Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Conversation with 1989 NPC National Champion and former IFBB Pro, Troy Zuccolotto. By Dr. Michael Dusa

A Conversation with 1989 NPC National Champion and former IFBB Pro, Troy Zuccolotto
By Dr. Michael Dusa

MD: Hi Troy. I really want to thank you for making the time to speak with me, given your myriad of successful businesses you must tend to.

TZ: Mike, I am glad to.

MD: What were your beginnings in health, fitness, and bodybuilding?

TZ: I started training at 15 years old. Right out of the gate, I was fascinated with bodybuilding. I played football from the age of 8 to 13 and in High School, with the ultimate goal to play in college. I got mononucleosis my senior year in High School and this obviously proved to be a set back. At this point I gave up football to pursue bodybuilding. I do remember seeing Arnold competing on Wide World of Sports-you know-when bodybuilding wasn't so besmirched as it is today and was actually shown on network television. Seeing Arnold did it for me.

MD: I remember those days. I actually remember Arnold interviewing Frank Zane and Zane telling him winning the Olympia was almost as good as beating him in the Universe!

TZ: (laughs) Yeah-I remember that too.

Troy's beginnings
MD: When did you first compete?

TZ: Well, a guy in the gym suggested I try the Orange County Teenage Bodybuilding Championships. Now, I wasn't on a specific bodybuilding diet, but I always ate a healthful diet anyway. I ended up taking second place out of 45 teenagers. I thought I won the Olympia-that's how great I felt!

MD: Great! I remember back'd actually get that many teens competing in a there are none. A sign of the times. So, you had no help entering this show?

TZ: Well, in Riverside California, there was a guy named Storkie Sowers who worked at Clark Nutrition for like over 30 years. He'd help me a bit with my manditories, schooled me on proteins, he did help me along the way early on.

MD: How did things progress from that point on?

TZ: I went on a roll. I won the Teenage California, the Mr. California and the Mr. Los Angeles. I capped these off by annexing top honors in the 1989 National Championships.

MD: I remember that. It was a very tough show.

November 1986 M&F cover
TZ: Yes. Franco Santoriello won the light heavyweight division, David Dearth won the middleweights, Alan Inchinoise won the light weights, and Mercury Morris Claiborne won the bantamweights. I should note that the previous year, 1988, I did take second place to John DeFendis in the NPC USA. John is a great guy and great businessman.

MD: You actually dealt with Joe Weider prior to this big win.

TZ: Yes. After I won the California in 1986, he put me on the cover of Muscle & Fitness. He loved my look. I have to say I had a good relationship with Joe and he was very good to me-even when I left the IFBB to sign with Vince McMahon and the WBF. Joe understood it was a business decision. At the time, I was very hot in the industry. I got quite a significant contract from Vince, Joe understood and supported my decision. When I returned to the IFBB, Joe was good to me.

Arguably Troy's most famous picture
MD: Smart. The WBF, yes. I was chiropractor to some of the guys then. I'll never forget you doing a photo shoot in Montanar's Gold's Gym in New Haven (Now Montanari Brothers Powerhouse Gym - Super Gym). You were near the dumbell rack posing in front of a Harley Davidson. It was like the pages of Muscle Builder coming to life!

TZ: Those were great times. I loved the Montanari's. They are wonderful people. They acted like they knew me their whole life. They gave me whatever I wanted.

MD: But you didn't live in Connecticut during your time with the WBF.

TZ: No. I was based in California and would travel to WBF headquarters as needed. The first year with the WBF...I thought it was gonna be great. It would force the IFBB to give the guys more money. As time pressed on, you could see that it was struggling. I had a three year contract so my money was locked in. But, as you know, we didn't make it past the second year. There was the drug issue, the pageantry of it all. Vince was onto something but it just wasn't the right time.
Troy on the July 1991 cover of
Bodybuilding Lifestyles, the magazine
of the defunct WBF Federation

MD: I remember Gary Strydom in Gold's riding the stationary bike. He was in the midst of eating a WHOLE box of PR Bar protein bars while riding. I asked him why. He said if he was not constantly eating, his body would basically catabolize itself! Are you in contact with any olf the old WBF guys?

TZ: Sure. Mike Quinn, Eddie Robinson, Berry de Mey, Mike Christian. Shawn Ray, whose show my company sponsors each year. Dennis Newman is doing well these days too. The last two not WBF guys but I do talk to them.

MD: So you did go back to the IFBB after the WBF folded?

