Close your eyes for a moment.
Picture a bodybuilder. What images come to mind? Perhaps you see huge biceps, massive quadriceps and an impressive lat spread. Perhaps you see vascular biceps, well-developed triceps, and a chest worthy of the titan Gods. But, is this really a bodybuilder?
Now, picture Kevin Levrone. What do you see? Perhaps you see one of the world's top bodybuilders with great symmetry and an accomplished competition record. Perhaps you can see Kevin's massive and well-defined biceps and triceps, or his impressive lat development. You may use words like huge, massive, or vascular to describe him. But, are you really seeing Kevin as he is, or is there more? Are you seeing Kevin, or merely looking at him?
When I sat down with Kevin Levrone for interview, I was expecting the interview to be like so many others - brief. I had a list of typical questions to ask, and my interviewing experience with athletes told me to expect answers that were straightforward and to the point. I could not have prepared for what was about to happen.
It's true that Kevin is one the best bodybuilders of all-time - but as you will see, his accomplishments do not stem from his physique alone - they come from his will, his persona, the dynamic force that is his personality. Kevin is not one of the sports greatest bodybuilders because of his physique alone - he is one of the sports greatest athletes because he is the co-creator of his life, and he is on purpose with his life's true mission and purpose.
While words like "huge", "massive" and "vascular" describe his physique, words like "huge" also describe Kevin's creative intellect, and "enlightened" describe his personality.
In this eye opening and very personal interview, we see Kevin Levrone as never before. We see a bodybuilder, a musician and an actor living in accordance with the highest creative purpose of his life. Most importantly, we receive Kevin's wisdom, borne from his experiences as one of the world's top athletes.
Your eyes may be open, but your preconceptions about Kevin Levrone may still exist. I hope that this eye-opening interview will challenge those preconceptions and allow you to see Kevin Levrone as he really is - a creative and dynamic human being with personal message to share with the world.
So, sit back, and be prepared to see Kevin Levrone as you have never seen him before!
Q. Bodybuilding has not heard from you in while. What is new in your life?
KL: Well, I'm studying and I'm getting into acting. I'm pursuing an acting career, and right now I'm working with Milton Katselas, and Alen Williams, who is a great director and who directed Jim Carrey.
Mr. Katselas has worked with numerous people including George Clooney, and he's my acting coach. So, I'm working with these guys to pursue a career in Hollywood.
Q. Wow, that's awesome. How long have you been working with the gentleman for?
KL: I moved here to work with these guys, and I've been working with them for about a month and a half now. It's going really well, and I love it!
Q. Do you find that there is much of a difference between bodybuilding - where you are out there doing your thing for the fans and acting?
KL: Actually, it all depends. For me, it all came pretty naturally. I enjoy being on stage and putting on a show - I enjoy performing. So, for me, the difference would be that acting happens all of the time - it doesn't just happen once a year or a few times a year.
The preparation for acting lasts a lot longer and it involves more skill. It's something that lasts a lot longer than just the moment on stage. So for me it's fulfilling to know that it's very challenging, and that it's also an art. You learn a lot about yourself as a person and about other people.
Acting works on who you are as a person - just everything - and I enjoy it, man. So that's the difference between acting and bodybuilding for me.
Q. You started competing in 1991. How many shows have you been in total over the course of your career so far?
KL: I have 22 wins, 17 second placesâ€¦ I would say 46 or so.
Q. You haven't competed since the 2003 Mr. Olympia. Why haven't you competed lately?
KL: The reason why I haven't competed this year is because I had knee surgery in August. I had a torn meniscus. So, that's why I won't be in the 2004 Mr. Olympia. This will be the first Mr. Olympia I have ever missed.
Kevin @ the 2003 Mr. Olympia.
Prior to that, the reason why I haven't been competing a lot is because my life has changed. I've moved to California, and I'm just more focused on me as a person and things in my life that are going to be there after I'm done competing.
Q. How is the recovery of your knee going?
KL: It's going great. I've been down for about six weeks, but everything is going perfectly.
Q. So, when are you planning to compete again? When is your next competition?
KL: My next competition is yet to be announced. I'd rather not say right now. You know what I mean? *laughs*
Q. Totallyâ€¦ it's good to keep your cards closeâ€¦
KL: Well, especially with Bodybuilding.com. You just have to be careful what you say about anything. If you have a red car or a gray car, people are going to say something about anything. I mean, people on those
boards dude, they are brutal!
