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Muscle Smoke & Mirrors Vol. 3, Book 1 Preview (2)
- Updated: March 10, 2016
By Randy Roach – Chapter 1: Bigger Than The Sport?
The Professional Scene
The year 1975 was a critical turning point for gaining control over both amateur and professional bodybuilding. Joe and Ben Weider, with their International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB), still had no hegemony on either front for the first half of the decade. President Gerald Ford’s 1975 President’s Commission on Olympic Sports (PCOS) began the process of divesting the Amateur Athletic Union of its governance over amateur sports. Chapters 9 and 10 of “Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors, Volume II” covered extensively how this shift of power to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) opened up an opportunity for the IFBB to gain affiliation with and control over American amateur bodybuilding.
Even with Arnold Schwarzenegger as their flagship competitor from 1969 through 1975, the IFBB was still fighting for professional supremacy with Dan Lurie’s World Body Building Guild (WBBG) and Oscar Heidenstam’s National Amateur Bodybuilders Association (NABBA). IFBB outcast Serge Nubret and his World Amateur Body Building Association (WABBA) came late in the game in 1976. Arnold would actually prove more effective for IFBB professional bodybuilding away from the posing dais than he did as a competitor.
Upon announcing his retirement from competitive bodybuilding following his victory in Pretoria, South Africa in 1975, it was already announced at that year’s IFBB Congress that Arnold, along with Reg Park and Franco Columbu, would work towards a professional committee and report back to the next year’s Congress. (Muscle Builder (MB), Jul/1977)
Arnold kept with his plan of teaming with Jim Lorimer, with Jim becoming the workhorse of this newly formed promotional team. Together they promoted and ran the 1976 Mr. Olympia in Columbus, Ohio. This show was a significant leap forward in prize money and presentation. It was a turning point in terms of allure for the IFBB. It must be recalled that the Mr. Olympia had Arnold running unopposed in 1971 as the NABBA clearly outdrew the IFBB in contestants that year at their Professional Mr. Universe show with the likes of Frank Zane, Reg Park, Sergio Oliva, and the retiring Bill Pearl. Dan Lurie pulled a bigger audience with his Pro Mr. America show contestants than what Tom Minichiello could draw with Arnold, Franco, and Serge Nubret heading his Mr. Olympia lineup in September of 1973. Of course, it helped Dan enormously to have the legendary bodybuilder/actor Steve Reeves as a special guest.
This would all change in 1976. It was at that year’s IFBB Mr. Universe show and seventh international congress in Montreal, Canada where Wayne DeMilia first met Ben Weider. Wayne then joined John Balik, George Turner, Warren Langman, Bill Drake, Jim Lorimer and Paul Graham in Arnold’s hotel room for the first and only IFBB Professional Committee meeting. (W. DeMilia, phone 2004) Franco Columbu, who had just won his first Mr. Olympia title in Columbus, Ohio, was not in attendance for this gathering. Following Arnold’s meeting, DeMilia attended his first IFBB Congress with an “observer” status where Arnold spoke on the direction of IFBB professional bodybuilding.
Sitting right next to Arnold as he addressed the Congress was Tom Minichiello. Tom had run the 1973 and 1974 Mr. Olympia shows in New York. DeMilia recalled Tom doing a double take when he heard Arnold call Wayne’s name as part of the new Professional Committee. (W. DeMilia, phone 2014) It was only weeks prior to that when Wayne and Tom had their falling out at the 1976 IFBB Mr. America contest that Minichiello also ran. Tom was no longer interested in promoting professional shows and wanted to focus on the IFBB Mr. America event. It was at this time that Minichiello’s American Federation of Amateur Bodybuilding (AFAB) replaced Ralph P. Johnson’s American Amateur Bodybuilding Association (AABA) as the American affiliate to the IFBB. Tom Minichiello and the IFBB would mutually depart within two years when the IFBB dropped the AFAB after finally gaining the affiliation of the AAU/NPC.
Somewhat confusing the atmosphere, the IFBB would supposedly disband the Professional Committee at the 1977 Congress in favour of professional delegates at large. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Jim Lorimer, Reg Park, and Boyer Coe were named as such delegates. (MB, Jun/1978) Coe does recall being in France that year where the Congress was held, but had no idea as to why he was named as one of the delegates, or whether he was even aware of it at the time. (B. Coe, phone Aug/2014) Although the IFBB, under the direction of Oscar State, was undergoing serious federation restructuring in order to align the organization for proper global amateur recognition and governance, they were still operating by the seat of their pants in many regards.
