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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. Long gone are the days of the "classic" bodybuilding look - Wide shoulders, big arms, tiny waist, athletic legs, oozing health and vitality. Serge Nubret and Arnold (pictured above) was a prime example of this. The classic, flowing lines have vanished and sadly, possibly never to be seen again. From the mid '90's onwards, the sport of bodybuilding took a dive and plunged into a state of mass, belly freaks! Blame the drugs, the judges, the bodybuilders themselves, whomever...bodybuilding unfortunately became and has become a freak show for the wrong reasons. No wonder it's not an Olympic sport because one look at today's crop of top Mr Olympia competitors is a major turn off for the general public. Who wants to look like a 300+ lb ripped AND bloated gorilla!!? Watch the following video before proceeding to read the rest of the article... EUGEN SANDOW (1867 - 1925) Eugen Sandow, the "father of modern bodybuilding" began it all. He was the first true bodybuilder so to speak to earn a living from performing strength acts and posing displays. He paved the way for others to follow but would unfortunately turn over in his grave if he could see the state of current bodybuilding. Sandow displayed an amazing rock-hard physique which to this day still shocks people because NO protein supplements of any kind were invented back in those days, and more importantly.... NO DRUGS! Eugen Sandow developed his body by natural means (consistent hard training and diet ) with the help of good genetics of course. His physique exuded an incredible amount of muscle - wide shoulders, big arms, abs with a tight waist and athletic, muscular, strong legs. From head to toe, he was covered in muscle and his appearance was down to hard training and diet only.... No drugs of any kind. To see a list of amazing old-time 100% "natural" physiques watch the video below: Bodybuilding has obviously progressed over the years. I'm not going to go through each and every bodybuilder but I will choose a small, select few to prove my point that bodybuilding since the mid 1990's has horribly gone down hill. Melvin Wells (1919 to 1994), was a bodybuilder with outstanding genetics. That picture above was taken around the late 1940's, maybe 1949 and you can clearly see he had the "Sandow" mold - wide shoulders, big arms, decent chest, tight midsection and athletic muscular legs. A bit light on the calves (not blessed genetically in that dept. ), but overall, a pleasing, aesthetic physique which anybody today who enjoys training with weights would love to have. Melvin's physique is the type of body that the general public could strive to achieve. They would believe that a physique like Melvin's could actually be attainable without resorting to drugs. Let's jump from the 1940's to the 1970's now and take a look at the development of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Back in Arnold's prime bodybuilding days ('60's through to the '70's), he trained for mass and was huge at 6ft 2". He was one of the biggest bodybuilders around. He still maintained an incredibly tight waist at a bodyweight that fluctuated between 225 and 250 lbs. Arnold is considered the 'King' of all bodybuilders as he developed a physique which to this day has not been equaled. (This statement is obviously debatable). But in my opinion, Arnold had it all. He managed to build a body which carried mass with aesthetic appeal. Steroids however did play an important part in helping Arnold attain such development unlike Eugen Sandow, who built his body naturally. Steroids have played an important part in helping bodybuilders attain extraordinary levels of physique development. The following information on steroids, you, the reader, should find extremely interesting.... Anabolic Steroids were developed in the late 1930's. They helped stimulate appetite and increased lean, muscular bodyweight and strength gains. Throughout the 1940's it was common for Russian Olympic Weightlifters to be placed on steroid programs in order to get stronger and recover faster. In 1958, the drug Dianabol was developed and approved by the FDA for human use thanks to the U.S. Olympic Team physician, Dr. John Ziegler (1920 - 1987) (Photo below ). This opened the doors for US athletes to take advantage of what the Russian's used. Dianabol may have been approved in 1958 but steroid use was still rampant in the 40's through to the 50's in the sport of weightlifting and possibly bodybuilding. By the 1960's it was common place for weightlifters and bodybuilders to be taking steroids. In Germany perhaps more so than any other country, anabolic steroid research and development was at its peak. So from reading the information on Steroids above, we could assume that bodybuilders from the 1940's, such as Steve Reeves could have possibly taken steroids? Regardless of whether or not certain bodybuilders from the 1940's onwards may have taken steroids, doesn't matter. This article is not about which bodybuilders took steroids, it's not about comparing natural bodybuilders with drug induced athletes, this article is about opening readers eyes to the fact that bodybuilding physiques today are much worse compared to the old school bodybuilders of yesterday. And yes, drugs are a serious concern. I'm clearly not an expert in the drug field, having been "natural" all my life (guilty of consuming Creatine and Protein Supps from time to time), but I think it's safe to say the drug use in the 1940s / 1950s would have been very little compared to present times. You just have to observe bodybuilders physiques through history to see that. Here are some reasons which have possibly led to the serious decline of Modern Bodybuilding and why it needs to change… 1. POSING Stupid Posing with arms flared out and extreme bending of the legs when hitting a side chest shot. Posing in general is just bad. The photo above displays bodybuilder Melvin Wells taken late 1940's and Ronnie Coleman from the late 1990's, maybe even early 2000's. Regardless of physique, which bodybuilder's front relaxed pose in your opinion looks better? Personally, I think Ronnie Coleman's arms out wide, ready for take off pose simply looks comical! Let's take a look at the classic Side Chest pose in bodybuilding and compare Arnold from back in 1974 to one of the current top bodybuilders, Kai Greene (although not competing anymore). Regardless of physique, which pose in your opinion looks better? Personally, Arnold's pose looks so much more aesthetic and professional than Kai's version. Kai's pose shouldn't even be called a 'side chest' because his chest is slumped down whereas Arnold's rides high into the sky. But Kai's posing style seems to be common among today's crop of bodybuilders. Bodybuilder's today could learn a lot from observing how classic bodybuilders back in the day posed. For side chest posing, you will NEVER beat Arnold! 2. FAKE TANIt’s hard to tell which bodybuilders are black and which are white? (not a racist remark just merely an observation due to the heavy use of fake tan). I would assume that fake tan was introduced for health reasons (potential skin cancer from too much sun rays) as bodybuilders in Arnold's day and even going back to the 1950's muscle beach days, trained and soaked up the warm sunshine. Another reason could be because of poor lighting at bodybuilding contests being too harsh and bright and thus washing out all the definition amongst competitors. Whatever the reason, in my opinion, the fake tan needs to either drastically improve or simply go. I much preferred the look of bodybuilders naturally created skin tones from basking in the sun, from back in the day, as it looked so much better on stage compared to now. 3. CONTEST LIGHTING Extremely bad – Is this why bodybuilders need such dark tans? This was discussed previously within point no. 2. 4. THONG ATTIRE Who the hell brought thongs into male bodybuilding contests? I'm not interested in seeing ripped glutes and couldn't care less whether or not a bodybuilder had striated bum cheeks!! The only person I want to see wear a thong is a sexy woman. The thongs need to be scrapped and have the Arnold style briefs brought back. But that's just my opinion. 5. MASSIVE GUTS! Most modern bodybuilders simply can’t do vacuum poses or even just hold in their stomachs. Maybe this is to do with today’s drugs and HGH use, I don’t honestly know. Back in the old days, you would never catch a bodybuilder with a protruding gut, even in the off season. Besides the drugs, I'm sure it also comes down to the lack of posing practice. Posing just isn't as valued in this day and age as it was back in the pre-90's. So now you have all the giant competitors at the Mr Olympia raising their hands in the air, walking about the stage with their guts hanging over their skimpy thongs. What ever happened to the good old Vacuum pose during posing? 6. RIPPED GLUTES When did we start judging physiques on how ripped a bodybuilders glutes are? I've also discussed this on point no.4. 7. MASS... MASS... MASS Modern Bodybuilders play the size game and leave aesthetics out – Arnold and Sergio had plenty of mass but also had aesthetics. Even while piling on the beef, they still managed to keep their waists under control. Today it's all about who is biggest regardless of whether the bodybuilder has a massive protruding gut! Are judging standards to blame or is it the bodybuilders? Let's take a look at Ronnie Coleman who has won the Mr Olympia 8 times equaling Lee Haney's record. Ronnie in his early days of competing had a tremendous, old school physique. He was simply unbelievable! In his early years of entering and winning the Mr Olympia he looked fantastic but within two to three years he began seeking mass and became one of the biggest bodybuilders ever. However, the price of attaining such mass meant he lost his old school aesthetics i.e. tiny waist. Instead he gained a massive, bloated looking belly which was obviously due to the consistently high level of abusive concoction of drugs he was taking to attain such freakish, cartoon proportions. It has since been reported that Ronnie Coleman's drastic body transformation was obtained with the help of guru Chad Nicholls. To see the change in Ronnie's physique from the early days to the present watch the video below: Now granted back in Arnold's day and perhaps from the 1940's onwards, drugs were part of the sport of bodybuilding but nowhere near the level that today's crop of bodybuilders take. Modern bodybuilding has therefore in my opinion become grotesque and drastically needs to change. I am sure that I am not the only one who has become disgusted with some of the top world level physiques who actually manage to qualify and enter the "supposedly" biggest bodybuilding contest of the year, the Mr Olympia. Today's physiques look unhealthy, unattainable and non-aesthetic. If we go back to the early 1900's right up to 1980's / very early 90's physiques, bodybuilders such as Lee Haney, Kevin Levrone (photo below) etc all had mass with class, they were aesthetically pleasing and looked healthy. There were obviously exceptions with some 90's bodybuilders...such as Jean-Pierre Fux... In certain photos Jean-Pierre Fux could look really good... And then you see this... Sadly the above photo including previous photos of Phil Heath and Ronnie Coleman clearly illustrates what bodybuilding has become. Anyone remember the famous squat incident of Jean-Pierre Fux that resulted from a Flex photoshoot? Jean-Pierre talked about this incident with Dave Palumbo on RX Muscle... Even old school bodybuilding legend, Lou Ferrigno, looked terrible for his comeback in later years... The sport of bodybuilding today seems to be "Drugs First" followed by training. Too often now, competitors at the "Mr Olympia" compete with a glaring weakness(s) and just simply do not look complete or worse - they look awful and out of place. My first impressions of certain competitors have been..."That guy should compete in powerlifting instead of bodybuilding! ". The reason I say that is because they clearly don't have the genetics to be a top level bodybuilder, even though some people will argue "well... they must be good if they are able to compete at the Mr Olympia!! ". Not in my opinion. The fault lies, I believe, behind the scenes with organisations allowing so many bodybuilders to easily gain Pro cards and compete in the bigger, professional contests. Contest organizers these days allow too many competitors to enter the Mr Olympia. It should only be the BEST that compete at the Olympia. In the 1970's, only the best bodybuilders, top 5 I believe, competed at the final night show whereas now, its completely different. Strength Legend Larry Wheels (photo below) is a prime example of someone with an outstanding physique but has a glaring genetic weakness. His calves ain't going to win him a Mr Olympia trophy and if it does, what does that tell you about the Mr Olympia "Judging" standard? Larry in my opinion should focus on setting records in the strength world and forget about bodybuilding contests. He's getting into serious Arm Wrestling now which is good to see. One of the sad things about bodybuilding over the last 30 years or so is that competitors have resorted to either cosmetic enhancements or injecting oil into a bodypart to increase the size of a lagging muscle. Its shocking and ridiculous and incredibly sad that a bodybuilder would do such a thing to simply win a trophy. Lou Ferrigno became famous for getting calf implants and was still allowed to compete! And people are surprised that bodybuilding isn't an Olympic sport!? Crazy. Throughout the years on several occasions, bodybuilders have been awarded 1st place at the Mr Olympia contest when clearly they should NOT have won. Six times Mr Olympia winner, Dorian Yates springs to mind. He was one of the first high level bodybuilders to abuse the MASS GAME and take the sport in a new direction. Dorian in his early days had a very good physique. However, from 1993 onwards, he began pushing the limits and got much bigger. Unfortunately so did his waist! Throw in some badly torn muscles and he was lucky to have won six Mr Olympias. Dorian Yates talked to Joe Rogan a while back regarding his drug use and thoughts on why bodybuilders mid-sections have gotten out of control. The pursuit of size at all costs has led a lot of Bodybuilders in the last 20+ years to simply become a series of unattractive lumps and bumps. Old school bodybuilders such as Arnold and Sergio were HUGE but still carried serious mass with nice flowing aesthetic lines. If you were to create a silhouette effect of a typical bodybuilder from today, guaranteed they would look blocky in comparison to the likes of Sergio Oliva. This Superman cartoon makes me laugh because it resembles modern bodybuilding to a T! Today every bodybuilder looks the same. They all appear blocky with the wide waists and over developed massive thighs. Judging standards should be changed to help bring back vacuum shots and great abs again. Ralf Moeller had one of the best ab shots ever. His physique was underrated in my opinion. The picture below is a famous silhouette of a massive bodybuilder from the '90's. Can you identify him? With the introduction of "Classic Physique" bodybuilders competing within that class definitely have impressive physiques which rival the "Open" Mr Olympia competition, in my opinion. One fitness social media icon with an impressive physique and superb upper body development is Simeon Panda. His upper body represents what Open bodybuilding should be about. Bodybuilding legend, Brian Buchanan, probably had one of the smallest waists in Open bodybuilding history. His V-Taper was incredible and made for a dramatic audience shock when he performed the front double biceps pose with a vacuum. Melvin Wells nodoubt built his impressive physique naturally. Both men were muscular, strong and oozed aesthetic appeal - They both had impressive V-Tapers which is sadly what bodybuilding today is missing. The two photos of Sergio Oliva below are from the 1960's. Simply incredible. So which are you (the reader of this article) - Old School Bodybuilding Fan or Modern Bodybuilding Fan? The recent 2020 Open winner of the Mr Olympia contest was Mamdouh Elssbiay (Big Ramy). What do you think of his physique and how does he compare to previous winners of the Mr Olympia? I made the following video on Big Ramy back in 2015... Do you think Big Ramy will dominate the Olympia for the next several years? Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I'm always interested to hear what other people think about the sport of bodybuilding, so if you have any thoughts or opinions, please post your comments below. Thank you. I'll leave you with the following images.... The state of Modern Bodybuilding... Is Modern Bodybuilding healthy? Is it worth killing yourself for a Mr Olympia title? Keep training hard and remember... Keep it Old School! Strength Oldschool * Please note: Text article content is copyrighted and may not be used on another website! Readers do have permission to share this article (greatly appreciated) across social media by clicking the "share" button link. *
  3. * This article by Strength Oldschool was initially written on Dec 3, 2016. It has now been updated as of 8 March 2021. * Please watch the video first before reading the article - The video only goes up to 2016 and does not contain footage of later Mr Olympia winners. In these modern times the ‘Mr Olympia’ is considered the KING of ALL bodybuilding contests. Who ever wins the Mr Olympia is simply known as the best bodybuilder on the planet. It’s a title that every single heavyweight competitive bodybuilder hopes to win. Before the Mr Olympia contest was created, bodybuilders back in the early days entered the ‘Mr America’ and ‘Mr Universe’ contests which were highly respected. If a bodybuilder won those contests you were considered the best. However in 1965, Joe Weider decided to create a contest that would bring together Mr America and Mr Universe winners to determine the greatest bodybuilder in the world. That contest became known as the Mr Olympia and to date, there have been only 16 winners. When it comes to ‘How to Judge a Physique’, everyone is different. But you need to ask yourself what are you looking for when it comes to an Olympian Physique. In my opinion, I’m looking for mass with aesthetic appeal i.e. Broad Shoulders, V-Taper, Tiny Waist, Big Arms, Medium to larg-ish legs (not too big), Big Chest & Back and no glaring weaknesses. If a lifter has an extremely poor body part, i.e. their calves…they do NOT deserve to be awarded the title of Mr Olympia. Everything needs to be in proportion. I have included a list of all the winners below – have a read and see if you agree with my own thoughts. Please respond back with any comments you have. Thank you. 1. Larry Scott Larry Scott (12 Oct. 1938 - 8 March 2014) won the contest twice (1965 & 1966). Tremendous physique. Arms and shoulders were out of this world and would even do damage still in today's contests. Larry was the first ever winner of the Mr Olympia contest. He unfortunately passed away back in 2014 but right up till his death, he continued to train and maintain a fantastic physique and still had incredible arms. He was genetically blessed with god given muscle insertions. His only real weakness was his clavicle length which he managed to overcome by developing one of the greatest shoulders in history. Superb at posing, he created many distinct artful poses. He carried mass with class as he developed and maintained an aesthetic physique. Larry Scott at 70 years old training... 2. Sergio ‘The Myth’ Oliva Sergio Oliva (4 July 1941 - 12 Nov. 2012) was known as "The Myth" for good reason – He was scary big with full, long muscle bellies all over. He had no weak points. It’s common for black bodybuilders to have poor calf development but Sergio’s calves were huge, taped at 20″!! Sergio won the Mr Olympia three times (1967, 1968 & 1969). It could be argued that he deserved to win a lot more times given his god given physique. Personally I think he could have easily won the contest another two times i.e. 1970 and possibly 1972 in my opinion. Maybe 1971 as well but not sure as Arnold looked massive in ’71. Sergio was definitely robbed of his prime bodybuilding days by Joe Weider as Joe banned him from competing at the 1971 Mr Olympia and then again in 1973 onwards! The battles that Arnold and Sergio could have had would have been tremendous. Sergio began as a weightlifter in Cuba but soon went AWOL to become a bodybuilder in Chicago. His proportions were out of this world with arms bigger than his head!! He oozed perfection and combined HUGE MASS with AESTHETICS. His forearms were bigger than most people’s legs! Larry Scott retired after winning the Mr Olympia in 1966 after seeing the rise of Sergio – Sergio was that good. He was incredibly wide, massive arms, huge chest and back, gigantic thighs but had the most tiny waist ever for a man of his proportions. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has stated that Sergio Oliva had the better physique. Sergio in my opinion will go down as the Top Two Greatest Bodybuilders Ever! Check out these fantastic videos on the legend... Sergio also had to battle serious injuries throughout his life from a bad tricep tear to being shot! Check out this footage... Check out the following article links on Sergio Oliva: 2001 Interview with Sergio Oliva By Brian D. Johnston How Sergio Oliva and Victor Richards Built Their Physiques by Jeff Everson Biscuit Oliva - Baki the Grappler - Based on Bodybuilder Sergio Oliva 3. Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Schwarzenegger (30 July 1947 - Present), even from a young age, was simply destined to become one of the greatest bodybuilders ever. He was blessed with the right genetics for bodybuilding, especially in the arms and chest department. Some people will argue that he was top heavy and had no legs or calves but in my opinion that’s bulls**t! In his early days his calves were relatively poor but he later changed that by training them harder. His calves improved so much that some bodybuilders believed he got implants!! Utter nonsense. One famous bodybuilder who did get calf implants later in life and competed with them was Lou Ferrigno! (Why Joe Weider allowed Lou Ferrigno to compete with calf Implants I do not know!?) Arnold always enjoyed life to the full but was extremely driven and focused and had his mind set on becoming the best bodybuilder in the world. If he had weak areas, he worked hard on those to bring them up. He had the mindset to do that, which not many people have. Arnold built a HUGE physique which at one point amassed over 250 lbs but still had a relatively tight, small waist which you don’t see in bodybuilders today. Even though he carried a lot of mass, he still looked athletic and graceful on stage while posing. Aesthetics is everything when it comes to bodybuilding but for some reason, in today’s contests, mass seems to be prevailing over aesthetics which is a shame. For more of my thoughts on "Old School vs Modern" click here. Arnold won the Mr Olympia seven times (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 & 1980) which in those days was unheard of. He also holds the record as being the youngest ever Mr Olympia winner at 23 years old. In my opinion, if Arnold hadn’t retired, he could have easily won right up to 1980 and beyond. That would equate to TEN Mr Olympia titles!! He had the genetics and mind blowing physique to easily do so. There was no competition for him as Sergio Oliva had been banned from competing in the IFBB. Arnold has done more for the sport than anyone else and in my opinion, Arnold along with Sergio Oliva are the Top Two Best Bodybuilders of all time! Some days I consider Arnold to be the best ever, other days I think it’s Sergio. I always seem to change my mind because every now and again I’ll come across a rare photo online showing Sergio or Arnold posing and I’ll be blown away. Check out these fantastic videos on Arnold... For true information on how Arnold Schwarzenegger really trained click here! 4. Franco Columbu Franco Columbu (7 Aug. 1941 - 30 Aug. 2019) was a powerbuilder. By that I mean he always trained heavy and was known for his strength. As a competitive Powerlifter he was much stronger than Arnold in the gym and pound for pound he became one of the strongest bodybuilders ever. It was Arnold that convinced Franco to try his hand at bodybuilding as that was where the money was to be made. Franco became one of the best bodybuilders ever winning the Mr Olympia contest on two occasions (1976 & 1981). He was extremely muscular, famous for his split upper chest development. For a short guy, his muscle insertions were unfortunately just as short. He did build an incredible physique but poor arm genetics meant that he was never going to have arms like Arnold. A well known and respected bodybuilder by the name of Danny Padilla also was short in height, probably was about the same height as Franco, maybe even a tad shorter. However Danny’s physique was miss-leading. Standing on his own, you would never think of Danny being so short. This was due to his long, full muscle insertions. But Franco on the other hand didn’t have these magical muscle insertions. However, he did build a solid, strong, muscular physique which in his prime, looked tremendous. His chest, abs, shoulders, especially his back were simply out of this world. His arms, even with his short muscle insertions, still looked fantastic as his biceps genetically peaked high. Franco Columbu demonstrated just how strong he was by competing at the 1977 World's Strongest Man contest which unfortunately resulted in Franco obtaining a serious injury which took many years for him to fully recover. His comeback at the 1981 Mr Olympia which resulted in him winning may have been controversial but given his serious "sport career ending" injury fours years earlier, in 1977, it was flat out amazing for Franco to be walking again, let alone training and competing! 5. Frank Zane Frank Zane (28 June 1942 - Present) was incredible. He won the Mr Olympia contest three times (1977, 1978 & 1979). Compared to the likes of Arnold and Sergio who were mass monsters (In a good way), Frank competed at a much lighter bodyweight and to this day he holds the record for the lightest man to ever win the Mr Olympia contest. Frank was like Greek sculpture, carved out of stone. His famous vacuum pose remains one of the most memorable classic bodybuilding poses ever. This is a pose that many current Mr Olympia competitors could probably not do due to the extreme mass they carry in the wrong areas i.e. belly and waist. Frank Zane really has inspired many millions of people across the world to get in shape. His physique signifies a body that natural lifters could aspire to achieve. 6. Chris Dickerson Chris Dickerson (25 Aug. 1939 - Present) is a one time winner of the Mr Olympia contest having won in 1982 at the age of 43. At that time, he became the oldest ever Mr Olympia winner. To date, that record was broken by Shawn Rhoden winning the 2018 Mr Olympia contest at the age of 43 years and 5 months. Chris Dickerson in my humble opinion, is not one of my personal favourites, but definitely not the least, to have won the Mr Olympia title. I do not believe he should have won in 1982 given his serious elbow problem. That's not to say he should never have won the title, he could have possibly won the Mr Olympia in 1980 or 1981 as I feel his physique was much better then. From an aesthetic point of view, Chris was incredible. He always had that V-Taper look and his legs were amazing especially his calves. Chris has said many times that he didn’t really need to do much for his calves as he was genetically blessed in that department. Some people are lucky that way. He was always conditioned for competition, never looked bloated and was very muscular. As I’ve said, his legs were one of the best back in the day but he clearly wasn’t blessed genetically in the chest and arm department. I always thought the shape of his chest looked odd. Compare his chest to that of Steve Reeves, and you'll understand what I mean. His arms were also too small for his frame. His biceps did not impress me one bit and I feel his arms in particular let him down. But what can you do with poor genetics? A Mr Olympia contender in my opinion must have great arms. If the arms are poor, their chances of winning should be minimum. Now I’m not saying that any competitor with great arms could be Mr Olympia - I believe that a Mr Olympia winner should not have any glaring weaknesses whatsoever. If a body part clearly stands out as a glaring weakness, then no, they should not be awarded the title. This is why Arnold and Sergio were so ahead of their time. They had no glaring weaknesses, if any, and every body part of theirs looked tremendous. Chris Dickerson had a superb lower body but unfortunately never had the upper body genetics to match. His back was tremendous no doubt but chest and arms were a major let down for him. I'd be curious to know what caused Chris Dickerson's elbow to become so large? I've read that's a side effect of abusing "Growth Hormone" but I'm not an expert. 7. Samir Bannout Samir Bannout (7 Nov. 1955 - Present) won the Mr Olympia title in 1983. He was simply the complete package. No glaring weaknesses and exceptional strong points such as arms, chest, back and legs. I always liked Samir’s arms, probably one of the best ever after Arnold, Larry and Sergio. His conditioning was exceptional in ’83 and he oozed aesthetics. Aesthetics is something that old school bodybuilders had in abundance. They carried so much muscle but still looked athletic and appealed to the public. They looked like athletes. I remember the first time I came across Samir and it was watching the DVD, ‘Arnold – Total Rebuild’ which was based on Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to competition for the 1980 Mr Olympia. Samir wasn’t as conditioned for the 1980 contest as he was for ’83 and sadly didn't place well. To read about the 1980 Mr Olympia and Mike Mentzer's comments regarding that contest click here. Overall, Samir Bannout developed an outstanding physique which will go down in history as one of the best ever. His back development was exceptional and has always been a focal point for Samir. 8. Lee Haney Lee Haney (11 Nov. 1959 - Present) was truly the last Mr Olympia to carry so much mass with great aesthetic appeal. Possessing wide shoulders with an even greater wider and thicker back, tiny waist with massive legs, everything in proportion (well mostly). Haney won the Mr Olympia eight times (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 & 1991). That was a record eight wins but not just eight wins….8 consecutive wins!! To this day, only one other bodybuilder has tied that record. However, Haney retired undefeated which remains a record itself. Does eight straight wins make Lee Haney the Best Ever Mr Olympia? Before Haney came along, Arnold held the record at six consecutive wins then retired undefeated (In Mr Olympia competition that is) to pursue Hollywood. If Arnold had chosen to continue to compete for the next several years up to 1980, he would have easily achieved 10 Mr Olympia wins as Sergio Oliva, his only real competition wasn't around to compete, due to being BANNED from the IFBB by Joe Weider. Haney’s record however was equaled back in 2005 by a bodybuilder called Ronnie Coleman. Unfortunately Ronnie did not manage to break the record in 2006 due to losing to Jay Cutler. Lee Haney competed at a massive 250 lbs bodyweight and developed one of the best physiques in history. He was known for his huge, wide back development. He always competed in superb shape, shredded to the bone. My only flaw with Lee Haney was his arms. I always felt his arms were genetically poor from a purely aesthetic point of view. If you were comparing Arnold’s arms with Haney’s, Arnold wins hands down, EASILY!! Haney’s arms were big and always looked great in photos when performing curls etc but when posing for a front double biceps shot, you could see the weakness lay in his arms. There was no good shock value when he flexed during a front double biceps pose, like you would see if Arnold flexed. Lee will forever remain one of the best bodybuilders to compete at the Mr Olympia. I do not see anyone beating Lee Haney / Ronnie Coleman’s 8 consecutive wins record for many years. I believe that record will continue to stand for years to come. 9. Dorian Yates With the arrival of Dorian Yates (19 April 1962 - Present) came ‘MASS MONSTER’ status!! Yates won the Mr Olympia in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 & 1997 equaling Arnold’s winning streak. Dorian ended up retiring due to injuries, but winning six consecutive Mr Olympia titles had propelled him into the history books. He was known as a hard trainer and believed in the training method of H.I.T. (High Intensity Training) which was the complete opposite of how other bodybuilders trained at the time i.e. "Volume Training". Photo below: A young Dorian Yates. In his first couple of Mr Olympia wins he was big but still remained tight with a relatively small waist. It was during the last few wins that Dorian packed on the BEEF competing close to 260 lbs!! His waist though in my opinion looked big and bloated. It seemed aesthetics were slowly going out the window during Dorian’s reign and that MASS status was prevailing. Photo below: A bloated Dorian Yates! Dorian was known for complete development - Chest, Forearms, Legs, Calves, Back etc, you name it. He was big and shredded all over during competition (well most). He was known for his rock hard dryness like he was carved out of stone and developed one of the best backs in bodybuilding history. During the mid to late 90's bodybuilders were obviously taking advantage of newer drugs and consuming far more than what previous generations took. Insulin and Growth Hormone were key drugs taken by the likes of Yates to become even bigger but unfortunately so did the bellies! Physiques were changing in the late 90's moving into the 2000's and not for the better. Dorian's reign ended on a bad note due to retiring from injuries. He was actually fortunate (due to bad judging / possible fixed contests) to achieve six Mr Olympia wins as he won two Mr Olympia's with a physique that lacked aesthetics due to a bloated belly and torn muscles. Like Lee Haney, I always felt Dorian’s arms were weak from a front double biceps point of view. There was no WOW factor like Arnold’s. Sure Dorian had the mass and the "Pop-Eye" forearms but his biceps lacked any aesthetic appeal. 10. Ronnie Coleman Ronnie Coleman (13 May 1964 - Present) won the Mr Olympia in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 & 2005. An incredible eight consecutive wins tying Lee Haney’s record. This record will not be broken in my opinion for a long time, especially when bodybuilders these days aren’t maturing to Mr Olympia level status until close to their 30’s if not older. In comparison you have to think about how young Arnold was when he won his first Mr Olympia at only 23 years old! He almost won it at 22 but Sergio Oliva put a stop to that. So given today’s radical drug regime and the fact that bodybuilders who are competing in the Mr Olympia in this day and age are in their 30's compared to how young Arnold was – what's the likely hood of a competitor winning eight times or more? With the heavy drug regime and training, can bodybuilders really compete into their 40's and still win Mr Olympia shows?....Of course but will they break Haney's or Coleman's record....Highly unlikely. Ronnie Coleman didn't start out as a "MASS MONSTER", he grew into that status. Early 90's up to 1997, he built an incredible physique which resembled more of an "Old School Bodybuilder" than a "Modern Mass Monster". He had a crazy V-Taper, wide shoulders, massive arms and a tiny waist. The only exception was calves as he was genetically poor in that area but everything else above looked amazing. Ronnie's "Old School" physique though wasn't winning shows (for some crazy reason) and it definitely wasn't placing him high at the Mr Olympia contests each year. So for 1998, he added size and at this point it wasn't too much but was enough to make an impact on the bodybuilding world and take his first steps towards "MASS MONSTER" status. I actually preferred Ronnie's physique before he won the Mr Olympia contest in '98. A lot of fans regard Ronnie's physique that year as one of his best, however, photos show that he suffered bad gyno which makes it more amazing that he won the Mr Olympia that year. Only two bodybuilders in history have won the Mr Olympia displaying gyno and they are of course Ronnie and Franco Columbu back in 1981. From the early 2000's onwards, Ronnie just kept playing the size game and piling on the beef becoming a true MASS FREAK. His waist grew as a result. Ronnie was also one of the strongest bodybuilders ever as he had a passion for lifting ‘Heavy Ass Weights!’ It’s a shame to see the way Ronnie looks now. I think all the years of heavy lifting and steroid abuse has taken a massive toll on his body. You can see the damage done to his arms and more. Ronnie will forever go down in history as one of the greatest bodybuilders ever… but does owning eight Mr Olympia titles make him the greatest? 11. Jay Cutler Now we come to a bodybuilder whom I have never been a fan of….Physique wise. Jay Cutler (3 Aug. 1973 - Present) won the Mr Olympia contest in 2006, 2007, 2009 & 2010. In 2008, he lost to Dexter Jackson. Jay holds the record for being the only Mr Olympia winner to have lost the title and then regain it back. In my opinion Jay Cutler has always displayed a boxy, thick waist type physique. Like Ronnie in his later years, Jay played the size game to battle Ronnie on stage and unfortunately didn't display much aesthetics but rather produced an ugly type physique. But as judging standards were poor and rewarded the mass monsters with bloated bellies it's not surprising that he won a number of Mr Olympia titles given that Ronnie Coleman's body was already in the process of breaking down from 2005 onwards. 12. Dexter Jackson Dexter Jackson (25 Nov. 1969 - Present) won the Mr Olympia contest back in 2008. He is one of those competitors who maintains aesthetics over mass which is great to see but believe it or not I’m still not a fan of his physique although I do prefer it over the current bloated, Mass Monsters of today. Dexter came close to winning the 2015 Mr Olympia contest which was good to see. He has officially retired now as of 2021. Dexter was always consistent and showed up in great condition for contests. His physique overall was very pleasing and athletic looking but certain things about his physique always bothered me...His calf genetics were poor (nothing can be done about that). His biceps to me always looked suspicious of synthol abuse. They just had that unnatural, bloated shape about them. Hard to describe and I'll admit, I could be completely wrong. So I'll say this, his biceps were not aesthetically pleasing. Another thing which gradually got worse over the years was his stomach. No where near as bad as the likes of Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman etc but at several Mr Olympia competitions, it was clear he could not hold his stomach in which protruded at times. This is not something you would see from back in Arnold's prime years but obviously Dexter had been using different drug concoctions which were far more advanced compared to the drugs available in Arnold's day. Dexter's abs would later look like a "Turtle Shell" and unfortunately become the focus / distraction of his overall pleasing physique. Despite the negative comments regarding Dexter, he still led the way and promoted the "Old School" type bodybuilders body compared to anyone else. I just think the type of drugs he must have been using including his advanced age (mid to late 40's) would have been detrimental to his physique. 13. Phil Heath Phil Heath (18 Dec. 1979 - Present) won the Mr Olympia competition seven consecutive times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017) but narrowly lost to Shawn Rhoden in 2018 and thus wasn't able to tie the record for the most Mr Olympia wins with Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman. After taking a couple of years out he returned to the stage set for taking the title back in 2020 but lost, finishing 3rd place behind ex-champion, 2019 Mr Olympia winner, Brandon Curry. I've never been a fan of Phil's physique. He carries a lot of mass in his freakish arms and shoulders but for me overall, his bodyparts just don't flow nicely as early Mr Olympia winners such as Arnold and Sergio Oliva, etc. When Phil is relaxed, his arms look incredible. When you see him in the gym training, his arms are mind blowing but when flexed in competition on stage, his front double biceps pose for me provides no WOW factor at all. I can only describe this as similar to Serge Nubret whose arms looked magnificent when down and relaxed by his sides but once they were flexed overhead, nothing would happen. Photo below: Phil Heath most muscular at the 2020 Mr Olympia contest. Due to the immense size of Phil's shoulders he did have a nice V-Taper, but another pet hate of mine regarding Phil is his chest. His arms and shoulders seem to dwarf his chest. His chest actually reminds me of Chris Dickerson, it has a similar weird shape which isn’t aesthetically pleasing. But again, nothing can be done about that as its genetics. Phil's stomach in later years became a serious problem and that was why he lost to Shawn Rhoden back in 2018. Dexter Jackson was the same and if you don't believe me, feel free to check out the 2015 Mr Olympia online and watch the individual posing round. The whole point of bodybuilding is to build a beautiful physique in proportion, not have stomachs hanging out!! It’s disgusting to look at. Even when bodybuilders are back stage at a contest, they still need to control their abs as they are still being photographed and filmed. Heaths 2020 Mr Olympia comeback (photos below) proved unsuccessful and again, it was the result of his gut protruding! Heath was lucky to have finished in 3rd place. He also looked small compared to the winner, Mamdouh Elssbiay (big Ramy) and if Phil does decide to come back again in 2021, he'll need to pack on some more size to stand a chance against Big Ramy, but packing on more beef for Phil won't be a good thing if it goes to his stomach! 14. Shawn Rhoden Shawn Rhoden (2 April 1975 - Present) was the 2018 Mr Olympia champion defeating Phil Heath. It was a close contest but due to Phil's protruding stomach, Shawn was declared the winner which was heart breaking for Phil. Rhoden became the oldest competitor to capture the Mr. Olympia title last year at age 43 taking the record away from Chris Dickerson who won in 1982. Even Shawn Rhoden at past contests has had trouble holding his stomach in. However, in 2018, he brought back the athletic, classic lines of an "old school" bodybuilder displaying broad shoulders and a tight waist. Shawn winning in 2018 was a step in the right direction for the sport of bodybuilding as it promoted bodybuilders with classic lines and no protruding gut. Since winning the 2018 Mr Olympia, Shawn has been troubled with personal problems accused of raping a female bodybuilder in a Utah hotel room on Oct. 12, 2018. He was charged with felony rape, felony object rape and felony forcible sexual abuse. He has always denied this, pleading not guilty and allegedly passed two "Lie Detector Tests". He has since been banned from competing until the case is resolved. However, there are rumours that he may be preparing for a comeback at this years Mr Olympia contest but who knows? 15. Brandon Curry Brandon Curry (19 Oct. 1982 - Present) brought home the Mr Olympia title in 2019 at 36 years old. It was an interesting Mr Olympia as past winners Shawn Rhoden and Phil Heath were absent from the competition. Brandon in my book displayed an outstanding physique and was a worthy winner. Great arms, thin waist, excellent abs, no protruding gut at any time, he represented old school bodybuilding for me and easily was the clear winner. Unfortunately he wasn't able to retain the title last year in 2020 finishing in 2nd place. Personally I had him in first place. I just hope in the pursuit of more mass to compare better with Big Ramy, that he doesn't go down the wrong path and develop a "bubble gut" so to speak. He remains a definite contender to reclaim the Olympia gold in the near future. 16. Mamdouh Elssbiay (Big Ramy) Mamdouh Mohammed Hassan Elssbiay (16 Sept. 1984 - Present) is an Egyptian bodybuilder, known as "Big Ramy" who made history by defeating two past champions to become the 2020 Mr Olympia winner. I made the following video back in 2015 on Big Ramy... Big Ramy has always had the potential to win the Mr Olympia, he's just never showed up in condition until 2020 that is. Even at his massive size he still displayed a rather small waist which was controlled, no gut protruding. He dwarfed his fellow competitors so I think in 2021, if other bodybuilders such as Brandon Curry don't add more size and Ramy shows up conditioned still looking much bigger than his competitors, then I think it will be lights out and another easy win for Ramy. BEST MR OLYMPIA EVER? So who do I think is the best Mr Olympia ever?....It's a toss up between two bodybuilding legends... 1. Arnold Schwarzenegger 2. Sergio Oliva Their physiques from head to toe were perfection and they both easily dominated other bodybuilders within there era. Even to this day, their physiques would beat the current crop of bodybuilders in my opinion. The biggest bodybuilder should win but only if they still have aesthetics i.e. shapely lines, body parts which flow well together and no bloated gut! A Mr Olympia winner should not have any glaring weaknesses to his physique. Who do you think is the Best Mr Olympia Ever and why? Who didn’t deserve to win a Mr Olympia Title? Who should have won at least one Mr Olympia title? Here are some comments from people to the above questions... The Horror Kid stated... Big Bob stated... Mark stated... * Do you agree with the above comments? Voice your opinions below! * Please note: The "text content" of the above article is copyrighted and may not be used on another website! Readers do have permission to share this article (greatly appreciated) across social media by clicking the "share" button link. * Thanks for reading, Take care and happy training, Strength Oldschool
