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About Me

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  1. Great article written by Rick Wayne from 1972 Muscle Builder magazine on 'The Myth', Sergio Oliva entering the 1972 Mr Olympia contest to regain his title. I believe this photo was taken the day after the contest.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  2. * 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...
  3. 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.
  4. 1991 Interview with Bodybuilding Legend Danny Padilla By Greg Zulak Ask your typical seven-year-old boy what he wants to be when he grows up and he'll probably say a fireman, a policeman or a professional wrestler like Hulk Hogan. When Danny Padilla (it is Pa-dill-a, not Pa-dee-a) was seven years old, he told his father, "I'm going to be Mr. America one day." He told his father that because his father wanted to know why Danny was always down in the basement lifting his older brother's weights. Yep! Danny Padilla started his bodybuilding career at age seven, doing basic moves like curls, presses and rows. Even at that young age, Danny had a dream - a dream to be a great bodybuilder and one day win the Mr. America title. "I'd lie in bed at night and dream about being Mr. America," says Danny now. "I knew it was going to happen." Danny made his dream a reality in 1976 when he won the IFBB Mr. America title and the IFBB Mr. Universe. The year before he had entered big-time bodybuilding a total unknown, but made a name for himself by winning the USA title. By the end of the 1970's and early 80's Danny Padilla was one of the best bodybuilders on the planet, and many felt that he would win the Mr. Olympia. Then came 1981 and the '81 Olympia in Columbus, Ohio, the contest that broke his heart, took all joy out of competition and caused him to retire from bodybuilding when he was at his peak. For several years Danny had been told by the experts that if he ever came in totally ripped he would win the Olympia. In 1981 he did just that (Photo below). He was so ripped that his eyes were sunk back in his head and his face looked like a mask. Even by 1990 standards Danny was ripped to shreds, but he was still massive and full-looking with his famous beautiful lines and his unmatched symmetry. He had trained and dieted for over half a year for the show. He pushed himself to the breaking point and beyond. He sacrificed everything for this one competition. Then disaster struck. The judges, to loud, vociferous booing, gave Danny only fifth place. Roy Callender, who was also in the best shape of his life that day and would also have been a worthy winner, was given fourth. Tom Platz was in his all-time best shape that day too and seemed the favorite to win, but was only given third. The two guys who weren't even considered by most to be in the top five, Chris Dickerson and Franco Columbu, took second and first. This was the greatest indignity to Danny. Franco Columbu, who had a bitch tit, absolutely no thigh cuts or size - without a doubt the worst legs of any competitor in the history of the Olympia - was boxy and bowlegged and only training something like eight weeks for the show was named Mr. Olympia?!! It was too much for Danny to take. It destroyed him, devastated him. He would never be the same and bodybuilding would never be the same for him. He would compete three more times in the 80's - at the 1982 Mr. Olympia, the 1984 Pro Worlds and the 1985 Mr. Olympia - but truthfully, it was a facsimile of the old Danny showing up for these events. His heart wasn't in it. He basically dropped out of bodybuilding and went back to his native Rochester to work in his father's grocery store and at Delco. While his good friend Arnold was off in Hollywood making millions, there was Danny, one of the greatest bodybuilders in the world, working away in anonymity in a grocery store and a factory. In 1989, goaded on by an amateur bodybuilder at his gym, Danny planned a comeback at the Night of Champions contest. He showed up in great shape but missed the competitors' meeting and was disqualified from the show. Vowing revenge, Danny trained like a madman to prove that, even at age 39 (1990), he wasn't washed up as a bodybuilder and that he could defeat the best of the current day. He did just that, taking second place at the Gold's Classic in Niagara Falls last spring and then, several weeks later, exacting sweet revenge when he took third at the Night of Champions (see photos below). He also went on to compete at contests on the European Grand Prix and took several top-five placements. He had done it. He had proved to the world and himself that he is still one of the top bodybuilders in the world. I recently spoke with Danny Padilla for over an hour and a half. We covered so much ground that I have enough material for several articles. In this interview, Danny talks about bodybuilding in