Whether there was a professional committee or not, those promoting a professional IFBB event were dealing directly with Ben Weider anyway. Wayne DeMilia, who was the new kid on the block, got caught between Ben and Arnold over the payment of sanctioning fees for a pro contest when he ran his first Night of Champions in the spring of 1978. Left with very little choice, Wayne ended up paying the fee to Ben. This angered Arnold who strongly felt that no such fees should have been paid. In the case of Mr. Ken Sprague, Ken did not know of any professional committees or delegates, inwardly held no respect for the IFBB at any time, and paid no sanction fees for the pro show he ran in 1978. When asked why he then handed the AAU/NPC to the IFBB, Ken simply felt it gained him great political and promotional leverage for his Gold’s Gym with Jim Manion as chairman and Ken as secretary of the emerging NPC. (K. Sprague, email 2006-2014)
Regardless, between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Lorimer, Wayne DeMilia, Ken Sprague and even Chet Yorton, the prize money, presentation and prestige began to elevate tremendously for IFBB professional bodybuilding during the second half of the 1970s. The scene had evolved enough that Ben Weider once again revived the IFBB Professional Committee when he appointed a new chairman to take on that growing responsibility. What happened to Arnold? Arnold had co-promoted, along with Jim Lorimer, the previous four Mr. Olympia shows from 1976 through 1979. His movie career was in fact on the rise and taking more and more of his time. The late 1970s saw a very strained relationship between Arnold and the Weider brothers as well. With the lawsuit involving Arnold via Ken Sprague, the Weiders found themselves aligned with Ken and Gold’s Gym, whereas Arnold was on the side of World Gym. Arnold was instrumental in persuading Joe Gold to open World in opposition to Gold’s. Joe Weider testified on behalf of Ken Sprague in July of 1978 and his testimony did not at all favour Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Gold’s v Schwarzenegger et al., # 234425) Later that summer, Arnold was at odds with Ben Weider over union initiatives put forth by young Kalman Szkalak, who sacrificed his career with his efforts to organize the professional bodybuilders.
Regardless, with Arnold off building Arnold, Ben appointed the 30-year- old Wayne DeMilia as the new head of the IFBB Professional Committee. Oscar State, who was the instrument of the IFBB structural growth through the 1970s, took issue with Ben’s new appointee. The senior Oscar and a much younger Wayne were worlds apart in many ways in 1979, but would find out soon enough that they shared a planet or two. According to DeMilia, this was one of the few times Ben Weider stood behind him when Ben defended his decision with Oscar. Ben actually had a pretty solid case. Wayne had by then very successfully carried out two Night of Champions events, and in 1979 added two new Grand Prix shows. No one else was close in terms of contest activity and Oscar relented. (W. DeMilia, phone Aug/2014)
TO BE CONTINUED…
Randy Roach is the author of the 3-volume book series “Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors.” The books entail a comprehensive history of bodybuilding and all its related issues such as diet, supplements, weightlifting, fitness, strength training, drugs, and even global politics. The emphasis on nutrition intersects historically with the fitness industry and the general public. Many facets of this intriguing history are revealed for the first time, as well as an amazing cast of characters whose diets, philosophies and even idiosyncrasies alone make for a fascinating read.
Upon its completion, the over 15-year-long project will most likely breach three quarters of a million words through extensive interviews, research and analysis. Volume I was released in June of 2008 at 562 pages followed by Volume II in November of 2011 at 728 pages. Volume III, being released in a series of smaller books, launched Part 1 late in December of 2015 at 208 pages.
Reaction to these publications has been extremely favourable with endorsements coming from both the general reader and professionals in the field. David Epstein of Sports Illustrated commented on the “unbelievably extensive research”. Veteran industry writer, George Coates stated, “If Volume II is only half as good as Volume I, it will still be terrific! I must have read Volume I at least six times and I’m still amazed at the clarity and content throughout.” Paul Solotaroff of Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone called Volume II “a riveting, panoramic read”.
Industry experts John Kiiha and Bill Hinbern, called Book 1 of Volume III, “Outstanding”, and regarding the subject matter, Joe Rork stated, “Randy’s presentation is the best I have seen all these later years.”
Randy Roach has been active in the muscle building industry for over 40 years. Sixteen of those years have been spent in deep research of bodybuilding’s historical past digging up the secrets of training, diet, supplements and drugs. Before losing his eyesight, his 15 years as a computer programmer and technical writer in both the museum and environmental engineering fields has trained him in rationalizing large amounts of information making Randy perfect for this job. He has been published in three different fields. Randy now makes his living as an author and private health and training consultant in his home in Ontario, Canada. He is also the co-host, along with Tamas Acs, for their weekly podcast, “The World of Muscle” at www.theworldofmuscle.com.