  4. * Written by Ray Nobile, with assistance from his beautiful wife Marion, and Magnus.* This promotional article has been edited by Strength Oldschool. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Ray Nobile has a new ebook out which I highly recommend all serious bodybuilding and strongman fans read! As a teaser guests can read Chapter 1 and Chapter 5 below for free to get a taste of what the book entails. To purchase this eBook, at the cost of only 5 Euros, (price may be subject to change) please contact Ray Nobile directly at the following email address: raynobile@gmail.com. INTRODUCTION: Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a worldclass powerlifter? Or a European champion bodybuilder? How about a world record breaker in strongman competition? My name is Ray Nobile and I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt as the saying goes in ALL THREE!! Join me on a journey through the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s as I lift, hold, carry and flex my way through my iron game career. Meet the super-strong highlander who gave it up for love while still in his prime! See the eccentric lifter who raised 700lbs with the help of a foot pump (or did he?)! How about the giant lifter who ran away... from an oily salad? And much more! Meet legends of lifting that became friends of mine, and experience what it was like to compete against them. Stories from my life PLUS chapters featuring Marion my wife and her record breaking success, PLUS various training routines and diets I have used over the years. More than 100 pages of drama, laughter, tragedy and entertainment awaits you within this e-book from a former topflight competitor in the iron game…enjoy! CONTENTS: Chapters / Page No. Foreword by Strength Oldschool – Page 3 1: My first 5 years in the Iron Game: 1965 -1970 – Page 6 2: 1970-1980: From powerful-looking to powerlifting champion – Page 15 3: 1976 – 1980: Power, politics and personalities on my way to the top – Page 25 4: 1977-1980 Worlds to conquer and Battles to the Finnish and Swedish – Page 37 5: 1979-1980 Winning, whingeing and record breaking strong men! – Page 51 6: 1981 to 1985: Big totals, Strongman titles and bowing out of plifting! – Page 65 7: 1986 to 1999: Bodybuilding, gym owner and fire-fighting games! – Page 76 8: Marion tells Magnus about her own career in the iron game – Page 90 9: Some of my training routines – Page 105 10: Dedications and Thanks – Page 112 CHAPTER 1: My first 5 years in the iron game: 1965-1970 Hello Iron Game brothers and sisters, I am very glad you decided to read my story and I will do my best to entertain you along the way. If you don’t know anything about the iron game and it’s all new to you welcome anyway, I will try to explain things and make it entertaining for you as well. I have been living in Bulgaria for about a decade along with my beautiful wife Marion who is a strength athlete and title winner in her own right. Even though I am now over 60 years of age we train hard 6 days a week and eat a disciplined diet, maintaining bodybuilder physiques that are pretty good, even if I do say so myself! We have come a long way from where we started and experienced great triumphs and the odd loss along life’s highway, but here and now I would like to take you back in time and tell you how it was in my early days. I started life’s journey in April 1951, living in a village in South Lanarkshire in Scotland called Bothwell which is roughly 12 miles south-east of Glasgow. The river Clyde runs through Bothwell and the remains of a castle sit on Bothwell Bank. There is a lot of history tied up in this place but when I started training I never imagined at all that one day it would be me making history myself. I was lucky to have inherited good genetics for the iron game which became evident when I was very young. In fact when I was 3 years old I was spotted by a man who was in town with the circus as I ran along the seafront in Largs with my parents. This man offered to buy me from my parents, saying that he had never seen such a well-developed child before and I would make a very good circus performer as I grew up. Luckily for me my parents decided not to take the money! At 13 years of age I started working weekends and school holidays at my father’s hairdressing salon, learning how to deal with ladies hair under the direction of my uncle Adam who managed that side of the business. At 15 years of age I left school and worked full-time hairdressing and attended Stow College of Hairdressing on a day release scheme, picking up my diplomas in tinting, perming and other hairdressing skills. While I was taking my apprenticeship I became inspired to become a bodybuilder when I was 14 years old as I watched the Hercules movies that starred the legendary Steve Reeves and Reg Park, and Gordon Scott as Tarzan. At 14 I possessed a well-proportioned but wiry physique and I thought these guys had incredible physiques. There was even a muscle control act on the talent-spotting TV programme called Opportunity Knocks. A guy called Tony Hollands performed muscle control routines to music, and I just had to build some muscle for myself after seeing all of these bodybuilders. My father bought a Weider barbell set and with little more than the instruction leaflet that came with it I trained in my bedroom for a year. Then at 15 years of age I joined a gym and finally started learning much more about how to train properly. The year was 1966 and the Koby Osaka gym was situated above a Judo studio in Glasgow which had a tremendous reputation in the Judo world due to it being owned and run by a guy called Tommy Morris who, if I remember correctly, was the first man in the UK to attain a 10th Dan grade. Training became more advanced now as I followed routines pinned to the walls of the gym and also sought advice from the more experienced guys that trained there. It was also the gym where I met Robin Love who became my training partner for five years and also became a great friend, more than once being my best man. Thinking of Robin reminds me of one occasion when we went to Blackpool for the weekend and created a bit of chaos in Woolworths while we were there. We went in and told the girl at the counter that we were making a special visit to test the hot water bottles that they were selling there. She said “what do you mean, test them? ” We explained we were checking for leaks and she proved to be a practical jokers dream as she asked if we wanted all of them. She must have been either a new member of staff or a ‘weekend girl’ because she was so gullible she accepted everything we said without question. We settled on one each and after removing the packaging took a count of three then started blowing them up. In next to no time a crowd gathered to watch us and we had the bottles about halfway there when the manager came storming into the room accompanied by a couple of staff members, shouting “what the hell is going on here? ” Robin let his bottle go and it shot up to the ceiling then bounced down onto shelving sending things flying. I was still determined to burst my bottle but was grabbed by the elbows by members of staff and they were forcing me towards the exit. Before we got there Robin dead-panned “here, unhand that man he is not finished yet, the bottle is about to burst so let him continue.” At this I burst out laughing and the bottle took off like a bat out of hell straight into the baby food shelves. We were then booted out onto the street and while we were walking away an old man who looked about 90 called after us “come back lads, you are not well, you need treatment,” but we just kept walking and laughing. Back to the gym and training moved up another notch. I then went on to follow Reg Park’s Bulk and Power routine, which was based on all the basic lifts worked for 5 sets of 5 reps each exercise. Yes young guys, there are 5 x 5 routines by Madcow, Stronglifts, Bill Starr etc. these days, some of them talk as though they invented 5 x 5, but Reg Park was training this way in the early 1950s. And Reg got so strong he set many official British weightlifting records including becoming the second man in history to bench press 500 pounds! I also followed routines from the magazines, especially those created by John McCallum in his ‘Keys to Progress’ series of articles that were published in Bob Hoffman’s Strength and Health and Muscular Development magazines. Years later Randall Strossen of Ironmind reprinted John’s entire series as a book. If you want good advice and funny entertaining articles you cannot do better than to get a copy and read about John’s quirky characters and his admiration for real guys such as the Canadian Hercules Maurice Jones and of course Reg Park. Anyway, I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s go to the first contest I ever attended (as a spectator) which was the Mr Hercules organised by Bob Sweeney who was the owner of the Olympic Health Studios chain of chromed and carpeted health studio gyms spread throughout Britain. The winner of this contest was Bernard Bradford who went on to be runner-up in the Mr Britain contest. The junior division of this contest was won by Dave Caldwell. This would not be the last time I came across Dave at a contest! The icing on the cake was the guest poser, none other than Larry Scott (pictured above), fresh from his Mr Olympia victory! Although he seemed to be somewhat shy off stage, when he posed on stage he just exuded charisma from every pore, no wonder Ricky Wayne (pictured below) raved about him in Joe Weider’s Muscle Builder magazine. And the strange thing was in the pictures we saw of Larry he looked quite smooth, but in the flesh he was not just cut, he was ripped to shreds (cut and ripped means the muscles stand out and are highly visible). I said I was just a spectator at this contest but I did get up on stage and compete but not as a bodybuilder. The Milk Marketing Board held an audience participation contest during the break and I won it. What did I do? I had to eat a pie, drink a pint of milk and blow up a balloon until it burst. I had to take two buses to get home from Glasgow and I received some funny looks from other travellers as I carried my prize home, as I had won 12 pints of milk, 12 pies, 24 cartons of yoghurt and a packet of balloons! Not long after I entered my first competition in Glasgow in November 1966. The contest was the junior Mr Caledonia and I placed third. The winner was Dave Caldwell (photo above) who then went on to become runner-up in the junior Mr Britain that year. Later Dave turned to powerlifting like me, and he went on to become European and World champion. Also at this contest I met Rick Wayne who was both a great bodybuilder and possibly the best writer and contest reporter on the bodybuilding world ever. Ricky said I had great potential and would go far in bodybuilding, and was extremely surprised to hear that I was only 15 years old at the time as he thought I was around 17. Over the next few years I competed in bodybuilding I won the junior Mr Scotland 3 times, junior Mr Caledonia twice, the junior Mr Edina (Edinburgh) and the junior Mr Fitness and Health. I also competed in the junior Mr Britain in 1970 and was a finalist, competing against teenage phenomenon young Bertil Fox (photo below). When I turned 18 years of age one of the girls at my father’s salon decided to go it alone and set up her own business, and she asked me to work for her. I decided ‘why not’ but unfortunately she had a jealous husband and after seven months I had to leave. I fancied a change from hairdressing so I went to work the summer season at a Butlins holiday camp, but only worked there for three weeks because John and Andy who trained at the same gym as me set up a new gym in the heart of Glasgow and asked me to be an instructor there. They named it the Nordic Health Studios and were hoping to have the same success that Bob Sweeney had with his chain of Olympic Health Studios. During this period of time in my life I met many great iron game competitors and here I would like to say a few words about some of them: Frank Richards: (photo above) Mr Britain winner in 1968 who was a straightforward, down to earth character who, even when he was competing or guest posing, could always be found in the bar or pub both before and after the competition, as he liked his drink! Frank later trained with guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu at the original Golds gym and also suffered a very bad accident in his work that almost ended his career but he made a comeback some years later and did very well. John Citrone: I first met John in 1967 at a competition where he guest posed. As well as posing he performed a strength act, part of which was to lift an anvil in one hand and an anchor in the other and hoist them overhead. The anvil had a handle welded on which made it even more awkward to lift. He challenged anyone in the audience to replicate this feat, but despite many very strong men from this era trying no one ever succeeded. John also included his wife, who was a Miss Britain winner, in this act by lifting her overhead with one arm, but unfortunately for the audience‘s strongmen he never invited anyone to try and match that feat! John’s strength was all the more impressive because he was not a huge man by any means, yet he could out-do men that were quite literally twice or even three times his size!! Paul Wynter: (pictured below) A multi NABBA Mr Universe winner who also included strength feats in his act. In those days show promoters got more value for their money as most of the physique stars were more versatile and included strength acts with their posing routines. Paul was strong but was best known for his classical shape, possessing a physique similar to Steve Reeves. Len Sell: (pictured below) Another multi Universe winner, Len was a very small man with a very unusual physique. He also promoted the Bullworker isometric training device, but despite being paid well to do this he would openly tell people that it was rubbish and weights were the one and only truly effective equipment to train with! Louis Martin: (pictured below) A star in the sport of Olympic weightlifting, between 1959 and 1965 was world champion 4 times and won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic games in 1964 when Russian Trofim Lomakin showed up in top form and beat Louis. I met Louis when we toured Scotland together with Precious McKenzie, Dave Prowse and David Webster. Dave Prowse stood around 6 feet 7 inches and later became the Green Cross Code man on TV then Darth Vader in Star Wars, but at this time he competed as a bodybuilder and Olympic weightlifter and was British heavyweight weightlifting champion twice. He also succeeded in lifting the famous ‘unliftable’ Inch dumbbell that had beaten all other contenders during Thomas Inch’s strongman career! Drifting off the subject there, let’s get back to Louis Martin. Louis was a genial sort of guy who liked to read poetry and possessed an amazing physique for an Olympic lifter as he had started out as a bodybuilder in Jamaica before settling in England. He told me that after every training session he would drink a pint of Guinness with a couple of raw eggs mixed in it. I asked him if this helped with his strength and muscle development and he replied that he didn’t know for sure but it certainly kept his muscles happy! Magnus tells me that years ago in Portugal they called Guinness stout beer and raw eggs a ‘drink for tired horses,’ but lots of people also drank it as a tonic. Louis was by far the most successful Olympic lifter that represented Britain internationally that we have ever had. Don Dorans: In 1968 I met Don at a competition and he took me under his wing, organising my training routines and giving me advice about contest prep, diet, posing etc. His routines were very quirky but effective, and he was way ahead of his time with regards to nutrition. We became really great friends when he moved to Scotland, and I used to visit him every couple of weeks and he would introduce me to the latest piece of training equipment that he was designing. Quite a few of the standard pieces of gym equipment that all gyms have these days came from Don’s highly eccentric but also amazingly active and inventive mind. Don was also a very good cyclist for his age at that time (60 years old). I remember one time when I went to visit him and he had just returned from a 10 miles time trial which had been accomplished in 23 minutes. When he told me he was going out again to repeat the 10 mile trial I had to ask why. He explained that he was conducting a nutritional experiment on himself to see if vitamin E would be effective for his endurance, and had just taken 4,000 IU’s of E before going out again. He told me he would be back in 23 minutes but made it in 22 minutes 30 seconds, so had knocked 30 seconds off his time despite being more fatigued on the second time trial, proving that it was effective. One of the routines Don came up with for me was very effective at adding size and strength – see the last chapter for some details about it. Anyway, going back to competitions, things were very different to today’s shows. Now we have contests with lots of classes thrown in such as Miss Figure, Miss Bikini, Mr/Miss Fitness which are nothing to do with bodybuilding and really belong in aerobics shows. Also there are many different bodybuilding federations. Compare that with the 1960s when everything was far simpler and there were only 2 organisations. In the shows there were only the men’s classes, the juniors and the Miss. Everyone was also much more friendly back then, and approachable and pleasant when asked questions. Most of the top guys felt it was their duty to help the novices in the sport. Also there were no prima donnas throwing temper tantrums on stage and smashing trophies if they failed to win. Magnus asked me if I had an outstanding memory from my first 5 years in the sport that stood out from everything else that had taken place. Well yes I do, it was when I had won the Mr Fitness and Health which was staged by David Webster (photo above). I was invited to join a tour of various competitions in the company of Louis Martin, Precious McKenzie etc. (as I had mentioned earlier), and listening to the stories these guys could tell was riveting stuff to a fan like me. There was one thing that partly spoilt it, this was of course when I first found out that Webster was only really involved in it for himself as he always took advantage of us. I was promised that I would be paid for the tour as Louis, Dave etc. were being paid to be a part of it. When the tour ended and I asked for my money, Webster said the fact that expenses incurred such as food, hotel bills etc. had been paid by him, and that this was my payment and there was no cash forthcoming. This was despite numerous newspaper and TV interviews which Webster was paid for but we weren’t. This was my first experience of many with him over the years that followed where he constantly manipulated situations to suit himself. Generally though, I was very happy with my achievements and met many interesting and famous people, and really enjoyed the experience of it all. If you told me I could live my life over again, and could change anything in those 5 years, I think I would be happy to do it all again exactly the same, yes even if I had to put up with David Webster’s interfering involvement. Okay, that brings us to the end of my first 5 years in the iron game, after which life changed. I still trained but only competed occasionally as my new career as a fireman, getting married and starting a family occupied most of my time. Then in 1976 I took up powerlifting which was a new beginning that led to some of the biggest achievements in my life, and eventually took me all over the world…..and I will be telling you all about it in the chapters that are coming up! CHAPTER 5: 1979-1980 Winning, whingeing and record breaking strong men! Hello again and welcome to chapter five! With apologies to fans of spaghetti westerns you could say in this chapter I remember some guys that were good, at least one bad (although I hear he has mellowed with age! ), and occasionally the ugly happenings and behaviour of people from my career in strength. This time the action overlaps with chapter four as it is squeezed into the end of the 1970s and the start of the 1980s; a time when my powerlifting prowess kept on growing up to some of my best-ever results and other opportunities to compete in strength-based competitions appeared: I am of course talking about strongman contests. Back in the 1970s strongman contests were rare and the competitors even rarer. Unlike today with their Grand Prix events, prize money and professional competitors that train specifically for strongman contests, there were no professional strongmen (other than circus and vaudeville type performers). A TV programme called ‘World’s Strongest Man’ was created by Transworld Sports in 1977 but it wasn’t very worldwide at all as all the competitors were Americans (except for Franco Columbu who lived in America anyway). * 1977 Worlds Strongest Man contest - Franco Columbu and Paul Anderson The TV producers looked around for guys known to the public for their strength and invited them to compete. Guys like WWF (now WWE) wrestler Ken Patera who had been America’s strongest Olympic lifter and had lifted in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich; Bruce Wilhelm the current strongest lifter at the time in America; Lou Ferrigno, at that time the world’s biggest bodybuilder and newly famous on Television as green-skinned The Incredible Hulk; George Frenn a hammer thrower and record-breaking powerlifter from the original Westside Barbell club run by Bill ‘Peanuts’ West; bodybuilder and strongman Mike Dayton who was the first to sell a training course that put the focus on mind control. Using his techniques Mike used to break real police handcuffs in his escapology act! American Football player Bob Young was the big brother of world champion powerlifter Doug Young, then came Jon Cole who was well past his best (Jon had been a fantastic powerlifter and Olympic lifter), and of course Franco Columbu 1976 Mr Olympia (and later 1981 Mr Olympia). And that was it – 8 competitors only. Wilhelm won the contest and won again in 1978 then retired. Going back to the 1977 contest, Franco lost his balance running with a 420 lb (190 kg) refrigerator on his back and wrecked one of his legs. This came back to haunt him when he took the 1981 Mr Olympia title with thighs that looked untrained and (oh no! There goes Magnus on his rant against the 1981 Olympia result again! Better change the subject fast! ) caused a storm of controversy. Anyway, you get the picture – guys were invited to compete simply because they were known to the public and usually when they tackled the strongman events they had never done them before, so records back then were much lower than today but injuries were much more common because they did not know the best techniques to use when performing these events. My first invitation to compete in strongman came in January 1979, and what I am going to tell you next will probably make you think I was crazy to accept. A powerlifting meet was being organised by Gus Rethwisch who had finished in fifth place in the 1978 Worlds Strongest Man (years later Gus played ‘Buzzsaw’ in Arnold’s movie ‘The Running Man’). The meet was by invitation only and would feature world champions and world record holders from all over the world, and it was going to be held in Hawaii. ‘Fantastic’ I thought, ‘who would not want to go to Hawaii?’ I was all set to go when a completely unexpected letter from Wally Holland who was president of BAWLA dropped through my letterbox. It said that I had been selected to compete in Britain’s Strongest Man which was being organised and would be shown on TV by Transworld Sport. The contest was going to take place in Woking, Surrey at the same time as the Hawaii trip. Now let’s see – Woking or Hawaii? With apologies to Woking, I think most people would have taken the Hawaii trip but I settled on the Woking contest (the Hawaii event went ahead without me and became an annual fixture in the powerlifting calendar) instead! There was a lot of prestige involved in this strongman contest. I had been selected as a European champion powerlifter along with Andy Drzewiecki (pronounced drev-e-at-ski), British 110 kg class Olympic lifting champion. In earlier days Andy had been a regional discus and shot put champion and won a bronze medal lifting in the 1978 Commonwealth Games. He also finished in tenth place in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Andy was a very strong guy, regularly clean and jerking overhead 185 kg (407 lb) in competitions. I was not sure what to expect in the contest but was ready and eager to go and do my best. I travelled down to the contest with Bill Anderson and Grant Anderson (not related despite their surnames), but both of them were Highland Games legends, especially Bill. And Bill gave me some advice about how to deal with David Webster (remember him from the first chapter in my life story? ). Bill was also involved with Webster, appearing in contests and shows for him and, as a canny Scot of more mature years than I was at the time, he told me that whenever Webster arranged anything for Bill to do Bill would insist on being paid up front. He also gave me good advice, saying “don’t do anything for nothing! You are the champion in your chosen sport you have put in the time, effort and money to get where you are, so always insist on payment off anyone you deal with.” As the contest got under way I assessed my competitors, two of them in particular standing out from the rest in size – Geoff Capes (pictured above) the 6 foot 6 inch 22 stone (140 kg) International shot put competitor, and just a fraction shorter but lighter at roughly 19 stone (121 kg) professional wrestler Pat Roach. Similar in size they may have been but as the competition progressed I found they were almost opposites personality-wise. Pat Roach (pictured above - 3rd from left) became famous for his role as Bomber in the much-loved TV series ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet,’ and much like the character he played was a quiet, genial gentleman who worked hard to stay in shape for wrestling, not only going to the gym but also doing hundreds of bodyweight-only squats throughout the day no matter where he was. Pat also appeared in lots of movies. Ironically he usually played the bad guy heavy roles, but in real life Pat was most definitely a good guy. To read more of this chapter and the rest of the chapters on ‘Ray Nobile – My Life in the Iron Game’ contact Ray Nobile at raynobile@gmail.com to purchase this eBook, at the cost of only 5 Euros! (price subject to change). NOTE by Strength Oldschool: A fairly recent Interview with Strongman Geoff Capes can be viewed below...
  5. * Strength Oldschool was given permission to publish this article by Magnus. Much has been written about Mike Mentzer (1951 - 2001) over the years. Even now, ten years after he and his brother Ray (1953 - 2001) died, he still gets quoted, misquoted and has many fans and foes debating the efficacy of his “Heavy Duty” training system. Added to all the above is a hefty archive of Mike’s own books, videos and magazine articles – he loved to write and unlike most bodybuilders articles these were all his own works, no ghost writers involved! He was also noted for not being shy in saying what he thought about anything, regularly upsetting people to the point of personal danger (remember when pro bodybuilder Mike Matarazzo (photo below) got very upset when he read Mentzer’s opinion of his physique and it almost came to blows in the gym? ). I personally experienced Mike’s directness and opinions when I was fortunate enough to have a one-to-one chat with him years ago. This took place back in the 1980s when Mike spent some time on a seminar tour in Europe and the UK. By a serendipitous event I ended up alone in the Swindon UK gym with Mike one evening after the gym closed – where the gym owner vanished to for an hour I never found out but took my chance to talk to Mike. Luckily for me, I had been introduced to Mike earlier that day after making a special trip to train there and see him – I got the day wrong as his seminar was the next day and Mike was sat on a pec deck machine telling several guys what was wrong with the 1980 and 1981 Olympia results. He was covered up and one guy said “Bet you would like to see his 20 inch biceps eh? ” I replied “No, I would like to see Mr Mentzer’s triceps – he has the best triceps in the world! ” At this the guys laughed but Mike looked my way with a look of interest on his face and said “No, no guys he is not crazy, my biceps are okay but not outstanding but my triceps…well I agree they are my best bodypart and the best in the world.” Then the gym owner came over to speak to Mike about next day’s planned seminar so the conversation went no further, but the ice had been broken and that evening Mike was keen to “have an intelligent conversation for a change.” At the time I was a staunch heavy duty HIT supporter so I started by asking several questions about training – Mike obviously loved talking about his system but could not resist getting quite loud and fired-up as he talked, and I had to try hard to look relaxed while feeling a bit intimidated inside. SO….I bit the bullet and openly told Mike that I felt nervous in his presence and that although I knew I was safe it was like a young gorilla being unnerved by a silverback – Mike was not very tall, about 5 feet 9 inches but he was BIG! Mike’s waist and legs looked smaller than in photos I had seen of him but, even fully dressed his torso looked very broad and his arms strained the seams of his tracksuit – I mean they were HUGE! At this time in my life I had seen such luminaries of the BB world as Boyer Coe, Tony Pearson, Jusup Wilcosz, Tony Emmot, Bill Richardson and many more but none had arms as big as Mike’s when relaxed (those massive triceps see!). Anyway, Mike chuckled at this and said “You know you’re right, sometimes when I get close to friends of mine they shy away as though they were scared of me! ” He then became a bit quieter and cast his eye around the gym which was one of the first in the UK to have lots of Nautilus machines and dumbbell racks going up to around 150 lb bells. "That ”, said Mike pointing at a barbell, “is stone age technology, these Nautilus machines are the present and future of training. You could scrap all the free weights in here and just use Nautilus because of their superior accommodating resistance that works around a rotational axis " but interestingly enough Mike never suggested scrapping free weights altogether in his articles. I followed Mike’s train of thought by asking about his association with Arthur Jones the infamous Nautilus inventor. Mike stared at me then astounded me as he said “Arthur Jones is the greatest genius I ever talked to and moved bodybuilding from the stone age into the future – no one else comes close, that’s why Weider attacks machine training in his mag because Weider knows nothing and is frightened of Arthur’s knowledge! ” Mike then said he was thankful to Joe Weider for the opportunity to write articles as he loved to do so, but claimed most of the other bodybuilders training articles were ghost written and that “the truth is none of them really know the first thing about effective training, they all listen to Weider and overtrain all the time – without steroids they would all burn out! ” Mike then looked at his watch and said “I miss my girlfriend and Ray my brother, I wonder what they are doing right now? Be glad to get home and see them again.” Mike swung back to Arthur Jones (pictured below) and declared that “Jones says the human brain is an evolutionary f–k-up! Our vastly increased mental capacities have enabled us to create weaponry so powerful it threatens us all, and he says the human race will destroy itself! More than once Arthur said to me “Michael, the last moments of humanity are going to be un-f–king-believable! Everything’s gonna be blown away because our brains are more advanced than our morals, so everyone ends up being f–ked! ” I was a bit taken aback at this. Having read most of Mike’s articles at the time which generally were well-written and calmly logical, I was not ready for him to get loud again and to f and blind so freely but managed to remain relaxed enough to say “Yeah, he could be right he certainly is a genius but I am hoping that this is one thing he gets wrong. Do you think he could be right about nuclear war?” Mike looked amused for a second then got serious again with “Jones thinks he’s right about everything! You cannot debate with him because he won’t listen to any argument and never stops talking - the man is a true genius but he is a f–king c–t and no one can stand working for him for long." (what about Ell Darden then? But I dare not interrupt as Mike was getting hot under the collar again!). Photo below: Casey Viator, Dan Lurie, Arthur Jones and Sergio Oliva (1971) "The most amazing night I ever had was an evening at Arthur’s with Joe Weider and (cannot remember for sure but others may have been Ell Darden and Casey Viator, but Mike definitely said Weider was there) others. Arthur never stopped talking and it was the most scientific indepth talk about training ever! No one else got a chance to speak and Joe looked stunned because Arthur’s stuff was beyond him, that’s why Joe was afraid of Nautilus and tried to put them down in his magazines. Joe acted disgracefully doing that but he had to be number one in the bodybuilding world so came out with several articles supposedly written by his champions saying they tried out Nautilus machines and they did not work – f–king bullshit lies! " * Photo below: Arnold using the Nautilus Pullover Machine designed by Arthur Jones. * Photo below: Franco Columbu using the Nautilus Pullover Machine. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva Training with Arthur Jones - Nautilus Equipment (1971) * Photo below: Arnold and The Myth Sergio Oliva Pumping Up Backstage at the 1972 Mr Olympia contest. "Hey, Sergio Oliva trained with Arthur for awhile in 1972 and was in his best shape ever that year in the Olympia but Joe wanted Arnold to stay on top so that’s what happened. Sergio got f–king screwed and quit the IFBB for years. I know what he felt like because I was shafted in 1980 and they gave the O to Arnold again when he should have lost.” (My comments on the above can be found at the end of this article). Mike was talking a bit slower and quieter now and his voice was tinged with regret. There was no doubt in my mind that he bitterly resented his 1980 loss and this disappointment was so visible in his manner as he talked that I am sure he felt unfulfilled for the rest of his life. Mike carried on with his assessment of the 1980 Olympia. “If Arnold had been in his 1974 shape then I could have accepted his win, but on the night he was nowhere near that condition, I would have put him 5th or 6th but Weider wanted him on top and me shafted because I had been talking against his and Arnold’s ridiculous 20 sets a bodypart training routines. Joe thought it would show his training was superior to heavy duty if I lost and Arnold won. And I was not the only one shafted – Boyer Coe and Roger Walker both looked great and should have placed above Arnold.” * Photos below: Arnold Schwarzenegger from 1974... Frank Zane and Chris Dickerson who came third and second had not been mentioned by Mike so I asked whether he thought they should have beaten Arnold. Mike replied “Yes they should but I will qualify that by saying they should not beat big guys in shape – this is bodybuilding not ballet dancing! Zane is too small to be Mr Olympia yet they gave it to him three times, even beating me in ’79. And Dickerson (pictured below) may have great calves but look at his arms! He’s got no biceps to speak of yet still wins shows, it just proves things are fixed.” * Arnold vs Chris Dickerson * Arnold Schwarzenegger vs Chris Dickerson vs Frank Zane I took a deep breath and dared to ask Mike about the controversial 1981 Olympia, when a dazzling Tom Platz came third and Franco Columbu returned from retirement to win with the poorest legs in the contest. Mike was incredibly dismissive of Franco, saying... "That was another fix, no way should that mental midget have beaten Platz but once again one of Arnold's cronies was looked after by Weider! In the muscle magazines afterwards they claimed Joe did not agree with the result but he was just saying that to cover himself - the result stayed the same even though the whole audience disagreed with it. You can’t fool people all the time and putting that dimwitted quack first was an insult.” * 1981 Mr Olympia: Danny Padilla vs Franco Columbu * 1981 Mr Olympia: Franco Columbu vs Tom Platz I happen to agree that Franco should not have won that year, but instead I asked Mike to explain his use of the word “quack.” “He calls himself a doctor but he’s not a real doctor he’s a chiropractor. These bone crackers are not real doctors it’s all nonsense, it’s all based on erroneous science to do with facial nerves. I agree my back needs adjusting at times but I lay on the floor and crack it myself, I don’t need any bone cracker messing me up. I respect the medical profession but not these fringe practitioners, chiropractic belongs with other nonsense like homeopathy not with genuine doctors.” Mike then started to talk about nutrition and his opinion that “A well balanced diet is all you need, taking extra vitamins and protein supplements is a waste of money! The muscle mags want you to believe taking supplements will give you a contest physique but that is complete garbage! The supplement industry makes massive profits out of gullible guys desperate for progress, but the truth is you cannot be a champion without steroids! Everyone lies and says they are drug-free but not me. Taking steroids is necessary if you want to be a pro, I use them myself, I don’t think it’s immoral to use drugs but I do think it’s immoral to lie! As a result all these young guys piss away lots of money on supplements that don’t work whilst believing their idols supplement endorsements. Look up nutrition in medical textbooks and you’ll see the truth… you really don’t need much protein and energy to train comes from carbohydrates so you should focus on them.” Unfortunately, at that moment the gym owner reappeared, looked at me and said “What are you doing in here? ” Before I could reply Mike said “We have been having a very interesting discussion, would you like to join us? ” No such luck, the gym owner stared at Mike and said “Interesting discussion? It’s late and we’ve got to go and he should not even be in here.” He turned to me and said “Times up say goodbye to Mike.” Mike looked disappointed as he had been in full flow and obviously loved talking as much as me, but being temporarily on the gym owners payroll he went along with his orders and simply said “Thank you for such a stimulating conversation, will you be at my seminar tomorrow? ” I replied in the affirmative then thanked Mike and stepped out into the dark, mind aglow with my experience. I made notes of our chat when I arrived home but most of what Mike said is still very clear in my memory. In the years that followed Mike became entranced by Objectivism and Ayn Rand and his speech was full of her philosophy but you have just heard Mike talking before all that. He also changed his mind about a few things as time went on, for example his last two books with John Little gave free weights much more respect. Mike no longer believed that “stone age barbells” should be scrapped. Mike fell into a psychological breakdown and was mentally ill for sometime – I often think if he had won the Olympia he would have been very different to the man he became who claimed to be very happy with his life, yet seemed to me to be unhappy. At the end Mike was in very poor health, on lots of medication and sounded like an old man yet was only middle-aged. Typically stubborn he smoked a lot and said “I love it ” when challenged to quit smoking. Mike’s integrity remained to the end – for example in Muscular Development magazine when asked who was best Arnold or Dorian Yates (pictured below around 1993) he stated that Arnold in his 1974 incarnation was clearly the best even though he intensely disliked Arnold and Dorian was a friend and fellow HIT advocate. Believe me, if Mike said anything he was always 100% sincere and never worried about upsetting anyone, his favourite saying being that it’s not about who is right or wrong, but what is the truth? I respect Mike’s stance on the truth but was everything that Mike said true, or had his mind played tricks on him even as far back as our conversation? I have some doubts in my own mind as to whether some of what Mike believed was true. Referring back to Mike’s Nautilus and Arthur Jones statements – did Mike really attend a meeting at Arthur Jone’s with Joe Weider? I find that highly unlikely as Jones and Weider were business rivals, with Joe printing articles rubbishing Nautilus machines, and Arthur declaring that no one but he understood anything at all about bodybuilding. But who knows? Maybe it did happen! Also Mike said Oliva trained with Arthur in 1972 when he appeared in his all-time best shape at the Olympia, but Ell Darden would tell you Sergio was at Nautilus HQ in 1971 NOT 1972 – so was Mike just being forgetful? Another bone of contention is the way Mike, just like Arthur, regarded practically everyone else as being ignorant/misinformed/or just plain stupid when their opinions differed from his. Note especially his dismissive view of Franco. Whether or not Chiropractic is a valid medical science, anyone qualifying to be a DC is most unlikely to be a “mental midget.” Also Mike owed Joe Weider gratitude for giving him publicity and a job on his editorial staff, and Joe helped Mike launch his own “Heavy Duty” mail order business, but when Mike went his own way he was telling everyone that Joe knew “nothing” about bodybuilding. Finally, the way Mike ranted about fixed contests to me, a complete stranger, revealed a personality near the edge, and later he did crack. Try reading Ell Darden’s book “The New High Intensity Training” where Ellington devotes a chapter to his experiences with the Mentzer brothers, sad reading about the delusional state Mike suffered for some time. I have to say I don’t agree with quite a bit of what Mike said, but I respect his views and have written it here as he said it. AND what of the seminar that took place next day? Well, that’s another story that I might write down one day but not today. Finally, if this does get published remember it’s about what Mike Mentzer said NOT my opinions so if anyone reading this gets offended please don’t come looking to sue me, I am only the journalist on this article repeating what Mike said that interesting night and, although I question some of what he said, I can neither verify or disprove what he said. By Magnus * Please note: This article is copyrighted and may not be used on another website! Readers do have permission to share this article (greatly appreciated ) across social media by clicking the "share" button link. * * To read Part 2 click here. For more great info on Mike Mentzer check out http://www.mikementzer.com/
  6. 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.
