Probably not. They usually can find guys with some better tangibles than that.
I love baseball but I think I knew that portion of it was over for me. My high school coach did tell me, “Hey, if you want to go play college ball somewhere, you can probably find a place that will take you or walk on,” but I decided I wanted to shift gears.
I wanted to go and focus on my academics, and being a college athlete these days is a full-time job. I was the first person in my family ever to go to college. I really wanted to take that seriously. Got into bodybuilding as a way to wet that competitive appetite since baseball was over.
After my freshman year of college, one year after I really gotten serious about bodybuilding, I wanted to do a bodybuilding show and enter in the Teen division. I did that. Long story short, won the Teen division and actually won the Novice Tall division as well as a 19-year-old and I was hooked.
I was absolutely hooked, and did a few different competition seasons. I did that competition season. Did two shows the following year. Took two years off, and then did four shows, my senior year of college or actually right after I graduated college.
Took two years off and went, and did I think four more shows as well in 2006. That’s where I won my Pro-card in Natural Bodybuilding. Knew I was going to take a long extended break from bodybuilding of four years because that’s how long I had left on my PhD.
I hoped how long I had left on my PhD. [laughs] I was going to use that time to really build a lot of muscle or as much as I could, and get ready for the Pro stage because that was pretty intimidating for me.
The idea that I was going to go up against some of the best natural bodybuilders in the world. I started training with that mind but building muscle without drugs is a very slow process, very arduous process, and it can be very disheartening at times because in order to build that muscle, you’re usually allowing yourself to put on a little bit of body fat.
The gains you’re making, you’re not seeing them in the mirror because it’s being covered by some body fat. I decided I wanted to do something to keep myself motivated in the gym, that wouldn’t interfere with my bodybuilding goals. I decided to enter a powerlifting meet.
I did a few of those, turns out I was pretty good at it. I even got an invitation to Raw Unity 3 back in 2010, which at the time was the biggest raw powerlifting event in the world — which is funny because it was held in a high school gymnasium — which now the biggest raw events in the world are in big…There’s actually going to be one in the stadium next year, which is cool.
I did that and then went back to bodybuilding in 2010 after I graduated from my PhD. I did very well in the Pro shows I entered. I actually won my weight class — my first Pro show — then finished top five in all my shows overall. After that, I had the mentality that, “Well, I’m going to go…”
I still didn’t consider myself a powerlifter, really. I considered myself a bodybuilder who likes to powerlift. I decided I was going to take another extended break from bodybuilding just to focus on growing my business and trying to build as much muscle as I could.
I was hanging around Mike Zourdos, who’s a professor of Exercise Science at Florida Atlantic University and my friend Ben Esgro at the time, and they were both into powerlifting.
They loved it. They kept telling about the USAPL, which is the IPF affiliate in the USA. The IPF is the most prestigious powerlifting organization there is in the world. The next one is…they’ve been close. They’re recognized by the IOC. They have a legitimate World Championship where over 50 countries from around the world send athletes to compete.
It’s a very, very prestigious event, in any case. I didn’t really know much about them. I was just doing powerlifting for fun. Mike, Professor Zourdos, he put on a meet at FAU one year, and asked me to come down, and do the meet. I did the meet. He was like, “You realize your total would have won you Nationals last year.”
Good to know.
I was like, “Really?” He’s like, “Yeah. You would have won Nationals and you would have placed in the top 10 at Worlds.” I was like, “Oh. Really?”