Frank Marchante Speaks Out About Controversial Sergio Oliva Book!

I decided to discuss this key bodybuilding document with co-author Frank Marchante, to get a broader insight... Sergio's past is revealed - interview explains difficulties in writing the book!

Article Summary:
  • Sergio's book sparked controversy among the bodybuilding community.
  • Frank Marchante traveled to Cuba to get information for the book.
  • It took more than four years to complete the book.
  • In 2007 one of history's most anticipated bodybuilding books was finally released. It has sent shockwaves through the iron world ever since. But Sergio Oliva, the Myth, Building the Ultimate Physique might not have seen the light of day had it not been for the persistent efforts of co-author Frank Marchante.

    Such was the anticipated controversial content of this book that many of the bodybuilding industry's major players (the IFBB included) refused to assist Frank and Sergio in their efforts to construct an accurate, informative account of the life of bodybuilding's greatest champion. Some individuals tried to have the book canned while others denied photographic content.

    Despite the obstacles they encountered, Frank and Sergio released what has become a true treasure trove of information and insights into bodybuilding's fascinating, and in some instances dark, past.

    With a collection of photos, facts and stories, arranged in a brilliantly formatted 350-page work, Sergio's life story is a book bodybuilding fans, insiders, observers and history buffs will value for all time.

    Sergio Oliva
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Sergio Oliva.

    Much has been reported about Sergio over the years and as might be expected from one who has lived a life as rich and full as the Myth, many outrageous stories and anecdotes have circulated; some true, some less so.

    His book finally provides the whole truth. As man as famous for courting controversy as he is for building of the greatest physique ever seen on a bodybuilding stage, Sergio has probably the most amazing story of any bodybuilder, ever. Even more amazing is the fact it took decades for his story to finally be told. And it all resulted from a chance meeting.

    Always an admirer of Sergio from as far back as he can remember, Frank Marchante, a Miami Florida-based professor, bodybuilding advocate and gym owner, approached Sergio at a seminar, mystified about why a book on the great man had never been written.

    Sergio agreed to work with Frank on a book project and after four years' in the trenches researching and writing, the long-overdue story was told. Since then it has received nothing but praise.

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    Possibly the best thing about Sergio's book is the detail it provides and the honest, straight forward accounts given about his beginnings as an Olympic weight lifter in Communist Cuba, his competition years in the IFBB and the incidentals of his life which give a fascinating glimpse into what made Sergio the man he is today.

    As well as a complete story on his life, Sergio's book also provides all of his training secrets and the most complete collection of Sergio photos found anywhere. The photos themselves are worth the price of the book.

    After reading Sergio's book and interviewing the man himself, I decided to discuss this key bodybuilding document with co-author Frank Marchante, to get a broader insight into exactly what was required to produce a book of such scope and detail, a book many years in the making.

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    [ Q ] Hello Frank. I would first like to thank you for arranging for me to interview Sergio Oliva.
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      [ A ] No problem David. I want you to know that many people are calling Sergio and me commenting about how good and interesting the interview was. Some people from Canada wrote and told me it was the best interview they have ever read on an athlete, congratulations!

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    [ Q ] How long did you spend planning and writing Sergio's book?
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      [ A ] Gathering all the information and pictures from all around the world and then arranging it the best possible order took me a little more than four years.

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    [ Q ] What was your very first impression of Sergio upon first meeting him?
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      [ A ] My first impression of Sergio was that he was not only very strong physically but that he also has a very strong personality and at the same time he was very friendly and charming.

    Frank Marchante & Sergio Oliva
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    Frank Marchante & Sergio Oliva.

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    [ Q ] How did you first get to know Sergio and what were the circumstances of your initial meeting?
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      [ A ] Like I said in the introduction of the book, I saw him in a magazine my teenage years and he became my hero instantly. I wanted to train and look just like him - Sergio's body is one in a million.

      Years later, he did a seminar in Miami, and I went to see him with my buddies, and he impressed everybody not only with his muscular body but also with his charisma and down to earth quality.

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    [ Q ] How did Sergio's book come about? Who initially came up with the idea for writing it?
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      [ A ] I came up with the idea when I tried to find a book about him and there were none. I said to myself, how come most of the champions have their own book? So I decided to write Sergio's book.

      When I met him for the first time at the seminar I mentioned above, I told him my idea and he said, "that's a good idea" but nothing came of it. Then years later, I contacted him on the phone again, and this time he said, "Ok let's do it."

    Sergio Oliva
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Sergio Oliva.

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    [ Q ] I understand your research took you back to Sergio's hometown in Cuba. What was you reason for going back there and what exactly did you find?
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      [ A ] I went to visit Sergio's hometown, talked to friends, took notes of his younger years and got some pictures. I found out that even in Cuba they are not allowed to talk about him but Cuban sporting people call him a hero and talk about him like he's some kind of God.

