Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Conversation with Mr. Universe, Mighty Mike Quinn. By Dr. Michael Dusa

Conversation with Mr. Universe, Mighty Mike Quinn
By Dr. Michael Dusa
North Haven, Connecticut (USA), February 25, 2015

MD: Hi Mike. Thanks for taking some time to speak to your many fans. I remember you from early on- I had the misfortune of standing next to you in the Teen Mr. America. How did you get your start with the weights?
MQ: Thanks Mike for the opportunity. I grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, a very, very tough town. This wasn't too good for me- I was a fat, fat kid and I received a steady diet of beatings from neighborhood toughs. My father worked out in our basement at 4 am, and one morning he got me up from bed- I was 14- to train with him. First time I ever touched a weight I benched 200 pounds for reps. I was naturally strong. I kept receiving beatings from bullies until I was 15- then I started hanging out on the north side. It was safer and I got into powerlifting. At the age of 16 I totaled 1,360 in the three lifts. I had freakish strength.

One interesting thing a lot of people don't know is when I was 19 Dr. Ellington Darden brought me down to Arthur Jones' compound in Deland, Florida. He was the Nautilus guy. Weird dude. We pulled through these gigantic gates- there were elephants, giraffes, exotic birds. Jones was a genius, but quiet. He said I was the strongest teenager they ever had there. I maxed out every machine.

MD: You are definitely known for being one of the strongest Bodybuilders who ever lived. When did you start competing in bodybuilding shows?
MQ: About the strength- at the time me and Eddie Robinson were the strongest Bodybuilders around. You could tell by our thickness. Nobody else was close. I had a goal to do five reps of 550 in the squat. The day I tried this I only got four. I got pissed and immediately told my father, " screw this, I'm gonna do bodybuilding." Six weeks later I entered my first show, the Teen Mr. Bay State. You gotta understand- my father trained me, and it was hellish. Every leg workout, every one, he'd drive me so hard in the middle of the session I'd go outside to vomit. I'd come right back in and finish the workout. It didn't matter- it was balls to the wall! I won that first show. I then took the Teen Massachusetts and the same nite won my class in the open. In 1981 I took the overall in the Teen Mr. America.
Mike at the age of 19 winning the Overall Teen Mr. America
MD: Yes. I was there. Your arms were something to behold.
Mighty arms
MQ: Along with my back, yeah, they are my strong point, thanks. Success came quick to varying degrees after this-in 1982 Lee Haney beat me by the decision of one judge! In 1984 Joe Meeko won- but I crushed him. He had no arms. But, whatever. 3 weeks later I was in England for the NABBA Universe, and along with Tim Belknap and Brian Buchanan, I came out a winner.

MD: So you were on you way. What came next upon your return home?
MQ: I moved to Yonkers and found a hardcore gym to train in. I got a small role in the Tom Hanks movie " Money Pit," which also featured Jake Steinfeld. The producer told me it looked like I could have a career In Hollywood, but I wanted to be the best bodybuilder in the world. I wanted to turn pro.

MD: So then it was off to see Joe Weider and the IFBB?
MQ: Hell no. Wayne Demelia, promoter of the Night of the Champions and a big wheel for Weider, basically told me my titles were worthless because they were not sanctioned by the IFBB. So I had to start all over. Think about it. I was a NABBA Universe winner, the same title Arnold, Pearl, Zane and all the others won, and I had to start again by entering the Mr. Florida contest in 1986. I almost got in fights with guys backstage because they thought it was unfair I'd be in such a low level show. Eddie Robinson ended up winning.

At this time I moved to California to train. I started what I call " Next Step " training. Nobody could keep up to me. It's like a spiritual experience. I mean, I wouldn't put the weights down until I was nearly dead. I always had a crazed look to me. People wouldn't come near me. But I was always in total control and knew exactly what I was doing.

MD: so major success was looming...
MQ: Things happened fast. I won the 1987 NPC USA, I was on all six of the major muscle mags at the same time.