  7. Back in Aug 7, 2014, Bodybuilding Legend Bill Grant reported the following... * Photo above: Harold Poole at 18 Years Old BRIEF BIO ON HAROLD POOLE Harold Poole (Dec. 25, 1943 - Aug. 7, 2014 ) was a former AAU, IFBB and WBBG professional bodybuilder. Poole's athleticism was apparent very early on. He was quarterback on his football team at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, placed fourth in the state high school wrestling championships, ran 440 yards in 50 seconds and put the 12 pound shot 55 feet. In 1960, Poole entered the AAU Mr. America and, at the age of 16, took 18th place. His final AAU teen opportunity came in June 1963, where he won most muscular, but was the runner-up to Vern Weaver. Three months later, Poole switched to the IFBB and, at age 19, he won the Mr. Universe. In 1964, he became the first African-American to be named IFBB Mr. America. Starting in 1965, Poole became the only man to compete in the first three Mr. Olympia contests finishing runner-up to Larry Scott in the first two Olympias. * Photo below: 1963 Mr Universe - Harold Poole Wins at 19 Years Old * Photo below: 1966 Mr Olympia - Chuck Sipes - Sergio Oliva - Harold Poole He retired from bodybuilding competition following the 1982 IFBB Night Of Champions, where he placed outside the top 10. He lived in Florida, where he continued to train with weights and practice martial arts until the end of 2010, when he moved to New York City. He was inducted to the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2004 and the WBBG Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2008, Poole was voted the Greatest Teenage Bodybuilder of All-Time. COMPETITION / AWARDS HISTORY 1960 Mr America - AAU, 18th Mr Mid-America - AAU, Most Muscular, 2nd 1961 Mr America - AAU, 4th Junior Mr America - AAU, Overall Winner 1962 Mr America - AAU, Most Muscular, 1st Mr America - AAU, 2nd Mr North America - AAU, Winner 1963 Mr America - AAU, Most Muscular, 1st Mr America - AAU, 2nd Teen Mr America - AAU, 2nd Universe - IFBB, Tall, 1st Universe - IFBB, Overall Winner 1964 Mr America - IFBB, Tall, 1st Mr America - IFBB, Overall Winner 1965 Mr. Olympia - IFBB, 2nd 1966 Mr. Olympia - IFBB, 2nd 1967 Pro Mr America - WBBG, Winner Mr. Olympia - IFBB, 2nd 1968 Pro Mr America - WBBG, Winner 1971 Mr USA - IFBB, Tall, 1st 1972 Mr World - IFBB, Tall, 3rd 1980 Night of Champions - IFBB, 12th 1981 Grand Prix California - IFBB, 7th Grand Prix New England - IFBB, 9th Night of Champions - IFBB, 6th Canada Pro Cup - IFBB, 8th 1982 World Pro Championships - IFBB, 9th 2004 IFBB Hall of Fame 2007 WBBG Hall of Fame timfogarty states... Vince B states... Harold Poole used to work as a bodyguard for the first ever supermodel, Twiggy. * Photo below: Twiggy, Harold Poole and Denie Walters (far right). Other two men I don't know. * Photo above: Michael Guibilo, Twiggy, Harold Poole, Denie Walters. Man on far right, not sure. A friend of Harold's stated the following... Richard Young stated... TheSpritz0 stated the following... Michael Mavroudes response to TheSpritz0... There are stories of Harold being a "bad ass" and suffering mental issues... John Backos stated... Jason Allen stated... NYC girl stated... Robert Mansfield stated... Tony Estrada stated... Some older photos of Harold before he passed away... * Photo below: Harold Poole at 66 years old. * Photo below: Harold Poole from around 2008 looking big. RIP Harold Poole. Watch the following video to hear Leroy Colbert's opinions of Harold Poole... If anyone would like to share stories on Harold please comment below.
  8. 1981 Mr Olympia - The Greatest Booing Contest of All Time By Rick Wayne Edited by: Strength Oldschool * The following is from the book "Muscle Wars" by Rick Wayne. * NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Before proceeding to read this article by Rick Wayne, please watch the video below which graphically shows Franco Columbu at the 1977 World's Strongest Man contest competing in an event where his leg simply snaps! For Franco to be able to compete again, let alone just be able to walk again was simply an amazing feat. Tough as nails was Franco. On to the article... Arnold Schwarzenegger was keeping strictly to business. Which is to say, he avoided the Mr. Olympia contenders as much as possible, for fear any overt friendliness on his part might be misconstrued. When I tried to engage him in conversation, he replied in German. My questions about Franco Columbu’s chances in the contest fell on determinedly deaf ears. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Watch this video on Franco Columbu preparing for and competing at the '81 Olympia... Oscar State brought the contenders out of hiding for the competition preliminaries. “Will the contestants in the Mr. Olympia event please line up onstage. We’re about to begin.” You got the feeling that when the Englishman wasn’t using his voice he kept it stored in his deep freeze. Just then Oscar’s voice hadn’t quite defrosted. The Veterans Memorial Auditorium had never seen a more high-powered Olympia lineup. The champions marched onstage, each clearly bent on proving that all men are not created equal: Johnny Fuller (England); Steve Davis, Danny Padilla, Ken Waller, Ed Corney, Franco Columbu, Tom Platz, Mike Katz, Dennis Tinerino (the United States); Roy Callender (Barbados-Canada); Roger Walker (Australia); Samir Bannout (Lebanon-U.S.A.); Jorma Raty (Finland); Hubert Metz, Jusup Wilkosz (Germany). The audience was quick to pay its respects with an ovation loud enough to be heard at the Sheraton, a mile away. (Perhaps they were also congratulating themselves for having ignored the dark prognostications that preceded the event.) From the very outset the onstage action sizzled. Whoever had been so reckless as to place Callender and Columbu side by side soon had cause to rethink the decision. Even before the contest got underway it was clear that the former was determined to force humble pie down the other man’s throat. Pointing to his massive left thigh, Callender, nostrils flaring and eyes ablaze, turned to Columbu and shouted loud enough to be heard at the back of the theater, “Look, man! Look! ” An excited roar rose from the belly of the thrill-thirsty auditorium. Nine thousand dilated eyeballs zoomed in on the finely carved chunk of ebony that Callender slid alongside Columbu’s much publicized bedeviled leg, the one obvious chink in the one-time Mr. Olympia’s armor. But the ex-Sardinian sheepherder was a veteran of these wars. “No, no, Roy,” he shot back. “You look! ” And with that he brought both arms overhead and down again into a dazzling most-muscular pose. He’d always been especially famous for his spectacular pectorals and deltoids, and no other pose showed them off better. Columbu went on. “Yeah! Take that and that and that! ” – three housebreaking back shots! Oscar State restored things to order and was roundly booed for his trouble. He was about to introduce the bodymen in the lineup when Callender again challenged Columbu, this time to compare abdominals. Then Danny Padilla stepped forward, intent on making his contribution to the onstage anomie. State barked; Padilla froze… and resumed his place at the left end of the lineup. The audience exploded in another round of boos. It was difficult to tell from the audience reaction who among the seventeen contenders was most popular. Initially Padilla, Columbu, Dickerson, Platz, and Callender seemed highly favored. But gradually the Dickerson and Columbu fans lost their voices. I’d received advance warning from my spies in Santa Monica to watch out for a new Tom Platz, but I’d dismissed that as the usual bodybuilding hyperbole. Imagine my surprise when Tom showed up with not only extraordinary thighs and calves, but also with arms, chest, and shoulders that brought the house down every time he displayed them. In previous competitions his biceps and triceps had been especially weak. Somehow, for this contest Tom Platz had acquired precisely the look Olympia fans live for. Of course, the Olympia had never been a showcase for ballerinas. It was a contest that only such marvels as Scott, Oliva, and Arnold could win. Franco Columbu had managed the feat once, but by then the gargantuas had disappeared. Frank Zane? Well yes, he’d won three times, that’s true – but always while Arnold slept. In the absence of cats, mice will rule. If Tom Platz wasn’t the most beautiful hunk you ever saw, he was – yes, count on it – freaky! There was no other word for it. But where Olympia fans were concerned, that was the winning look! Callender’s flaws originated in the mold. His calves both began and ended somewhere behind his knees, which gave an appearance of extraordinary length to his ankles. He was bowlegged. In those areas of his physique responsive to torturous exercise, however, the Barbados native was unbeatable. It was a toss-up between Callender and Platz as to who had the more impressive back. Callender imagined no contest. The fires of self-confidence raged in his dark eyes, hot enough to fry Olympia chickens. Then there was Franco Columbu. Save for his thighs, he was as stunning as he’d been-more so, perhaps-when he beat Frank Zane for bodybuilding’s premier title five years earlier. Danny Padilla’s face reminded you of a rabbit at the end of a long winter’s hibernation. His sunken cheeks and deep-set eyes bespoke torture in the months preceding the Olympia. At 150 pounds he was some thirty pounds under his regular competition bodyweight. But for once Danny was ripped to the bone, almost totally fat-free. And his symmetry was, as usual, perfect. Johnny Fuller had been a lot sharper for other contests. Mike Katz, too. And Jorma Raty had tried desperately to focus attention on the one thing he had going for him, enormous biceps. Hubert Metz had developed nipples that brought to mind nubile maidens at puberty’s front door. Every time Oscar State called him out to pose, the audience chorused, “Bitch tits! Bitch tits! ” - the price some modern bodybuilders pay for their chemically enhanced muscularity. Chris Dickerson was remarkable. He had not participated in the onstage shenanigans that started with Callender and Columbu. Rather, he comported himself as if he truly believed dignity counted in this war of Neanderthals. Ken Waller had entered the contest fully cognizant of the fact that he stood little chance of profiting from the ordeal. He and Arnold had been friends ever since Arnold first came to California. He’d been given a part in Stay Hungry largely because Arnold so ordered. Ever grateful, Waller was taking this occasion to let the world know exactly where he stood in the Schwarzenegger- Mentzer-Coe fracas. The first three men to be called out for comparisons were, Padilla, Callender, and Columbu. They strutted striations in their pecs and abs, in their quads and in their delts. They hoisted their scanty posing briefs to expose more thigh - to the squealing delight of susceptible parties in the audience - and smiled, smiled, smiled. Someone hollered, “Stand up, Danny. Stand tall! ” - a ridiculous demand to make of someone standing only five-foot-three. (Or was it another competitor’s fan adding his own dig at Danny’s lack of stature?) Of course there’s always more to an Olympia than the mere display of big muscles. The way a man behaves onstage and his public image for example, whether he was on the cover of the latest Muscle & Fitness - are deciding factors, too. There’s always an eager curiosity about who will lose his cool in front of the audience, and the audience isn’t above making its own contribution to the game. At one point in the proceedings a voice yelled out, “Hey, Waller, when you gonna give Katz his shirt back? ” - which was a house-breaker. (In the movie Pumping Iron, Waller had been made to seem something of a villain, in accordance with the script. While Mike Katz, competing in the South Africa-sponsored 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe, was onstage posing, George Butler had filmed Waller disposing of Mikes shirt. The fans were convinced Waller had maliciously played a trick on “the nice schoolteacher who never did anyone harm.) By the middle of Round Two, it seemed Platz was having his way, judging only by the applause. But Columbu, Callender, and Padilla were not about to be intimidated. If they went down to defeat, at least they had put up a helluva fight. Traditionally, it was during the free posing round that Chris Dickerson separated himself from the rest of the herd. His practiced posing ability had more than once pulled the judges’ eyes off others who boasted the kind of development that characterized a title winner. This time, however, it was too obvious Platz had better legs and a superior back-never mind that his symmetry left much to be desired. It seemed that the judges would have to choose between one man who had more than his share of muscle (Platz) and another who, though not gargantuan, displayed lines that were a joy to behold (Dickerson). That didn’t mean Callender wasn’t still dangerous as a cornered jungle cat. A consistent favorite, he struck poses reminiscent of the pre-Schwarzenegger Sergio Oliva. And then, despite shaky underpinnings, there was still a formidable Franco Columbu to consider. The judges’ evaluations would be followed with close attention. Well, most of the judges’ evaluations. During the earlier Mr. International warmup Oscar State had found reason to privately declare Mrs. Matuyama (pictured above) less than competent. However, in deference to her high IFBB position in her native Japan-not to forget her status as a purveyor of Weider products-she was permitted to retain her place on the judges’ panel. The old lady was allowed to go through the motions of judging both the Mr. International and Mr. Olympia contests, altogether oblivious to the fact that she’d effectively been bounced. At the end of the day, without one word to Mrs. Matuyama herself, her scorecards would be trashed. Although the prejudging engendered its own excitement, the real show came with the Olympia finals. And some effort had gone into making it a real show indeed. Dick Cooper had been a Member of the Olympia production team for nearly six years. A stage designer who’d worked in vaudeville for twenty-five years, he’d attended his first bodybuilding event in 1970 - Jim Lorimer’s Pro Mr. World, in which Arnold defeated Sergio Oliva for the first time - and come away disappointed by the show’s lack of window dressing. A man after Bud Parker’s heart, Cooper saw bodybuilding as “theater.” As far as he was concerned, Lorimer’s Pro World suggested a potentially great play murdered by actors appearing without makeup on a stage without decent lighting or sets. When Lorimer hired him as technical designer for the 1976 Olympia, the former vaudevillian saw a wonderful opportunity to dress up bodybuilding, to present the sport in its true light, as it were – ”as an exciting spectacle.” In 1981 Cooper outdid himself, with special backlighting and ingenious use of the stage curtains. The evening show opened with the Mr. International contenders blacked out and standing on strategically positioned steps, each man holding the pose for which he was best known, a Mount Rushmore of muscle in silhouette. Backed by the rousing theme from 2001, Cooper’s intro was enough to raise goosebumps on the most seasoned first-nighter. Not surprising that the audience rewarded the stage designer with a standing ovation. “I officially welcome you to the Mr. International and Mr. Olympia contests, ” intoned Ben Weider, beginning his ritualistic opening address. “My brother Joe created the Olympia as the biggest and best professional event on the IFBB calendar. The IFBB has set a criterion for the competition that’s very high indeed. To be eligible, a competitor must -” “Where’s Mike Mentzer? ” shouted a backseat spoilsport. “Yeah! ” another hollered. “And Coe? ” Other dissident voices joined in. “Where’s Albert Beckles? And Frank Zane? Who kept them out? ” Weider persevered. “To compete in the Olympia a bodybuilder must have been a Mr. Universe winner or have placed first or second or third in the IFBB’s grand prix events. It is my opinion that tonight’s will be the greatest of all Olympia contests …… “It had better be! ” said a voice to the left of me. “Especially after Sydney.” “This will be the sixth Olympia staged in Columbus,” Weider continued. “Columbus has seen more Olympias than any other city in the world. And with good reason.” The politician in Ben Weider was about to make his appearance. “In Columbus,” he said, “we have the great organizational ability of the best promotional team in bodybuilding history. I’m speaking of Jim Lorimer and Arnold Schwarzenegger." Equal measures of cheers and boos. “We live in a democracy,” Weider went on. “Everyone is free to express his personal opinion. But I’d like to remind you of one thing: Arnold Schwarzenegger has played a key, a critical role in the development of the sport we all love." He must have sensed touching the collective bodybuilding soul. The theater had suddenly gone quiet. “We love Jim, and we love Arnold,” affirmed the IFBB president to a now converted audience. “Yes, we all do. And we’re going to continue working with this wonderful team. Together with the IFBB, Jim and Arnold will go on presenting the best contests in this great city of Columbus.” What could possibly go wrong after that? Clearly the fans had been waiting for even the smallest indication that in Arnold there was much more saint than devil. After all, they had worshipped him for over a decade. They were not about to admit that in all that time they’d foolishly been cheering on a bodybuilder Beelzebub. They were eager to forget past misdemeanors. Now all that mattered was the future, the immediate future in particular. Ben Weider quit while he was ahead, making room at the lectern for emcee Len Boslin. For the next hour or so the action concentrated on the Mr. International. There was some disagreement in the audience over a tie between two California heavyweights, Rod Koontz and Larry Jackson, but peace was restored with the announcement that the overall winner was the popular Scott Wilson, also from California. And then it was time for the folks who brought you such great classics as 'Gone with the Wind' and 'King Kong' to show off their latest epic, 'Conan the Barbarian'. No, not the actual movie, but color slides of Arnold Schwarzenegger in what were evidently considered some of his best scenes. In a voice raised on hyperbole a Hollywood flack informed the audience that Arnold’s current movie adventure was scheduled for general release that November, with “all indications pointing to a major box office smash.” That may have puzzled those who’d read a New York magazine report entitled “Studio Brass Said to Cringe at Barbarian Movie,” in which Universal Studio’s advertising and publicity vice-president, David Weitzner, was cited as confirming that a decision had been made at the screening to postpone release of the movie until spring, because Conan “simply needs a lot of work.” And then Cine-fantastique magazine had devoted its September issue to the movie, noting along the way that it was tentatively set for release around Christmas but might not be seen until early 1982. (The movie was actually released in May of 1982 and earned a respectable $100 million worldwide.) * 1981 - Cinefantastique magazine - Vol. 11 / No 3: Conan The Barbarian. Vintage original cover art painting accomplished in acrylic and airbrush on 11 x 14.5 in. artists' board of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman, created for the cover of Cinefantastique magazine. The Columbus slide preview ended with a recorded introduction: “Ladies and gentlemen, the star of Conan, five times Mr. Universe, seven times Mr. Olympia -” Arnold! Arnold! Arnold! The spotlight picked him out at Len Boslin’s mike, smiling boyishly, a pampered, manicured, civilized Conan basking in the comfortable warmth of his welcome. If earlier the fans had seemed less than happy about his reported conduct in Australia, they were ready now to pretend the ‘80 Olympia had gone off as smoothly as a Buckingham Palace tea party. Arnold shared his experiences in making Conan the Barbarian, crowed about the new arts he’d mastered in the process-swordplay, horseback riding-then introduced his newest pal, movie director John Milius. He dished out bouquets, one or two of them booby-trapped. He praised Jim Lorimer for his contributions to their partnership; thanked Joe Weider “for all the publicity, some good, some not so good! ” (a veiled reference to Weider’s coverage of the Sydney controversy in Muscle & Fitness); and eulogized IFBB president Ben Weider. To those who wondered why the Olympia promoters had accepted sponsorship by Diet 7-Up, a drink with no known muscle- building properties, Arnold quipped, “Perhaps it contains a secret formula or something that’ll help your body to grow. Who knows what bodybuilders are popping into their mouths these days. I hear they’ll eat anything! ” But then Diet 7-Up had invested thousands in TV and radio ads starring Arnold and Loni Anderson, a project Arnold mentioned finding “most enjoyable.” And then the Reverend Schwarzenegger stepped into his pulpit. “We started out with high ambitions,” he said. “Thanks to your support we’ve been successful to a point. The Olympia is today one of the world’s most exciting sports activities. We’ve rescued bodybuilding from the basements and the comic books, put it on primetime TV. But there’s still a long way to go before we can command the popular respect given baseball and boxing.” Applause! Applause! Applause! If the sport was to advance further, bodybuilders would first have to learn to pull together like brothers, to work hard toward common goals, to stick together. “We must quit the backbiting and the senseless public attacks on each other,” enjoined the Reverend Schwarzenegger. “Our sport can leap forward, or it can die. It’s up to you and me! ” It was a time for unifying the House of Bodybuilding, for settling differences - but amicably. It was a time for celebrating the Brotherhood of Iron! The deacons of the Brotherhood followed the sermon. They came out one by one to offer a minute of free posing. Those who had been popular at the earlier preliminaries maintained their popularity. But some had clearly lost their nerve. Danny Padilla floated