2009 Olympia Powerlifter Ben White Declares Upset Vs. Johnnie Jackson!

In the following interview IFBB Pro Ben White gives his take on what will go down come September 26, and why he feels he is the greatest. Find out more.

Self Proclaimed World's Strongest Bodybuilder, Ben White, prepares for his 2009 Olympia Duel in the Desert powerlifting showdown.

"I am the greatest". This catchphrase, made famous by sporting icon Muhammad Ali, has found a new protagonist in IFBB professional bodybuilder Ben White, who has used it to signal his arrival as a pro bodybuilding, and powerlifting, force with unlimited potential and the desire to reach the very top.

This September 26 he will aim to make good on this bold assertion as he goes head to head with established superstar Johnnie Jackson in a history making powerlifting showdown - the Duel in the Desert - held in conjunction with the 2009 Olympia Weekend.

Long considered by many as the world's strongest bodybuilder, Johnnie Jackson - with the type of compact, massive physique needed to routinely hoist bar-bending stacks of iron - has completed an 804-pound deadlift in pre-contest mode and has long out-lifted his pro bodybuilding peers on all other power movements. Now he has a new rival, one who claims he has the credentials to defeat Mr. Jackson at his own game.

Ben White At The 2009 New York Pro. Ben White At The 2009 New York Pro.
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Ben White At The 2009 New York Pro.
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With a reported 711-pound bench press and an equally impressive 700-plus-pound deadlift Ben White, it appears, has the strength attributes needed to more than hold his own against Jackson in September's two-lift (bench and deadlift) competition, held at 3:00pm Saturday 26, just before the Mr. Olympia finals. Known for his outspokenness, Ben now has the chance to qualify his bold statements through his actions.

While neither man qualified for the Olympia itself (with relative newcomer Ben continuing to work his way up the rankings and the established Johnnie competing off his best conditioning earlier this year), the Duel in the Desert event will provide the perfect platform for both to flex their muscles while demonstrating the practicality behind their size.

As a drawcard in its own right the Duel in the Desert is likely to attract much interest from fans that appreciate muscle combined with power.

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In the following interview Ben White, typically bold in his pronouncements, gives his take on what will go down come September 26, and why he feels he is the greatest.

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[ Q ] This September at the Mr. Olympia you will contest the Duel in the Desert powerlifting meet against Johnnie Jackson. What total for the bench and deadlift will you aim to achieve here?
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    The only thing I'm really concerned about is to come in and challenge for the world's strongest bodybuilder, whether it be me or him, because we are the only two who have stepped up to the plate. So whoever gets it, gets it.

Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships. Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships.
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Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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[ Q ] This contest will be between you and Johnnie Jackson because there was no one else to challenge the two of you at this event?
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    Basically there was challenge between Ronnie Coleman and Johnnie Jackson and Ronnie never accepted it. When I was with MuscleTech I always wanted to lift against the strongest because I came from a powerlifting background. And this contest is basically a great way for me to put my name out there.

    Well he (Ronnie) never did it, so once I left MuscleTech and went with Nutrabolics I started talking with Dave (Palumbo) after I heard an interview Johnnie Jackson did on PBW radio and I thought it would be a good idea. So Dave and John Romano got it started with FLEX Magazine and the rest is history.

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[ Q ] Your bench, in particular, is very good at a reported 711 pounds. Did you in fact bench 711?
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    The 711-pound bench was done equipped and was the most I ever did equipped. Unequipped it was around 645, raw.

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[ Q ] And you will aim to better this 645-pound bench come September?
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    For September I have five weeks to get ready for this, coming off a yearlong training period trying to qualify for the Olympia. So hopefully I hit the high 600's, somewhere in there.

Ben White At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo. Ben White At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
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Ben White At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
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[ Q ] How difficult is it for you to transition from bodybuilding to powerlifting?
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    It was kind of hard (prepping for the Duel in the Desert) - and I'm not making any excuses here - but with dieting for that long I had to get my body to take in all of the stuff I had basically cleared myself of for the last 12 months.

