My Life … In a Nutshell!
So here is my story. Sit yourself down with a nice cup of green tea, reading glasses on, comfy giant slipper on your feet. Comfortable? Good, I will now begin.....
I became interested in the crazy sport of bodybuilding around 1987 when my passion was, and still is, BMX. I was also a sprinter, running the 100m and 200m events. I was reading a BMX magazine and there was an article that mentioned weight training would make you a stronger rider. So I went to my local library which was at the end of my street and see if i could find any books on this weight training thing, we had no internet back then of course. I found some books, had a flick through but then I found the one, the book that would set off my journey along the bodybuilding path, it was written by Vince Gironda and called 'Vince Girondas Unleashing The Wild Physique'! As soon as I opened the book and saw all the bodybuilders, that was it, something clicked and I knew that's I wanted to look like. Seeing pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Serge Nubret, Mohamed Makkawy etc just amazed me! I need to find out everything about this sport and all these bodybuilders, how these guys trained, what they ate, everything! So I started to buy magazines and books, perusing them for countless hours. Pumping Iron was on the tv, I recorded it onto vhs and watched it until the tape wore out. These guys in the books and magazines became my heroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gary Strydom, Berry de Mey, Rich Gaspari, Tom Platz. I wanted to be just like them. I knew I wanted to become a champion bodybuilder so I set myself a goal of becoming Junior Mr Britain before I had ever set foot in a gym.
It still took me a couple of years to pluck up enough courage to actually go to a gym as I was too nervous to go, I was such a shy person! But I had already a good basic knowledge due to all the reading! At 16 my brother Ian and I went to a gym open weekend at a new gym that was opening up in my local town of Romford, it was called Everybodies Health Club. I remember walking in and being greeted by Malcolm Brown, he was an IFBB Pro bodybuilder and he was the first real bodybuilder I had seen, he looked huge wearing a suit for the special occasion! Thats what i wanted to look like. I looked around and it was the first time I had seen so much weight, big dumbbells, benches, squat racks, just like I had seen in my books and magazines. It was no surprise that I became a member there and then, a member of Everybodies Health Club. I started training and I seemed quite a natural at it as after only a few weeks Malcolm and the instructor Scott Thake, who himself was a fantastic junior competitor with monster size legs, noticed the gains I was making, and I was getting a lot stronger too especially the legs. After about six months training I was already squatting 355 pounds and I was only sixteen.
After a couple of years training Malcolm and Scott kept encouraging me to enter a natural junior competition, natural being drug free for life. I always read in the magazines how a lot of the top bodybuilders entered and won their first show, so that was my first goal. I wanted to enter and win my first show. So with the guidance of Malcolm and Scott I went on a twelve week diet and entered my first show at 19 years old, the 1991 ANB (Association of Natural Bodybuilders) South East Britain, entering the Junior class (under 21's). As I was a very shy teenager I wondered how I would deal with walking on stage with fake tan, oil and skimpy little posing trunks, but the feeling was unreal! As soon as I stepped on stage it felt like I was meant to be there, it was a great feeling. And I achieved my goal, I was the South East Junior champion! I qualified for the British championships later on in the year where I placed third.
The following year (1992) was my last year as a junior and my goal was to be Junior British champion. Nothing was going to stop me, so I trained like I was possessed! I won the Junior South East again, so it was on to the 'Britain'. As soon as I was there I was so confident that I felt unbeatable. I won the show, Junior Mr Britain what a feeling that was, I had achieved my goal! Then I was invited to compete in the European championships in Holland, this I wasn't expecting, but damned if anyone was going to beat me in my last ever Junior competition. I was told that I wouldn't win this show as Europeans were right into their training. So that was all I needed to hear, I went to The Hague and won!
Junior Bodybuilding Pictures Age 19 and 20.
I had a four year break before entering in the adult classes, I needed to make some big improvements to make the jump to the heavyweight class. The first show I decided to do was the 1996 ANB South East and enter the heavyweight class (over 78kg). I thought I would break into the heavyweights gently expecting about three or four people in my class. I asked how many in my class. Fourteen! Damn, I have my work cut out now I thought! I went on to win the class and the overall which was a fantastic result, which also led to my first big interview in a British bodybuilding magazine! I then went on to place fourth in the Britain which I was disappointed with but I had over dieted and lost some muscle, although I was ripped to pieces!
1996 Season Age 23
In 1998 I entered the ANB Central Britain which I won and then went on to place second in the Britain. I was invited to compete in the European Championships in Belgium, which was a great opportunity for me, so I pulled out all the stops and I won! Unreal!
I then waited untill 2000 to compete again, winning the ANB South East Heavyweights and Overall titles. I competed in the Britain where I placed fourth. I had no motivation for the final, didn't want to be there, and I shouldn't of competed really, but felt like I had to as other people were expecting me to. So I vowed never to compete again unless I really wanted it.