MD: And, finally, The Trainer of Champions entered the picture...
Mike at the 1988 Mr. Olympia where he placed 6th.
MQ: My arms were the biggest. Weider loved big arms. He virtually pulled me offstage and said, " I'll do for you what I did for Arnold..." He wanted to send me for calf implants. Said he'd send me to Arnold's doctor. I kid you not. I decided against that. I gave up a two hundred thousand dollar contract with a supplement company to sign with Weider. Joe gave me two, one year contracts for 32 k per year! That's barely rent where I lived in LA. I did well on the pro circuit. In the 1988 Olympia I took 6th. They barely compared me with the winner, Lee Haney, which would have helped me because I had the best back. The powers that be did not like me. They didn't know what to do with me. I spoke my mind. Talked openly about drugs, which was a big no-no with Weider. I was a thorn in their side.

MD: Mike, in essence, how do you look back upon your competitive days?
MQ: Look. I don't even pay attention to the guys today. They all look terrible. They definitely don't train hard like I did- I think they think they don't have to with the chemicals. In my day I had a lotta fun. I really enjoyed hanging with the fans, they'd take me out to restaurants, we'd talk training. I traveled the world. I did very well and had opportunities.

MD: Around this time, you left bodybuilding.
MQ: I had just do e a six week tour in England- I made 42k, cash.
From there, I went to Germany. I was guaranteed 80 k for the trip. You gotta understand, you'd get two thousand people to show up for a seminar. My first day there I got a call from my mother telling me my sister had died. I had always taken care of her. I was going to take the money and get her a house, take care of her. I fell apart, had a nervousness breakdown. Got hooked on alcohol and drugs, self medicating. This was 1989 and I ended up in rehab. Bodybuilding was over for me. I had no heart for it any longer. I felt responsible for her death. I wasn't there for he. I was her protector.

MD: But still, you were the first bodybuilder to sign a contract with wrestling impresario Vince McMahon's World Bodybuilding a Federation in 1990.
Mike during his WBF days
MQ: True. My heart wasn't in it. But still I was the guy who pulled all the guys together to leave Weider and sign with Vince. He gave me 375K for two years. Ferrigno, who never went onstage, was given 750k for two years- and kept the money! I didn't get along with Vince. Then he got some heat and drug tested us for the second show. Of course, people said I was washed up when they saw me onstage while I was clean. I got tested seven times? Strydom? No way could he have been tested. He won.

MD: You were also a gym owner.
MQ: I sold my Gold's Gym in Florida in 1991. It was very profitable. We had rehab and thousands of active members. I doubled my investment as far as profit upon the sale. My other Gold's, that's another story. I had a couple of investors, and some shady stuff went down. I ended up selling my shares. Around the same time I competed in what I think was my best shape ever, and biggest. The 1994 Night of the Champions, where I took 5th, saw me at 252 pounds and dialed in.

MD: So you were on the upswing?
MQ: Not really. Like I said, my heart wasn't in it. I got married, moved to Alabama, got hooked on the drugs and alcohol, and was divorced within 8 months. I moved back to Florida and was soon married again. I will say that she was an evil woman. She had a daughter from her previous marriage, and I basically raised her. She was with me all the time. When we split, her mother cut me off from all contact with her. 12 years. That ended in 2007.

MD: So bodybuilding was finally at an end for you?
MQ: 1997 was my last time. It was the NOC. I didn't make the top 15. I didn't care. The crazy dieting would just make me totally vicious. Not the drugs. It was the diet. I wasn't happy doing that with a wife and kid.

MD: When you were on point, you were really ripped. Was cardio a big part of training?
MQ: Yes. I mean, my training with weights was as intense as you could get. This helped for cuts. But two workouts per day, I'd do two cardio sessions per day, 45 minutes a pop.

At the 1994 Night of Champions
MD: how about food?
MQ: you know, people think I eat truckloads of food. I'm not really a big eater. For a contest-look- I'd suffer. It was lean proteins and veggies for three days. The fourth day, some carbs. I'd grow on 200 grams of protein per day and low calories. These guys now- they take 400 grams of protein per day. And all the chemicals. They get adrenal and kidney failure. Part of that is the insulin they take. I never messed with that. I hated everybody. I won't lie. I don't lie. It was bare bones. I'd take Fastin, which was a pharmaceutical grade diet pill and it would keep me going from 7am to 7 pm, for two brutal workouts. Then I'd go home and collapse into bed.