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[ Q ] Following your last bodybuilding event, how did your diet change to one designed for powerlifting purposes?
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    I had to load up on bread and oatmeal to get my body adjusted to it and for the first couple of weeks I felt a bit disoriented because my body wasn't used to it, but now I feel like I never missed a step.

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[ Q ] What do you expect to pull on the deadlift come September?
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    Well this will go down in history as my very first official pull in front of a crowd, or even at an actual event. I will try to get close to 700, or a little bit over in the low 700's.

Ben White At The 2007 USA Bodybuilding And Figure Championships.
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Ben White At The 2007 USA Bodybuilding And Figure Championships.
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[ Q ] Johnnie is, of course, known for his great deadlifting ability. Will you aim to beat Johnnie in this event by blasting him in the bench press and coming close in the deadlift so as to close the gap in overall poundage lifted?
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    It would be great to better him in both lifts but I take my hat off to him - I know he is strong in the deadlift - but I definitely have to make sure I'm close to him in a specific kind of range in the deadlift. But I'm definitely not worried about him in the bench press.

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[ Q ] What have you been able to pull on the deadlift unofficially?
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    Unofficially over the last four or five weeks that I've been training I've pulled just over 700. That was for one rep and I held it for about 20 seconds. It wasn't pretty going up, but it did go up. And it was the last rep of my workout.

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[ Q ] How will competing raw with no suit affect your performance come September 26?
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    It's the same for me. If anyone looked at the last shirts I wore they didn't really give me that much because with my biceps and shoulders they never really fit.

    They definitely didn't give me the additional 100 pounds on my bench that people claim to get from the shirts. I'm sure they work if I can get it on real good. As far as the shirt I've got on right now it's like wearing a tight T-shirt.

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[ Q ] So competing natural with the help of any performance aids will not be a problem for you?
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    Well I get onstage natural so I might as well do this (powerlifting) natural.

Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro. Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro.
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Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro.
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[ Q ] Johnnie Jackson has basically claimed that he will destroy you on the day of the meet. What would you say in response to this assertion on Johnnie's part?
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    Well every time somebody destroys something it gets rebuilt better don't it? I really don't think he has destroyed none of me yet because he hasn't beat me in bodybuilding.

    After being judged over him in my last two shows, my third and fourth outings, he has everything to prove and he has to prove it to me because he hasn't beat me yet.

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[ Q ] So it would be fair to say you take what Johnnie says personally since your reputation is on the line?
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    I'm taking it with a grain of salt and actually using it to help me gain my weight back. But other than that, this is going to be a day for him and me, and everybody there, I guess, will enjoy being there center stage, looking at the two strongest bodybuilders on that day performing at their best and one of them coming out with the title.

Ben White At The 2007 USA Bodybuilding And Figure Championships.
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Ben White At The 2007 USA Bodybuilding And Figure Championships.
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[ Q ] This will be an amazing event; the first time two top-level, currently active, pro bodybuilders have competed in a powerlifting showdown. It's history making.
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    This is going to be history making and it's also going to be so for next year's too because we have a lot of up-and-coming new bodybuilders that are not going to make it in the top ten who would want to try to take this shot at trying to be the strongest.

    So whether it's me or Johnnie defending the title next year, it will all depend on who is the better man on the 26th of September at 3:00 in the afternoon.

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[ Q ] Obviously you are now training to be bigger and stronger since bodybuilding is, for now, no longer the focus, and being at your strongest is. How is your training and nutrition geared toward achieving this aim?
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    Actually I'm not going to try to get any heavier. I did my 711 ( bench press) at around 265 (pounds) so that's hopefully where I'm going to come in at.

    And with my dieting and training I will be doing the same thing. I've been using what I learned from bodybuilding to eat clean and let the muscle grow better rather than just putting a lot of junk food in my body.