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    [ Q ] Was there ever a time when you, for whatever reason, thought it might be difficult to go on writing the book?
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      [ A ] Yes, when I was having all kinds of problems getting pictures, a book like this needs to have many pictures.

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    [ Q ] I understand certain people refused to release official Sergio photos to you? Why was this?
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      [ A ] When I contacted some powerful bodybuilding magazines and organizations and requested information and permission to use Sergio's photos, I was denied, even when I was willing to pay for them.

      These are the same organizations that lend, give or allow the use of photos by other bodybuilders in their books but this was not always the case with Sergio.

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      I feel like there is a kind of plot against Sergio. The fact remains: the powers that be refused to give me any pictures for the book even when I was willing to pay for them and as a result here were many famous and good pictures I was not allowed to place in the book.

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    [ Q ] What were the biggest obstacles to publishing this book?
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      [ A ] The biggest obstacle was when publishing companies asked us to delete, change or even remove important information Sergio wrote. This happened more than once with different publishing companies. We refused to do it.

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    [ Q ] What did you enjoy most about writing Sergio's book?
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      [ A ] Getting to know Sergio, one of my teenage heroes, also getting to know so many wonderful people in this field like Robert Kennedy, Denie, Steve Speyrer, Dan Lurie, Boyer Coe and many other people - for example, you David.

      One of the most enjoyable moments was when I saw Sergio workout in Chicago. Another moment was when Sergio took me, my wife and daughter for a ride in the most amazing convertible car. If I'm not mistaken, it was a Bentley.

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    [ Q ] What was it like working with Sergio on the book project? Was he easy or hard to work with?
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      [ A ] Working with Sergio was amazing; to me it was great. His anecdotes and knowledge are overwhelming. I never found it difficult to work with Sergio, although sometimes it was hard to reach him over the phone - two maybe three days. But once I got a hold of him, it was fascinating. We spoke for two or three hours at a time.

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    [ Q ] What were some of the challenges presented in working with Sergio?
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      [ A ] The most challenging thing was getting him on the phone: many times I tried to reach him only to hear the answering machine. Then he would call me back and my machine would answer. Sometimes, it was like we only talked via the answering machines.

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    [ Q ] What feedback have you received so far about the book? What reaction has the book garnered?
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      [ A ] The book is very controversial like many of Sergio's competitions, which ended in controversy. Most people love the book and the way Sergio speaks, holding nothing back. He speaks his mind.

    Sergio
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    Sergio Speaks His Mind.

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    [ Q ] Were their any negative consequences stemming from Sergio's commentary on certain bodybuilding power figures?
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      [ A ] Some powerful bodybuilding magazines chose not to inform their readers by not printing Sergio's book news release.

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    [ Q ] Is it true that certain people did not want this book published. What kind of resistance was there to the writing and publishing of Sergio's book?
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      [ A ] It is true. Most of the doors we knocked on did not receive the idea of Sergio's book with sympathy. Sergio was right, he warned me about this. I even got an anonymous call asking me to forget the idea.

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    [ Q ] What was your overall goal with this book?
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      [ A ] The goal for this book was to bring out to the bodybuilding world and to his thousands of fans, Sergio's life, not only how he developed his amazing physique but his childhood, his anecdotes and most importantly his truth. He proves again that he was the people's champion.

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    [ Q ] What is your involvement with Sergio today? Do you two remain friends?
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      [ A ] We are friends and we speak on the phone two or three times a week. I hope we can be friends for the rest of our lives.

    Frank Marchante & Sergio Oliva
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    I Hope We Can Remain Friends
    For The Rest Of Our Lives.

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    [ Q ] What are some of the, never before released, key aspects of Sergio's life that are covered in the book?
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      [ A ] The never before released aspects of Sergio's life in the book, in my view is everything from his childhood to his retirement. Sergio speaks his truth. He talks about his children, women, drugs, and competitions. For any bodybuilder, this book is a must, a collectors item that years from now, they are going to be proud to own.

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    [ Q ] Who would you like to thank for helping you to bring Sergio's story to the world and why?
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      [ A ] I would like to thank Robert Kennedy from MuscleMag. Here you have a man, a guru of the bodybuilding world, and when we asked him to do the Foreword he agreed to it right away. No buts or maybes and he also helped us tremendously allowing us to use MuscleMag photos in the book. This is what leaders are made of.

      Other magazines chose not to help us, it seems that they were concerned with powerful organizations, but you don't have to agree with Sergio's opinion, you don't have to like Sergio, you don't have to like his book. That's ok. That's why we live in a free country.

      But it's also true that as a journalist, you have the responsibility to report the news to your readers. With no bias, and let them decide for themselves.

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      I would also like to mention Denie; writer, editor, and photographer; a legend in the bodybuilding world. He has photographed bodybuilding champions from A to Z. A very knowledgeable and charismatic person who also helped us tremendously by allowing me use his best amazing shots of Sergio.

      I would like to thank everybody that contributed to the making of this book.