 20 pounds each set and do as many reps as I can do and hit my maximum weight for what I can do that workout. Then I drop 20 pounds each set and work back down the same way. I do a lot of sets on the bench. It's up to you to try both ways and see which way works best for you. Q: I've read where you can cut your forearm training in half by every time you grip the bar in the other exercises to grip the bar real hard. Is this true? Sergio: It's true but you still have to do forearm work because it's the only thing that will give you maximum development for the forearms. Q: How long have you been a competitive bodybuilder? Sergio: I started bodybuilding back in 1964. I made a lot of progress fast because I trained very hard and had been Olympic lifting and had the strength. Most people thought I'd been training for 10 years after I'd been training for two. I had a lot of potential for bodybuilding with my frame and Olympic background. Q: What was the biggest you had your chest? Sergio: When I went to Germany to compete in '72 my chest was over 58 inches and I was about 22-3/4 on the arms. Q: How many sets do you usually do per upper body part? Sergio: I cannot tell you exactly but I do a lot of sets. Some exercises I do 5 sets, some 2 sets, some 3 sets. It really varies. Put it this way: On Monday I work chest, back and shoulders only. I do a lot of benches but only 3 sets of declines and 3 sets of inclines because I already worked the chest hard with benches. Then I do chin-ups, I do pullovers, I do dips, I do flyes, I do crushes but I only do 3 sets of all of these. The only thing I do a lot of sets on is the bench. For arms I do the same thing. I do about 4 or 5 sets of heavy curls. I then do 3 sets of a lot of other movements, preacher curls, dumbbell curls, French presses. I do a lot of different exercises but usually only 3 sets. Q: What kind of work did you do in Cuba? Sergio: Construction. When I came here I was in meat packing and was working 12 to 14 hours a day. When I finished I'd go to the gym. My boss didn't believe me. He said, "Sergio, are you going home?" I'd say, "No, I'm going to the gym." I tried many sports in Cuba. I was poor and had no money that this was the only way to get out of the country and they don't let you out. I tried baseball, I tried boxing, I was real good and hit real hard. But they had some dude who hit REAL hard so I gave up. I tried running but I was too big for that. I was always really skinny but I always had a small waist with a V-shape even before I know anything about weights. I was at the beach and this instructor passed by and asked if I lifted weights. I said, "Weights? What is weights? The only weights I lift is in construction." He said come to my gym and gave me his card. Q: How old were you? Sergio: I was about 18 or 19. That's when I started. I went to the gym then, I was always good in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk from the start but because of my small waist I was never good in the Press. Q: Did you have flexibility problems? Sergio: No! No! That's why I was good in the Snatch and Clean. If you don't have flexibility you can't Snatch. Anyway, I went to the gym and worked on the Olympic lifts and before you know it I beat everybody in Cuba in weightlifting. So I represented Cuba in Olympic lifting and as soon as I got to Jamaica that was it! Adios! Q: On your Thursday routine for chest, shoulders and arms do you do the same thing? Sergio: I do the same exercises and the same routine but I drop the weight and train real light. Q: What about a lot of forced reps like the Mike Mentzer routine? Sergio: I don't know anything about the way Mentzer trains. I've never trained with forced reps so I can't make any comment on it. Again my best suggestion to you is to try a routine for a period of 2 to 3 months and see how it works for you. You don't care what Mr. McGoo does. You only care about what's the best for you. Find what works for you! Now Mr. Oliva says if you do this exercise you'll gain three inches on your arms. You may do the exercise for the rest of your life and never gain an inch. Now here comes Mr. Nobody with a crazy routine. You try it and your arms grow and develop like crazy! Now maybe my routine doesn't work for you because your bone structure and your metabolism has a lot to do with the way you develop. I used to look in the books and magazines and try the different routines of the top guys to find which one worked for me. If I didn't see any or much progress I'd drop it no matter how many titles the guy had won. I recommend to anybody find the exercises and routines that work for you. Q: Do you do