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

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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!
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