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[ Q ] You are eating cleaner foods, just a more of them?
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    Exactly. I'm back up to between 15,000 and 20,000 calories almost every day - almost because some days I feel like I just don't want to eat.

Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro. Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro.
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Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro.
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[ Q ] At 20,000 calories, I'm not surprised. Are you training purely for powerlifting purposes right now?
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    Right, and there are no more push-ups. It's using straight hardcore steel, pushing it up, and using my shoulders and lats throughout my movements to again achieve the great lift that I did in my previous contest.

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[ Q ] What do you mean by push-ups here? Are these a part of your normal bodybuilding training routine?
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    Well people used to see in RX-Muscle or MD Magazine that I always did push-ups as a warm up for my chest workouts. But now there is no more of that: it is just warming up my shoulders and going straight to the heavy lifting.

Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships. Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships.
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Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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[ Q ] At his year's Tampa and Europa pro shows you placed ahead of your powerlifting rival Johnnie Jackson. He says he was off at both shows. Do you feel you have the better physique compared with Johnnie despite his being off at both shows?
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    For someone who has got a world-class squat and deadlift (Johnnie) and to be lacking in the leg department I think I did beat him. He can't use that as an excuse. I mean that's an excuse.

    You're supposed to show up at your best and there are no excuses on the day of the game. And if he wasn't at his 100 percent then it remains to be seen (whether Ben can beat Johnnie when they are both in top shape), because he is going to compete next year and I'm certainly going to compete next year and whatever contest he do, I'll make sure I get in there and catch him at (Johnnie's) 90 percent or even 110 percent.

Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro. Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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Ben White And Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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[ Q ] When you turned pro at the 2007 USA many people were expecting you to be the next big thing in pro bodybuilding. Do you feel your bodybuilding potential is yet to be realized at pro level?
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    It's their time right now. It's not my time to shine in the IFBB as a world-class Mr. Olympia or Arnold Classic winner. But what I am going to do is move up in the rankings.

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[ Q ] And what will you do to ensure you do, as you say, move up the pro bodybuilding rankings?
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    Actually taking this contest (The Duel in the Desert powerlifting meet), because by doing deadlifts in this way it tells me my legs are actually growing and I'm getting them to where they are actually touching in the middle.

    I looked at some of Ronnie Coleman's old pictures where he stood next to Flex Wheeler and the difference was Ronnie's thighs and calves touched when he stood onstage.

Ronnie Coleman At The 1998 Mr. Olympia.
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Ronnie Coleman At The 1998 Mr. Olympia.
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    And that's my main goal right now, to come in as Ronnie did at the 1998 Olympia when he won it for the first time and just keep that physique and go as far as I can with the physique he had, but on my body.

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[ Q ] You are implying here that your upper body is already pretty good at this point?
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    My upper body needs more improvement with my shoulders and upper chest but as far as me coming in, I need to compete thicker and bigger and probably at around 245 or 250 instead of 230.

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[ Q ] Has powerlifting always formed part of your bodybuilding training?
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    It was always something the guys laughed at because, while all the guys were doing powerlifting movements, I was doing triceps extensions or biceps curls or some crazy multi-zone exercise that does not fit the physique of a power lifter, and they laughed. But in the end I got the final laugh because I'm an IFBB Pro.

Ben White At The 2009 New York Pro. Ben White At The 2009 New York Pro.
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Ben White At The 2009 New York Pro.
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[ Q ] You haven't left your powerlifting roots behind despite turning pro?
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    Correct.

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[ Q ] How has powerlifting befitted you as a bodybuilder?
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    Well basically it gave me the foundation. You have the three movements, yet I don't squat, but I can box squat and depth squat, but I just prefer not to do them.

    But these movements give you the overall mass that you are looking for because you can't get it from any other movements except for the bench press, deadlift and squat.

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[ Q ] Has squatting ever factored into your training?
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    It has never been a big part of my training because I just never liked doing them, but I have squatted over 600 pounds and maybe next year we might do all three (lifts), depending on how good my squat is.

