CD: Thanks for a chance to interview you, Mat. Please give the readers a description of yourself?
MD: Physically? 5'11", my weight ranges from 320 in the off-season to 260 onstage. As a person, I am very sensitive, and artistic. Staying true to the sign, I am a very intense Scorpio that hates to lose! (lol)
CD: How long have you been into bodybuilding?
MD: I first gained interest as a very young man, 12 actually. I saw some pictures of Arnold and Bill Pearl, and could not believe that people could build their bodies that way. I started training in the basement and have not stopped since that day.
CD: Have you always been strong?
MD: Yes, I was always an athlete, and strong. I took pride in having a big bench when I was young. I did not want anyone else in my class or on my team to bench more than I.
CD: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into bodybuilding?
MD: As mentioned, I was an athletic child that could not slow down for a moment's time. I loved to play sports, which led to my wanting to be bigger and stronger. I saw some pictures of bodybuilders and the training bug bit me. I hated having to come out of the gym; I absolutely lived for the feeling I got in the gym. To this day that same feeling is in my heart. I have an older brother who is an extraordinary athlete, and I knew I needed to do something different. He excelled at football, and basketball. I did very well in both as well and track, but wanted to do something different.
CD: How does it feel having the World's Strongest Arms?
MD: LOL! I do not have the world's strongest arms! They are strong, yes, but there are many I have come across that are stronger. I love watching the strong man events, if not for bodybuilding I would be doing that.
CD: I heard you used to be a power lifter, what were your best on the big three?
MD: As a young man, I was blessed to train with several world power lifting champions. Mark Chaillet, and John Beck to name a couple. They taught me the foundation of building any physique was to get strong. In the bench I excelled with a best of 625 with a shirt, and 575 raw. I did these at different times in my life. Squatting I loved, despite the difficulty of having narrow hips. I was able to get my squat up to a respectable 720 without a suit, and I was only 20 or 21 at the time. Dead lifting was another love, and I managed to pull a 675 when I was only 19. I could have definitely pulled more at different times in my life, but I was determined to stay away from any terrible injuries. Power lifting is hard on the joints, and tendons/ligaments. It is a challenge beyond most in the realm of sports. You get only 3 chances at lifts that rewire way more than physical strength. I love watching a champion power lifter approach a bar, you can feel the electricity!
CD: How do you think you stack up against other bodybuilders?
MD: Physically? I feel I stack up well in that I am able to carry a degree of mass that few do. I walk onstage at a conditioned weight of 260 (+). Again, this is a rare thing, especially when I say, "in shape"; I mean that I have shredded glutes at that weight. I feel I can hold my own on any stage. Mentally, and spiritually, I feel, in my experiences that I excel. What I mean by excel is that I give the aforementioned as much attention as I do the physical. It keeps me balanced, which at one time was my biggest problem; I lacked that necessary balance to be a success.
CD: I've always preached about having training partners. Do you have any training partners?
MD: Yes, I love having a partner to share the session with! What better feeling than to go to the gym with one I trust and push up weights that most find super impressive. Also, I like the security if having a spotter I trust. I have in the past been forced to ask for spots by those that did not even pay attention, putting me at risk. I train currently with Craig Titus.
CD: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a bodybuilder?
MD: I have always looked up to my dad. He is my hero in every sense of the word. Should I gain one wish it would be to emulate my father in every way. Bodybuilders that inspire me are Dorian Yates, Nasser, Lee Haney, and Craig.
CD: Are you training anyone right now?
MD: No, I got away from personal training for a while. Like a lot of bodybuilders, or personal trainers, I'm burned out a bit. Having to go in everyday and work with people was rewarding, but taxing as well.
CD: What was one of the challenges of coming up as a bodybuilder?
MD: I was very disciplined from an early age. I would not party when a lot of my friends were doing so. I do not feel I missed anything, but at times my friends did not understand.
CD: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter whose just starting out in power lifting or bodybuilding?
MD: Patience is key. As a matter of fact, I try to follow 4 "P's" in my life. Patience, persistence, persaverance, and prayer. You have to be as strong mentally and spiritually as you are physically to make it in this game. One must live by a code of some kind. Each person has their own code; mine is to respect others and try to make a positive difference in the lives of those that will allow.
CD: Do you accredit your physique from your training as a power lifter?
MD: Yes, without a doubt, I would not have the mass or density that I do if it were not for my day's as a power lifting and the guidance of the many champions I trained with.
CD: Do you believe in combining power lifting and bodybuilding?
MD: 100% yes, the two when balanced, I feel, produce the best physiques. Dorian, Mike Francois, Nasser all take, (took) power bodybuilding approaches to their training and look at them!
CD: What are your workouts like? How are they setup?
MD: Training for me is kept constantly different. I try to not do the same routine each workout. I fell into a rut early in 2002, of doing the same exercises all the time, and I felt my physique suffered a bit. Personally, I feel I benefit more from changing the routine each training session. I am about to go back into the gym after a 5-week lay off. I will start basic, Monday- Chest and Calves, Tuesday, Shoulders and triceps, Wednesday- rest, Thursday I will do back and biceps, then on Friday or Saturday I will do legs. Calves are done twice the first day being Monday and usually again on Friday.
CD: What would you suggest to someone on how to get some big arms?
MD: Again, and not to sound like a broken record, but be patient. Be willing to work, hurt in the gym. Be willing to suffer for any body part that you choose to develop. It is a choice; no one is forcing you to bodybuild. Be patient and learn all you can about you and your body. What works for me may not work for everyone and vice versa.
CD: As the man with the World's Strongest Arms...what's next for you?
MD: LoL! Next, I need to earn my pro card. It has eluded me several times by a fraction, and I need to make the improvements necessary to get over the hump. I want to compete as an IFBB pro, and know that I can be competitive on a pro stage.
CD: Is there anything else you like to mention to our readers here at Bodybuilding.com?
MD: Yes, know that all I said here is legit, not just some typed words to make everyone think, "what a nice guy". I come straight, and I do not mince words. It is important to me that everyone knows how much work a champion physique takes to build. It is not done overnight, or even in a year, it takes years and years to do. It is a lifestyle and a commitment to being the best you can. Judge your physique by your pictures of you, not of the current champions. They, at one time were in your shoes, just trying to get bigger arms or legs, etc. We all started somewhere and I promised myself to never forget where I came from.
CD: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Your physique represents the combination of muscularity and power and its something that I hope to be like as a power lifter. You are definitely one of my favorite bodybuilders.
MD: I thank you for this opportunity, it means a lot to me when people want to actually hear what a bodybuilder has to say, and not just look at them. Bodybuilders, in order to be successful over the long term have to be as sharp mentally, as they are physically. I know there are exceptions to any rule, but for the better part those that had, or have long-term success at anything are big thinkers as well as big benchers, or squatters!
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to hear from others and answer any questions that I can.