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Muscle Sport Magazine

Eddie Robinson Has Graced 86 Covers in His 33-Year Career

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JOE THE MENTOR

Robinson describes his days as a young IFBB pro bodybuilder as the “experience of a lifetime” and he attributes much of that to having the opportunity to work alongside Weider. “We would spend hours talking training, nutrition and the history of the sport,” said Robinson. “Joe always enjoyed sitting out back on his patio reminiscing about the old days from him competing to putting out his first publication in his mother’s home, where he printed them and handed them out selling fitness articles and training photos along with local advertisements. Those times were greater than (winning) any title.”

Things started off well for Robinson with a victory in his first foray on an IFBB stage at the 1990 Niagara Falls Pro Invitational. He stayed hot in his rookie campaign with two top-10 placings at the Night of Champions (seventh) and Mr. Olympia (tenth).

But it around that same time Vince McMahon decided to try his hand at bodybuilding and Robinson was one of the competitors that he had his sights on.

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MAJOR GUNS

The then-World Wrestling Federation mogul pulled a fast one on the IFBB at the 1990 Olympia in Chicago. Under the pretense that his company was merely launching a magazine entitled “Bodybuilding Lifestyles” with Tom Platz running it, McMahon rented a booth at the event and what is akin to a wrestling ‘work,’ used that platform to make the announcement that it would be the official publication of a brand new rival league, the World Bodybuilding Federation.

The press release read that the WBF would “revamp professional bodybuilding with dramatic events and the richest prize money in the history of the sport.” At a time where the IFBB was basically the only game in town and could nickel and dime the pros, this sent shock waves throughout the industry.

Robinson was one of the 13 IFBB pros who made the jump to the WBF and looked back on it with absolutely no regrets. “Vince treated us great; we all had lucrative contracts and were treated like true athletes,” he commented. “We had limos picking us up at the airport, were fed good and they marketed us to the whole world. I enjoyed being “Major Guns” Eddie Robinson.”

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McMahon tried to mix in some of the aspects of wrestling, with the full dog and pony show and catchy nicknames for the bodybuilders. “The choreographing for television was a lot of fun,” he said. “Landing center stage from the ceiling by parachute at the Taj Mahal and shooting machine guns with blanks, as well as meeting great people while traveling with all of the wrestlers promoting the events.”

As much as 1991 showed the true potential of the WBF with mainstream television coverage, selling out their inaugural championship in Atlantic City (which was also on pay-per-view) and even bringing in a legend like Lou Ferrigno, much of that imploded when McMahon found himself in court due to a steroid scandal with the WWF. This led to him needing to clean up all of his businesses, including the WBF. Drug tested bodybuilding shows are not going to be as popular as what everyone – including the competitors themselves – are used to. But if things had gone differently, McMahon could have made the WBF a huge success, according to Robinson.

“First, he took all of the symmetrical athletes with the best marketability,” he said. “He could give two shits about the huge massive (ones), as they were not marketable and didn’t have the flowing balance that sold to the mainstream public. The WBF was ingenious; bringing in a few selected pros to compete a few times a year, marketing us with mainstream television training segments, a magazine, merchandising and a nutrition line (ICOPRO).”

But even with all of that going for it, the WBF folded in July of 1992 amidst the steroid trial and McMahon kept Robinson on board as the endorser for the ICOPRO “Integrated Conditioning Program” run by Dr. Fred Hatfield, aka “Doctor Squat.”

After the first year of a four-year contract, Robinson was contacted by Weider in 1994 and asked if he wanted to return to the IFBB and a job endorsing Weider Nutrition and their publications. After the details were worked out, Weider bought out the remainder of Robinson’s deal with McMahon. But he was not met with open arms by the other 12 bodybuilders who preceded him back at the old place.

“The other athletes had to pay lucrative fines to be reinstated back in the IFBB,” Robinson said. “So the news of Joe paying off my contract went off like a fart in church. I got snarls from all of the athletes and judges but laughed all the way to the bank, especially when I was on all of the covers.”

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