    Because in powerlifting you only got two exercises that you are good at and you're not good at all three. So I'm finding out that I'm good at the bench press and the deadlift but I'm looking at my squat not being that high.

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[ Q ] But you are, in saying all of this, looking to improve your squat for a three-lift meet in 2010.
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    Yes, a three-lift raw event next year against Stan Efferding, who claims he is the world's strongest masters lifter. I mean if he got the money it might be right then and there (at the 2009 Olympia).

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[ Q ] Do you feel you came in at your best ever conditioning at this year's Tampa Pro, where you looked incredibly sharp?
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    To date, yes. I think that would be the best I could do on that day. As far as Dallas (the Europa Pro) a week later: that was even better. I had filled out since the Tampa and looked bigger and that was the best I could have looked on that day.

    I filled out because I did an 18 week diet for the New York show and after this show I took two weeks off and then went right back in there and got ready for the Tampa show.

    And I didn't have that long to bulk myself back up. So I was basically leaning out to get from where I was in New York to where I got in Tampa.

Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro. Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro.
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Ben White At The 2008 New York Mens Pro.
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[ Q ] What is it about your look that should see you climb the pro rankings in future contests?
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    I would have to say my symmetry. My symmetry and my size shocks because when they are looking for that V-shape and that narrow look (through the mid-section) that Toney Freeman, Dexter Jackson, Phil Heath and Melvin Anthony - I hope I'm not leaving anyone out - have, that X-frame, that's what I have got, that aesthetic look.

    I want to look like that and to make sure that I'm coming in conditioned at each and every event to be rewarded over these guys that happen to sometimes be 20 to 30 pounds heavier than me.

Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships. Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships.
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Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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[ Q ] It would be fair to say that conditioning and symmetry are two factors you will not have to worry too much about at future shows should you nail your prep right. What are some areas you will need to pay extra attention to?
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    My nutritional coach Dave Palumbo, who has been working with me for my last two shows, he has been able to diet me down. I'm carb sensitive and need to watch these. So with the ketogenic diet he will have me doing I'm looking forward to a great outcome in 2010.

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[ Q ] So the ketogenic diet works for you?
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    Yes it does. I was taking in 75 grams of carbs per meal for my nine daily meals preparing for the New York show and I spilled over.

    So the ketogenic det helped my body to dramatically dispose of them and I didn't retain any water. And my lower back and glute area was where I needed more work.

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[ Q ] Is your metabolism faster or slower?
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    I have a fast metabolism, but it's just that I can't take that many carbohydrates in. You can take too many carbohydrates in and it can actually have the opposite effect.

    That's what I'm learning now: to reduce my carbohydrates and to take things day by day instead of just staying on a set regimen of 75 grams of carbs per meal for the last three days prior to the contest.

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[ Q ] You have been called the Muhammad Ali of bodybuilding for calling people out. Is there a strategy behind doing this?
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    For me calling somebody out is like me sitting there and saying you are the best racecar driver in the world. If you are the best racecar driver in the word, and I'm saying I want to race you, it's up to you to accept it. You could continue to say you are the best racecar driver in the world and I could just keep on saying that I'm the best.

    Until we prove it neither one of us knows we are the best, but we both got accolades saying we are the best. He's going to be walking around with the title belt while you are walking around saying, "I wish I could have or should have won that title."

Ben White At The 2007 USA Bodybuilding And Figure Championships. Ben White At The 2007 USA Bodybuilding And Figure Championships.
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Ben White At The 2007 USA Bodybuilding And Figure Championships.
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[ Q ] By laying down a challenge to Johnnie Jackson you are saying, "Let's get it on once and for all."
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    Yes, to see who the strongest bodybuilder is going to be and if he so happens to beat me, there's always next year. And I have a longer period to train for it, but I don't see that coming in the future.