in on the strains of “The Theme from Exodus,” but he was clearly a canary among hawks. Johnny Fuller, maybe because he carried more weight than he was used to, walked like a somnambulist, as if unconscious of his surroundings. Samir Bannout seemed unsure of himself at first, but the crowd’s reaction to him restored his normal self-confidence. The heavy artillery cannonade began with Roy Callender’s display. The opera house decorum that had greeted the likes of Steve Davis, Hubert Metz, and Jorma Raty broke upon Callender’s appearance into thunderous awriiights and glass-shattering whistles- until his sixth pose, when suddenly the music stopped. For a second or two you could’ve heard a bedbug snore. Then the threats started coming, followed closely by shocking expletives. Meanwhile, Callender maintained a heroic pose, hands on hips, dark, glistening features lit up by a knowing smile. Ten seconds limped by before the music came on again, only to die a second time right in the middle of Callender’s next pose. This time he threw up his arms and rolled his eyes heavenward, as if to say, “Lord, what have I done to deserve this crucifixion? ” The audience also wanted to know. They started to boo. Suddenly it seemed a nasty odor had invaded the atmosphere, the smell associated with a particular strain of Australian rat. A dozen angry fans rushed the stage shouting, “Sabotaaage! Sabotaaage! Sabotaaage! ” Callender signaled the fans to cool it. Low-rent backstage behavior notwithstanding, he decided to pose without his specially recorded musical accompaniment. Wild cheers greeted the heroic decision. At the end of his presentation, dozens of overexcited supporters rushed the stage to acclaim him Mr. Olympia 1981. What an act for Franco Columbu to follow. The old warrior’s reception was lukewarm, but he plunged into his routine regardless, determined not to be put off by the crowd’s hostility or indifference, presumably counting on the judges to do their work without prejudice. When his turn came, Tom Platz turned on his own heat and soon had the fans scrambling over each other like zoo monkeys. There was no discernible drop in temperature when Chris Dickerson came on. His display climaxed the free-posing round. The officials wasted no time announcing the finalists: Padilla, Wilkosz, Callender, Columbu, Platz, Dickerson. No surprises here. The audience congratulated the judges. And now the high point of the contest, the last lap-the posedown! And mass hysteria! At last Len Boslin was ready with the final result: “In sixth place, Jusup Wilkosz of Germany…. In fifth place, Danny Padilla of the U.S.A. . . . In fourth place, Roy Callender! ” A full second elapsed before the penny dropped. When It did, the theater exploded in a barrage of boos. And worse! The fallout rained right through the further announcements that Platz and Dickerson had placed second and third respectively. “Oh no! Oh no! That sonofabitch Arnold’s done it to us again! ” Amidst the booing and hissing and cursing, it’s likely no one in the audience actually heard Len Boslin declare Franco Columbu winner of the 1981 Olympia. Certainly Joe Weider didn’t. Right after the announcement that Callender placed fourth, Weider rose from his front row seat, saying as he headed out of the theater, “I want no part of this…. No one’s getting me up on that stage.” So it was Ben Weider who finally did the honors, presenting the new Mr. Olympia his $25,000 and Sandow trophy while angry boos bounced off the auditorium walls. From his position at the right of the posing platform, Franco Columbu surveyed the bedlam, noted with concern that his wife, Anita, sat rigid in her seat, hands over her eyes, saw Joe Welder get up and walk into the churning sea of protesters. Backstage, bodybuilding’s new king talked with reporters. He said he’d underestimated the competition and was relieved that it was all over now. Then he flashed his famous mischievous grin and added, “What you sink? Maybe I try again next year? ” The saucy little devil. You couldn’t help admiring his chutzpah. * 1981 Mr Olympia Judges Scorecards... Arnold laughed and laughed and laughed. He called the ‘81 Olympia “the greatest booing contest of all time,” greater by far than that in Sydney the year before. But all he would say about the controversial judges’ decision was, “I am very happy for Franco.” Diplomacy had never been Chris Dickerson’s strongest point. When a reporter asked how Chris felt about the result of the contest, he replied, “Let the IFBB keep their damn title. I sure as hell can live without it.” A Dickerson victory, he said, might have relegitimized the Olympia after its loss of face in Australia. In his heart, Dickerson had never been an IFBB man. He had strongly resisted all attempts by the AAU’s National Physique Committee some years before to affiliate with the Montreal-based organization. By then it was clear the AAU had become the also-ran in bodybuilding promotion. At a 1977 meeting to discuss the prospect of affiliation, Dickerson had expressed the opinion that “we are being bluffed to go in and be taken over by the IFBB.” The AAU committee subsequently voted sixteen to thirteen not to affiliate. A whole year passed before that position was reversed. But that’s another story … Oscar State’s view of the Olympia outcome varied. At first he said outright that he didn’t like it. Later he said he wanted to “offer my congratulations to Columbu on a terrific comeback. ” And still later Oscar wanted to go on record as having said the judges’ decision should be accepted in good faith “for the sake of bodybuilding.” Roy Callender said the contest left him feeling like a lost sheep. “Right now,” he remarked wryly, “Mike Mentzer and Boyer Coe must be laughing their heads off.” He’d always held the view that he couldn’t be fooled twice, he said, but the 1981 Olympia had proved him wrong. Danny Padilla was furious and wanted everyone to know it. He said, “I wouldn’t have minded so much if they had fixed the contest but still given me a reasonable place. But fifth! ” The winner had but one leg, commented Padilla. Tom Platz had poor symmetry and Chris Dickerson had no muscles. Platz retained his cool. He told reporters he couldn’t wait to get to bed. He’d already made up his mind to win the Olympia “or die trying.” There wasn’t much else to be said; what was done was done. He felt no bitterness toward the winner nor, for that matter, toward Arnold. Two weeks after the event Padilla underwent a change of heart, singing a more reverent tune. “Franco was as impressive at the ‘81 Olympia as he’d always been. It was an honor just being onstage with the guy. He’s been my hero for years.” Of course, Arnold hadn’t stopped laughing. Between puffs on a cigar he informed me his personal favorite at the Olympia was Tom Platz. When I asked why, he replied, “Well, did you get a look at his thighs? All I thought about during Tom’s stage routine was how I’d have given anything for legs like he’s got! ” He didn’t want to talk about Platz’s symmetry, but he was happy to discuss the booing that had greeted the Olympia results. “In the sixties,” said Arnold, “Joe Weider promoted two stars at a time, maybe three. You had someone like Larry Scott, who was always featured in Weider’s magazines as a regular Mr. Nice fellow, and on the other hand there was Harold Poole, the Villain. At Olympia time you had the good guy versus the bad, the perfect gimmick for selling box office tickets." “Later we saw the emergence of Sergio Oliva as the great Big Bad Wolf, so Weider invented Schwarzenegger, the Great White Hope of bodybuilding. Oliva and I always had great admiration for each other, but the Weider magazines told a different story.” When he quit in 1975, said Arnold, bodybuilding took a dive. Weider no longer had a superstar, so he set out to create a replacement. After years of effort, however, all he had to show for his trouble was a group of “ministers,” each with his own fan club. Fans turned up at contests to root for their respective heroes. You ended up with a lot of booing and bitterness. “Then again", observed bodybuilding’s former Great White Hope, “you also hear a lot of booing at football matches, at boxing tournaments-even at rock concerts.” In Arnold’s opinion, bodybuilding had changed considerably since his Mr. Olympia days. He thought money was at the root of it. The stars depended on the contests for their livelihood. They did no other work. Day in and day out it was work out, lie in the Venice Beach sun, work out, sleep, work out … The rent, car payments, everything depended on the Olympia first prize or some grand Prix purse. All of which, by Arnold’s measure, accounted for the bitterness among the leading contenders. Much of the anger about Australia was rooted in that sad state of affairs. Bodybuilding was no longer pure sport. For too many, bodybuilding was now a matter of life or death. Winning was everything. It was Arnold’s considered opinion that Joe Weider had deliberately set him up as the target of the collective animosity of bodybuilding audiences. As a consequence of the way in which Weider had promoted him over the years, millions of fans the world over had come to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as the incarnated soul of bodybuilding, as nothing less than the spokesman for the bodybuilding establishment. He was the sport’s most visible representative, so when there was dissatisfaction, he was the one who had to pay. Joe Weider was “a clever manipulator”. When the 1980 Olympia blew up into a major controversy, Weider had nimbly sidestepped the issue, publishing article after article that subtly suggested Arnold had received help from friends on the judging panel. “He did a great job of directing the hostility in my direction,” Arnold told me. “In Columbus, Weider refused to show up onstage to present the winner’s check. He put on a great act, pretending he was disappointed by the judges’ decision. But only a few days earlier he’d expressed to me the view that Franco could win the contest. That’s why I call Weider the ultimate actor. Hollywood could use him." There had been talk that Arnold had persuaded Frank Zane to stay out of the ‘81 Olympia so as to make things easier on Columbu. Arnold denied the allegation. Things had cooled between him and Zane after The Sydney Affair, he said. However, when he’d returned from filming Conan in Spain, he’d invited Zane to compete in the upcoming Olympia. When Zane refused, he’d offered him a Guest shot on the show. Zane declined – he needed a break, he said. Zane later confirmed Arnold’s story, but he refused to go along with the suggestion that he and Arnold were once again “very good friends.” Said Zane, “Let’s just say we’re communicating again.” Ben Weider never imagined for one minute that his judges had been less than honest. But that didn’t mean the IFBB president wanted to go on record as having agreed with their verdict – or as disagreeing! On the question of Sven-Ole Thorsen’s (pictured above) reinstatement as an Olympia judge, Weider said that following Thorsen’s suspension the Danish federation had pleaded with the IFBB’s executive committee to reconsider. So the IFBB had decided to give Thorsen another try. He was allowed to judge the ‘81 European Championships in London and had “redeemed himself.” (Thorsen, the president of the IFBB’s Danish affiliate, insisted he’d never been suspended, and Oscar State confirmed that – someone, he said, was putting someone on.) Joe Weider wasn’t surprised at Arnold’s attempt to make him the scapegoat. He said he was flattered to find that Arnold considered him clever enough to be capable of fooling all the people all the time. “If the bodybuilding world has developed ill feelings toward Arnold,” said Weider, “that’s a consequence of Arnold’s own behavior. His derisive comments after the ‘80 Olympia made him unpopular with fans and contenders. Anyway, Arnold has always regarded me with ambivalence. I am his farther figure. He once told a mutual friend that the man he most admires is the man he also hates most: Joe Weider! " To buy the book 'Muscle Wars' by Rick Wayne, click here.
  9. Danny Padilla - The Road to the 1981 Mr Olympia By David Robson Edited by: Strength Oldschool * This interview is from 1998. To train for the prestigious Mr Olympia bodybuilding competition must surely be one of the most heroic of undertakings; six months of blood, sweat and tears, culminating in a contest-ready physique, poised to take on the worlds best. The Mr. Olympia journey is a remarkable feat, given it is, in addition to the pinnacle of mental and physical sacrifice, an all consuming task, surmountable only by the fittest of the fittest. Professional bodybuilding veteran Danny Padilla has made it his aim on a number of occasions to win the Mr Olympia. However, this particular title has eluded him. This is not to say Danny hasn’t worked, in earnest, to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world. He has. Following amazing back-to-back Mr. America and Mr. Universe title wins in 1977, Danny was poised to become the next big thing. Indeed, by the early 1980’s Danny had developed his body to perfection – he had procured a much sought after package of balanced mass, complete with a ripped to shreds appearance that wins the big contests. Danny was so impressed with his physical achievements he decided to display his unprecedented defined physique at the 1981 Mr. Olympia. When Danny revealed to those in attendance, the improvements he had made, many tipped him to win. Danny arguably presented the most balanced, and mind-bogglingly ripped, physique of any competitor on stage – precisely what he was told he would need to do to win. Alas, he did not win but came a disappointing fifth, trailing behind competitors who were considered by many to be completely out of the running. 1981 Mr. Olympia Standings Following this result, or insult, Danny became disillusioned with competitive bodybuilding and opted to focus on other areas of his life rather than make the sacrifices necessary to fight what was, apparent to him, a losing battle. He thought if a massive, symmetrical, and ripped to shreds physique, could not even make the top three, what was the point in continuing to compete. Danny, however, continued to train and progressed to the point where he decided to again compete. In 1990 Danny came third in the Night of the Champions and knew he was well and truly back. In recent years Danny has focused his energies on securing the Masters Olympia crown. In this exclusive interview, Danny shares his 1981 Olympia experiences. Learn of the progress he made in the weeks leading up to this competition – and what really happened. David Robson: Hi Danny. Good to talk to you again. Lets discuss your 1981 Olympia preparation. How long did it take you to prepare for the 81′ Olympia? Danny Padilla: I prepared for the 1981 Olympia for a full year. DR: How did you qualify to compete at this Olympia and what inspired you to get into such great shape? DP: I came second in my weight class at a previous Olympia to qualify for the 81′ Olympia. While in CA someone told me I never won a show because I was never cut enough and this motivated me to compete. DR: How old were you when you competed at the 1981 Olympia? DP: I was 30 years old. DR: What did you weigh and what was your body-fat percentage? DP: One week prior to this contest I weighed 157 pounds. On the night of the show I weighed 176. There was no fat to be found anywhere on my body. DR: In the off-season, prior to this Olympia, what was your bodyweight, and body-fat percentage, if you can recall this? DP: Body-fat percentage was 16% in the off-season at 178 lbs. I never really get grossly out of shape. DR: Did you bring any muscle-groups up for this contest? Which ones, and by how much? DP: I improved my back muscles and abdominals while bringing my waistline down to 28-inches. DR: Overall, what improvements did you make for the 81′ Olympia? DP: Basically, the overall improvement was a complete package. Every muscle and muscle group could be seen. DR: What training methods did you use at the time? Also, describe your pre-contest diet at this time? DP: Each body part was trained twice a week. The push-pull system was used the last 10-weeks before the show, three times a week. I went against rules of low carbs and stayed on 80-grams of protein and consumed all the carbs that I needed (mostly fruits, veggies, brown rice and yogurt). At this point I did not worry about calories. I also jogged three days a week, 5-miles per jog. In the last two weeks prior to the show I counted calories: On the 1st week I took in 1500 calories and on the last week, 1000. Mind you, during the last ten days prior to the show I was too weak to lift weights or do aerobics. I basically worked in the store with my dad and rested as much as I could. The Monday before the contest I weighed exactly 157. On Wednesday I began to double my calories and double my carbs until Saturday. DR: How did you feel mentally during the weeks leading up to this competition? Were you excited, confident of doing well? DP: I visualize what I wanted to look like before the show and came up with a plan to follow through with. I was excited and confident because Arnold had retired and I figured I had a chance. DR: Physically, how did you feel? Did you feel strong and energetic, or depleted and weak? DP: I felt very strong in the beginning of my program, and in the last two weeks I was depleted. DR: Do you think you achieved the best shape of your life for this contest? What did you do differently to achieve this effect? DP: I was in the best shape of my life for the 1981 Olympia, even though the IFBB said I looked too depleted because they had to save face for choosing the wrong winner. If Tom Platz, or Roy Calender, won, I could have accepted it. Although I would have liked it better if I had won. The other show I looked great for was the 1990 Night of the Champions. I was beat by Dorian Yates and Momo Benaziza. I thought that I had the most complete physique at a body weight of 225-pounds, and cut to shreds. DR: As an athlete, what did you gain from doing well in this Olympia? DP: Well, the only thing I gained was I became world famous. Also, I made the Padilla name famous and it’s in the history books of bodybuilding. There were some financial benefits but, unfortunately, when you’re five foot two and your eyes ain’t blue you don’t make the same amount of money as a man over six feet because with the Olympia it’s the tallest and biggest man that makes the show. DR: Who did you train with (if anyone) during the pre-contest phase building up to the 1981 Olympia? What other support did you have? DP: I trained with my best friend Larry Baker, an attorney who loved to lift weights. The only other support I had was me, myself and I. Of course my parents supported me. I received no support from Weider or the magazine (Muscle Builder). DR: Where did you train (which town and what gym)? DP: I trained at the Rockelle Fitness centre in Rochester, NY. DR: Going into the '81 Olympia, did you know who your main competition would be? DP: I had an idea Roy Calender would be tough. Also, I knew that Tom Platz would be tough. And at the time I knew that Arnold had two friends that were in the contest. That was Franco Columbo, (who had won the Olympia one time already) and another protege’ from Germany. His name was Jusup Wilcosz. DR: Who did you see as your biggest threat to winning the Olympia? DP: The biggest threat was Franco, Arnold’s training partner. DR: During the contest, what were some of the moments you remember as being interesting? What was the atmosphere like backstage? DP: I remember Arnold talking to Franco, basically stating that it was going to be tough for him to win the show because of Tom Platz, and myself. I personally think Arnold wanted Franco to drop out, but he stayed anyway and somehow he won the show, the atmosphere was incredible. I remember distinctly, Arnold, Franco and Bill drake pumping up getting Franco ready for the show. I was very confident. I knew I looked incredible, and my friend Larry Baker thought for sure that I won the show. We heard people calling on a pay phone in the back saying they didn’t think Danny could lose this show. DR: After the '81 Olympia, were you back in the gym training, or did you take some time off? DP: After the '81 Olympia because working out was my first love even though I was humiliated, I still trained. But I lost my drive for competition. DR: What were your thoughts on the outcome of the '81 Olympia? Do you think you deserved better, and why? DP: I definitely thought that if I didn’t win, I could have at least been second. The crowd was with me. When I was called fifth, half the audience booed and left the auditorium. Also, the fans followed me all the way to my hotel. But the worst part of this show was the network that was filming stopped because of the audiences reaction. Also the mysterious thing about this show is that there is hardly any photos and there is absolutely no film. Who has ever heard of a Mr. Olympia not being filmed? And if anyone has film or photos, please contact me – giantkiller51@hotmail.com. The only photos I know of are owned by Joe Weider and Flex magazine and John Balik, the owner of Ironman. DR: Well, you are obviously very committed to bodybuilding as evidenced by your return to the Masters stage. What are your thoughts on the cancellation of the Masters Olympia this year? DP: I was disappointed that it was cancelled. I was in training and in great shape. DR: Thank you very much for your time Danny. One last question. Are you determined to compete at the Masters Olympia if it is held again? DP: Hopefully, if my health holds out and they don’t cancel the show again. It’s obvious I have to compete for ego only because the prize money is so bad I can make more money selling news papers. It is very sad that when a body builder hits his forties or fifties, it’s not like the golf masters. They just want you to go in a corner and die somewhere. Bodybuilding Legend Danny Padilla and former IFBB judge and gym owner Jim Rockell join John Hansen to talk about the 1981 Mr. Olympia contest... * To read an Interview with Danny Padilla from 1991 which includes Danny's 'Training Program', click here. * To read more on the 1981 Mr Olympia (the greatest booing contest of all time!) click here.