MD: What about supplements?
MQ: Oh yeah. The usual stuff. Multis, extra C, extra B complex. I didn't do powders back in the eighties. Weider's stuff tasted like dirt. He'd send me boxes of tons of bottles of vitamins and powders, tee shirts, hats, belts. I'd give em all to my friends (laughs).

MD: That's hilarious! But that seems to be a common refrain from many of the pros I've known regarding Weider and his supplements. So what came next?
MQ: In 2008 I was in a motor sports store and I saved a little kid from getting crushed by an 800 pound wave runner. I caught it and the kid, and, in the process, badly injured my shoulder, broke my hip, and fractured four vertebrae along with herniated discs. I was a mess. Basically I was in bed for three years, but then I finally found a doctor who could help me. By this time I was addicted to oxycodone and a cocktail of other substances. It was a terrible, difficult time. After the surgery on my back, my sister to me to Narc Anon meetings. I kept at it and this July it'll be five years that I've been clean. I still have pain, but I can train. I mean, back in the day, I trained like an enraged beast. I'd do bent over rows with 455 pounds for reps. I was the real deal. Nobody trained harder. Not even Dorian Yates. I'd do the same weight as him, but for double the reps.

MD: Wow! Speaking of training, I watched a recent youtube video of you and your sister training back. I did the same back exercises as you today in the gym- I felt fantastic!
Watch Mike train back with his sister Kelley

MQ: My sister Kelley, who is 49, is a female version of me. Same arms, abs, back. She's won two figure shows, and is an elite trainer for VIP's. She does very well, but has abandoned her figure efforts because her son, my nephew Shane, is a southpaw pitcher with a 90 + mph fastball and plays for North Carolina. He's a MLB prospect, and she's moved to where he is to concentrate on him.

MD: You've done so many things. You were even corner man for boxing champion, Vinny Pazienza.
MQ: You know, he won't talk to me anymore. They made a movie about him, "To Bleed For," and I should have been in it, but they thought I'd overshadow him. He just dropped all contact with me in the past year. I had met him in Rhode Island at a nutrition store grand opening, and we became good friends. We'd talk nutrition and what he should do for protein. Things like that.

Mike's back and biceps workout video. Packed with advice!

MD: Speaking of movies, I understand you will be featured in one soon.
MQ: Yes. It's a dream come true. I wrote a book that got in the hands of a guy named Mike Russell, known as the " Mob Cop." He's the guy who brought the mob down and had a miniseries about it on Spike TV. He put the wheels in motion for me. It's been a torturous road. Seven years it took me to turn pro. Seven years for my gyms. Seven years to get my book done. In my life, I've put myself, and my family, through Hell. My mother always thought she'd get the phone call that I was dead.

MD: What will the movie be called?
MQ: " The Mighty Quinn."

MD: Of course! Great. But here's the real question, Mike. Just who the hell will they find to play you? It's not like there are plenty of actors who are built like Mr. Universe.
MQ: Good question! I have no idea. Some Italian bodybuilder I guess. I'll be a consultant to make sure he gets it right ( laughs).

MD: Any friends in bodybuilding these days?
MQ: Oh yeah. Mike Christian is a friend, as well as Berry Demay. Dave Dearth too but he's had major heart surgery lately so I haven't talked to him in a while. And I love the whole Katz family. Mike is a great, great person.
Mike clearly outmuscling the Late Nasser El Sonbaty at the 1994 NOC
MD: So, how about currently? You are training hard and feeling better than you have in years.
MQ: Eight months ago I started a personal training business, and it is really taking off. Look, these " gurus," who have never competed- they don't know anything. One of them had a 49 year old training six dYs a week. WTF! I switched him to four days, tweaked his nutrition. He's just a regular guy who wants to get in shape. He's not going in the Olympia! I train all types- Bodybuilders, de conditioned Middle Ages people. I've been in the trenches. I've been on over 100 magazine covers. I want to help people.