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[ Q ] But you are realistic that it could go either way because of all of the different factors that go into an event such as this one.
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    It could go either way, but it's tending to lean into my hand. I believe I've got claim on it over here.

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[ Q ] You once also mentioned that you have enough potential to break Mr. Ronnie Coleman's record of eight Mr. Olympia titles. That's a pretty bold statement.
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    Well if Ronnie found the formula to beat Lee Haney (physique wise) there has to be another formula out there to where somebody else can beat Ronnie Coleman (his record of eight Mr. Olympia titles). Nobody is unbeatable.

    And history shows that no matter what record is put up, whether it is Michael Phelps who it took almost 40 years to beat the Olympic swimming record held by Mark Spitz, or Usain Bolt who just broke his own record.

Did you know?
Who Is Michael Phelps?
Michael Fred Phelps is an American swimmer, frequently cited as the greatest swimmer and one of the greatest Olympians of all time. He has won 14 career Olympic gold medals, the most by any Olympian. As of August 2, 2009, Phelps has broken thirty-seven world records in swimming.

Who is Mark Spitz?
Mark Andrew Spitz is a retired American swimmer. He won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, an achievement surpassed only by Michael Phelps who won eight golds at the 2008 Olympics. Between 1968 and 1972, Spitz won nine Olympic golds plus a silver and a bronze, five Pan American golds, 31 US Amateur Athletic Union titles and eight US National Collegiate Athletic Association titles. During those years, he set 33 world records. He was named World Swimmer of the Year in 1969, 1971 and 1972.

Who is Usain Bolt?
Usain St. Leo Bolt, C.D., is a Jamaican sprinter and a three-time Olympic gold medalist. He holds the world record for the 100 metres, the 200 metres and, along with his teammates, the 4x100 metres relay. He also holds the Olympic record for all three of these races. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Bolt became the first man to win three sprinting events at a single Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984, and the first man to set world records in all three at a single Olympics. In 2009 he became the first man to hold the 100 and 200 m world and Olympic titles at the same time.

    Every record is out there for someone to set their goals just that little bit higher. So people can take it how they want to. People sitting at home will say, "Oh well, he's arrogant and cocky." It's not arrogance or cockiness: it's confidence.

    I believe in myself and I believe if I push myself the way Ronnie Coleman pushed himself, the sky's the limit. But everybody else is just sitting there looking at me as I go up and up and up and they wonder, like, "Wow, how does he do that?"

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[ Q ] And by demonstrating your confidence in such a way by making these bold statements you could also be showing your courage, especially if you follow through and make good on what you say.
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    Correct, because you should never judge a book by its cover. And each and every pro in bodybuilding wants to be the best. If you start saying that you never want to be Mr. Olympia you are in the wrong sport.

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[ Q ] And, of course, Ronnie Coleman himself began at the bottom and eventually became the greatest bodybuilder ever.
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    Yes he did, he started at the bottom and ended up coming all the way to the top. I'm sure there were people sitting there saying Ronnie Coleman will never be Mr. Olympia.

    And once he proved them wrong it was like, "Oh, he will never win it two times." He did it again, and again and again. See, the door is wide open for anybody who pushes themselves and believes in themselves. Just go for all of what you know.

Ben White At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo. Ben White At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
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Ben White At The 2009 Europa Super Show.
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[ Q ] You are saying here and now in this interview that you will someday win the Mr. Olympia title?
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    At some point before I die and before I turn 40 I will be onstage as Mr. Olympia. After all the naysayers had said that Ben White would never do it, I will do it.

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[ Q ] Well thank you for this interview Ben. Are there any parting comments you would like to make about your Duel in the Desert powerlifting event?
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    I'm looking forward to having a great time at the contest and putting on a good show as a precursor to the finals at the Olympia. And may the best man win.

    And as far as Stan goes, maybe I will see you, maybe I won't see you. And if he got the money I will see him on the day of the Olympia and he won't have to wait a whole year to get it going with the world's strongest bodybuilder.