- September 2011 – Me: Hey man, did you hear Luke Wood and Art Atwood both died a week a part from one another? Friend: Wow….that’s a lot of dead-wood.
- “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” – Bodhi from the movie Point Break.”You might only be king for a day, but by god, you’re the fucking king!” – Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder.
With bodybuilding being one of the original extreme sports, it long ago abandoned any pretense that this venture had anything to do with health and fitness. I used to love reading those Dead Pool articles back in the 90’s where pundits would speculate on the next big name to join that great gym in the sky. (hell being reserved for Crossfitters) With Mike Matarazzo registering as the reaper’s most recent recruit, I can only wonder if these guys/girls would choose to do things differently or take another path if given a do-over? An incredible physique is one thing, but is it really worth dying over something as fleeting as muscle?
Matarazzo was a magazine favourite in the early 90’s and I remember a poster or two featuring his trademark biceps or calf shot adorning my walls when I first started training. He represented one of the new breed of mass freaks together with guys like Paul Demayo, Dorian Yates, and Nasser El Sonbatty.
Both him and Demayo were featured heavily throughout the book “Power Factor Training; one of the first books I bought on strength training. Demayo died a few years later after treading a troubled road of recreational drug use. Matarazzo on the other hand was plagued with health problems he readily attributes to drug use and the rigours placed on his system during his years as a competitive pro bodybuilder.
Unlike today, the avenues for making money in the sport during the 90’s were limited to all but a few of the top names. In a sport that doesn’t provide health insurance, tax write-offs for related “work” expenses or pension plans, I wonder how many guys regret making the choice to trade their health for 15 mins of fame in a subculture that’s all but invisible and irrelevant to the majority of people?
I predict over the next few years we’ll be seeing the 90’s pro roster disappearing with frequent rapidity with the current batch of pros following quickly behind. If there’s one truism in the sport that’s readily apparent over the last 50 years is that bodybuilders don’t typically live lives that exceed the average lifespan.
If only we could all go like Classic-era bodybuilder Harold Poole, who a few weeks ago, passed away peacefully in his sleep, aged 70.
Of course, you know that those lizards such as Wayne Demillia, Jim Manion, Steve Blechman and all the other associated snakes in suits who could have steered the sport in a different direction in the early 90’s and chose not to….we all know that vampires live long (undead) lives feeding off the blood of the living.