An Interview With The Lion Of Lebanon, 1983 Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout (Part 2)

Samir discusses his experiences with Arnold, Lou Ferrigno and Joe Weider, the state of bodybuilding today, drug use among pros, and much more. Sit back and enjoy this lengthy discussion with a living legend, the man they call the Lion of Lebanon.

Part 1 | Part 2

Bodybuilding great Samir Bannout is, in the hearts of many who appreciate the classic physique, the greatest champion to have set foot onstage. And who can argue? Perfect proportions and the kind of shape that is bestowed only at birth is something Samir presented time and again for crowds who appreciated aesthetics combined with shapely mass, and posing excellence. And when he nailed his conditioning, very few men could compete with him.

The 1983 Mr. Olympia title was a fitting reward for the man the legendary Vince Gironda once described as having the best leg development in bodybuilding history. Samir would take his exceptional leg development along with one of the finest upper bodies ever seen to win the WABBA World Championships in 1985 and '86 before winning his final big IFBB competition, the 1990 Pittsburgh Grand Prix.

Samir Bannout
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir Bannout.

Due to popular demand, Bodybuilding.com presents interview two. In this second of the Samir interview series, he of the freaky Christmas tree back development discusses his experiences with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Joe Weider, the state of bodybuilding today, drug use among the pros, his recent health concerns, his views of sports supplementation and much more. Sit back and enjoy this lengthy discussion with a living bodybuilding legend, the man they call the Lion of Lebanon.

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[ Q ] Hello Samir. During our last conversation you spoke of your love for the classic physique and posing style of the '80s bodybuilding era. Do you think this classic stylized look has carried over to today's bodybuilding scene?
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    [ A ] I don't like the way these bodybuilder's pose today. I absolutely disagree with the way they pose, the way they stand in the relaxed pose. They open their arms way up and I think that is a no, no. You should stand like Chris Dickerson, like Frank Zane. This is the elegant way to look. You want to represent harmony. It doesn't mean that you are going to look bigger the more you spread you arms; you are going to look uglier.

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[ Q ] Many pro bodybuilders, especially from the Frank Zane mold, did represent art in motion.
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    [ A ] Oh yeah. Lee Labrada for example. He went to Frank Zane. I know he went to Palm Springs and spent some time with Frank Zane. You know what? Lee Labrada changed completely from that one visit. Whatever Frank Zane told him, Lee Labrada applied it properly. So when you see Lee Labrada backstage he looked good. But when you see him onstage from the audience, you go: "Wow, he looks much better". Because when they go onstage they represent elegance, harmony and beauty. So Lee Labrada was among these people that would cash on that and he did fantastic, thanks to Frank Zane.

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    I think Frank Zane inspired me so much that I copied a lot of what he did and I loved that type of muscularity. You don't have to be a Mack Truck to be the best. I have always believed in the Porsche verses Cadillac. I love the beauty of the physique. So Frank Zane was very elegant; he looked great on the stage. Especially when he was by himself.

    With other guys things changed. When I see him and Robby Robinson backstage, I look at Robby Robinson. On the stage I can't take my eyes off Frank Zane. It is like with an artist. You draw pictures and you look at them from close up and you don't appreciate them as much as you do when you go back ten yards - then you will see the real story.

    Not to take anything from Robby but when you look at the entire picture and you see the balance of Frank Zane, this is when you see it. Robby's double biceps is very impressive and his arms are huge, but when you look at the whole picture as with Frank Zane, everything is in balance.

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[ Q ] Everything perfectly proportioned.
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    [ A ] Exactly. And he was chiselled and the way he would do these little twists, he drew a better picture of himself.

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[ Q ] Frank Zane was not what you would you describe as a huge man. Yet he had a refined quality very few could match. He made 190 pounds look like 220. Was he a master of illusion in your opinion?
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    [ A ] Yes he was a master of illusion but to me that doesn't matter. What he drew was good enough of an artwork to be the very best.

CLASSIC QUOTE
Samir Bannout on Master Poser, Frank Zane: "When I see him and Robby Robinson backstage, I look at Robby Robinson. On the stage I can't take my eyes off Frank Zane. It is like with an artist. You draw pictures and you look at them from close up and you don't appreciate them as much as you do when you go back ten yards - then you will see the real story."

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[ Q ] Well he was the best in three Olympia's.
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    [ A ] Absolutely he was. Frank Zane to me was one of the all time Masters. If you were to ask me who was the most gifted guy of all time I would tell you Sergio Oliva is the most gifted guy of all time. He had several poses where he just looked incredible.