MD: That's sounds great. I know just by doing your one back workout today, I can feel a burn like I haven gotten for years. How can folks contact you if interested in your services?
MQ: I'm not taking too many clients, because the ones I do take, I want to give them my all.

MD: Thanks Mike. We all look forward to the movie. I appreciate your time talking with me.

MQ: Anytime brother! I do want to thank all my fans. The internet has given me life again. I am most happy to help others so they don't hurt themselves. My thing is hard training. You must have balls and heart. I don't care what drugs today's guys take- they will never train harder than me.
Nobody trains harder than Mike!
Recommended Links

Read Past Interviews of Legends by Dr. Micheal Dusa
on Bodybuilding Mauritius & South Africa

               Conversations with Mike Katz

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Conversation With Pumping Iron Star and Mr. Universe, Mike Katz. By Dr. Michael Dusa

Conversation with Pumping Iron star and Mr. Universe, Mike Katz ( with some words from Mike Katz, Jr)
By Dr. Michael Dusa
North Haven, Connecticut February 22, 2015

I have been blessed to be friends with and have as a mentor for nearly 40 years with bodybuilding icon, Mike Katz. Here are Big Mike's words on what is going on in his busy life.

MD: Mike, back in your bodybuilding training days, what did Bodybuilders do for cardio training?
MK: Well, our training was so intense that we derived a cardio effect from the rapidity of the sets we performed. Before I ever went to California, a workout here in Connecticut would be plodding and methodical... It could take four hours for a workout to be done. When I went to train with Arnold, the same workout would take 1.5 hours- NO rest between sets- there was much more punishment training with him and the Gold's Gym crew. For instance, we would do "The Rack," as we called it. This was drop sets starting with standing dumbbell presses with 110 pounds in each hand, drop to 85 pounds, go to failure, to 55, down to 40, even 30 pounders-we'd do five sets going down the line, or, " The Rack," it was brutal. Arnold liked to train legs with me because he hated doing legs, and I loved to. My motivation pushed him to bring up his thighs, which early on were not on par with his upper body.
Mike training with Arnold
MD: You are known for one of the greatest chests in the history of bodybuilding. I'm sure folks would like to hear your thoughts on chest work.

MK: Well, guys today strike the side chest pose with somewhat of a twist to their torso because most don't have a good rib age development and many don't have lower biceps development. Al Beckles, Larry Scott and Arnold all had these ingredients, so they could really hit this pose and hit it properly. Franco did not have much of a rib cage or great bicep so you know he always did the variation of the standard side chest pose. Franco's famous split in his chest is almost like an abnormality in his structure. Myself- well, I've been born with a much higher xiphoid process than the average person. The tip of my sternum is high... My xiphoid is 8-9 inches higher from the navel than the average person, whose distance is maybe 3-4 inches. So, I had the capacity to build a much more volumetric rib cage. Another thing- many who even bother to do dumbbell pullovers today don't do them correctly. A dumbbell should be used, fingers interlocked on the bar, elbows tucked in, laying across the bench with head hanging off, hips down, no spreading of the lats. Doing so isolates the rib cage. Of course there will be some lat stimulation, but with the elbows held close and hips down, if you really concentrate you'll target the rib cage.

My favorite chest exercise is the dumbbell incline bench press. I feel overall this is the best exercise for chest development. At the top the dumbbells should touch, you should, at this point, lift, tense the pecs, contract and squeeze the muscle at the top of the movement. Bring your elbows down to armpit level- this spares you from shoulder injury. Barbell flat bench hurts the shoulders, largely because you don't have freedom of hand movement like you do with Dumbbells. Your movements should always be controlled and you should think about why you are doing an exercise. Squatting, for instance. I'd concentrate on the negative in the movement, go down slowly just below seated position, always pause, with no bounce. Same for chest and every body part. I was never really injured lifting weights.

