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Author Topic: Paul "ZAZU" Bruno-Mid City Gym., NYC  (Read 6681 times)
freakfestMD
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« on: July 15, 2005, 10:11:20 AM »

Anyone out there remember Paul Bruno, aka "Zazu," monster strongman, who finished out his last years at the front desk of Mid-City Gym in NYC?  I'd love to pull you out of the woodwork to recount some fond memories...
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2005, 07:39:45 AM »

This is my first post of a photo.  I hope it comes through.

Thought I'd give you all some idea of how awesome this guy was.  In this photo, he's probably in his mid to late forties.  He'd max out the bar, and then hang plates from it to get more weight onto it.

Those of us who trained in the infamous Mid City Gym in NYC in the late 80s and early 90s new Zazu as a fixture at the front desk.  His name was Paul Verderosa, but was known by the names Bruno and Zazu.  The Zazu term came because he used that word all the time ("...big zazu weights...nice zazu bench...etc").  He was a fixture at the annual Strongman dinner downtown as well.  He was a competitor to the great Paul Anderson and apparently they were good friends.

I first met Paulie when he was around 65 years old.  He'd always give us powerlifting advice, and had some amazing stories of lifting back in the day.  My favorite was his description of squatting outside in the snow using train wheels up in Albany, NY.  Apparently that's all that they had, and they dug 2 huge trenches on either side of the squat racks because the wheels would touch the ground otherwise.  I personally saw him bench 600lbs like it was candy at age 66!  He'd always let us stay past the closing time at the gym (10 pm), and we'd go until midnight or even 1 am.  He'd be up at the frontdesk in sort of like a trance, looking up towards the sky, listening to Spanish music on this little transistor radio.  We always imagined he was re-living some incredible workout or something in his mind.  He'd be almost trance-like!

This guy would give you the skin off of his back in a minute.  Truly a great human being.  Sadly, he passed around 1995.  He will truly be missed.


* zazu.jpg (49.11 KB, 1073x713 - viewed 2745 times.)
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_Homer_
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2005, 07:50:47 AM »

that's an amazing photo, I'll save it.

thanks even for the great story MD
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2005, 08:18:35 AM »

great picture.....I like the extra weights
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2005, 05:45:26 PM »

simply amazing....I recall seeing him in that trance-like state once....thought he was in a coma or something
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2005, 07:23:00 PM »

Wow that is some weight.  I love it how back then we always figured out how to add more wieght even when it didn't fit.
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2005, 10:07:19 AM »

I love stuff like this! Guy's who just lifted for the love of lifting. That's what it's really all about anyway. We use to have a guy who would bear hug a old unused refrigerator and walk around the back of the gym for a minute or so because he liked to do it.  He would even hoist it on his shoulder from time to time.  Any one else have strongman stories?
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_Homer_
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2005, 10:08:28 AM »

Any one else have strongman stories?

they are always great stories
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2005, 12:49:42 PM »

This picture was taken with Zazu about 1 year prior to his death.  Another great story about him- he was a construction worker on the World Trade Center at the time they were being built in the 1960s.  Apparently, a scaffold he was on gave way, and he plunged 12 stories to the ground, breaking through scaffold after scaffold on the way down.  His only injury was a fractured heel bone.  He also drank a pint of molasess every day!


* meandzazu.jpg (20.67 KB, 432x333 - viewed 1864 times.)
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2005, 03:48:41 PM »

The Dude looks tough.

His hands definitely show he worked for a living.
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2005, 06:23:13 PM »

post some more pics of this guy, looks like a real strong guy.
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2005, 01:04:45 PM »

Who, me or Zazu? Grin

Sorry guys, these are the only pictures I have of him.  I was hoping that some other MidCity cats were lurking on the board but no one seems to have responded.  There's a guy named Tommy Minichello who used to own the gym, back in its heydey when they even ran the first few Mr. Olympia contests out of there, who was really close to Paul.  He probably has some great pictures of him.  I'll try my best to get a hold of some more.

Thanks for all of your interest in someone who was a dear friend.
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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2005, 05:49:01 PM »

Who, me or Zazu? Grin

Sorry guys, these are the only pictures I have of him.  I was hoping that some other MidCity cats were lurking on the board but no one seems to have responded.  There's a guy named Tommy Minichello who used to own the gym, back in its heydey when they even ran the first few Mr. Olympia contests out of there, who was really close to Paul.  He probably has some great pictures of him.  I'll try my best to get a hold of some more.

Thanks for all of your interest in someone who was a dear friend.

yeah this dude looked like a badass mob enforcer, looks thick as hell, freakfest you kind of resemble Tom Prince from what i could see in that pic of you in the World Gym sweatshirt, do you have any more stories about this guy, he must have been throwing around some serious steel in the gym.
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« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2005, 05:13:15 AM »

I found this picture of Zazu with former powerlifter Terry Todd, who stopped by to visit with him and record some of the history of MidCity Gym.  He was the IFBB historian at the time.  Terry stayed the whole day, and we trained for something like 6 hours that day.  It was awesome!  Two great powerlifters critiquing us on our form, giving us tips, recounting memories.  It's about as good as it gets for an iron head  Grin


* terryandzazu.jpg (10.92 KB, 284x305 - viewed 1650 times.)
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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2007, 08:27:59 AM »

Who, me or Zazu? Grin

Sorry guys, these are the only pictures I have of him.  I was hoping that some other MidCity cats were lurking on the board but no one seems to have responded.  There's a guy named Tommy Minichello who used to own the gym, back in its heydey when they even ran the first few Mr. Olympia contests out of there, who was really close to Paul. 

