- So the word has come up that you are doing the 2004 Ironman Pro?
- There are a number of competitors that are upset at your entering the show after the deadline?
What do you want me to say to that? It happens almost at every show. If you recall, Kevin Levrone asked to go back into the Olympia two weeks before the show, and he got in. I don't know why the competitors are bitching and griping about it, it happens in every show. How many times have you seen Chris Cormier come into a show late? Man, there are a lot of crybabies out there. But I heard that this was going to happen with some people, and it did. You know, when I was coming up, I wanted to be compared to the best. You didn't see me gripe about when Chris jumped into show at the last minute or any other bodybuilder who did that. What if Chris Cormier wants to do the Ironman? What if Jay Cutler wants to jump in? Do you not let them? What if all the top guys want to do every show throughout the year?
- What about the contracts and deadlines?
The contract? It's all up to the promoter. If I had a show, and I had one of the top guys wanting to get in late, the hell with everybody else, of course I am going to let them in. It's good for the fans.
- How do you think you will do at the 2004 Ironman?
I got a better chance than anyone to win, so that's my game plan. To go there and win. We will see what happens. It is going to take somebody in extremely great condition to beat me for this show, let's put it that way.
- Do you think that you are a top guy?
Of course, I placed 3rd in the 2003 Olympia, and I am considered to be 3rd in the world right now by many people.
- How is your training going for the shows?
The training has been going wonderful. I am right on schedule. I am currently on a 10 week program. I haven't done the six week program in a while, those are for smaller shows. When it comes to the big shows, then things change. I don't even have a regular training schedule, I tend to mix it up quite a bit, and I am going to the gym five days a week instead of three. Right now it is balls to the walls, and I am training my ass off.
- Anything different this time?
No, not necessarily. The only reason that I am getting into the Ironman show is that I am no longer working with Joe McNeil, I am doing it on my own, and I want to make sure that I have it done right on what he taught me, for the Arnold Classic. Joe is the first and only person that I worked with. Joe trained me for the 2003 Olympia and GNC shows, and these shows were two weeks apart, which led me to tweak the changes needed to win the GNC show from the Olympia. I intend to do that with the Ironman and the Arnold. So if I mess up for the Ironman, I can rebound for the Arnold.
- Why are you no longer with Joe?
Well, he is retired, and he doesn't want to train people anymore.
- How did you get Joe to work with you?
I called him, and asked him, and we agreed. I have known Joe for a long time, since the beginning of my career, and I have battled many of his athletes, and beat a lot of them too, and he always said to me, back in the day, that I will come to him one day. And I guess last year was that one time, so we took it, ran with it, and he saw what he could do with me, and he was satisfied with it, and then he was done with bodybuilding.
- Is it strange doing a show by yourself?
No, I have been doing this all my life anyway by myself, so it's no big change?
- How much do you weigh?
I am about 228 pounds. I am going to come into the Arnold Classic at around 222 pounds.
- Is your diet the same or different?
No, my diet is the same. Everything is the same. I am eating a lot of steak, a lot of ground beef, potatoes and rice. I like my steak a well done filet, but because so many people bitch and gripe at me because I get my steak well done, I am now getting it medium well, so that there is a slight little bit a red in it now, and it tastes pretty good. I am just starting to get used to it with a little red in it. I don't think there is anything wrong with eating it well done, but they just grip to me like saying 'Oh man, you are killing that steak, I can't believe you are doing that to the steak, all the flavor is going out of that steak if you do that'.
- How did you feel about placing 3rd at the 2003 Olympia?
I was very happy. I said that I would come in and place better that I did the previous year, and that's what I did. I accomplished that, and of course, I was very happy.
- You came out from Florida to San Diego for a visit for fun last week
No, I was there on business. I am working on designing my new wrist wraps, Lee Priest has some of them, as well as a few other bodybuilders. I was also going up to San Jose to visit Flex Wheeler. I was one of the guys that donated some money to him, I am sure that you are aware of that, and Shawn Ray delivered it to him a few days ago. Flex and I were going to be working together on things that I feel that I need to polish up on while I am on the stage. But I wound up not going up to San Jose because Flex wasn't feeling well, was in and out of the hospital again. I will be back to Los Angeles the Wednesday before the Ironman, and Flex will be coming down also, so we are going to hook up around then. Until then, Flex and I have been talking on the phone, going over different things.