MD: What did your eating consist of back then Mike?
MK: I'd eat four pounds of meat per day. It came in one pound packs- these were specifically cut by my butcher, and after broiling them there was ONLY blood left in the foil. There was no fat. I'd have pasta every third day, oatmeal for energy, a piece of fruit, always and only whole eggs- we'd use cholesterol as an energy source because of very intense workouts. Of course I'd be given supplements by Joe Weider, but we were all quite fond of Rheo Blair's products. I'd have a protein drink twice per day. Desiccated liver tablets were a big thing back then. Funny, some guys seemed to think they'd help their liver, even though the science didn't make sense. Of course there was both Hoffman and Joe, and " Protein of the Sea," which smelled worse than low tide in New Jersey! So then they'd load products with sugar, which defeated the purpose, but things tasted better.

MD:Mike, what encouraged you to first pick up a weight?
MK: When I was 11 or 12 years old, I went to the theater and saw the first Hercules movie Steve Reeves ever made in 1957. It was akin to a kid seeing Arnold in Conan at the same age- it had a profound effect on me. So of course I got the Weider courses in the mail- George Eiferman and Clancy Ross were featured- and I pasted their pictures on my basement wall. The routine was like chest/ biceps one day, legs the next. I " borrowed" some milk crates from the side of the road, built a primitive bench, and the guy across the street gave me some weights.

Soon I was training at the Meriden YMCA with Joe LaPorte, who helped me immensely and was also a great area bodybuilder. He was one step below the great Joe Abbenda, who of course went on to win the Mr. America. My first bodybuilding contest was when I was 14, held in Waterbury, Connecticut- I didn't place. In fact , I competed for about three years before I even got a third place trophy. I did finally win the Teenage Mr Connecticut when I was 18 or 19, and by then I was also vying for honors in the Ct open division. You must understand that I was a three sport athlete in high school- competing in hockey, track and football. I also played football at Southern Connecticut State University ( Mike is enshrined in their athletic halal of fame). Of course I was also with the NY Jets of the old AFL. So I always had a lot going on, but I still always trained. It took me four years to win the IFBB Mr. America, losing to Chuck Sipes, Frank Zane and John Decola.

Interesting thing that many don't know is the America, World and Olympia would often be held the same night, and we had body part awards. But not for each show. A guy from the America may find himself competing with a guy from the Olympia onstage for best chest. Arnold beat me early on for best chest, but only once. I beat him and others for best chest several times after.

MD: Mike, how receptive was the football world to your training with weights back in the sixties?
Mike Katz (#32) during his football days

MK: well, Jess Dow, our cosh at SCSU, didn't really understand the value of weight training. He'd hear me tossing the weights around and coming running in from his office and holler,"Hell's Bells boy, what the hell are you doing? We have a game tomorrow!" But he'd pretty much leave me be, because he knew come game day, I run over anyone who got in my way.
My roommate on the Jets was a 65 foot shot putter from Syracuse University. And we had a great inside linebacker- Jets fans will know him- named Al Atkinson. We three were the only ones on the Jets who lifted weights. I was among the faster linemen in the NFL in my time. I can tell you this, I may not have been faster than him, but I could keep up with NFL Hall of Famer Don Maynard- and boy was he fast.

In the end, I could have kept playing, but there was much to consider. An injury, just getting married to my wife Nancy, I wanted to teach and win Mr. America. It wasn't a hard decision to leave when I did.

MD: You have a great take on Bodybuilders and family...
MK: Yea. " Don't wait until you are a grandfather to be a father."
Of course, this advice can apply to anybody. Most women today- they work. I worked up to three jobs so my wife could stay home with little Michael and Michelle. Women today need more. Men do benefit because now they get to participate more in child raising.

MD: Please talk a bit about Pumping Iron...
MK: Well, the writers of the book, Charles Gaines and George Butler, from White Mountain, Vermont, were not situated far from Holyoke/ Mountain Park in Massachusetts- you know, where Ed Jubinville used to hold his shows. I captured their attention- I was a teacher, football player, bodybuilder, I was very accessible to them. You know, if they were from Portland, Oregon, they may have gone with Corney in the film. Things aligned so it was me.
Mike Katz competing in the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe in Pretoria, South Africa. Scene from the movie Pumping Iron.
You know, I'm 70 years old now so maybe people are not as quick to recognize me, but they are very kind. Pumping Iron is now on Netflix, so it's been introduced to whole new generations. It has reinvented me to a broader and younger audience, giving me new opportunities.

