- So where were you born? What languages do you know? Any siblings?
I was born in Montreal, Canada on June 24, 1962. I went to the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). I am fluent in French and English. I have one sister.
- Where did you grow up? How tall are you? What is your weight?
I grew up in Verdun, which is in the Western part of Montreal. It's part of Montreal now, but 25 years ago, these were all little districts on their own. I am currently 5"8", and weigh around 236 today.
- Where do you live? Are you married?
I live in Miami, but I am in Montreal right now visiting my parents. Before Miami, I lived for 3 years in Los Angeles, but my wife Nevine got an offer to work for United Airlines in Miami. I met my wife two years before coming to the states. I was working in a hotel as a security director , and she came to work at a restaurant at the hotel, and we just started dating.
- So you just won the 2003 Master's Olympia? How did that feel?
It was great. It was very nice to finally win a pro show, to win a title! I have received a number of third place finishes in my career, a couple of times I should have placed second. I have competed in three Olympia's before but I have never had a chance to make the top ten until now. The first one was just an experience. It was a dream come true for me just to make it on the stage. The second one, I was expecting to place in the top 15, and the third one, I was expecting to place in the top 15, but they never gave me a chance. I was in good shape last year, but when there was so many guys, and in the back of the stage, everybody was in stage, and the judges couldn't see really who was in shape back there, so they called out competitors by name. They called me completely at the end, only one callout per round, and I beat a number of the guys before. They called me against Atwood, Bautista, and Thorvildsen. If they had compared me against Titus or Kamali, I knew I could of placed in the top 15. Later on, they wrote in the magazines that I should have been fighting for a top ten placing, instead I was forgotten on stage.
It was the achievement of all of my career. I started to train 20 years ago and I never gave up. Most of the people that started and competed with me in the beginning are retired. I was looking at Vince Taylor all of those years, and remember thinking, maybe one day I can do the same thing and keep the Master's Olympia title for a number of years. This year, the timing was perfect, the diet was perfect, my training was perfect, my self confidence came back, and I know a month out before the show that I looked better than ever before.
- So what can you do different for this Olympia so that the judges won't forget you?
Well, I am in the best shape of my life right now. I will tell you what happened last year. Three weeks before the Olympia, I got sick. I got food poisoning. I was in the hospital for three days.
You see, I was planning to go to L.A. for the last three weeks to train. The day I was leaving, I got food poisoning. At 12 o clock at night, I was rushed to the emergency, and they kept me there until Wednesday. So on Thursday, I would up going to L.A., and when I got there, you had to start again, although I was in good shape.
Three weeks out from the 2002 Olympia, I was in the best shape of my life, but sitting in the hospital room for three days doing nothing and getting those IV's, I was holding water like crazy. I knew that it would be hard to come back from that, but I needed to hit the cardio. I got to Los Angeles, and on the first day, doing my cardio, I pulled something in my right leg. I did not know exactly what I did. After my cardio, my leg was numb. As I was walking to my car, it was still numb. The next day, I woke up, and I was in extreme pain from the leg, so I went to the doctor. He checked me out, and told me that I pulled a sciatica.
- What is that?
A sciatica is a nerve that goes from your spine to your leg. I pinched that nerve, so I had no sensation in my leg. After that, I tried to do cardio, but after five minutes, I had to get off of the machine, the pain was too great. So no cardio that day, and I rested. So I hoped that the pain would go away. The next day, I did the video with Mitsuru (The Battle for the Olympia tape), and I looked pretty good on it. But I couldn't do my cardio and couldn't do my leg workout. Even when I tried to do leg extension or leg press, my right leg would burn. First I would lose sensation, then the pain comes and it went all the way to my lower back. I went and got massages for 10 days, but it really did not help. The numbness was like that for about three months afterwards. The doctors told me it would take a while to heal. That was the first time it had happened to me. I knew that if it was not for that, I would of looked great at the Olympia! Even with all of the misfortune that happened to me, many people told me I should of placed much higher.
In 2003, I did the Maximums Rome show, and the Australian show, but I had only trained my legs for about a month or so, and I was only 90% of my shape at those shows, as my sciatica had finally healed. Still, I managed to qualify for the Olympia.
- So what makes you think you deserve to do well at this Olympia?
Because of my performance in the last six months, and my motivation is back and my self confidence is back. I have not felt like this for years. After the Mr. Olympia and being completely ignored, and being sick before the show, and for three months after the Olympia working out with a pain in my leg, and seriously thinking about retiring, I started to lose interest. But then, in Italy, I qualified for the Olympia and then I started to think, maybe I have a shot at the Master's Olympia, because if I can be 90% and qualify for the Olympia, and my leg is better now, then I know I can win the Master's Olympia. So the motivation came back and I started to train hard again. And for the last ten weeks before the show, I did between an hour to an hour and a half of cardio every day. I dieted harder than ever, and I trained really, really hard. I was not even tired. Normally, three weeks out from a show, I am tired, I can't wait for the show to come, but this time, I wasn't. This is the first time that I can say that I got it all together. I was very active, moving all the time, in and out of the house, training and doing my personal training business. I did my training up to the Wednesday before the show.
- How are you training for the 2003 Olympia?
Well, I am in the same state of mind. I took only three days off after the Master's Olympia, and then I started to train right away. The first workout after the Master's, I got the best pump of my life. I couldn't believe it!
What happened before for the Master's, I depleted my carbs completely for five days up until Wednesday night. A friend of mine saw me practice my posing routine that Wednesday night, and said 'You have been without carbs for five days, and you look like this. I can't wait to see how you look at the show after you have put carbs in your body."