- You were at a photo shoot yesterday, all day?
Yes, for my buddy's clothing line, Phat Muscle. They started shooting at two, but I got there at four. The whole shoot lasted about 8 hours. They had five girls there, me and another guy. This didn't affect my schedule, as it wasn't a weights photo shoot, I was just sitting there. I didn't take my shirt off, I was wearing different clothes. This wasn't a photo shoot in the gym, it was one with me sitting on the couch. It was easy.
- We don't really hear about you talking about other bodybuilders?
I am not the gossip type. I let them do all the talking, and I let my physique back my talking up. I know Craig Titus was saying something like he knows that Lee Priest is 200 pounds, I'm 220 pounds, and he is 250 pounds, and all this shit, but what Craig does not realize is that his 250 pounds is not like Ronnie Coleman's 250 pounds. See what I am saying? I think I have proven to everyone that size doesn't matter.
You don't look at Craig and say 'whoa, that's a big dude'. You might say that about Ronnie or Jay at 250, but not Craig. I do want to say that I respect Craig 100%. He is a good friend of mine, and the Ironman will be a good friendly battle. I wish him the best of luck, but let's see what happens. My A-Game will be on, that's for sure!
- Does anybody ever call you Tyrone?
Yes, my wife sometimes. Guess what, Dennis James also is Tyrone. We both have the same initials, DTJ. Dexter Tyrone Jackson, and Dennis Tyrone James.
- Your height is 5'6". You consider yourself a smaller bodybuilder?
My height is 5' 6 ½ inches. I guess, I am considered one of the shorter bodybuilders. But being shorter has not affected me in the placings. I just don't see the size a factor. Unless you are Ronnie Coleman, muscle for muscle, I will match anyone else. All of this 'I am 260 or 270 pounds doesn't mean nothing' but when we are on stage, they don't like it next to me.
- How about having a weigh in for the pros at the pro shows?
Are they going to have a weigh in? We are pros, we don't have to weigh in. They used to do that back when Lee Haney was winning the shows, they have it on tape. Lee Haney stepping on the scale and everything. I have a video of that.
- Your nicknames, what are they?
They call me the Blade, and Action Jackson. I like the Blade, that is my trademark. I believe that Ed or Betty Pariso named me that, I am not exactly sure on that. Lonnie Teper called me Action Jackson a few times.
- You have always placed pretty high in your pro shows? I think sixth place and above?
Well, I placed ninth in the Mr. Olympia the first two years I did that show. Than I placed 7th in one other show, and after that, nothing lower than 6th since then. I like to place in the money.
- You have won two pro shows, the British Grand Prix, and the GNC Show of Strength? How did you feel?
The Grand Prix was great because it was my first pro win, and my first time ever beating Chris Cormier. I was overjoyed and very surprised. Although I felt my physique was first rate, I felt politically wise I wasn't able to beat Chris, and when I did, it was a shock to me. I have come in better shape than Chris in the past and I didn't beat him, so I felt it would be judged the same way again. It wasn't. It just goes to show that consistency does matter. And I feel that it has put me in the position I am in right now, and I feel that I am the most consistent guy right now. No one is more consistent than I am in terms of coming into a show in top condition. When I won the GNC Show of Strength, I was very, very, very happy because that was one of my goals, to win a top notch show like that, and for me to finally accomplish that was like a dream come true. But you move on and you set other goals, and you set other dreams, and I am trying to fulfill those now. My wife was in the audience that night, and I called her up to the stage to be with me.
- What special foods to you eat after a bodybuilding contest?
I always like to pig out after a show. First thing that has to be in my room is Pizza Hut. I must have a 'deep dish, extra sauce, extra cheese, meat lovers'. I gotta have that, or there is going to be some fighting in that room. Ok, nobody's going to get in trouble, but when you have been dieting for so long, you at least expect to have something that you really want for a reward for dieting and doing well in the show.
- Do you have any tattoo's on you?
No tattoos on me. I never had the desire. I always thought they were tacky.
- When you were growing up, which bodybuilders did you respect?