Of course, Arnold pulled the film along. I see him a few times each year. Franco and Louie too of course. I see Lou more often because we both frequent the trade shows. I had a small part in Lou's documentary, Stand Tall, chronicling his comeback for the Master's Olympia, for which I was a judge. I'll say it was difficult to judge. Robby Robinson was sharper, and Lou would have won had he been 5-10% sharper. It was actually harder for Robby to beat a big guy in this scenario. Lou was big and well known, Robby, not so much.

MD: You were an educator in the Hamden School System for 35 years...
MK: I feel I was born to teach. The only thing that has been more satisfying for me is being a parent and grand parent, second most satisfying is being a teacher. Winning Mr. America was a personal accomplishment, but the positive effects I had on thousands of kids was a greater life achievement- I was giving to others. It wasn't about myself.

MD: Along with your longtime business partner and best friend, Jerry Mastrangelo, and now your son as well, you've been a gym owner in Connecticut since 1979.
MK: Well, we opened World Gym East in Hamden in 1979. Prior to doing so I asked Arnold and Joe Gold for their blessing and they were fine with it. For awhile it became Mike Katz Fitness Centers. Then Arnold called me and said," come with us." So the original Hamden club became World Gym, for which we never had a license agreement. The second World Gym we opened in Branford we did have a contract. Now, we have five Planet Fitness gyms. The industry has changed and continues to do so. CT is very competitive with LA Fitness, The Edge, Retro, etc. PF has 1,000 gyms nationwide now- seems like there is a new facility everyday. It's a good business model, I must say.

MD: Mike, I know about ten years ago you were training a good number of very successful clients.
MK: I still train a handful of clients who have been my friends for over 20 years. It's a big commitment, training someone. It's a big part of their life that I am navigating. I'm not saying training people is completely off the table, it depends on the person and other factors. I do spend a lot of time with my grand kids now.
When you care, training someone is draining. It takes a colossal amount of energy. You are dealing with inferiority complexes, self esteem issues, dedication, self confidence- these are complicated issues to deal with. You have to look at one's driving force. You may have a mountain to climb, and for this you have to have the desire to conquer. Often, when you have such a concrete goal in life, there is not a lot of room for other things in life until the mountain is climbed.

I need to ascertain what somebody is motivated by to accomplish their chosen impossible task. It's interesting that there are many common denominators in people who are successful. Dom Certo wrote " Success, Pure and Simple" in the 70's. I was one of the people from all walks of life who was highlighted. It compared common traits that we all shared. The funny thing is Weider pulled some strings for Certo to be " Knighted" in England, so he became Sir Domenic Certo ( laughs). Everybody gets a kick out of this. Weider thought if he was knighted his words would be more powerfully persuasive.

MD: Please speak of the pioneering nutrition company you were involved with in the 70's.

MK: It was called Futron Industries, and their main product was called " Slender Now." We actually were the main sponsor of the Arnold produced 1977 Mr. Olympia, and I recall the fee for this was 50 thousand dollars. I was involved in research in the company. I conveyed to them what a pain it was to deal with 12 different bottles from which we'd ingest about 100 vitamin and mineral pills per day. So we came up with the first " Multi Pak" which had 8 pills that covered everything. There was E, Multi, C, Extra C, B12. You'd just load 6 packs in your suitcase and you'd be ready to go.

In 40 years, I've had 80 calls to endorse nutrition products- 2 calls per year. I'd look over the product and see that the first ingredient would be sugar. I'd say no thanks. I couldn't and still won't promote a product lacking " White Papers," meaning there is no scientific research backing the product.

