Born 1951 November
Died 2001 June 10
"The principle that I am advocating, the one that makes it possible for the bodybuilder to actualize his potential in a very short time, is that neither "more is better" nor "less is better," but "precise is best."
--- Mike Mentzer
1978 IFBB's Mr. Universe, Mike Mentzer is one of the most fondly remembered people in the sport of bodybuilding.
He began bodybuilding when he was 12 years old.
In the 1970's, while people like Arnold Schwarzenegger were touting the Joe Weider method of building muscle (training every day, at least two hours a day, with 9-12 sets of exercises per body part), Mentzer was experimenting with High Intensity Training.
He was one of the first, along with Arthur Jones, to propose a methodical, scientific approach to training and gaining muscle.
His main concept, that bodybuilders didn't need to train seven days a week (and that this was actually counterproductive, as the body naturally couldn't recover fast enough), was a "shocking" suggestion to everyone in the biz. While many people doubted his method of training, almost 30 years later, the sport is beginning to accept that bodybuilders can afford to have a life outside the gym.
This may have proven to be a detriment to his career, as this earned him a few key enemies who were not benefitting from his ideas. Many people (including Mike himself) agreed that he should have won the 1979 and the very controversial 1980 Mr. Olympia contests. Losing the 1980 contest was so devastating to him (he was in what may have been the best shape of his career), that he retired from professional competition, and never stepped on a stage to compete again.
Here is a quote from Mike himself regarding the contest:
3. Q. I would like to turn back 20 years and ask you about the most controversial Mr. Olympia in history. I am talking, of course, about the 1980 Mr. Olympia that took place in Sydney. Everybody thought at that time that the winner would prevail after a strong battle between you and Frank Zane, as it had happened exactly 1 year before in the 1979 Mr. Olympia. Surprisingly, you finished 5th and Mr.Zane finished 3rd. What do you believe really happened that day?
M.M. The 1980 Mr. Olympia was definitely fixed. The promoter of that contest was Paul Graham, a very, very close friend of Arnold's. As it turned out, while the rules stated that individuals had to officially enter their application to compete one month before the contest, the IFBB bent the rule and let Arnold enter the day before! He waited that long because by that point he knew who the judges were. CBS, who was there to film the event for future televising, was convinced it was fixed and discovered that a majority of the judges had either close personal or financial ties with Arnold. Well, so convinced - and pissed off - was CBS Sports that, despite the time, money and effort required to send a film crew half way around the world to Australia to film a sporting event, they refused to air that contest. As further evidence, I suggest you view the video of the 1980 Mr. Olympia, which can be purchased from my Web site.
(from http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mminter.htm )
In the 80's decade, Mike was apparently lost. Most forgot about him, even tho he continued to write articles in a few magazines.
This changed in 1993, when his popularity returned with the release of the book Heavy Duty. The fans who had not forgotten him, returned eagerly to his philosophy. He began writing regularly for major bodybuilding mags, such as Ironman Magazine (with his column Heavy Duty Journal).
Just as he was entering a kind of renaissance, with new books, articles, and refinements to his ideas, he was found to have a heart illness, which felled him in his apartment on 2001 June 10th. His brother Ray found him. A day later, Ray Mentzer, a successful bodybuilder in his own right, passed away from (presumably) the same disease.
Ironically, after his death, his training philosophy has gained more and more adepts.
He is remembered as a charismatic, friendly man, an Objectivist philosopher with a penchant for quoting Ayn Rand in his articles, and a man who may have done more for the sport of bodybuilding through sacrifice than we can realize at this stage.
Let's end this writeup with a quote from John Little, longtime friend, student and probable successor of his Heavy Duty philosophy:
Each decade brings with it a new crop of "champions", but they are quickly forgotten when the new crop of champions are harvested by the corporate machine. Mike Mentzer endures because he stood for something more, revealing that there are some principles worth espousing even when great personal cost is at stake. And in so doing, Mike revealed the potential inherent in all of us to become fuller human beings and live healthier more purposeful lives. One can't ask much more than this from one's heroes.
Official Website: www.mikementzer.com
Contests: 1971 Mr. America - AAU, 10th; Teen Mr. America - AAU, 2nd; Teen Mr America - AAU, Most Muscular, 2nd; 1975 Mr America - IFBB, Medium, 3rd; Mr. USA - ABBA, Medium, 2nd; 1976 Mr America - IFBB, Overall Winner; Mr America - IFBB, Medium, 1st; Universe - IFBB, MiddleWeight, 2nd; 1977 North American Championships - IFBB, Overall Winner; North American Championships - IFBB, MiddleWeight, 1st; Universe - IFBB, HeavyWeight, 2nd; 1978 USA vs the World - IFBB, HeavyWeight, 1st; World Amateur Championships - IFBB, HeavyWeight, 1st; 1979 Canada Pro Cup - IFBB, 2nd; Florida Pro Invitational - IFBB, Winner; Night of Champions - IFBB, 3rd; Olympia - IFBB, HeavyWeight, 1st; Pittsburgh Pro Invitational - IFBB, 2nd; Southern Pro Cup - IFBB, Winner; 1980 Olympia - IFBB, 5th.
Magazine Covers (16): 6 Muscle Builder ('76-'77-'79-'80), 3 Muscle Training Illustrated ('78-'79-'80), 3 Muscle Mag International ('80-'82-'85), 1 Iron Man ('81), 1 Muscle Media 2000 ('94), 1 Flex ('01).
(Contests and Magazine covers info ganked from the Mike Mentzer Muscle Gallery at : http://digilander.libero.it/mikementzer/ )