Q. Oh yeah! Tell me! I've been crucified a couple of times on there as a writerâ€¦
KL: It's crazy! They pretty much have nothing going on with themselves, and they sit back, and these are people who don't come to the shows, people who can't afford to come to the showsâ€¦ so they just talk all kinds of crap.
People are going to see this right? *laughs*
KL: Geez! *laughs* Well, we'll give it to them straight, and they will say what they will say. I don't really care what they say, you know what I mean? They aren't the ones who have been on stage, they've never been in my shoes, so it is what it is.
My track record speaks for itself, and I don't worry about what people say. I just do my thing and so long as I'm happy with who I am and what I stand for, that's what's important to me as a man.
And, you should feel the same way about your writing material! Your writing is your art, your material, your baby, and you love it! When people say things about it, it can sometimes offend you - but just remember that nobody sees those people in life, they just see you. I want you to know that I appreciate what you do. So do a lot of other people. So, when you walk out into the masses, hold your head up high!
Q. I wanted to ask you about the Olympia in 2000. You came second to Ronnie, but you beat Shawn Ray, Flex and others. Why do you think that you came in second to Ronnie?
KL: Well, I think I came in second to Ronnie because it wasn't meant for me to win the contest. What I mean by that is that some things cannot be cultivated, no matter what I want and no matter how hard I train. What is going to happen is out of my control. I believe that spiritually, nothing happens by mistake.
What's going to happen is predestined to already happen, so there isn't a whole lot that I could do. I've trained for so many shows, and four times I've gotten second. For me the book is already written - God is the beginning and the end. He knows everything that is going to happen in my life, your life and everyone else's.
No matter how hard you sit down and study for a script or a play, and you want to write something perfectly, it never comes out that way.
For most things you don't have to prepare as much for it as you think you do, you are already prepared for it. So, when you go in thinking that you have to do this or you have to do that, then most of the times you are the one that is going to end up hurt because the result is not going to be what you want. It's a theme, and that's the way that life is set up. For me, it is what it is.
If you knew that you could do anything in the world right now, would you do it? Of course! What would it be? That's the second question. A lot of people don't understand this, and that's what stops people from doing things - they wait and they try to prepare themselves until they are ready, and life doesn't work that way. Talent creates its own opportunity, and it speaks for itself.
Q. How and why did you get started in bodybuilding? What was your motivation for doing that?
KL: I had a cousin, and his name was Stoning. He came home from the military Marine Corps, and he was 6'5", 264 lbs & ripped. I had never seen anything like that! It reminded me of the Incredible Hulk in front of my face! I was young and it impressed me. All men wanted to work out! Ever since then I wanted to look like him and be like him.
Then I found out that my father died of cancer when I was a kid, and that had a big impact on me, and later my mother died. So, that was what drove me to learn how to eat right, and go to the gym and work out. I wanted to be around anyone else who wanted to work out.
Q. Did you start bodybuilding when you were in high school?
KL: Yes. I was always a hard worker when I was in high school. So, for me, I just worked out in the gym rooms, and when I came home my older brothers had weights around the house, so that's how I got started.
Q. When it comes to your off-season training, what kind of routine do you use?
KL: I just run a lot, and my
goal is to run a six-minute mile.
To do that I have to be 220 lbs at about 4% body fat. I mostly do cardio and extremely high reps and circuit training. And I eat clean; I always eat clean. My main thing is conditioning.
Q. What is your diet like today? What would a sample day for you be?
KL: I eat baked chicken, vegetables, some salad with tuna, and drink lots of water. I take my
supplements. I might have a cheat day every Sunday were I eat a meal of my choice.
Q. You mentioned supplements. What supplements are you taking right now?
KL: All natural vitamins. Special vitamins from a special lady who I get my supplements from. I'd rather not say what they are. I don't take glutamine or creatine or any of that.
Q. What are your current stats right now?
KL: 218 lbs, about 4% body fat. I'm conditioned to run a six-minute mile.
And you know what? These magazines always say that my height is 5'9", and its not true, dude! I'm taller than 5'9". I don't know where they get it from, because they never weigh us and they never use a height stick on us, so where did all of this come from? Put down 6'0", because that's what I am in Hollywood! *laughs*
Q. What is new with your band FulBlown?
KL: People need to know that FulBlown is a hobby because I love music. Fulblown the band was something that I created. I didn't create it because I wanted to go perform with Aerosmith or anyone else on a national level. I did that because it was personal for me - some songs and poems that I wanted to write. That's what I did and I turned it into a CD. I just want to let the world know that it's something that I did for fun, something that I wanted to create from paper and put it on tape.