Michael, my son, and his wife Pam Katz introduced me to Qivana. When I saw that this company's research was supported by Dr. Don Layman, who is world renown as the " Father of Metabolism," this was a big key. Since using these products I've lost over 40 pounds- and with very little exercise. I feel great, physically and emotionally. The product balances out your metabolism. I'll admit I actually threw a few poses the other day ( laughs)!

MD: you have a naturally big frame...
MK: Yes. I was well suited for bodybuilding success. Look at Sergio Olivia- he just had "it". We'd look at him and say, " That's just not possible...", he was one in a million. Arnold and I had to train much harder than Sergio to be as good as him.

MD: at what point do you think you reached your best ever form?
MK: 1972 Mr. World win. I also liked my shape in my final show, the 1981 Olympia- I was drug free in this show and took a blood test to prove it. Beating Ken Waller in the World was also very satisfying. When folks ask about Franco winning, some say he left his wheel chair and plaid blanket backstage. That show, Dickerson or even a few others could have won. Of course Chris stayed quiet and won the next year. If Mentzer won in 1980, would he be alive today? Would his brother Ray be alive today? Szkalak, Callender, maybe they didn't get their due. Harold Poole, maybe he should have won the Mr. O.

I will say you need more than a great body. Sergio was a cop. Most Mr O's are successful outside of bodybuilding. Lee Lee Haney? I hold him in the highest of regards, he is a great example of a human being. Bill Pearl too. Dave Draper even with all the problems he's had- a great person. I feel we should learn from the past, realize the future, and live in the present.

MD: how is your health these days Mike?
MK: I had an aortic aneurysm four years back. I was lucky it was discovered during another procedure. It can kill you instantly.If you are reading this and can afford one or have medical insurance please get an ultrasound of the ascending and descending aorta. Find out if you have an aneurysm. So, a week before I was scheduled to judge the Arnold, I was scheduled for aoric repair surgery. I skipped the Arnold obviously. The surgery was successful and I also received a pacemaker as I have suffered from A-fib. My surgeon, Dr. Squiteri, was a big Pumping Iron fan, coincidentally.

Darn those Steelers! I was watching Pittsburgh vs. Cincinatti one Sunday, and, during halftime, I went to fix a leak on my roof. I wanted to get back in to see the game and was using an inadequate ladder. I fell 12 feet to the ground and at 270 pounds my wife apparently heard the "thud." I joke that she came outside and kicked me because she thought I was joking. Turned out I broke every rib on my left side, fractured three lumbar vertebrae, Had a brain bleed, and developed pneumonia. You know, the ribs. Even a brusied rib will keep an NFL guy out six weeks. I fractured all of the on the left.I was in the hospital for four weeks, and the doctors did say that the great shape I was in kept me alive.

MD: How about your long involvement with the Special Olympics?
MK: I remember when I was in college and Kennedy was assassinated-Jackie Kennedy came to Bowen Field where we played our games and JFK Jr as a little boy was with her. I think he'd have been president had he lived. She inspired me to get involved with the Special Olympics. I cheered the kids on, taught them lifting techniques, now younger folks have assumed my place. I did teach special needs kids for 35 years. I loved it. I myself overcame much in life and I wanted to give back to the world just as it gave to me.

MD: You have been a bodybuilding judge at every level seeminly for ages.
MK: For a long time, I was the only former professional bodybuilder who was also an Olympia judge. Since, we have had Gaspari, Al Beckles and Dorian Yates, too. But I've been judging the longest. I still judge the Arnold, Olympia, the Toronto Pro Show and this year I am excited about traveling to judge th Arnold in Brazil.

As far as what has changed, well, look at it like this.In pro football, guys are 50 pounds heavier and .4-.5 seconds faster in the 40 than they were 25 years ago. In bodybuilding its the same. The diet, chemicals, training, everything has advanced. A 6'8" guy who used to go into basketball may now become a tight end in football, and be faster and run like a deer.

