King Kamali
February 20, 2001

Shari 'King' Kamali became an IFBB pro bodybuilders by winning the 1999 NPC Nationals Heavyweight title. Weeks before he entered his first pro show, the 2001 Pro Ironman, controversy erupted in the Internet world with reports that King Kamali was predicted a win at his first pro show. The rumors spread like wildfires and bodybuilders reacted with anger over the news. However, that exactly was not the case. Here is an interview just days after King Kamali placed third at the 2001 Pro Ironman, and less than two weeks before the 2001 Arnold Classic.

King Kamali, interviewed by Ron Avidan.

  • How did you get the nickname 'King'? The Persian Pearl?

      My name is Shahriar Kamali, translated, means 'King of Kings'. I have been called Shari from the first day I got to the United States. When I got to the national level in bodybuilding, I began looking for a 'stage' name which sounded good, and Jim Manion (president of the IFBB) said 'Hey, about about King'. It sounded good! The Persian Pearl came from an article that was written about me by Fairfax Hackley.

  • I hear you were in gymnastics and wrestling?

      I wrestled for a year, but once I picked up my first dumbbell, I fell in love with the sport of bodybulding?

  • Where were you born?

      I was born March 29, 1972 in Tehran, Iran. My parents are Muslim, but my religion at the moment is chicken and rice.

  • Where do you live?

      I live in Virginia. I was raised in Virginia.

  • What is your next competition?

      I will be competing at the Arnold Classic in two weeks!

  • What did you think of the Pro Ironman Show?

      I thought it was excellent!

  • The judges gave you third place!

      I was very happy with it! Very, very happy with it!

  • Now the tough question. Rumors said that you said you would win the Ironman.

      I don't think I said I would beat Chris Cormier; I said I would give Chris Cormier and Flex Wheeler a run for their money. With Craig Titus, he is just a nut job. I don't even know what to say about him. He is the one who challenged me! He is the one that e-mailed me with the bets of $500 that he would beat him, and $500 that I would not win the Ironman.

  • I overheard some bodybuilders say that you are disrespectful to other bodybuilders?

      Absolutely not! I respect every single one of those bodybuilders; I just like to speak the truth. I said that with gaining 20 pounds of muscle in one year, not having to maintain weight like I had to do with the NPC Nationals because of the Aaron Maddron factor, and because I was coming in the best shape of my life at 4 weeks out, I said that I would be very hard to beat with my overall symmetry, presentation and posing. I was just being honest. If that is being disrespectful to the other athletes, than it is. I didn't think I was being disrespectful.

      Now the disrespecting part came when I started receiving e-mails from anonymous people saying 'Who the hell do you think you are making all these claims on your website?' What claims on my website? That's my answer to them. The only claims I was making was that I looked good, and I know I do! So you guys better be doing your homework too, because I am coming for that title! Simple as that. These guys, for the first time in their life, found someone who not only was talking it, but walking it too at the same time. So they got threatened. And the only way they know how to lunge back is through e-mails, and through yelling and screaming and all the other bullshit that they pulled backstage at the Ironman. But none of it worked!

  • Do you think you are the 'bad boy' of bodybuilding?

      Absolutely not! It's just that I was so quiet for such a long time, that I started to realize that if I stay quiet here in the East Coast, that I will not get any publicity; I will not get any magazine covers; that nothing will happen to me unless I move to California and I work out in Gold's of Venice, where all of the photographers and writers are there, and they can catch up with me every day and say 'Hey King, what do you think about this? And 'Hey, King, let me take a picture of you' so I called some editors of some magazines, and said 'How can I start getting into some magazines' and they replied 'Controversy always gets you in!' So I started last year with the whole 'Bob Cicherillo' thing. I predicted it. I guaranteed that Cicherillo would win the NPC USA. Lonne Teper (the MC) ate it up, and what happened. Cicherillo won the whole thing. That after that, he asked me if I have anything else to say. And I said 'Yeah, I am going to bust some people's asses at the Ironman'. And this controversy started from there.

      It's not arrogance; it's not being disrespectful, because nobody sees what goes on backstage at the shows; nobody sees what goes on, one on one, with people. And I grabbed Chris Cormier, and said 'I think you are awesome. I am so honored to be here standing next to you', and Chris said 'Wow. You are nothing like people said you were'. You live and learn. You don't go by what magazines or what people on the Internet are saying about you; you go about what people are like when you meet them in person. All the crap the Craig Titus was pulling, that was uncool. But the stuff between me and Melvin Anthony; that was great! I loved it! The crowd loved it!

  • What happened between you and Melvin?

      Onstage talking crap to each other. His fans going for him; my fans screaming for me; and Melvin pointing to me, and I am touching his hamstrings, and back and forth like that. That was great. At the end of it, we got together and said 'That was fun. Let's do it again at the Arnold'. That was what it was all about. I enjoyed it. I became a fan of Melvin and hopefully, Melvin because a fan of mine. Craig Titus only gave me trouble.

  • What did Craig Titus do?