Lee Haney, for one. But I think the very first bodybuilder that I respected was Shawn Ray. Shawn was like everything in terms of who I wanted to be like. Later on, when Flex came on, I switched from Shawn to Flex. Flex was just the man.
- Do you have any new videos coming out?
Yes, probably in the summer. I know I have said this like a hundred times in the past two years, but Miture Okabe and I are going to put our heads together, and see what we can come up with.
- What do you think of Gregg Valentino?
I really don't know him well, so you can't judge a book by it's cover. Apart from jokes, he hasn't said anything bad about me, so I have nothing bad to you about him.
- How did you get into bodybuilding?
My friends, when I was 20, talked me into entering a show. I trained and dieting for 2 -3 weeks, and I won the overall. I was always in shape, but I have great genetics. I dieted for that show on tuna and rice, and by the time I got to the show, it was over. I was shredded.
- What sports did you compete in high school?
I played football. I was a star football player in high school, a running back. I ran a 4.19 in the 40, one of the fastest in the country at the time. I wanted to go to college to compete, but my girlfriend got pregnant, and I decided I had to take care of my family. My kid came first. She got kicked out of her house, so I had to do what was right. I wound up not going because of the situation. I got us an apartment, we moved in together, I got a job, and did whatever it took to take care of us. I was a cook, I was a dish washer, whatever I had to do.
- Tell me about your family and kids? You married Carol Bartletto on January 4th, 2003.
Yes, that wasn't my girlfriend back then, we went our separate ways. I met Carol later. Carol and I were together for ten years before we got married. We have a daughter, age nine. I also have two step-sons from Carol's side, age 16 and 13. Then I have my first son, who is also 16. My daughter is into gymnastics, she placed 4th in state, she is great! My two older sons are more into girls at the moment, and one can now drive a car. My 13 year old reads the magazines about me, it is nice.
- When did you realize that you can make money from bodybuilding?
I heard of some people making money from the sport; I saw Flex and all of them making money from the sport, but I didn't think it was possible for me to be able to do that. I guess it really didn't feel it until I actually signed on the dotted line with Muscletech.
- When did you realize that you can become a pro in bodybuilding?
I realized that I could become a pro once I won the NPC Southern States in 1994. Once I did that, I went to the 1995 NPC USA's and I won my class, light heavyweight, there. That was the show when Phil Hernon beat out Craig Titus in the heavyweight class. I should have won the overall at this show, but that was my first time at a National show, and they gave the overall to Phil. Around that time, I started thinking I could make money from bodybuilding, but it was very hard back then to get a contract as there were less supplement companies willing to sponsor bodybuilders. I made a nice portfolio, me and my good friend, whose an attorney, helped me, and we got some things out to different companies. At first, I didn't get any response from anyone, I got nothing, but then, when I proved myself at my first three pro shows, that's when I got noticed, and I made a name for myself, and signed with Muscletech. I turned pro by winning the North American in 1998.
- The NPC USA's? How did that feel?
Well, when I came into that show, I was the smallest light heavyweight in that show. When I got backstage, and I saw how big the guys where, I was like 'Oh my god'. I went back to my trainer and said 'It's over. I am about to get killed. These guys are huge.' And then I stepped on stage, and it was over. I won my class in straight scores. That was my very national show.
I won the Southern States in 1994, then I won the USA's in 1995. In 1996, I went to the NPC Nationals, and place 6th in the light heavyweights. I felt I should have placed better at the contest. My goal was to turn pro by 1996, and when I didn't, I quit. In 1997, I took a year off, I just needed some time off to rethink things. I decided to come back in 1998 because I just loved to compete, and be competitive and I wanted to give it one more shot, and if I didn't win the North American, than I would be done. I won the overall at that show.
- You are 34 years old. You have a lot of time, at least 5 years, to stay a force in bodybuilding?
I am trying to go longer than that. I am trying to be like Ronnie. I will be the marathon man.
- What stopping you from becoming the next Mr. Olympia?
Ronnie. Ronnie is not going anywhere. Ronnie is going to do the Olympia until he drops. Trust me, he is not going nowhere no time soon. He is going to break the record. Then there's Jay Cutler. And there is always Chris Cormier. These are the main three at the moment, I think.