Sergio
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Sergio Oliva.

    If you looked at Sergio is Essen ( Arnold controversially beat Sergio at this Olympia), and that is another show where Arnold got a gift (laughs). I love Arnold, don't get me wrong and I think Arnold's physique is amazing but Sergio Oliva is a freak of nature. He had the small ankles, small knee joints, small waist, small hips and huge everything else, along with the biggest brachialis and forearms ever. He looked amazing, very good. I would take Sergio's body any day over Ronnie Coleman's.

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[ Q ] When people talk of the greatest Olympian's Ronnie's name is usually high on the list. In fact, he is widely regarded as the best bodybuilder of all time.
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    [ A ] I hate to say this but they are blind. People that don't approve of what we are talking about right now are blind. You have to understand. Look, Ronnie Coleman is probably the most muscular bodybuilder ever. If he could have drawn a better picture of himself on the stage he would have had more appeal, but he did not. He makes himself look worse. If you give Ronnie's body to Frank Zane we would probably be more in awe of his body than we are right now.

    Ronnie really seriously needed to be hanging out with Frank Zane. This is the difference. Lee Labrada was a very intelligent bodybuilder and that is not to say the guys today are not intelligent. But they don't understand that the art of posing, the mastery is very important and what you draw on the stage makes your body talk. If you stand up there and try to look like a terminator that is a no, no - you open your arms wide, open your legs wide: forget about it, it looks ugly. You let your stomach hang.

Ronnie Coleman Ronnie Coleman
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia.
View More Pics Of Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia.

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[ Q ] But there are some good posers today. Melvin Anthony is one of the best of all time.
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    [ A ] Well there are a couple. Earlier this year I was watching the Iron Man and I was watching this new kid, Silvio Samuel, and he just looked great. And I was yelling for him. I was so sad and mad though. I kept saying: "Man, put your arms down and win 10,000." People were just looking at me and laughing. He was trying too hard. He just needed to let his arms down and he would have won. Why are you bringing your arms way up like that? Why?

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[ Q ] Silvio does have a great physique. What are your thoughts on him overall?
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    [ A ] Yes and the day I saw him he was shredded to the bone and at one point he let his arms down while he was standing relaxed and he just looked great. But for the most part he was standing there with his arms way up. I don't know who is teaching him that. I have no idea who is telling him to stand like this. He is definitely going to K-Mart to practice his posing, I think.

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[ Q ] Maybe he should go with Ronnie to visit Frank Zane?
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    [ A ] Well, Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, all the top guys in the Olympia should go see Labrada, me or Frank Zane. Definitely go and see Frank Zane first.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
1983 Olympia.

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[ Q ] Comparing the bodybuilders of today with those from your era it might be reasonable to assume that posing is not seen as to much of a big deal nowadays?
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    [ A ] Posing is very, very important. If you look at Bill Pearl for example, he knew how to stand and pose. He only did a few poses but the poses that he did were elegant. Doing the sledgehammer thing where he threw his hands down. You have to look at your body and draw a picture with your body. You cannot look like a tree with a branch from each different valley. You have to be put together properly and they all have the muscle but they don't have the artistic way of showing it.

    I think they look horrible the way they are posing these days. I'm talking 99 percent of the contestants. They kill their look and instead of making themselves look better, they make themselves look worse. I have seen Ronnie Coleman standing completely relaxed and he looks beautiful; his waist is small with wide shoulders. But when he starts opening up his arms - like Silvio that right there - it is a minus.

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[ Q ] You made a comeback at the 1996 Masters Olympia. Not your finest hour. Do you want to talk about this?
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    [ A ] Yes, and that's another thing I don't want to remember. There is nothing for me to be proud of on that day. I miscalculated things. Before this show I was 216 and ripped to the bone with a very small waist and I guess it was the trip and the way I prepared at the last minute. I took some last minute advice and carb loaded the wrong way and I ended up being very watery and my waist was three times as wide. I just looked terrible and it did not look anything like me. We all make mistakes and that was a huge one. Definitely that was not one of the better days for me.

    I tell you right now at this second just talking to you I by far look better than in '96 and way by far better than I looked in San Francisco.

Editor's Note:
Samir experienced a major root canal problem one month before the 2006 San Francisco Pro, which infected his upper jaw and caused major water retention.

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[ Q ] You were also suspended by the IFBB in 1984. Could you elaborate on this?
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    [ A ] Yeah I got suspended. You know sometimes I don't keep my mouth shut. Sometimes I just don't like people ordering me around when they are wrong. So I speak out and when you speak out, sometimes that causes problems. I had a problem with a promoter in England who was very pushy with me.

