It was 1970, while I was still at NC State University and I was beginning to look pretty impressive, in my opinion. I begin wondering how I might stand up against the competition of a bodybuilding contest. I kept my eye open for any contest in the near future. Alas, a contest was coming in November to Durham, NC. It was called the AAU Mr. All South. Without anyone to help me with contest prep I prepared as best I could.
Contest day had arrived. I got a friend to drive me there (Durham is only about 25 miles from Raleigh - if I remember correctly.) I get there that morning. Now if you had ever completed back in the days when the AAU was the only amateur body to hold bodybuilding contests you knew that the contest was held at the end Olympic Weightlifting or Powerlifting Contest. Or, in other words, around midnight.
Finally we were about to begin and the judges gathered us all in a room to explain what to expect. The first thing I recall said, and I have never forgotten it, “Gentlemen we know you have chest, shoulders, and arms or you wouldn’t be here. We’ll be looking for legs, back, and abs.” Now consider what went through my mind, considering I only did leg extensions, leg curls, and ran for my legs. I did pull ups for back (I did not do deadlifts). One plus was that my abs were pretty good when I looked in the mirror.
The contest began and went in what seemed like a flash to me. The winner was Kent Kuehn, who I thought was much better than Jim Handley, who came in second. At the end of the show they posted the results of all 26 of us on the board for all to see. I managed to… you guessed it: come in 26th, dead last. I left that night determined to work my back and legs as hard as I did my chest and arms.
The high point of the night for me was seeing the youngest guy there guest pose. He was 19 years old and huge and ripped. Soon to become the youngest ever AAU Mr. America: Casey Viator. I could not believe my eyes. Seeing him led me to look up Arthur Jones, but that’s a story for another time.
Not to be deterred or defeated, the next year I returned to the Mr. All South. This time I had to travel from Jacksonville to Durham. Also, I talked a fellow workout partner from NC State to enter also. I had a little better outcome… You guessed it! I came in next to last. My former training partner got last. So, to say that I started 0 for 2 in bodybuilding is a gross understatement.