  10. 2001 Interview with Sergio Oliva By Brian D. Johnston Edited by: Strength Oldschool * At the time of this interview, Sergio Oliva was 60 years old. BDJ: How did you meet Arthur Jones; what lead to your involvement with him? SO: Jones initially contacted me from Deland, Florida. He wanted me to fly to Daytona Beach to check out what he was doing, and to give an opinion of his machines. So, I flew down and tested them, and I found them to be quite different from other, regular machines. He then asked if I wanted to go through one of his routines while under his supervision. And I said, "yes." It was very intensive... very powerful... and very different from other routines. BDJ: Provide an example of a routine you did at that time? SO: Jones would put you in a routine starting with legs. The exercises were carried to the point where you could not possibly do any more reps -- to the point of not being able to move the weight. A routine, for instance, would have you start with a squat to muscular failure. Then when you were finished, he would put you in the Nautilus squat machine and that combination would beat the hell out of you. By the time you finished, you would not have the energy to do anything. Then he has you immediately doing the regular free weight bench press, followed by a Nautilus chest machine... then more exercises for the remainder of the body. BDJ: So, Jones had you alternate between free weights and machines? SO: He would only recommend the machines, but I wanted to use free weights also. But when we started to get close to the competition, there was no way I could do both... no way. The machines alone would do it for me. If you don't use the machines the way we did, then it's a piece of cake and you can easily include other exercises in between. But with Jones's method, there is no way... you keep going until you can no longer move. And when you think you're going to rest, he has you going to another machine! By the time you get to the other machine, you feel like you're going to die, pushing yourself to the maximum again. When finished, all you can do is lay down on the floor. BDJ: Did Jones train in your presence, and if so, did he train that hard? SO: He had his own routine and method of using those machines. I saw other people use the machines, but it was not the same way that Jones used them. He had a machine for each muscle, and the way he used them and instructed people to use them, it felt like you were going to throw up. Sometimes he would get people to use machine after machine, and when you thought you were finished, he would get you to do a squat! It was unbelievable. BDJ: A legendary workout had you train immediately after Casey Viator, performing a full body workout. Reports indicate that you could not complete the workout very well and was reduced to using relatively light weights in order to complete it. Is that account very accurate? SO: Yes. That was my very first workout when I went down to Florida. Casey already lived there with Jones and was used to the workouts. I wanted to also workout, and I thought, "Jesus Christ! " I believed that I could not do it, even after having trained so hard for so long. That's when he put me through all the machines. By the time I got to the last one, I thought I was going to throw up on the floor. But as you continue going every day, your power, endurance, determination increases so much that you are able to handle that kind of routine. It was the way that he did it that was different. Too many people used them like they were using free weights pumping and resting. BDJ: I believe you may be the only person to officially develop a muscular arm with a height (from the top of the biceps to the bottom of the triceps) greater than the height of one's head. Did this phenomenon occur while training with Jones? SO: This occurred with Jones, around the time of the 1972 Mr. Olympia in Essen, Germany. You see, Jones tricked everybody. He would invite them down and pay for the trip to test his machines. Everyone went down... Columbu, Arnold, Zane... everybody. And as soon as you arrived he would start measuring your arms cold, then he would tell you how much you can increase in a couple of days, and nobody would believe it. All those Weider magazines claiming 21-22" arms would have everyone coming down to 18-19"... and the only 20.5" cold was my arm. After going through his workouts, my arm was almost an inch bigger, and that happened for everybody. Arnold's arm was 19.75", and Weider had him in the magazines with 22.5". It was ridiculous -- all their measurements came down when Jones measured them. It was during that time that Jones measured my arms and my head, and I couldn't believe that my arms were bigger than my head... I didn't pay attention up to that point. BDJ: I believe your initial meeting with Jones was around the same time that Arnold beat you during that very controversial Mr. Olympia in Essen, Germany? SO: Yes, it was around then that we started training together, but was actually about a year before when I started training with Arthur to prepare for the Mr. Universe in London. BDJ: The one picture I remember of you from Essen, Germany was when you held your arms up over your head -- it was very striking. You're also, perhaps, one of the few who can hold that pose and look good? SO: Ah, yes, the Victory Pose. A lot of bodybuilders try to do it, but the problem with the Victory Pose is that you have to have so much muscle. Your lats have to be tremendous, and the waist very tiny. Plus the lats have to be linked to tremendous triceps and the chest has to be huge; otherwise you look flat from the front when you raise the arms. And when you work your way up, the forearms have to be huge, otherwise they look small connected to the triceps. And that pose came out of no where; I did it, but don't know how or why. I was posing in a country in the 1960s, I lifted my arms up, and everybody went bananas! From that day on everybody started calling me the Myth, and named it the Victory Pose. And after that if I didn't hold that pose they wouldn't let me off the stage (laughter). BDJ: Judging from past photos, I believe you were your biggest while training with Jones. SO: No question about it. And it's too bad... I should have stayed with him. When I went to London in 1970 for the Mr. Universe, everyone knew I beat those guys, including Bill Pearl... I was given second place. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: I believe Sergio was referring to the 1971 Mr Universe as that's when Bill Pearl made his return back to competition and won against Sergio. SO: From there I was to go to the 1971 Mr. Olympia, in Paris. I spoke to Serge Nubret who asked that I go to the Mr. Olympia since Joe Weider wouldn't be there to fix the contest. I then flew to Paris, and while there Joe found out I was going to compete. And he refused... he would not let me compete. He said I was suspended for a year because I competed in the non-IFBB sanctioned Mr. Universe in London the year before. He used any kind of trick. He allowed me to do a posing exhibition, but not compete. In 1972, the Mr. Olympia promoter called everyone to go, and everyone did. But Joe didn't want Arnold to go, but Arnold wanted to compete. (I have nothing against Arnold, he has done very well; many people used him in the beginning, then he used them.) Arnold competed in Essen. By that time, the training I had with Jones allowed me to win the contest by miles. People are still talking about Essen '72. Even Arnold himself said that he didn't win, that it was nothing but politics... it was nothing but politics, but they gave it to him. After that contest Weider put the promoter out of the promotion business. Serge Nubret used to be the big man when it came to running contests. Weider also put him out of the business because Serge did not want to run the contests the way Weider wanted to run them his way with the placings predetermined. * How Sergio Oliva looked in 1971 at around 30 years of age... BDJ: After you left Jones's instruction and went your own way, did you continue training with a HIT approach, or did you return to volume training? SO: Well, I went back to free weights because I did not have access to his machines. I was definitely more powerful after the experience and was lifting more on the free weights than ever before. I did maintain the same intensity afterward, however. BDJ: The reason I brought that up is that previous issues of muscle magazines, and throughout various Weider encyclopedias and books, it suggested that you performed a much higher volume of training, up to 15-20 sets per muscle group. SO: I definitely did not do that many sets, but don't forget I didn't have the machines, which were much more intense -- requiring less volume in comparison to free weights. So I had to make up for the reduction in quality. It's politics, the Weider bullshit magazines. But they control everything. If you try and fight it they will do everything to get you out of the way. They control all the contests, equipment and bodybuilders. And bodybuilders have to go with Weider because where else are they going to compete? They have to bend and go with them. But me, I did not care. When I went to Weider I was already Sergio Oliva, so he could not say that he 'made' me. People already knew me from before and that I was with the AAU before going for the IFBB. He could not use me, perhaps to the point where he could claim that he took me out of my mamma's belly. BDJ: Well, Weider claims to be Trainer of Champions. SO: When he took Arnold under his wing, Arnold was already competing in London, England for Mr. Universe. He only trained a few people, but that's the propaganda. They also call him the 'Master', but I don't know the master of what... maybe the master of breaking your back and your brains. A lot of politics, and it's too bad. For the younger bodybuilders they have no choice. If you use the drugs, have the physique and want to make money, then you have to go with him. Otherwise, don't use the drugs because you won't have any other place to go. It's all Weider: the Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe, Night of Champions. They have every body back and front. BDJ: What opinion do you have of Arthur Jones? SO: Anything I have to say about Jones is good. He is the only honest man I met in bodybuilding. If he says "I'm going to pay you so much", he does. If he says that he's going to train you a particular way, and next year you're going to look a certain way, then you will look that way. He's the type of person you like to be around; the type of person you like to deal with since he won't screw you or use you. Totally different from those other assholes. And everyone who went down to Florida knows that. And it's too bad... if Jones was the one running all the competitions, there would have been a lot of changes. He should have been the one to run the Mr. Olympia and other contests. BDJ: What is your opinion on the competitors of today, compared to your competition days? SO: When I see what they are going through, and what they have to take to be what they are... I wouldn't want it. You can even see how differently the muscle develops on bodybuilders of today versus those of the sixties. The amount of steroids that they use is way over the limit. And that's why you see those physiques... they're tremendous. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva in the late 1960s. BDJ: I find most of the physiques today look like one another; almost clone-like. Competitors of the sixties and seventies each had a special unique look or style. SO: Yes, they all look the same. And if they have a little bit of shape, they all have the same kind of shape! They all have the same look. And it's hard to differentiate one from the other. BDJ: What are your thoughts on some of the past Mr. Olympias, in regards to political tampering? How about the 1979 Mr. Olympia between Zane and Mentzer? SO: Mentzer all the way. There is no doubt about it. But don't forget, Mike came from the outside; Zane was with Weider. Don't let anybody fool you. Zane, Arnold, Columbu, Haney... all those guys were under contract. Now, Lee Haney is my friend and I have a lot of respect for him, but there is no way in the old days that Lee Haney would have won the Mr. Olympia. His physique is unproportional -- a man with a back, but no arms or calves. Then there's Dorian Yates. He has a belly like a cow and no arms. That is not a complete physique. That is not proportional or symmetrical. But being under contract.... Now, if they put Zane and Mentzer together in a contest that was not Weider dominated then Mike would have won. Zane knows that, and Zane is my personal friend. * Photo below: 1995 Mr Olympia - Sergio Oliva at 54 years old with Lee Haney BDJ: Do you think Haney deserved any of the Mr. Olympia wins? SO: He may have deserved some Mr. Olympias, but not all... not the guys he competed against. But, he knows. Everybody knows. BDJ: Could you relay your own experience with drug use? SO: This is an area of great interest for people. I don't care who wants to take steroids, because that's a personal choice... that's his life. Now, today, everybody has access to them. I even saw in one of the big magazines that Arnold denies having used them, but Arnold was one of the first to bring steroids over to America. And everybody in the old days used them: Zane, Columbu, myself, Arnold, Larry Scott, Harold Poole, Dave Draper, and even Steve Reeves. There's no way to deny it. It wasn't much, nothing like today. But the development of drugs is much different. I used decca and dianabol, and that was something really big at the time; and decca was not considered that bad. It was even prescribed by doctors to help make your bones strong. Today you have guys weighing 200 pounds, and six months later they weigh 250-300 pounds! So you know these guys are taking something unbelievable. When they say they haven't taken anything, you know that it's phony. BDJ: I could only imagine what you would look like if you have access to the drugs of today. SO: Geez... I wouldn't even want to think about it. My God... (laughter). We used to talk about the big deal of taking decca and dianabol. Now the talk is about growth hormone. I see what they are using... the way they look... I tell you, it's scary... I would pass on that. Anybody can go work out and get a physique without steroids, and that is what I recommend. The drugs today is not worth the money or the way it makes you look. The consequences later are going to be big. BDJ: I notice a lot of people take steroids because they are too lazy to train hard mostly teenage boys. SO: Yes that's what it is. But they're making a double mistake. When you take steroids you have to train even harder... otherwise the excess weight later turns into fat. If you train hard, eat well with quality protein, and take a good vitamin and mineral, then you can achieve a good physique. And a good physique comes from about 45% of your genes, whereas the rest is from training. So, if you're going to be something, then you're going to be something. If you're not, then you're not. But with all those steroids, you're going to be one of the group... you're not going to be different. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone... to my friends or any of my family. BDJ: You're still training to this day. Tell us about it. SO: I'm 60 years old and I go to the gym five days a week. I enjoy going to the gym very much. When I competed I trained 5 days a week, year round. I'm not like some of the competitors who only trained for six months for a contest then laid back. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva at 61 years old (2002) BDJ: Physique wise, who do you consider to be the best bodybuilder? SO: There are a few. One of the best right now is Flex Wheeler (photo below). I also like Shawn Ray and Ron Coleman. I compare myself to Flex Wheeler, a little bit. He reminds me of myself, with a tiny waist. My back was much bigger, though. He is the only one with a really complete physique. BDJ: Your last year of competition was 1985. I've heard from some spectators that they did not care whether you won the contest; it was worth attending just to see the legendary Oliva. Tell us about that. SO: I could have entered that contest much better, and much bigger... that night was not the same physique that I always carried. I felt sick, like a Zombie. I followed my wife's (Arleen Garrett) suggestion in changing my diet. I've always had a problem with my diet. Thank God I had good genes to be able to eat what I want. So it seemed everything that I ate, I turned it into muscle. Anyway, she wanted me to follow the diet that Frank Zane followed. But she made a mistake. The diet was all right for Frank Zane's metabolism, but for me, it was not doing the job. I had no power to train and I felt too weak to workout... it was a disaster. If I did it my way, I would have looked unbelievable. The second thing is, and I found this out, that even if I looked like King Kong and cut, they would have given me the same placing. Weider indicated no other placing for me but eighth. BDJ: A similar thing happened to Mentzer in Sydney, Australia, in 1980 when they gave him fifth place. SO: That's right, and believe it my friend. And I could not do any better than eighth place because all those guys on the stage are the same ones endorsing his vitamins, proteins, magazines, equipment... I didn't do anything for him, because he didn't do anything for me. As a matter of fact, he took away from me. But I decided to come back for that contest. And who picks the judges? Weider. So, how can you win? NOTE by Strength Oldschool: To read Mike Mentzer's thoughts on the 1980 Mr Olympia contest click here. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva from 1983 at 42 years old. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva from 1993 at 52 years old looking massive! BDJ: What projects and plans do you have for the immediate future? SO: I regularly do seminars and guest appearances. And I do my seminars different from everyone else. I tell it like it is and allow the audience to ask me questions. Other bodybuilders only talk about the good things. I talk about the good and the bad. People don't always want to hear about the blue and the red, but the black and the white. That is why I'm asked to do seminars all over the world, and people really enjoy them. I'm also working with someone (Francisco G Marchante) on a book about my life story and competition days. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva and Francisco G Marchante - at the 1995 Mr Olympia contest. I was supposed to do this book before, but I like to say things the way they are and it was difficult to get interested writers willing to put it all on the line. I don't push or drink protein powders and I won't endorse things I don't believe in. So, in a business sense, I was bad for the business. And this also affected some of the contests in which I competed. The book will discuss these things, but also my Olympic lifting days before bodybuilding, when I prepared for the Pan American games, when I prepared in Russia, all the sports I did in Cuba to escape... basketball, volleyball, boxing, running... I was doing everything, but the competition was too high. I did so much in life that it is not necessary to add or take away from my stories, but it is hard to find someone willing to print the truth. I will tell about the politics and the contests Joe fixed. A lot of people will be against it, and a lot of people are going to know a lot that they don't already know. Also, I'm still working on the police force with about 6-7 years to go. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Sergio joined the Police Force in 1976. He would later retire in 2003. BDJ: Thank you for your time. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Photo below shows Sergio Oliva at 69 years old attending the 2010 Mr Olympia. He would pass away just two years later in 2012 at the age of 71. But let's remember The Myth as the powerhouse he really was... Sergio from 1969! RIP Sergio Oliva (1941 - 2012) * If anyone has any stories on Sergio please comment below. It would be great to hear any Chicago Cop stories or training in the gym etc. If you have a rare photo of Sergio, consider adding it below. Strength Oldschool