    If you get to know me, you will find out better though. Because I love people, I love peace and I love sweet talking people (talking nice to them). And if somebody respects you, you respect them twice as much. This is my philosophy.

    If someone is pushy with you and you didn't do anything wrong you don't have to react, but unfortunately on this occasion I had an untimely problem and I was treated terribly, so that's why the response was really bad. It's not that I'm proud of this and I do look back and think I should have handled it a little bit better. But I can say it was not my fault and I was provoked. And my response was a little bit more than I was supposed to do and that landed me in suspension (laughs).

PRO BODYBUILDING WEEKLY
Samir Bannout Guest: Mr. Olympia - Samir Bannout
Date: 08/06/07
(Radio Show 84) - mp3 (16 MB)

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[ Q ] When you did return to the IFBB were your placements compromised by your actions on the day that led to your suspension?
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    [ A ] I do feel I was cheated a lot in the IFBB. I was cheated a lot because of my actions. When I deserved third they gave me fifth, when I deserved second they gave me fourth. It is very unfortunate. Some people in the IFBB I have had problems with but I don't want to go too much into this. Ben Weider is fine though. Joe Weider is the Godfather of bodybuilding and I got along with him real well. We had a couple of disagreements, but I saw him recently and we hugged.

    But we do have a couple of issues and it is very unfortunate but I hold no hard feelings. I love the sport, I love the organization (the IFBB) and what's done is done. Peace and harmony is my way of life. I just wish they would treat the athletes a little bit better and I would just love to see the sport grow in the right way. Things happen and people get suspended. People get into complications and it happens to the best of us.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Joe Weider & Samir Bannout, 1993.

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[ Q ] I read in a magazine where you said that people often misunderstand you. How true is this? Can you give me any specific examples?
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    [ A ] Sometimes I'm misunderstood. Like I said, I do talk back and when I do this it leads to a problem sometimes. I like to talk back when someone does me wrong. I don't expect them to walk all over me. I don't like that. I'm not going to let people walk all over me.

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[ Q ] So you are more of a straight shooter?
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    [ A ] Yes, I speak my mind. And I think Shawn Ray is one bodybuilder who speaks his mind and sometimes this goes against him. But I think Shawn Ray is a great guy and he is not asking for too much. He just voices an opinion and sometimes it might come out a little too harsh but he is entitled to his opinion. We are not cattle here. We are athletes and should be respected.

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[ Q ] Who do you respect among today's professional bodybuilders?
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    [ A ] Oh man, there are a lot of guys I respect. I love Chris Dickerson; the way he is with people. People like Bill Pearl; these people are very good and down to earth. Boyer's a nice guy. I always got along with Arnold. A lot of people say, "Arnold is this and Arnold is that." But I have always liked Arnold. He is always happy; has a happy nature and is friendly.

    I guess sometimes you might bump into someone like Lou Ferrigno on the wrong day and this might lead to a bad impression. But if you get to know some of those people, they are nice people. But the first impression is very important (Laughs).

Samir
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Samir With Lou Ferrigno & Chuck Fagalie.

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[ Q ] Tell me more about your experiences with Arnold. What are your thoughts on him as a bodybuilder and as a man?
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    [ A ] Arnold is awesome guy. Last week he called my cousin in Riverside. I own a restaurant with my cousin in Riverside, California and the owner (who owns the building the restaurant is situated in) is a good friend of Arnold so Arnold was visiting Riverside and he said, "Let's go and eat at Samir's restaurant."

    My cousin didn't get the message until late and Arnold was only there for a short time. He got the message like two hours later (laughs). It would have been nice; I would have gone down and had lunch with him. And my cousin said, "God d@mn it, I didn't check my messages." I said. "What the h*ll is wrong with you, you missed the message when Arnold was in the area (laughs)?"

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[ Q ] Definitely a missed opportunity.
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    [ A ] Yes, it was a missed opportunity, as it would have been great for business to have Arnold come down to eat at our place. The guy that knows Arnold is the owner of the building. We own the restaurant. Evidently he told him and Arnold said, "Okay, let's go and have lunch at Samir's place (laughs)." So Arnold, he's a nice guy. I do like Arnold. Today he's more down to earth than ever.

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[ Q ] Did you get up to any joking around with him?
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    [ A ] He never pulled any tricks on me. I always got along with him and the last time I saw him was backstage at the Olympia with his wife Maria Shriver and it was really cool. I also saw him at Joe Gold's memorial in Marina Del Rey and I was standing with Frank Zane. And here is Arnold going, "Waz going on guys, it's like the Mr. Olympia here." By the time we started talking to him there were about 200 cameras around us. And we couldn't have a conversation. It was like a minute and a half and everybody was around us.