My idea for the band was not to open up a show for Bon Jovi or somebody like that. My bodybuilding career is what I've taken seriously.
We in Fulblown stay right, and, in fact, we are working on a new album that is coming out soon. I'm looking forward to it.
The name of the album will be Boulevard, and it will be out in May, 2005.
Q. When you get on stage and you compete, you are putting yourself out there and are showing the world part of who you are. Has your music helped you with your bodybuilding and your acting in that sense?
KL: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think that each time you walk on stage it helps. Each time you are in front of someone or people, it helps to create what it is that you are trying to create. I will continue to do my best to hone my craft, whether it's acting, whether it's bodybuilding or writing music.
To me, everything comes from within. Either you have it or you don't have it. Either you have the talent to sing, or you don't. And, some things cannot be taught. When you do have a talent for something, then that's what you do, and practice can only make you better at what you do.
For me, I would never try to be an NBA basketball player because that's not my God given talent; or a professor, that's not my talent. But these things that I do, my music, my acting and my bodybuilding, these things come very naturally for me. So for me, every time I walk on stage, it makes me feel more comfortable with who I am as a person, so it betters my ability to get across what I am trying to do.
Every industry, in every profession, ideas are what people are looking for. Ideas are what is. One good idea will make a man what he wants to be. It all depends. Everything is creating something. I had an idea a long time ago that I wanted to try out bodybuilding because I saw my cousin, I watched the movie pumping iron, and I got an idea that I could probably do that. And that one idea is the thing that created what I have now.
Everything, including who I am, came from that idea. I mean, look at the things that people have come up with that no one else has thought of before - Bill Gates and his ideas, and great inventions. It's awesome man!
Q. What do the tattoos on the inside of your forearms represent?
KL: The tattoos represent the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, my Christ. Also, one of the tattoos represents my mother who passed away in 1990. So those are two very important subjects in my life.
Q. You've talked a lot about your own purpose and doing things that are consistent with who you are. If you could give advice to someone who was thinking about getting into bodybuilding, either as an amateur, or someone who is serious, what advice would you give them to put them on the best path possible?
KL: It's all in your state of mind. If you think that you are beaten, then you are. If you think that you are outclassed, then you are. Success begins with your will. You have to be sure of yourself before you can ever win anything.
And, here is another thing that people should remember: the battles in life that we go through, victory doesn't always go to the stronger or the faster man. Sooner or later, the man who wins is the guy who thinks he can win.
For me, that's probably the most advice that I can give. Just be FREE. Be free to be who you are. When you are free, that's where your art lives - where freedom is.
Most people don't know this because most people do not have freedom. They lock themselves in and do things to themselves without even realizing. Art lives where absolute freedom is brother! So, that's what my career has always been about: the process of becoming.
I've always been the kind of kid who was alone. Most of my friends were musicians in school. For me, I really enjoyed being by myself for some reason. Somewhere, right now, there is some kid who is out there by himself and he's alright!
God speaks to us when we are alone. I say: let the pack go where it will, I'll go into a room by myself, and I won't really talk, I will just listen. I get around a group of people sometimes, and for me its kind of uncomfortable. So art lives where absolute freedom is man!
Q. Is there anything that you want to share with our readers? Is there anything that you want to let people know before we close things up here?
KL: Yes. I've been on the go since my father died in 1975, and then my mother in 1990. I've covered every plain that this world has to offer. I've climbed the highest mountains, and been in the lowest valleys.
Through it all, I've realized that this life is not mine. God has given me a gift so that other people's lives will shine. So, for me, it's not about me and what I do, where I go, and what I go through.
This gift that I have, he has given to me to give to the world, so that other peoples lives will shine from what it is that I do.
The truth is that life lives, and life is an ever-growing process; it's always renewing. It's always about BECOMING. To sum it up, that's the process of my career.
Q. Kevin, my sincerest thanks to you for your willingness to do the interview and to let us see a very personal side your life.
KL: Thank you very much, it's been a pleasure!
Interview questions brought to you by Bodybuilding.com. Questions and intro by Clayton South.