TZ: Yes. I did a few shows, but frankly I didn't do very well. I was totally ok with this, because this wasn't really a major focus for me. My original goal was to win the NPC Nationals, which I did. I wanted to just use this win as a stepping stone, as a vehicle to bigger things, if you would. These guys today-you know-its such a short career-pro bodybuilding. The risks you have to take now-especially compared to back in my day...they are non-pareil. Our health is very fragile. I look at myself. Three years ago I had some pain behind my left knee. When I awoke the next day, my leg was blown up like an elephant! I went to my daughter's soccer game anyway, and a doctor/parent there took one look at me and told me to go to the ER immediately. A clot had broken and three of them travelled to my lungs. To this day, I am still on Warfarin, which is a blood thinner. To this day, if I work my legs too hard in the gym, it'll still blow up. You know, I've never drank alcohol, no narcotics or street drugs, I've never smoked pot....but I still get hit with this!

These pros now live flagrantly. They weigh 300 pounds. This just isn't healthy. Currently, I weigh 210 pounds. The heaviest weight at which I ever competed was 242 pounds. I will say this, there was one off season in which I blew up to 305 pounds, and I felt like Hell. Yeah, I have some aches and pains now, but I wear regular clothes and I feel healthy.
If I knew I could win the Olympia now-I wouldn't want to. You know, when you are 22 you don't think like when you are 52. When I wake up's a process-it can be hard to get up(laughs)!

I do respect the bodybuilders of the 80's and 90's-we opened many doors for the bodybuilders of today. But what did it take? Did I take some years off of my life? I have kids, a full life. That is what is most important.

MD: So when were you done with competition?

TZ: My last show was either the Chicago Pro or Night of the Champions in 1995. At that point, I knew that I was done. It was time to move on to the next part of my life which was business.

My brother advised me to do something with my money to solidify my future. While I was in the WBF I began opening car washes-I currently own nine of them. They are unattended-you know, coin operated. Its hands off for me. There is an apartment on each property and I rent them to college students who clean up the place and attend to the facilities. Sure-I wanted to go out and buy a Ferrari, but not yet. With my first contact I bought my first home in San Clemente. I ended up selling that and making several hundred thousand dollars in profit. Now I'm in my present home.

MD: "Home." Mansion, actually.
The Zuccolotto cars and mansion

TZ: I had bought the land previously. The house is 10,000 square feet with an elevator.

MD: I am interested in hearing about your present business, "Youth Tech Longevity and Laser Institute."

TZ: It's really grown-we have four locations now. We utilize all the cutting-edge in anti-aging technology. We use lasers, do stem cell facials, botox, fillers, fat loss, hormone replacement therapies. We have nurses and estheticians on staff as well as physicians. I have been at this for 20 years now. We have two locations in Newport Beach, another in the San Diego area, and one in north Dallas.
With Lonnie Teper
It's not an easy business, despite our success. We do everything right and cut no corners. People ask how I look the way I do...I live to espouse being a "product of my product." People want to look and feel good today. We help them take care of their skin. We help them replace hormones lost as they age. We employ therapeutic dosages to get the person's physiology back to where it was in their 20's or 30's. Osteoporosis, heart disease, decreases in testosterone, growth hormone, shrinking of muscles and organs-all these things occur as we age. Our therapies counteract these changes.

MD: Were your parents influential in molding your success or thinking?

TZ: Oh yes. Both my parents were school teachers with modest income. My father saw my zeal and ambition for bodybuilding. My father said if I were to employ this enthusiasm to other pursuits, I'd be just as successful in them as I was in bodybuilding, and he was right.

MD: So, tell me something interesting about you that folks may not know?

TZ: (Laughs). Well, first of all, I'd never do anything to risk my home, buisiness, or family. I used to go to Vegas every Friday to Sunday. I have 100K of credit at four of the different Vegas hotels. I LOVE to gamble. A Wynn jet would pick me up, and then I'd get picked up by a Phantom Rolls Royce. Again, I'll say that I'd never risk what is of primarily of greatest importance to me. But, around five years ago, I was staying at the Encore, and I had lost 95K, so I was down to 5K and said the heck with it. It was black jack and I went for it with the last 5K.

I won. Then I won some more! I'm now up to 40K. I won ALL of the 100K back,got up to 250K! Well, we called the limo, I cashed the check for 250K, and got on the jet. We were sitting there and I heard the engines start to whir. I told the pilot to stop and let me back off because I wanted to win 500K! Well, I did go back, lost everything plus the original 100K. I wasn't driven to drink but I did feel like jumping off the nearest balcony (both laugh).

MD: That's unreal! What is an average day for you? You still train hard, I am sure.

TZ: Oh yes. I get up each day at 5 am. I workout from 6-8 am. I do one hour of weights, 45 minutes of cardio, shower, then I am off to the office.

I do all the consultations with clients. The doctors handle the writing of prescriptions. Clients are tested via blood for deficiencies-if they are a candidate, they start the program. It's a total referral business. We do no advertising.

MD: Any famous clients?

TZ: Well, naturally I can't reveal any information about clients. Let's just say you'd be very surprised at some of the "A-list", famous clients that we get-all the time. Actors, top actors who you would not believe. It's all about maintaining an image. It's part of their job.