      You were backstage. He was making gestures with his hands and saying 'Big Mouth'. King has a big mouth. He was screaming it out loud to the audience. I just basically ignored him. Then when I finished 4 call outs in a row, I was a little winded. So I went into the back, and started resting a little bit, to catch my breath. And Craig started screaming and yelling on stage 'What is he winded? What's wrong? Get up, boy, get up!' What is that? And then on top of that, to make things worse, he is back there screaming to everyone that I suck. And then, he goes and yells to the music man (in the evening) that his routine is too long. His three minutes are up, cut his music off!

  • Was not the evening routine supposed to be a maximum of three minutes?

      Do you think anybody follows that rule? No. Nobody follows that rule. That is just a general rule so nobody goes too crazy with their music. You know, Craig was just trying his hardest to make things rough on me in my first pro show.

  • Why is Craig Titus like that towards you?

      I don't know? That is a good question. I have no idea? I have never said one thing about Craig, and he sent me that e-mail saying he wanted to bet me that $500 that he will place ahead of me.

  • So does Craig Titus owe you $500.

      I did not bet him. I e-mailed him back saying that it is a lot of money; that I do not have that much money to spend at the moment, and I wish you the best of luck, and tell Kelly (Craig's wife) good luck at the Fitness International. That was my response to his e-mail. Craig then e-mailed me back saying 'We're boys. I was just kidding. I am very proud to what you have done with yourself, and you look great.' I left it at that. From then one, he started insulting me on the Internet, and when I came in shape at the Ironman, he lost his mind.

  • What about the other bodybuilders who are mad at you?

      I am not going to lie to you. I say what I feel, in person, on the web sites, and at that particular time, when I am dieting down, when I feel that I am in the best shape of my life, people can interpret it wrong. I did a photo shoot the other day, and Milos Sarcev was there. He pulled me aside and said 'Hey look, Dennis James is really mad at you; Melvin Anthony was mad at you; you should not have said what you said.' And I said 'Please explain to me what did I say?' Milos says 'You sent an e-mail to Dennis James that you are nothing, you are fat, you're a bitch'.

      I said 'First of all, some fan of mine sent him that e-mail, and then this person sent me that same e-mail saying 'Look what I sent to Dennis, isn't this cool?' And I said 'No, it is not cool. Because what you are doing is start shit with someone whom I do not want shit to be started with. So, before I could respond to Dennis' webmaster, the webmaster e-mailed me saying 'Who the hell do you think you are. Dennis is one the great bodybuilding pros'. So I e-mailed him back, and said 'Why are you yelling at me for something that someone else said.' I did not tell this guy he wrote the e-mail anything. I do not even know who the guy is or where he's from?' Before you start accusing me of things, get your facts straight. If you have something to say to me, come say it to my face. At the Ironman, no one did. No one came and said anything to me about issues at the Ironman. Nobody! All the shit that they talked before the Ironman, no one said anything to me.

      You know why. Because I didn't say anything to anybody. They were mad because I came to the Ironman, and I came in shape! I told everyone that I was going to be 20 pounds heavier and I was. I told everyone that I was going to be in the best shape of my life, and I was. I told everyone that I was going to come in, and rock the house with my routine, and I did. Is that so bad?

  • How are you going to do at the Arnold Classic?

      I will be better than the Ironman. I was only 90% at the Ironman. Because you can't be 100% when your trainer, someone who went through the journey with you for 16 weeks does not show up. (Chad Nichols had to take care of personal business.) Chad is the guy who helped me from day one; Chad is the guy who helped me put on the 20 pounds. We started together the day after the 2000 NPC Nationals. We mapped it all out to the Ironman. I wish Chad was there, but he has a life too.

      Now Chad is more pissed off about the entire situation that I will ever be. That man is furious. He is going to vent at the Arnold Classic. He couldn't make it to the Ironman, and because he was not there, a lot of bullshit happened. But when he is there, a lot of people don't have the guts to do and say things.

  • Hey, you are the new pro kid on the block.

      Again, people were just waiting for me to huff and puff and say 'I should of won'. No way. I am very happy as to how the Ironman turned out. Because I know how this sport works. The last time somebody came along in a pro debut and qualified for the Mr. Olympia was either Flex Wheeler or Kevin Levrone, I think. I am very honored to be in that category. I am only 28 years old. In my opinion, second place would have been better than third place, and it could have been flipped - flopped pretty easily. I was in much better conditioning than Melvin. Then again, it was Melvin's town, and it is Melvin's show, and the Pro Ironman is a West Coast show, but I knew that going in. I was not surprised at all, and let me reiterate, I was very happy with my placing! But I will be better at the Arnold, and I will take it out on the competition there.

  • What did you think of J.D. Dawodu's performance?

      I think he's awesome. I was in awe backstage. Every ten minutes, I kept going back to him, and calling him a crazy freak

  • So you do not disrespect other bodybuilders?

      Absolutely not. I think Chris Cormier is incredible. If he ever stops, and puts 100% into the sport, he will be the next Mr. Olympia. I think that Flex Wheeler was the greatest. I am not sure what happened to him. I think Ronnie Coleman and Kevin Levrone is incredible; I respect all of those guys. There is not an ounce of disrespect in my body. The disrespect comes from people who disrespect me.

  • I will see you at the Arnold Classic.

      I can't wait. I will be better, and I have a brand new routine, and I am looking forward to rocking the house there too. I will also have a couple of surprises there.