the 1970's versus bodybuilding in the 90's, the old days at Gold's gym with Arnold and Zane and the greats of that time, and why he feels Arnold could defeat Lee Haney. It makes for interesting reading. Greg Zulak: Let's go back to the greatest disappointment of your career, the 1981 Mr. Olympia contest in Columbus, Ohio, when you were absolutely ripped to shreds. I was at that show and thought that either you, Platz or Callender should have won. Danny Padilla: I've always had bad luck. Something always went wrong. In 1981, I was in my best shape ever and a Weider magazine prints a photo of me saying, "This is how not to look. Don't look like this! " Geez! GZ: I remember talking to a judge after the contest, and when I argued that Franco didn't have any legs at all - as photos from the contest show - he said right to my face, "Legs don't count." So I said, "What about Danny? He was ripped and perfectly symmetrical." The judge said to me, "Well, he was too drawn in the face." I was incredulous. It seemed as if they were bending over backwards to give Franco a break and to ignore his faults while nitpicking with you and Tom and Roy. DP: Yeah, Franco had a bitch tit. He was blocky. He had no leg size or cuts. He was bowlegged. He was everything a Mr. Olympia should not be. The guy trained maybe eight weeks for the contest - and it showed - while guys like Roy Callender and Tom Platz and myself trained for months and months. But you know what really upset me about that show? If you asked the judges about the results after it was all over, they said, "We didn't have Franco to win - we put him second, but he got so many second-place votes that he ended up winning." Fine. But how did Chris Dickerson get second? Not to say that Chris isn't great when he's in shape, but that day he was off. How does he get second? How does a guy like Johnny Fuller not even make the top five? It was a sad day for bodybuilding. Take a guy like Tom Platz. That was his last best show. He was in the finest shape of his life that day and he didn't win. The next year he tore his biceps, and he never again had the opportunity to win the Olympia. GZ: Speaking of Tom reminds me of a funny story regarding Winston Roberts and Garry Bartlett. After the show was over, Winston said, "We couldn't give the title to Tom because his legs were too big," and Garry Bartlett replied, "Yeah, so you gave it to a guy with NO legs." DP: Exactly. Winston Roberts even made the statement that my biceps were not big enough. Okay, fine. At least I had legs. Franco didn't have one cut on his. GZ: I remember reading Weider's Muscle Builder back in the 70's and seeing pictures of you back in California training at the old Gold's Gym with Arnold and Zane and Draper and Waller and all those top bodybuilders. What was that like? DP: I think you'll never have another era like it again. I was blessed to have experienced that because I felt I was training with the best of all time. That's not to say that the guys today aren't great too, because they are - there are a lot of excellent physiques out there - but as far as characters and personality, there was much more to write about back then. It was incredible to have so many great physiques training together in one small gym at one time. If you check out the competition at contests today you'll find four or five really exceptional bodybuilders and that's it. From fifth place on down they have a lot of flaws, even at the Olympia. Back in the 70's we had some great physiques! There was Zane, who was not the heavy type but he was very symmetrical and rock-hard. He had certain weaknesses but he hid them well onstage. You couldn't really recognize them until you saw him in the gym by himself. Then you had Arnold, who was just overpowering, a big over-200 guy with maybe the greatest arms ever. You had Serge Nubret, who was great. He was hard. He was ripped. His legs were a little off, but he was there. Then there was Sergio Oliva, the greatest bodybuilder of all time in my opinion. There were so many great guys then. The list goes on and on. Robby was incredible. Mentzer was great. And you had Callender, Waller, Beckles, Coe, Szkalak, Makkawy, Ferrigno, Birdsong, Draper, Tinerino, Corney, Katz, Van Den Steen, Bill Grant, Paul Grant, Denny Gable . . . Roger Callard. These guys were characters as well as great bodybuilders. There were controversies. Things were happening all the time and people couldn't wait to pick up the magazines every month. GZ: I agree. Back in that period it seemed that bodybuilders, and the sport, had an aura of magic about them. Like Gold's California was some magic place you could never really get to. DP: Exactly. Now there are good bodybuilders all over the world. Great bodybuilders still train at the new Gold's, but the new Gold's isn't anything like the old Gold's. Not at all. Back in the late 60's and 70's everybody went to Gold's to train because it was the