    I love him. I've been with Arnold to a couple of places and have done exhibitions when he was the MC. I was with him in Hawaii, Seattle, Washington and in Pennsylvania. And I like his nature. I have a similar attitude to Arnold's. I love always laughing and playing and he is that kind of person. He is always playful and happy. And these are the people I want to be around.

    Arnold is my hero and the very first bodybuilding magazine I picked up in Lebanon had Arnold on the cover. I collected every picture of Arnold from when was 16 years old. I still have all these pictures now. And I told Arnold and he said, "God d@mn Samir, you really like me." And I said, "But I never tell you that I do, huh?" And I never did.

    A lot of people come down and talk to Arnold and they just want to be in one of his movies of stuff like that. And I never said anything. Then one day he comes to me and says, "Samir, I'd like to use you one time as a terrorist in my movie." I said, "You want to use me as a terrorist, do I look like a terrorist (laughs)?"

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[ Q ] If anyone else said this it would have caused an outrage. Only Arnold could get away with saying such a thing, right?
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    [ A ] Oh yeah. Anything that comes out of Arnold is always fun. He is a life loving person, a happy person. I will tell you another funny thing. I was eating with him one time in Seattle and he said, "Samir, why don't you have this drink?" I said, "What kind of drink is this?" He said, "It is called a 'nice and comfortable screw against the wall'." I was like "What, come on Arnold. You know I don't drink alcohol." But he was having his way. And I said, "No Arnold you are bullsh!tting me." He said," no no no no."

    So he told the waitress and she came in and he gave her a quick hug. Before you know it she was sitting on his lap. And he said, "give my friend Samir a nice and comfortable screw against the wall." The girl went five different colors (laughs). This was in 1980 and we were with John Brookholder, a gym owner from Seattle, Washington.

    His brother Dr. Rich Brookholder is a dentist and we had some fun photos taken with him. I remember that day and John was also getting married and we had a bachelor party.

    Arnold was there. And you have to see Arnold in this kind of situation. He is like a normal person, but very funny and very happy. I mean he doesn't act like he is Arnold the Terminator or Arnold the movie star - he is just normal. He is normal and happy. And that is why I love him. I had about 50 of my neighbors vote for Arnold. I was campaigning for him. So he is one of my main men.

    He is a smart man and he has deserved everything that he has got. You want to know why Arnold is good? Look at him: he has a good family; he's a good businessman. And it is because he is happy and he is positive. He's not a downer; he's not boring. That's why he's Arnold and on top of the world.

Samir
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Samir With Arnold & Dr. Rich Brookholder.

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[ Q ] Very well said Samir. We will come back to Arnold soon. I understand you had some involvement with bodybuilding legend Dan Lurie.
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    [ A ] Well, Dan Lurie started like Joe Weider and he wanted to do what Joe is doing. He had the WBBG at the time. The IFBB caught on fire and did very well while Dan Lurie's flame died down. I liked his magazine (Muscle Training Illustrated) back then. I used to follow it and have just about every issue of his magazine. It was a more hardcore magazine. It was not as good as Muscle Builder (Joe Weider's magazine) at the time but it was good. I enjoyed it. It is a shame that he just disappeared. I guess Joe Weider wants to be the richest man in the graveyard.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
On The Cover Of Joe Weiders "Muscle".

    I guess everybody wants to be richer and richer. I don't care man - I just want to be healthier and happier. I don't want to be a billionaire. I just want to have enough money to make sure my family are living good and have a happy, healthy life. Arnold feels differently. Arnold wants to be a billionaire. I guess right now Arnold is living healthy and happy too, but his life is very crowded, very busy. I wouldn't like to live like that. That's too busy, you know.

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[ Q ] You have achieved bodybuilding's biggest prize and remain one of the best of all time. What drives you to be the best today Samir?
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    [ A ] Right now I am a family man - I have five children. I have Maria and Angela. You know I was married to Lee Labrada's sister. My daughter Maria goes to Texas A and M. My daughter Angela is a gymnast, very athletic. I have Lea who has just turned nine, Jesse, who is going to be six in a few days and my youngest son, Sergio, who has just turned three.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
With Wife Randa, And Children Sergio, Leia And Jesse.

    I love family life. I changed my lifestyle ever since I have been married. My wife is Randa and we have been married for 11 years. She is from Lebanon and has been living in the United States for 11 years with me. And we are happy, like a little gang. Always having fun.