any movements to enlarge your rib cage? Sergio: No. I never did nor ever tried any movement for it. Q: Did anybody help you with your training? Sergio: To tell you the truth, nobody. I made it all on my own with real hard work. Even today I'm not a real classy poser because I never took instruction from anyone. I never had the time. I had to work and I had to work out. Q: Are you financially well of that you don't have to work? Sergio: No, No, NO! I still work. I take off to go to Europe and around the country for exhibitions but I still work. Bodybuilding is something I can't depend on for the rest of my life. Q: What kind of work do you do? Sergio: I'm a police officer. Q: Tell us a little about your experience in 1966 over losing the AAU Mr. America to Bob Gajda. Sergio: Now, don't get me wrong. I'm going to explain it to you the best way I can. Bob and I were in the gym together but we never trained together like it said in the magazines because he had his way of training and I had mine. So we went to the Jr. Mr. America together and I won everything, all the body parts, everything. You judge this, right? They said I couldn't become Mr. America because I don't speak English. That's when I switched over to the IFBB. Q: Do you think there'll be another Sergio Oliva? Sergio: Sure! THE WORLD IS CRAZY! You see some guys that don't work out that look really good. So you put them in the gym and they train and they'll look tremendous. They'll be better than Sergio. Q: Is your training intensity up to par now with the way it used to be? Sergio: No! I trained for this show but I had pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I trained for this show for only seven weeks. I've been training like crazy and dropping down and everything. If there's nothing coming along I just maintain. If there's not something real big coming along I don't kill myself. I can work out as hard now as I did before! In bodybuilding you constantly improve. In other sports once you get old you're out! In bodybuilding you get older, you get better! Q: Do you think you've reached your potential? Sergio: I reached my potential in 1970 and then again in Germany and then in Mexico again. I know I can reach it when I really want to. But I'm not going to make that kind of sacrifice and then have Mr. McGoo beat me! Q: Tell us a little about your movie career? Sergio: I've got three movies out but they're all in Spanish. People say I'm a good actor. I don't know, I guess I am. It's tremendous, I like it. It's exciting, it's different! The last one I did about three years ago. It was made in Durango, Mexico. It's a Western. That's where John Wayne made a lot of his movies. I had to ride a horse without a saddle! Q: Can you ride? Sergio: Oh yeah! As long as the money is there I'll do anything! That Mother was so fast so I grabbed it by the neck. We only shot that part once, thank God because I don't think I could have repeated it. I got lucky! Q: Can you give me a routine to really blitz the waistline? Sergio: There's no secret to it, Baby! The only three exercises I know are the situps, leg raises and twists. There's no secret in that. It's the way you control your diet and doing the exercises. There's no secret! Don't let anyone confuse you! Just do situps, leg raises and twists and control your mouth and you'll have a good waistline. Q: Just prior to a contest what do you eat? Sergio: Fish, eggs, steak, that's it! In the last month almost no carbohydrates at all. Q: Is there any secret to working the back? Sergio: There's no secret again. I do a lot of different exercises for my back. It's like one guy maybe does nothing but pullups for his back. Along with this you need to do rowing, cleans, which are a tremendous exercise buy most bodybuilders don't like to do cleans because it's hard work. It's just like doing squats. Squats are a tremendous exercise and you need to do squats but they're hard work! If you're going to be in this game you have to do squats. They'll give you a tremendous set of legs, Keep in mind if you have a big chest and big arms and your legs look like spaghetti you're not going to do any good in a contest. Q: Do you drink? Sergio: Sure, every once in a while when I go to parties. When I go out I have a ball! Q: Have you thought of entering the Strongest Man in the World contest? Sergio: If they call me sure I'll go! I don't say I'm the world's strongest bodybuilder, I say I'll go against anyone as long as the money is there. Don't believe what the magazine says until you see the guy actually doing the lifts he's supposed to be able to do.
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