place to train. Now you go into the new Gold's and it's like a zoo. It's still good, but it doesn't have the atmosphere or the magic of the old Gold's. In 1975 we were the special elite - the best 10 or 15 guys in the world, period. The old Gold's was much smaller and more intimate. It was a very special place. It was like heaven in bodybuilding. You just had to go there; it drew you to it. It was in this weird area, but it was just awesome. Today, I don't know, it's all so commercialized. We trained for the love of it. And it seems that there are no great characters to write about now. They have to make stuff up or look for bad stuff - this guy is getting a divorce or that guy is beating his wife - because they're so bored with it, whereas back then there was always something interesting and positive to write about. GZ: The effect and influence of Arnold in the gym must have been incredible. DP: Yeah. Arnold had this great aura. When he walked into the gym, it would stop. Same for Sergio. When he walked into the gym they all stopped what they were doing. But you had 10 or 20 guys who were all great and in the gym at once. The energy and atmosphere were electrifying. There was respect for one another and friendship - even when we fought. When it was show time, you went all out to win and beat everyone, but when the contest was over we all sat down as friends. Today you don't have that. the guys today are weird. To me they're out of control. It's just not the same. We stuck together. The group always stuck together. GZ: You were one of the top bodybuilders in the world in the 70's and early 80's. What was the last show you did before your ultimate retirement. DP: Well, I showed up for the 85 Olympia and the 84 Pro Worlds in Toronto, but for me, really, the last show was the 81 Olympia in Columbia. I hit the Olympia in London in 82 (see photo below) also, but my heart just wasn't in it. That was my attitude: I'm going to London to see what it looks like. I went in soft and got crushed. Then I basically disappeared. GZ: Why? DP: I just had no interest in it any more. After the fiasco at the '81 Olympia I just had no more interest in competitive bodybuilding. It was like, if I was this great and I could barely make the top five at the Olympia, then the writing's on the wall. To me, it was time to think about my future, to change my priorities, because I wasn't good enough to make top three at the Olympia. GZ: So what did you do? DP: I just went back to Rochester and worked in the store, and I'd still go to the gym because I love training. I've always trained for me. Even when I did compete I always had the attitude that if I won a show, great, but if I didn't, I still went to the gym for myself. So I continued to train but not as long or as hard. GZ: How did you get the urge to compete again in '89 and '90? DP: When I was about 38 years old, I opened a bodybuilding magazine and flipped through it, because I hadn't even looked at a magazine for six or seven years. Everybody was asking me, "Hey, have you seen this guy? Have you seen so and so? " I'd say, "No, I don't really follow the sport anymore." Then one day I opened this magazine and I remember thinking, "These guys look pretty good," but nobody really impressed me. Lee Haney was this big, overpowering guy over 200 pounds, but to me he had certain flaws, like his arms. Yeah, he's great, but I always look to the under-200-pound guy because I'm a realist. I know I'm not going to walk in and crush Lee Haney. I don't care how great I am. So I tried to pick out lighter guys, like Lee Labrada (photo below), and I wondered how I'd do against him and the other smaller guys in the sport. That got me thinking about trying to compete against these new smaller guys. The main reason I did decide to make my comeback was because of a loudmouthed amateur at my gym. He had won a few small amateur shows, and he was walking around the gym as if he was a four-time Mr. Olympia. One day we got into an argument. He said to me, "Look, you're a nice guy and you were good in your time, but you're old and washed up. You can't possibly beat guys of today." I just walked away, but inside I felt like, "Oh yeah, you think so? Watch this! " So I started training secretly. I said, let me see what I have. I got into tremendous shape, but I told no one that I was going to New York to compete in the 1989 Night of Champions. I went to New York to compete - I know I would have made top five for sure - and they disqualified me for being late for the competitors' meeting. It was really upsetting because I had put in over six months of hard training and preparation for the show. I had paid all my own expenses. And then I was out before the show even started. GZ: How'd you miss the meeting? DP: What happened was we went out to dinner - I hadn't been to New York in a long time - and I made a wrong turn and went eight blocks in the wrong direction. By the