  11. The Gigantic Arms of Bill Pettis By Joe Weider The greatest bodybuilders in the world pass through the portals of Weider’s Woodland Hills establishment. The lavish appointment of this modern installation is reflected in the great human products that complement it. Massive muscle in repose lends a scenic treat matched only by the magnificent Santa Susana Mountains facing the broad, glass front. Attempts at conservative tailoring fail as muscle spills over. Shirt sleeves are carefully split to accommodate burgeoning biceps. You gape in awe at the likes of Arnold, Waller, Gable or a Paul Grant. You never saw such muscle. Never, that is, until the advent of Bill Pettis. Nothing causes as much commotion as the gigantic arms of Bill Pettis. You have to look twice to make sure they are arms and not two other people with him. Not many people can stifle their curiosity about such ponderous muscle and the most sophisticated observer finds himself asking the usual question: “What do your arms measure, Bill? ” Would you believe 23 1/4 inches? That’s how big he had them four years ago, weighing 230 pounds. That was pumped, after he had done 100 sets of arm work. In those days he worked his arms all day long. They would stay big like that for two or three days. Bill has gotten conservative now and keeps his arm at 21 1/2 cold. It pumps to 22 1/2. He no longer spends all day on arm work, having to cut it down to 1 1/2 hours three times a week. That alone, causes the layman bodybuilder to gulp, realizing his whole workout is that long. Compounding the incredulity of it all are the amounts of weight Bill uses on arm work. Generally noncommittal, when he starts to talk about it, you hear the poundages coming across in a soft voice that has all the innocence of a falling barometer on a balmy night. You’re not sure you heard it straight when he says he does standing triceps curls with 315 pounds on the bar. How can triceps handle that much weight like that? His do, and that’s a fact. It always comes as a shock when you hear how some guys go far astray of the orthodox methods of development, the venerable tried and proven principles, to develop incredible muscle and strength. The great Paul Anderson (1932 - 1994) was one of those backyard strongmen. He dug a trench (see photo below) so he could get under his ponderous, immovable squat bar. Often great feats are accomplished in silence. When applause tore the air over 21-inch biceps on the world’s posing platforms, here’s an unknown man silently carving out a biceps over two inches bigger than any of them anywhere. They are muscular biceps also. The credit is misapplied in referring to them as biceps, however. Despite the immense ball of the biceps muscle itself on Bill’s arm, the greater portion of the mass lies in the triceps. Where his biceps peaks like a 30-foot wave, his triceps curves downward like the underbelly of a giant shark. The arm under flexion seems to loom. It negates comprehension. The forearms are equally massive with cables of muscle extending from the elbow to wrist. Straight out they measure 15 3/4, in a “goose-neck”, 16 1/2. The average bodybuilder fights hard to get his flexed upper arm that big. Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, of humble origin, he grew to be resourceful. He got into weight training by making bells out of 25-pound cinder blocks. He worked out with them for a better part of a year back in 1960. He wanted to build his strength for other sports. He became a devastating high school athlete. In football he made All City and All League as a guard. In baseball he pitched. When he was on, he could strike out 12 men in a game. A moment’s reflection makes you wonder where he went astray. YOU see those massive arms, the tremendous potential, and you imagine him as a big league pitcher. He obviously had speed and control, looking at his high school strikeout record. With his easy, quiet manner, and geared-down movements you suspect it’s deliberate, an attempt not to startle with all that overpowering size. But, he’s got a primitive speed. He ran the 100-yard dash in 10 seconds. He landed in a small college, but economics and a family that needed his support at home forced him to quit. What has been professional baseball or football’s loss has been bodybuilding’s gain. Like many other great potential athletes he got hooked on the private challenge of bodybuilding. Only someone who has tried it can understand the powerful attraction. The bodybuilding ranks are full of former great athletes. Guys like Ken Waller and Roger Callard left careers in football to take up muscle building. Now 28 years old, Bill recalls 20 years ago when he cold flexed a pretty good little biceps. That he possessed natural muscle potential leaves no question. Only a natural could curl 220 pounds six reps. That’s what he does today – and a whole lot more. Listen to this arm workout: Barbell Cheat Curl: 5 sets; 6 reps, 220 lbs. Scott Bench Curl: 5 sets; 6 reps, 160 lbs. Barbell Curl: Strict: 5 sets; 6 reps, 180 lbs. Triceps Pushdown: 5 sets; 6 reps, 150 lbs. Standing Triceps Press: 7 sets of 225 lbs for 6 reps; 275 lbs for 3 sets of 6 reps; 315 lbs for 3 sets of 4 reps. Parallel Bar Dips: 4 sets, 25 reps. Reverse Triceps Push-ups: 6 to 8 sets, 50 reps, No weight. A look at the program makes it evident that the triceps gets the major share of the work. The greater part of the muscle volume of the upper arm lies in the triceps. Bill recognized that fact and trained hard on triceps. As a result his arm shows perfect balance, both biceps and triceps developed to the fullest. The biceps in recent years has gotten favored treatment because it’s a showcase muscle. As a result the arms of some superstars show lagging development in the triceps. Bill uses a medium grip with all the barbell movements. He follows the Weider “Quality” training technique and rests only a minute between sets, slightly long, perhaps, but that’s because he works heavy with low forced reps. The Scott Bench curl (photo above) gives him the low, wide biceps. He uses the straight bar on the Triceps Pushdown (photo below), keeping the elbows tight against the sides, raises the bar to the chin, and pushes down until the elbows lock. He does no partial movements in any exercises. The Standing Triceps Press is his forte. The bulk of his upper arm muscle comes from it. He takes the weight off the squat rack and jerks it overhead to start the exercise. He lowers the bar to the shoulders and immediately drives it to arms length overhead with triceps alone. He can work up to a single rep with 340. He follows that with weightless push-ups, doing several sets that total up to hundreds of reps. In this way he can literally flush gallons of blood through the great muscle mass and get an extreme pump. He has done as many as 3000 push-ups in a workout, which took him something like five hours. He doesn’t get into these drawn out affairs these days. He doesn’t need to. Though he works his upper arms three days a week, he works his forearms every day. He does 10 sets of wrist curls over a bench, five sets regular, five sets reverse. Forearms, like calves, must be worked every day for growth, a fact many bodybuilders aren’t totally aware of. His main advice to the beginning bodybuilder who wants total arm development is the necessity of working the triceps to the fullest. This means at least twice as much as the biceps. If it is neglected in the beginning, it never seems to catch up fully. It will be worth the development when one gets into competition. With recent emphasis on five or six meals a day, Bill gets along on only two. His food intake is not excessive, amounting to three or four eggs a day with bacon, steak, fish, fowl, fruits and vegetables. Earlier in the game when he was striving for size he would eat 25 pancakes at a sitting, but he stopped doing that. He supplements his diet with protein, yeast and liver tablets. Bill’s development is heartening to those who refuse to take steroids. He has never taken any synthetic anabolics. Aside from the cost, he has preferred to be cautious, and has proved you can get ultimate muscle mass and cuts without it. In fact, he aims to compete with and beat those bodybuilders who happen to be heavy into muscle building drugs. No one would question the validity of his aim. With no great effort to develop other lifts, Bill does a commendable bench press with 475 lbs and a squat with 620 lbs. One could easily foresee records falling if he cared to convert his great potential for muscle building into powerlifting. He trains with his friend Bill Grant at Gold’s Gym. The powerful, iron-clan look of Chuck Sipes offer Bill the style and ideal he prefers. He intends to make it work for him. He wouldn’t mind winning Mr. America. Bill’s mighty arms excites the professional wrist-wrestlers, but he will have no part of it. He likes his bodybuilding. If he were to injure an elbow by some remote chance, his bodybuilding hopes would disappear. He’s happy the way he is. He’s due to find his niche in the world of muscle. He’s got the look of a legend. It’s a timeless quality. After all, how many guys got arms that big? This ad appeared in the November 82 Ironman… NOTE from Strength Oldschool: I hope you have enjoyed reading this classic bodybuilding article on Bill Pettis. Because this is a Joe Weider Article, I wouldn't fully believe the claims of Bill Pettis's Arm Measurements or Strength Stats. I'm sure he did have impressive arms as can be seen from the photos, but I highly doubt they were even close to 23 inches! As for his strength levels in the gym, who knows? Unfortunately Bill (1946 - 2016) has now passed away and the following footage may shock some fans. If anyone has stories on Bill, please share them below. Thank you. RIP Bill Pettis Farewells from fans.... Royal's mom wrote: The Spy wrote: unknownbillionaire wrote: Dilraj Shergill wrote: Jack Horgan wrote: Antoine King wrote: Betty Boop wrote: Peters World wrote: Gustavo wrote: Betty Boop wrote in response to Gustavo: NeftyN3f wrote: Betty Boop wrote in response to NeftyN3f: If anyone would like to share stories on Bill Pettis and provide facts regarding his life, eating habits and training, please do so by responding to this article. Great article on Bill.
  12. Small Hands can be Powerful (1957) By Jack Delinger (1926 - 1992) Some of the strongest men have small hands; many thin men have large hands. When you shake hands with a fellow you often become conscious of his grip or the size of his hand. Some will give you that “death-grip” which I, myself, have many times experienced; whereas others merely hand you their limp fingers which feel like a cold mackerel. And yet, there are a few fellows who are so self-conscious of their strength that they want to impress everyone with their tremendous grip whenever they greet you. The late Ernest Edwin Coffin (1898 - 1954), who was a powerful and deliberate hand-squeezer, caused many temporary disfigurations on the top of my own right hand so that it engendered reluctance to offer a handshake to him at greeting. He always delighted in giving me the pressure comparable to a vice. But this, this was a cultivated pseudo exuberance because he used not to be that way. It seems that it all came about during one of our conversations regarding the great Eugen Sandow (1867 - 1925). Ernest was always an ardent Sandow admirer who eventually proclaimed himself to the “the world’s foremost authority” on this oldtime strongman. Mind you, prior to our particular conversation, Ernst Coffin was a gentle soul whose handshake was also gentle. On this special occasion, however, I chanced to reveal the power that Sandow had with his hands, and so, from that day hence Coffin’s whole world changed and he began to feel as though he was a reincarnation of Eugen Sandow (pictured below). He then proceeded to take out his complex on me via that previously mentioned “death grip.” Coffin had very strong thick hands, yet they were not large in size. One time during World War II (1939 - 1945), I chanced to visit a home where I met a lad who was about to go overseas. I particularly noticed his extra large hands. This fellow was about my own height, five feet ten inches, and he appeared to weigh around 175 pounds. He was not what you would term “athletic in appearance,” but he did have a pair of hands that reminded me of the hind paws of a huge grizzly bear. The palms of his hands seemed to be at least five inches across and their thick square width extended from the fingers to the wrist. This, of course, was evidently hereditary. I mention this case as a contrast to another – Paul Anderson (1932 - 1994) (Photo below). When Paul Anderson was in Hollywood not so long ago, he and his brother-in-law Julius Johnson and myself dined together. I then particularly observed the smallness of Paul’s hands. They were thick, yes, but much smaller than one would expect when considering his huge size of body and mentally uniting with his colossal power. One would immediately imagine that the world’s champion heavyweight Olympic lifter would possess large and extremely bulky hands, yet he doesn’t. Paul’s hands are actually below average size for one his height, but they are mighty thick. Anyway, it adds much mystery concerning gripping power! I once had a strange experience with mighty Mac Batchelor (1910 - 1986) (Photo above). Mac, at his 325-lb. bodyweight, and his hands, supplied me with what I thought was a great idea. I planned to have his hands photographed, for Mac was then the world’s champion wrist wrestler besides being a lifter of tremendous poundages. Consequently, I induced big Mac to go with me to a studio. I schemed to have Mac’s hands photographed beside my own hands so that I could publish the comparison between their sizes. I surely thought that Mac’s hands would dwarf my own in the picture. The photos were taken and I awaited their processing with keen anticipation, but I met with a horrible disappointment. My own hands, which are of normal size as I would consider them, appeared in the picture to be a little larger than did Mac’s hands. Hence I have never released this photograph. In fact, I think I destroyed it, together with the idea I had at the time. And, when analyzing hands such as one might expect to be attached to mighty Mac Batchelor’s body, there would be visionary hugeness. Of course, Mac’s hands (Photo below) are very dense in the palms and his fingers are also of proportionate thickness, yet his hands are very deceptive to the eyes that look for initial power. On numerous occasions I have shaken the hand of Eugen Sandow (Photo above) during the bygone years when I associated with him in London, England. His hands were very thick but not large. When I grasped his right hand in greeting I felt conscious of holding bulk and density but without a feeling of size. Sandow, as you may remember, could chin with any finger of either hand, and he also used to amuse friends in restaurants by rolling spoons. He would start at the end of the handle and then roll it so that when it reached the concave section the rolled part fit right in the bowl of the spoon itself. Too, he lifted enormous weights, juggled with 56-lb. kettlebells, turned somersaults with a pair of 50-lb. dumbbells, as well as tore small sections from packs of playing cards with finger strength alone. I mention these few items as they link with his small thick hands. Sandow’s hands were about the same in size as the hands of George Jowett (1891 - 1969) (Photo below). Jowett really has unusually thick hands, yet not large ones. But when you grasp one in a handshake you really feel beef. You immediately notice the large contraction of muscle that lumps out between his little finger and wrist, as this thick muscular section causes you to wrap your fingers around it with unconscious admiration. And Jowett’s fingers are short, but what a grip he has, even today. Years ago he used to bend horseshoes and handle extra heavy weights of all shapes and sizes. One time I saw him lift a blacksmith’s anvil that weighed 137 lbs. He did this by tensely grasping the “neck” of the anvil and then swinging it to his shoulder, then pressed it (in a balance) to overhead position. That feat surely took hand power as well as strength of many other muscles. Around that time there was another professional strongman whose grip was outstanding and who could perform some incredible feats. This was Warren Lincoln Travis (1876 - 1941) (Pictured below). I used to associate a lot with Travis. In fact both of us once worked in the same show. He then had a dumbbell that weighed only 110-lbs. but which had a handle about eight or ten inches long and about four to five inches in diameter. Travis always had a $1,000 bill which he would take from a small pocket of his leotard and flaunt it to his audiences with the offer to give it to anyone who could lift his 110-lb. dumbbell with one hand to overhead position as he did. He would then bend forward, grasp the bell, sweep it to his shoulder and press it aloft. Now, I was quite strong in those days but I could never get the damn bell off the floor. Some mighty powerful fellows tried it at times, only to fail. It seemed that the circumference of this dumbbell was too much for any hand to obtain a grip on and, therefore, it simply slipped away from any other attempt save Travis’s own. Trick? I suppose so, for Travis was a master showman, but who am I to reveal a suspected secret? Anyway, Travis had very small hands that were smooth, yet very thick, with stubby fingers. It adds more mystery to the question: whence comes hand power? NOTE: Travis is credited with a one-finger lift of 667 pounds. My old friend Kenneth Terrell (1904 - 1966) (Photo above), who has been actively playing in motion pictures for the past twenty years or so, at one time possessed one of the finest physiques in America. He was quite a good lifter, too! He could clean & jerk 285 pounds, which was not so bad for his 185-pound bodyweight. He used to do a hand-to-hand balancing act in vaudeville with a fairly heavy partner. So much for highlights of his background. Terrell’s fingers are very long and somewhat bony, yet he used to have power-plus in them, but he does not own a muscular looking hand. Thus it proves that strength remains a hidden thing which cannot be discovered by appearances of one particular body section. The largest hand I ever shook belongs to Primo Carnera (1906 - 1967) (Pictured above), the former heavyweight boxing champ and now a wrestler. Carnera, as you know, stands 6 ft. 5 in. and tips the scales around 265 lbs. When I first shook hands with him I immediately felt as though I had hold of a ham, or else was lost somewhere amid a fearsome invisible power, although Primo gave me a courteous grasp and one without any pressure, as a gentleman would shake hands. But never in my life have I ever grasped such a huge mitt! It's thickness was most unusual and seemed to be at least three inches through the middle. His whole hand, including the fingers, encircled my own as would both hands of Joe Weider (1919 - 2013) put together, and the hands of Uncle Joe are a trifle large. Anyway, when considering Carnera’s extra large hands, they seem to correspond with his size and also his natural power, for he is strong even though not a weightlifter. His hands become unforgettable and smother the smaller sizes of our best lifters’ hands. Doug Hepburn (1926 - 2000) (Photo below) is another man who does not possess large hands. His are slightly bigger than Anderson’s, Jowett’s or Sandow’s, yet far smaller than one might expect before feeling his encircling digits in greeting. I must confess that I have not been as observant as I might have been during my handshakes with bodybuilders whom I greet at physique contests, but after writing this perhaps I shall give their hands more attention. The only drawback to this is that I am afraid that one or two of them might feel inwardly strong and proceed to give me that bone-crusher grip and supply further bruise marks atop my hand. Perhaps I shall hand them that dead fish handshake and play safe. Anyway, it must remain conclusive that hand size is not a criterion of power, unless one or two chance to be exceptions in a crowd and possess extra large hands through inheritance. It is anatomically impossible to enlarge the actual hand size. You can increase its thickness by continuously gripping heavy and/or awkward objects but you cannot lengthen the fingers nor enlarge the palm except in density. A small palm can possess as much strength in it as would a large palm, and long, thin fingers can also have as goodly power as short, stubby digits. It all depends upon the kind of work you give your hands. Strength will always remain unseen, uncalculated and unknown until it is displayed. NOTE: Check out the hand size of Arm Wrestler Jeff Dabe.
  13. A rags-to-riches biopic of visionary Joe Weider, set in the world of fitness. Brothers Joe and Ben Weider were the architects of muscle. Along the way they discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger, inspired female empowerment, championed diversity and started a world-wide movement. If you have watched this movie and wish to share your thoughts for discussion please add your comments below.
  14. 1968 Muscle Beach California Bodybuilding Advert with Dave Draper on the cover. This ad produced by Joe Weider, promoted a unique training device called the "007 Twister". MUSCLES - ARE FOR REAL MEN! Add Inches of Muscles to your Arms, Chest and Shoulders with just One Twist of the "007" TWISTER! ha ha! Did anyone ever buy this device from Joe Weider? Was it any good?

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