Evolution of sports in the past 20 years shows that it would take 20,000 years for ligaments and connective tissues to keep up with these bodily changes. Its not all good. Since athletes are perhaps 50% better than they were 20 years ago, you see more head injuries and such. Cars now go 90 miles an hour instead of 60 mph, so injuries are worse. In football, head protection is still inadequate. You may start seeing where no head contact at all is permitted. Parents will direct their kids to play soccer sinetad of football. Things will shift.

Judging today at the Olympia level, I will say this. Everybody must be in top shape. The current Mr. Olympia must be better each year or he wont win. The top five or ten guys are ALL great, and the current winner, if he is not at least a bit better than his previous winning condition, he probably wont win.

Flex Wheeler had the genetic ability Phil Heath now has. But Flex never came within 80% of his potential. He was great, don't get me wrong. However, If I had his genetics, nobody would EVER beat me. The reality is Flex left 20% on the table. Heath is like a young Flex who is hungry. I wish I had his genetics. I'd have been the best ever.

MD: Thanks so much Mike. You have given a gift to us all with your words.
MK: It was my pleasure. Anytime!

Now, a few words with Mike Katz, Jr., many of you knowing him from his cameo in the immortal Pumping Iron.

MD: Hey Junior. Tell us what is what like being the son of Mr. Universe.
Jr: Well, it was a no-brainer that I was on my best behavior. But in those times that I'd maybe slip up a bit, my mom would always remind me of the looming prospect of Big Mike's impending return home (laughs).

MD: Were you around a lot of bodybuilders growing up?
Jr: Yes, it was great. I remember when I was seven years old and Robby Robinson was staying at our house. Dad and him were running the bodybuilding camp that I know you even attended. I was sitting there at the breakfast table eating a bowl of Apple Jacks, and Robby took one look and said, "You ain't gonna get big by eating Apple Jacks..." I just kinda looked at him and that was it. (laughs).

Arnold and Franco also stayed at the house. I was younger, maybe three or four, so my memory is not as acute. But I do recall walking into the bedroom Arnold was staying in and he was naked getting dressed. He looked at me but I bolted from the room and slammed the door (laughs).

didn't go to Big Mike's shows but did go to some exhibitions. I went to George Snyder's "Best in the World" show at which there were about 10 guest posers , dad being one of them. There was Mentzer, Corney, Coe, Zane, Arnold (not posing though) and many more. My mother wondered why I spent so much time around Boyer Coe...I think it may have been because of his lovely wife, Valerie (laughs).

MD: So, did you ever follow in your father's famous weight lifting footsteps?
Jr: I started lifting at 11 years old, mostly for sports. Big Mike said if I wanted to do bodybuilding, he'd help me, but he preferred I do the regular sports instead. All I remember was all the hard work he put in, the training, tons and tons of food, low carb days.

MD: It's hard to believe you are 44 years old now. So many remember you as the little kid hanging on Mr. America's bicep in your back yard. What was it like when the Pumping Iron cameras arrived?
Jr: They were around on multiple days It was funny because all the neighborhood kids wanted to come over during filming, and so all the parents had to sign releases for the kids to be filmed. They were all psyched to be in the film. Of course, when the film came out, they had all ended up on the cutting room floor. I took a lot of flak on the bus because of that (laughs)! All in all, it was a very carefree, fun time.

MD: Mike you look to be in fantastic shape.
Jr: Well, currently I weigh 170, feel great and am very lean at 5'10" in height. Years ago, I actually bulked up to 240 pounds and was very strong at 20 years old in college. Currently I am the lightest I have been since age 17, my strength is the best its been in 15 years. I recently lost 40 pounds and have been taking Qivana supplements which Big Mike also uses now. Pam and I have a Qivana business that we are very excited about. Anyone interested in such an opportunity can contact me directly via my Face Book page.

Life is great. Currently, my wife Pam and I have two daughters, and I am co-owner with Mike and Jerry Mastrangelo of 5 Planet Fitness gyms here in Connecticut. Time goes on and priorities change. But there is always time to take good care of yourself.

MD: Mike, I and all our readers thank you for your time and all the pearls of history you have shared with us.
Jr: Anytime Doc!

Thank you Dr. Michael Dusa

(1995 NPC Mr. Connecticut, USA)

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