time I got back I was out of it. And they gave me no chance to return. It really upset me because I had always been loyal to the IFBB. They had left it in the hands of the competitors and they voted me out. It was sad. GZ: Probably in the old days the competitors would have voted to keep you in. DP: Right. To me it was sad because guys like me made the sport and made it possible for them to compete today. And they just pushed me out as if I was garbage. I felt, this is how the IFBB repays my loyalty? Sure, rules are rules and they have to be followed, but there are exceptions to all rules and I didn't think I had been treated fairly. GZ: It must have really motivated you to want to come back in 1990 for revenge. DP: It created a fire in me that was incredible. It was like, don't worry, pricks. I'll be back next year and I'll sleep at the door if I have to to make the meeting. But I'll be there. So that was a big incentive for me to do well this year. At the same time the bigmouth amateur was back at home telling people that I hadn't really gone to the meeting because I really didn't want to compete, that I was afraid to compete. You know, "He was scared of the guys so he showed up late on purpose." Stuff like that. So that fired me up, too. I got crazy. Everyone knew I was back then because I was training like a madman. Then I had a buddy who phoned me after the show wanting to get together and train with me again. His name is Rick Benedetto, and he was a very good amateur 'way back. He had surgery on one knee, he was expecting to have surgery on the other knee and he had a torn biceps to boot. He said to me, "Why don't we train together and see what you're made of? " So here we were training together, one guy who was supposed to be too old and another guy who was half crippled. I trained for the Niagara Falls Grand Prix and he trained for the amateur Niagara show. I took second after not competing for over five years, and he took third in his class after not competing for about 15 years. GZ: Why didn't you go to the Olympia? Were you burned out? DP: I didn't go to the Olympia because, in all honesty, after the 81 Olympia I took a vow never to enter it again. Of course, a lot of people said it was because of the drug testing but that wasn't it at all. I could have got around that by just backing up a few months before the show. After the 81 Olympia I vowed that I would never put myself in that position again. I gave up too much for 81. To get jostled around to fifth place, to get beaten by a guy with no legs and a bitch tit who only trained eight weeks, it was like, "If that's what the Olympia is about, I don't want any part of it." GZ: You said before that in your opinion Sergio Oliva was the greatest of all time. DP: Sergio, to me, pound for pound, muscle for muscle, was the greatest bodybuilder of all time. I don't care what anybody says. Arnold was the greatest inspiration and a great spokesperson for bodybuilding, and he was close to Sergio, but I give Sergio the nod physically. He was just so incredible at his best. I really don't think there will ever be anything like Sergio again. GZ: You told me once a few years ago that you thought Arnold at his best could beat Lee Haney. DP: Yes, I still believe that. Arnold was the type of guy whose physique looked great in the magazines, but you didn't really appreciate it as much until you saw him in person. He had an incredible physique. When Arnold hit a double biceps pose from the back you couldn't touch it. His most muscular, you couldn't touch that either. And his legs, people say his legs were weak, but his calves were amazing and when he flexed his thighs they were there all the way. At his best, Arnold was untouchable. Lee Haney has an awesome thick chest and back, but to me his arms are weak, especially his biceps. His calves could be brought up more and he sometimes is a little soft in the low back and abs. I respect him and he is awesome, but look what he is beating today. Everybody talks about Mike Christian, but his legs are weak. Labrada's too small. Gaspari (photo below) is hard but boxy. Nearly all the top guys today have some flaws. There's nobody out there today who blows my mind the way Sergio did. In the old days Sergio was absolutely incredible. He didn't even have to pose, didn't even have to move, and he looked awesome. When he threw his arms up and the light hit him just right he was huge and hard. He was just awesome. Arnold and Sergio were like cartoon characters. They looked so unreal at their best. Serge Nubret - his upper body was amazing. A lot of people just don't realize. Rick Wayne (see photo below) back in his time was truly outstanding. Dave Draper - equally impressive. His legs were a bit weak but his upper body - magnificent! These guys had incredible bodyparts. I haven't seen much of that today. I look in the magazines, and I don't think it's because I'm getting older - I still