A common topic on many peoples lips is the sorry state of today’s physiques and the general degeneration of bodybuilding. People can’t put their finger on it, but there’s something wrong about many of the physiques that hit the pro stage these days. Sure the bloated-guts and lack of conditioning are obvious factors in the unsightly parade masquerading as physique culture, but there’s some intangible that makes the vast majority of today’s guys look like….shit, for some reason.
It might have been Monty Python that once quipped, “I don’t know much about art, but I know when I see it.”
Well, I know what I’m seeing…and I don’t like it.
I use 1994 as just one example, but check out the superstar lineup for that year’s competition – talent on top of talent, stacked deep!
This post salutes the lesser known, forgotten or unsung physiques from years passed. The classic division looks to provide some hope for resurrecting a similar bygone standard, but now with all the various (profit-making) divisions, the ranks are so diluted, I don’t think we will ever see the lineups truly bursting with talent from the glory days.
Just so the younger guys don’t think it’s us older dudes wearing rose tinted glasses waxing nostalgic over a golden era that never was, let me present to you 15 physiques of lesser known bodybuilders that still aesthetically crush the guys of today.
It’s no coincidence that “Inhuman” Newman possessed the golden boy looks and balanced physique to earn him more than a few cover shots and multiple magazine appearances back in the early 90’s. If it wasn’t for his near brush with death in the form of contracted leukemia, Newman might have dominated the Top 1o spots in any show of his choosing.
Not the biggest cat on the pro circuit, Porter Cottrell nevertheless had balanced lines and symmetry together with muscle groups that seamlessly flowed into one another. A firefighter by occupation, Porter was equally balanced in terms of his personality and mental approach to the game.
If the wasp-waist had a personification, Thierry would be it. The Frenchman’s abs were matched with an amazing set of arms and proportions that defied reality.
I first watched Cziurlock pose to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck at the 1994 Olympia which was more than an apt choice of music for the spellbound crowd. With scads of muscle that hung off the bone, the German marvel dominated the stage hitting incredible back double biceps, most musculars and showcasing an insane flexibility to thunderous applause. Miraculously, this guy didn’t even place finishing 18th and LAST at the 1994 Mr O.
The soft-spoken Ohio native and former seminary student, exploded onto the early 90’s scene with exquisite levels of mass stacked onto his 5’8 frame with stunning symmetry and proportions. Taking out his first four pro shows (the only person to ever do so) including the 1995 Arnold Classic, Francois looked to be a contender to challenge Yates in the newly emerging brutal-mass era. Three years later Francois was in a hospital bed, weighing 100 pounds lighter and hooked up to an ostomy bag, felled by ulcerative colitis.
I didn’t really follow the career trajectory of J.J Marsh back in the early 90s as the dude seemed to fly low under the radar, and had a short pro career. An impressive physique all the same.
There was a saying among lifters back in the 80’s and 90’s that if you wanted to compete at the pro level, you better hope you were descended from black, Italian or German parentage. (Or in Kevin Levrone’s case, 2 out of the 3).
Achim Albrecht was another of the many Germanic bodybuilders on the scene at the time and was featured in just about every Weider mag that hit the stands, despite never winning any major shows. He represented the beginning of the mass-monster era, but still had the aesthetic balance and good looks that kept him marketable enough to be eventually picked up by the pro-wrestling circuit.
The soft-spoken wonder from Down-Under is actually Samoan, so those beastly muscle-gaining genetics are practically a given. Sonny however presented a physique that was balanced from head to toe with perfect proportions and beautifully conditioned aesthetics. At 5’10 and 240 pounds he won the 1995 Masters Olympia at 40. His untimely death of cancer less than 10 years later proceeded a lengthy tangle with the law and jail sentence, but he was nevertheless one of the great physiques of the 90’s era.
Before blowing out both his knees which lead to an early career demise, Alq Gurley. He had that Shawn Ray look with every muscle group bursting from the shrink wrapped skin when he hit his poses.
British Bertil ‘Brutal-Fox’ is probably more infamous for the double murder of his girlfriend and her mother in the mid 90’s, but his bulldog physique for the time cannot be denied. He never hit the competitive high rankings but possessed some crazy arms, delts and one of the best chests in the game. He was known for his hardcore training approach and strength feats including a near 600 pound bench.
I first saw Hill pose in the legendary 1988 Mr Olympia to Phantom of the Opera and was blown away by the amazing presentation of his huge but proportioned physique. An impressive poser, he could vacuum his already tiny waist into unsightly small dimensions that fully accentuated the massive arms, calves, quads and back. If you took Bertil Fox and gave him impressive legs, you’d have Phil Hill. When Hill received 12th place at the 88 Mr O, the crowd went into a frenzy in response to such a judging travesty.
Lesser known name, Defendis has all but been relegated to the history books because he competed only twice in the pro ranks. He’s famed for being one of the craziest hard working son-of-a-bitches in the gym which is no surprise coming under the tutelage of “Intensity or Insanity” Steve Michalik (Now there’s a program I want to experiment with in an upcoming blog!) There’s something about the granite hardness and sweep of his body parts that mesmerises the eye.