MD: Lots of stress for you?

TZ: Not much at all. I love what I do, there's a lot of success. Having little financial pressure definitely eliminates stress, I'll tell you that. I still get to take care of myself and do my workouts. I love meeting people, and being around highly successful people. This is ideal. I learn from very smart, successful people. This has been a key to my success. I'm no better than the next guy. I am willing to learn, though. I read a lot. Trump, Anthony Robbins, those types of guys.

MD: You have two beautiful daughters.

TZ: Yes. My 20 year old goes to Loyola Marymount and she is a great athlete. She was the number 3 soccer recruit out of high school in the whole country. She has always trained hard and I've worked with her since she was three years old.

Troy with his two beautiful daughters
My first child we had 26 years ago and it was a stressful time. I didn't care to win the Mr. Olympia and I knew I wouldn't anyway. Having kids gave me perspective. You know, professional bowlers make more than top bodybuilders. The number one bodybuilder in the world makes 135K for winning the Arnold? Come on now.

My older daughter, an interior designer who works for an architect, says she'd like to take over my business(laughs). Over time, I've bought four new Mercedes for my older daugfhter, two for the younger.

Back to the pros. The sad reality is a guy has to nearly kill himself to win. So now you see bodybuilding slowly switching over to fitness and physique. I honestly don't think, the way it is going, that bodybuilding will survive.

MD: I have a feeling my cars are not adequate enough to drive through your neighborhood, Troy (laughs). What are you tooling around in these days?

TZ: I have a Rolls. and S-550 Mercedes. And I have a Lamborghini Murcielago. That one cost about 460K. I have a GL Mercedes.

MD: Amazing. And for those days when traffic is just not acceptable?

TZ: (laughs). A partner and I own a Hawker Jet. It seats nine-we use this for fun excursions. When we are not using it, we charter it out.

MD: You know Troy, I have this saying I am fond of. "I don't wear a watch, because the time is always now."

TZ: (laughs). Not me. I don't like that saying! I am a watch enthusiast. My centerpiece watch is a 250K Franck Mueller watch. I have a Rolex Masterpiece that cost 108K. I also have the best of the best-a Patek Phillippe. It is the best in the world.

MD: You are obviously a quality, down to earth guy who has had a lot of success. None of this comes off as boasting, especially to hear it come from you. I think its very important for younger bodybuilders and young people in general to recognize your drive and what it takes to get what you want in the world, which can be quite the harsh place.

TZ: I'm never satisfied. When I made my first million, I wanted to make two million, and then four, and so on. Its staying hungry. You know, like Arnold said, "You can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets."

MD: Arnold speaks, people listen.

TZ: Yes, I hope so. Especially what he said about the big guts recently. He was directing that comment to Jim Manion, who has the power to implement change. It's like anorexia with these guys-they look at themselves and never feel they are big enough. I can tell you women certainly don't want this look. Back in 1993 I was on the television shows Doogie Howser and Full House. (laughs) I even just got a residual check from one of these shows in the mail! But I did lose a ton of movie and TV roles because I was just too big-that is Hollywood's perception of a bodybuilder..."Too Big," especially today.

MD: Hopefully things will scale down.

TZ: Well, look at Stallone. 68 years old and he is a specimen. He is amazing in his physique while still maintaining widespread appeal. The Rock? Well, he's awfully big, but he's already firmly established.

MD: Talk a bit about hormones.

TZ: does nothing for performance. It does nothing for one's eye/hand coordination. But it will help improve the integrity of your hair, your skin, the quality of your muscle. Therapeutic levels of HGH and testosterone will greatly allay joint pain. Remember, we are talking about getting a person to attain therapeutic levels they enjoyed when they were in their 20's and 30's.

Present day bodybuilder's. I can't even imagine the levels they are at regarding such substances. I'll bet half the present day upper level pro bodybuilders will have a hard time achieving the age of 50 if things continue the way they are.

I am a member of the American Association of Anti Aging, known as A4M. I completed the course given by Drs. Bob Goldman and Klatz, and learned much of what I know regarding the reading of blood work from them. Everyone I've ever tested who have done anabolic steroids have hematocrit and hemoglobin levels that are too high and with too much iron present. The blood can become like slush with this type of physiologic environment. You can be looking at a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or other pathologies.

MD:Troy, you know, I'm gonna set upon forging some documents proving I am your sole heir (both Laugh)! Speaking to you, it feels I've known you forever. Any parting words or advice?

TZ: Thanks Mike, Likewise. Yes.

"Success leaves clues. People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky; they are doing something different than everybody else does."

MD: Great words to heed and live by. Thanks again Troy.

TZ: My pleasure, Michael.

©,2015. Bodybuilding Mauritius. Any reprinting in any type of media is prohibited. Interview article published with permission from Dr. Michael Dusa (North Haven, Connecticut). 
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