Fortunately, I never caught too much hell for it early on. However, this would change as everyone quickly began to grow in size and strength, while I did so slowly. I guess you could say that I grew bitter. This is what initially sparked my interest in weight lifting.
When I Started
I began lifting when I was very young, around eight years old. My dad had always been a big guy, so I started going to the gym with him to watch him workout. He encouraged me to go at that age so that I could grow to be comfortable with the training atmosphere and familiarize myself with some basic exercises.
When I actually began training, I was limited to the fundamentals, such as squats, bench press, curls, etc. all in one workout about 3 times a week. I wasn't tall enough to reach the floor when I benched press, so my dad would stack old Coke-a-Cola crates under my feet. Watching all the big guys, including my dad, throw around massive dumbbells and loaded up barbells, I very quickly found out where I belonged.
I looked forward to going with my dad. He taught me how to correctly perform exercises with both control and power. We both were frequently questioned and criticized because I was working out with weights at such a young age. Fortunately, my dad was friends with an orthopedic surgeon who informed us on how I should train.
At that time, one of my high points was meeting Bill Kazmier in person at the gym. He and my dad were friends and use to train at the same gym along with many of the Atlanta Falcons. "The Kaz" encouraged me to train hard and talked to me about setting serious goals. From that point on, I knew anything was possible.
Another big name at the time was Curtis Leslie. Curtis was a world champion power lifter who looked like a bodybuilder. He was unbelievable! I remember him holding a conversation with me while he was doing wide grip behind the neck pull-ups like they were nothing..
I know this doesn't seem like a big deal, but you have to take into consideration that he had two 45 pound plates hanging from his waist also. It was then that I wanted to be a powerlifter like Curtis. Well, since my dad and Curtis were good friends, they got together and devised a plan for me. At this time I was around 9 or 10 years old.
Though I trained pretty hard all the way up through school, I didn't get remarkable gains, remember, I said that I was a late bloomer. My training career took a big jump when I was in eighth grade. I wasn't stronger than everybody my age or anything like that, but I could hold my own. I entered my first powerlifting meet when I was 13. My dad had to lie about my age because you had to be 14 to enter the contest. With my dad and Curtis both in my corner, I won first place for the state of Georgia. It was a lot of fun!
I weighed in at 118 lbs..squatted 225 lbs, bench pressed 135 lbs, and deadlifted 275 lbsâ€¦ not groundbreaking weight, but hey, gimme a break, I was only a skinny 13 year old punk. I went on to win the southeastern cup and the Florida state meet. Like I said, my dad had the biggest influence on me to lift. He guided me when I was younger, and is ultimately responsible for my success up to this point. I left for college in 1999, and that's when my gains were the most prominent.
By my sophomore year, I met a man named LB Baker, and his wife, Nadine Baker. They are both current world champion powerlifters. LB had won the world something like 7 or 8 times and the Nationals like 13 times. What was crazy is he was 62 years old and out lifting me on most exercises! I started training with them while at school, and LB took me to the top of my powerlifting game. With his help, by the time I was 19, I had squatted 500 lbs, deadlifted 520 lbs, and bench pressed 385 lbs.
These lifts may not seem great, but they were all done with textbook form and by competition standards, and I was weighing about 190 lbs. I continued to powerlift through my junior year, and then I met up with another very influential person who transformed me from a powerlifter to a bodybuilder.