I was feeling the same way. I saw myself in the mirror, and said 'Normally, that is how I look like on the day of the show. And I am completely depleted.' Normally, I am flat the day after I deplete, but this time, I was full and not so tired. I started to put in the carbs, and I felt my body exploding, like my skin was so tight on me, and I have never had that feeling in my life. I felt like I just turned pro, finally. It was a weird feeling.
And also my posing. I practiced a lot in the last six weeks, and I realized some new stuff that I can do that will make me look better. Ways to control my stomach, ways to keep my waist smaller, all stuff that I wasn't doing before but I can say between the way I was posing before, and the way I am going to pose now, there is a 50% improvement.
My goals is to be 230 pounds for the Olympia. Last year, I was 228, but this year I will be a lot harder.
- Can you compete against the big guys?
Well, I am a big guy too. I am bigger than Dexter Jackson, and he placed in the top 5. All I need to be able to do is get compared to the other competitors. With some of the top competitors dropping out, this is the first years that there are a few spots open in the top ten for me. And some of the competitors competing might not come in shape, they might miss their peak. Sometimes a guy is sick or hurt, but he does not say anything because he signed a contract and he knows he is going to place in the top ten anyway, even with an injury. And the fans, sometimes they blame the guy for it when they don't know the other side of the story.
- What is your training schedule?
Normally, I do a four day split (four days on, one day off), and before a show, I train twice a day. The first day, in the morning, I would do Chest, in the evening, I would do Biceps and also 40 minutes of Cardio. The next day, I would do Back (Pull Downs) in the morning, and Back (Row and Lower) at night. The next day, I do Shoulders in the morning, and Triceps at night. And the final day, I do my Legs.
- What are you eating for your diet?
Another advantage I have is that I have been on a diet for the last three month before the Master's Olympia. I saw some of the guys at the Master's Olympia and they were just starting on their diets, and they were still smooth when I am already in shape. I just have to maintain it for eight weeks which is a lot easier than dieting hard and doing a lot of cardio every day. All I have to do now is eat clean and maybe do 30 minutes of cardio a day.
Mostly I eat a lot of chicken. I eat fish maybe three or four times a week. Now that I am currently in Montreal, I also eat horse meat. There is none of that in Miami where I live. In Miami, I eat a lot of ground turkey, and at least twice a week, I treat myself to filet minion. In terms of carbs, I don't eat breads, potatoes or pasta. Pretty much, the only carbs I eat is rice, vegetable and fruits.
- Where do you normally train?
If I am in Miami, I train at Gold's Gym North Miami.
- How did you get into bodybuilding, and eventually turn pro?
Well, I started to train with a friend of mine just for fun. I never thought of competing or anything, I just liked training. I did that for three years, training three times a week, as the gym I belonged to had Monday - Wednesday - and Friday as the Men's day, and Tuesday and Thursday for the Women. Saturday was half-half. After about two years of this, I got some pretty good size in my legs and my upper body was getting there too. The gym owner asked me if I ever though about competing? I told him not really, that I am still at school, that I don't have much time. After a few more years, I said maybe I will try the Mr. Montreal show, and see what happens. I finished second in my first show. Then it was like a challenge for me to win that show. I won that show the next year. After that, I never lost an amateur show. I won the Montreal, I won the Quebec States, I won the Eastern Canada, and then I won the Canadian Championships overall in 1992. However, I thought I was not ready for the pros, as I was 195 pounds, and with my height, I did not think I could do anything in the pros. I took 1993 off completely, then I came back in 1994, and won the Canadian Championships overall again. I was about 202 pounds for that show.
- Which bodybuilders do you admire?
When I started training, it was Arnold. I watch the Pumping Iron tapes, and that was an inspiration for me. Later on, it was Lee Haney. Haney was wonderful, I liked him a lot. Then, it was Dorian Yates.
- What do you think of the guys who are not competing this year in the Olympia?
I think that some guys realize that it is hard to break into the top then at the Olympia. It is a lot of sacrifice to train for the Olympia, work hard for three to four months. And then you get there, you don't get a cent, you barely get a callout. This is the first year that they are going to give money to the top twelve. But still, when there are 22 guys on stage, there will be 10 guys that go home with no money. Some guys, like Titus and Victor (Martinez) are taking a year off or so, to put on some more muscle, so when they come back, they will be bigger, a little like what Jay Cutler did. It's not a bad idea, especially after you have been competing for a while, and doing a lot of guest appearances, sometimes your body needs a break.
- Which company do you work with now?
I am not working with anyone? I was with Weider a year ago, but no longer. Right now, I am starting my own company, not a supplement company, but one that markets posing cream. It's called 'Final Touch' and there is nothing like this on the market. I have been using it for ten years, and people always ask me what are you using because your color is always perfect. Now they have a formula that does not leak on stage, and it only takes five minutes to apply it backstage, compared to others which you need to put it on the night before and it might take 3-4 coats. I am launching it in Canada, and it is in a few stores in Florida right now. Soon, you will see it in many stores around the country.
- What do you think of the politics in the sport?
It has always been there, but it is not only in this sport, it is in every sport. You have to work with it, and you have to pay your dues. Darrem Charles told me once, before he won a pro show, that 'Every dog will have his day'. Both Darrem and I felt that we were overlooked so many times, and we used to talk about the politics and guys placing ahead of us when we were in great condition. I am quite happy to see that Gunter came from not even placing in the top 15 at the Olympia to, in one year, beating Ronnie at the Show of Strength. Judges are opening their eyes, as he came back with better posing, 10 pounds heavier, better symmetry. I would like to have the same package at the Olympia and I have the Master's title behind me to push me.