Tom Minichello wrote a book in 1997, "Bodybuilders Drugs & Sex".
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2007, 04:03:27 PM »

My first visit to Mid-City was 1978; it and Sheridan Square were the main/only serious BB gyms i remember in Manhattan. This was just before the fitness and weight lifting wave swept through America; there weren't a lot of places to lift. Tom's a nice guy with a wealth of knowledge; i'll have to pick up his book. He's retired in Florida now i think.

Some big mofos at Mid-City then, including this guy Larry Samuels. Absolutely huge, Sergioesque; good example of someone completely obscure yet one of the biggest guys on the scene then. Pics usually don't show the real size like standing next to someone, this guy was massive.

Mid-City link:
http://www.midcitygym.com/main/communities/community.asp?UserID=2&CommunityID=203&communityName=Club+Info&pageName=


* larry samuels.jpg (42.56 KB, 519x650 - viewed 1811 times.)
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2007, 07:24:21 PM »

dumpster must have brain damage... no one cares what he thinks
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« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2007, 08:56:25 PM »

dumpster must have brain damage... no one cares what he thinks

Antagonism between longtimers here? Shocked
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« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2007, 10:36:13 PM »

Antagonism between longtimers here? Shocked

Bizarre fascination, i think. Kiss


* FatalAttraction_1987_img_2.jpg (43.59 KB, 394x600 - viewed 1414 times.)
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« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2013, 04:44:44 AM »


This is my first post of a photo.  I hope it comes through.

Thought I'd give you all some idea of how awesome this guy was.  In this photo, he's probably in his mid to late forties.  He'd max out the bar, and then hang plates from it to get more weight onto it.

Those of us who trained in the infamous Mid City Gym in NYC in the late 80s and early 90s new Zazu as a fixture at the front desk.  His name was Paul Verderosa, but was known by the names Bruno and Zazu.  The Zazu term came because he used that word all the time ("...big zazu weights...nice zazu bench...etc").  He was a fixture at the annual Strongman dinner downtown as well.  He was a competitor to the great Paul Anderson and apparently they were good friends.

I first met Paulie when he was around 65 years old.  He'd always give us powerlifting advice, and had some amazing stories of lifting back in the day.  My favorite was his description of squatting outside in the snow using train wheels up in Albany, NY.  Apparently that's all that they had, and they dug 2 huge trenches on either side of the squat racks because the wheels would touch the ground otherwise.  I personally saw him bench 600lbs like it was candy at age 66!  He'd always let us stay past the closing time at the gym (10 pm), and we'd go until midnight or even 1 am.  He'd be up at the frontdesk in sort of like a trance, looking up towards the sky, listening to Spanish music on this little transistor radio.  We always imagined he was re-living some incredible workout or something in his mind.  He'd be almost trance-like!

This guy would give you the skin off of his back in a minute.  Truly a great human being.  Sadly, he passed around 1995.  He will truly be missed.
[/quote]
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2013, 09:51:17 AM »

This picture was taken with Zazu about 1 year prior to his death.  Another great story about him- he was a construction worker on the World Trade Center at the time they were being built in the 1960s.  Apparently, a scaffold he was on gave way, and he plunged 12 stories to the ground, breaking through scaffold after scaffold on the way down.  His only injury was a fractured heel bone.  He also drank a pint of molasess every day!
thanks for this thread , i love stories like this. mid-city along with R&J's were the two big name gyms in old new york. please post more stories from your gym experiences at mid-city.didn't bruno sammartino stop in there from time to time as well.a lot of these gyms used to be covered in dan lurie's MTI magazine back in the day.


* sm dmoderw.jpg (40.26 KB, 640x456 - viewed 497 times.)
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« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2013, 09:55:49 AM »

My first visit to Mid-City was 1978; it and Sheridan Square were the main/only serious BB gyms i remember in Manhattan. This was just before the fitness and weight lifting wave swept through America; there weren't a lot of places to lift. Tom's a nice guy with a wealth of knowledge; i'll have to pick up his book. He's retired in Florida now i think.

Some big mofos at Mid-City then, including this guy Larry Samuels. Absolutely huge, Sergioesque; good example of someone completely obscure yet one of the biggest guys on the scene then. Pics usually don't show the real size like standing next to someone, this guy was massive.

Mid-City link:
http://www.midcitygym.com/main/communities/community.asp?UserID=2&CommunityID=203&communityName=Club+Info&pageName=

lawrence samuels few more pics


* law sammmm.jpg (36.86 KB, 662x460 - viewed 468 times.)

* law samuels.jpg (14.28 KB, 219x389 - viewed 474 times.)

* lsamuellll.jpg (47 KB, 700x413 - viewed 1377 times.)
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« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2013, 09:58:57 AM »

 Smiley


* ferrigno350_500.jpg (55.27 KB, 350x500 - viewed 427 times.)
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