have the eye, I still appreciate what I see - but it just doesn't make my jaw drop the way some of those guys did back then. GZ: The thing that I've noticed is that when I was a kid, I'd see pictures of Arnold and Draper squatting together, and they'd be doing sets with four plates, and they looked so impressive at the time. That was a really heavy weight and only bodybuilders of their caliber could handle it, but now you can go into any hardcore gym across North America and find a dozen guys with half their development squatting four plates and sometimes a lot more. DP: Yeah, you squat only four plates today and you're a wimp. You know, a lot of it is all the stuff these kids are on that allows them to do it that quickly. People come up to me and say, "How can you still look halfway decent at your age? " How? Because my body was built with a background. I had probably 15 years of solid training before I ever messed with the game, whereas a lot of kids today don't even want to walk into a gym unless they've got a bag full of stuff. For a lot of them their attitude is, unless I'm on steroids there's no sense training. We trained for the love of it. Danny Padilla Training Workout Routine (1977) Danny Padilla used the same basic workout for years. This was the workout he did for six weeks in 1977. During most of the year Danny trains 4 to 6 days a week. He always follows the same split. Day 1: Chest and Back Day 2: Shoulders and Arms Day 3: Legs Repeat If he misses a workout, which he often does, he doesn’t worry about it, he just does that workout when he returns to the gym. During this time he does 2 to 3 exercises per body-part for 5 sets of 12 reps. Danny uses the same weight in each set. When he can get 12 reps on all 5 sets, he’ll add weight during the next workout. His rest between sets is short. No longer than a minute. Even though the volume is high Danny completes these workouts in just over an hour… This is another way of keeping the intensity high which was taught by Vince Gironda, Bill Pearl and other great trainers of “the golden era” of bodybuilding. Chest and Back Bench Press: 2-3 warm-up sets then 5 X 12 Incline Bench Press: 5 X 12 Flys: 5 X 12 Dumbell Pullovers: 5 X 12 Chins: 5 X 12 Bent Barbell Rows: 5 X 12 Cable Pull-ins: 5 X 12 Once a week he does Deadlifts: 5 X 12 Shoulders and Arms Seated Presses: 2 warm-ups then 5 X 12 Supersetted with Cable Laterals: 5 X 12 Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises: 5 X 12 Front Raises OR Upright Rows: 5 X 12 Dumbell Curls: 5 X 8 Barbell Curls: 5 X 8 Concentration Curls OR Preacher Curls: 5 X 8 Lying Triceps Extensions: 5 X 12 Seated Overhead EZ Bar Extensions: 5 X 12 Pushdowns OR One Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extensions: 5 X 12 Legs & Abs Leg Extensions: 5 X 12 Squats: 5 X 12 Leg Presses: 5 X 12 Lying Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Calf Raises: 5 X 12 Donkey Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Seated Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Crunches or Leg Raises: 5 X 20 Contest Training Volume on body part is raised 20 sets per bodypart. Weeks 12-7 body parts are trained twice a week. During weeks 6-0 each body part is trained three times a week. Danny gains size right up to the day of the contest even on this high volume, high frequency routine. Weeks 12 to 7 Monday and Thursday -- Chest and Back Bench Press: 2-3 warm-up sets then 5 X 12 Incline Bench Press: 5 X 12 Fly’s: 5 X 12 Cable Fly’s: 5 X 12 Chins: 5 X 12 Bent Barbell Rows: 5 X 12 Cable Pull-ins: 5 X 12 Pulldowns: 5 X 12 Once a week he does Deadlifts 5 X 12 Tuesday and Friday -- Shoulders and Arms Seated Presses: 2 warm-ups then 5 X 12 Supersetted with Cable Laterals: 5 X 12 Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises: 5 X 12 Front Raises: 5 X 12 Upright Rows: 5 X 12 Dumbell Curls: 5 X 8 Barbell Curls: 5 X 8 Concentration Curls: 5 X 8 Preacher Curls: 5 X 8 Lying Triceps Extensions: 5 X 12 Seated Overhead EZ Bar Extensions: 5 X 12 Pushdowns: 5 X 12 One Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extensions: 5 X 12 Reverse Curls: 5 X 12 Wrist Curls: 5 X 12 Wednesday and Saturday – Legs -- Abs Leg Extensions: 5 X 12 Squats: 5 X 12 Leg Presses: 5 X 12 Hack Squats: 5 X 12 Lying Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Donkey Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Seated Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Crunches: 5 X 20 Leg Raises: 5 X 20 Weeks 6 – 0 Workouts are the same as above, rest between sets is shortened but days are split like this: Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Morning) -- Chest, Back Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Evening) -- Quads, Hamstrings Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (Morning) -- Shoulders, Arms Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (Evening) -- Calves, Abs
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