The wait was five years! During them five years I had injuries, lost motivation totally, just couldn't get into my training so I had six months off training which was the best thing I could of ever of done. After the six months off my training got back on track, the rest done me good as I made some great progress. So I decided to make my comeback at the BNBF Central Championships in 2005. There was a lot of interest on the internet regarding my comeback and I really felt the pressure. The forums were full of talk about me competing, would I still be any good, i'll easily win, all sorts. The pressure was on. The last week before the show I was a nightmare, really stressing over how I looked! Anyway I entered the show and won the heavyweights and overall making a great impact which is just what I wanted!
I went on to compete in the Britain where I placed third. I wasn't happy with how I looked at all. I lost a fair bit of muscle leading up to the show through over dieting due to bad advice. I had the knowledge to work on my own diet but I wanted to be the best I could be and not make mistakes due to a diet brain so used someone else. But hey, you live and learn!
After the show I was lucky enough to be invited to compete in the World Championships in New York, I couldn't believe it! I now had the chance to rectify the mistakes that were made leading up to the Britain and enter the Worlds at my all time best. This I did do, I worked on my own diet, gaining back some of my lost muscle and getting in even better condition. This resulted in me winning the heavyweight class. I was now the INBF Heavyweight World Champion! A dream come true.
On to the 2006 season. My first show was the BNBF Britain. I didn't have to qualify for this due to the Worlds in 2005. I placed 2nd in this show at my biggest ever, I just didn't hit my condition spot on. I looked great the day before, but I stressed out a lot, filled with water and that was that. I was a little disappointed of course, but I must admit I did like the size I carried, I felt big, I just had to chisel that down. Again I was lucky that the BNBF had faith in me to invite me to the Natural Mr Universe in Los Angeles. A dream come true for me as it is a place I had always wanted to visit since I was young and my BMX days. We stayed in Venice Beach just around the corner from the world famous Golds Gym and a couple of blocks from the beach. The result? I won, I won in L.A! Not only my class but the overall which resulted in me gaining my pro card which was my goals for many years. After that I stayed on in California for a week or so, training in Golds Gym where people came up to me and complimented me on my shape and condition, come up to me, in Golds Gym Venice! I couldn't believe it. I even met and hung out with Gary Strydom, who I looked up to when starting out.
My travels in the NYC and Los Angeles for the Worlds and Universe
In 2007 I had a break from competition which wasn't planned as I wanted to make my pro debut in the U.S. But I had an ongoing knee injury which I had operated on later in the year to remove some torn cartilage. I then had a bad shoulder injury that just wouldn't clear up, the scan showing degeneration of the shoulder joint and a small tear. But I still kept myself busy by becoming a judge with the BNBF, two guest spots, also with the BNBF and also some media work over the next few years, appearing on the cover of Martina Coles novel Faces and also becoming the centrefold in the womens magazine Cosmopolitan! Two music videos, one was for Just Jack reaching number 2 in the U.K charts, a commercial in Rome for Italian tv, and I was asked to compete on The Weakest Link Christmas special focusing on bodies!
I still wasn't competing due to my injuries, they were really holding me back to the point where I thought I probably wouldn't be able to compete again. I would never compete unless I was better than my last showing at the Mr Universe and that wasn't going to happen as I'm not about making up numbers on stage! My training took a nose dive as everything was hurting, my joints, muscles etc, also another knee operation on my other knee, the same injury as before. So I had a few breaks from training and concentrated on my personal training business which has taken off, also preparing people to get in shape for their own competitions.
As I write this we are in 2015, nine years after my last competition. My training has changed as I've got older, listening to my body more as I'm now 43 and the body aches that much more. But i'm positive about the future, I want to inspire the over 40's, male and female, to be in the best shape they've ever been in as its never too late. Health becomes even more important in a time when the populations health is in decline and obesity is becoming a global epidemic. I want to inspire and encourage all ages to be healthier and fitter, I want to improve peoples confidence and outlook on life as to me that is even more motivating than getting a 'six pack' or 'big guns'!
As for competing again myself, I always say never say never, or I may take up another sport as that competitive fire deep inside never burns out, watch this space....
My competition results are:
1991 ANB South East Junior - 1st
1991 ANB Britain Junior - 3rd
1992 ANB South East Junior - 1st
1992 ANB Britain Junior - 1st
1992 European Junior - 1st
1996 ANB South East Britain Over 78kg - 1st
1996 ANB South East Overall Champion
1996 ANB Britain Over 78kg - 4th
1998 ANB Central England Over 78kg 1st
1998 ANB Britain Over 78kg - 2nd
1998 European Over 78 kg - 1st
2000 ANB South East Britain Over 78 kg - 1st
2000 ANB South East Overall 1st
2000 ANB Britain Over 78kg - 4th
2005 BNBF Central Britain Over 80 kg 1st
2005 BNBF Central Overall 1st
2005 BNBF Britain Over 80kg - 3rd
2005 INBF World Heavyweight Champs 1st
2006 BNBF Britain Over 80kg - 2nd
2006 INBA Natural Mr Universe Tall Class 1st
2006 INBA Natural Mr Univesre Overall 1st and Pro Card!