    My son Sergio is right here with me now. That boy doesn't stop eating and he even drinks my Muscle Milk. You know what else he does? He does chin-ups like two or three times day. I barely touch him. I grab him because my chin-up bar is high but he can pull himself up. His name is Sergio, what do you expect? He has the combination or Sergio Oliva and Samir Bannout and that makes more of a difference than just being Sergio or Samir alone (laughs). It's a better combination.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir's Daughters Maria And Angela.

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[ Q ] I understand you injured yourself in mid-June of 2007. Can you tell me exactly what happened?
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    [ A ] Yes, I got myself in an amazing condition and then one day I just messed up real bad. I never really hurt myself training in the past. Then in June I went to train chest and was feeling very tired. I thought, "should I train or shouldn't I train?" Normally I won't. But I took 800 mg of Ibuprofen for a severe headache I had at that time, and I had completely forgotten about that, and went to the gym anyway.

    We were benching and got close to 300 and I said, "Okay let's put on 315." I did 295 easily, so I said, "What the h-ll." So one, two, three and on the fourth rep I felt it: it was like someone ripping a T-shirt. I was completely devastated, so scared. I left the gym and came home and the first thing I did was to take off my shirt and look. There was nothing, no black and blue, no red. I was in excellent condition before this happened, really started getting that quality of the 80s.

    Anyway, to make the story short I got really depressed over it, but luckily the pec was completely attached and it only needed about a month to heal (a micro tear). Still, not a good feeling when you have worked very hard to get in top condition, and believe me I was in super condition. Well I was not going to cry over spilled milk. Life goes on. By the way this is the very first time in 35 years of hardcore training that I have gotten severely injured while training.

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[ Q ] What do you do business-wise these days Samir?
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    [ A ] I am holding ten watermelons in one hand. I have a restaurant business in Riverside California that I'm trying to sell right now. This is basically what I do. This is an investment that I get monthly income from. I also do personal training but I don't like to run around with that many people, but if I have a good customer I will train them.

    I have a couple of customers that pay pretty good and if it is worth it I will do it and if it isn't I won't. Sometimes I get a call from some of the well-known hotels here like the Beverly Hilton and have some royalty of other high-end people who want to train and they ask for me. If they want to pay 250 dollars per hour and want to train for a week then to me it is worth it.

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[ Q ] You were in the bodybuilding media quite often in the 1980s. Who were some of the better-known journalists you worked with?
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    [ A ] Ricky Wayne wrote a lot on me. But if you tell him something off the record he will put it more on the record. If you say, "off the record" then it is definitely on the record for Rick. I don't know what it was between Ricky Wayne and me. Sometimes I liked the guy and sometimes he got on my nerves. Sometimes he is sweet and sometimes he is feisty.

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[ Q ] Who will win the 2007 Mr. Olympia and why?
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    [ A ] I think the way Ronnie Coleman is going I don't know if he can change his look. I think he could, I mean he is 43 and Gary Strydom, who is in his best ever shape right now, is 51. If he can correct his problem in his lat muscle he should do well. Chad Nichols claimed that is a nerve problem of some sort, and I know Chad and he knows his business and is a very smart man when it comes to contest peaking, but in my eyes it looks a lot worse than simply a pinched nerve.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir Bannout.

    There are just a couple of things about Ronnie that look awkward in a couple of areas. I saw Ronnie Coleman about three years ago. I had a prince named Prince Yasab Al Trarndy and he came out here to see the show and we went out to Vegas together. We went up to Ronnie's room and Ronnie posed for us and I will tell you I have never seen anything like it in my life in terms of muscle mass and quality.

    I'm telling you if he looks like that he is really unbeatable. He was beyond ripped. I saw Lou Ferrigno downstairs and he said, "Samir, did you see Ronnie." I told him I was just with him. He said, "Nobody is going to beat that." And I had to agree. He walked away with the show that year, in 2003.

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[ Q ] What about some of the lighter guys like Melvin Anthony and Dexter Jackson? Do they have a chance of winning this year?
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    [ A ] I like Melvin Anthony but I don't think he has showed what he could. In my opinion he could look a lot better than he has been. Melvin has a great physique and the only thing I can criticize about him is his calves. I have seen him at 245 one time and ripped, really cut up. I prefer his body to Ron Coleman's. But he is not going up onstage full all the way.

    A lot of people tend to dehydrate and they don't look exactly what they should look like. I think Jay Cutler is a master at knowing his body. He comes full and ripped. I think if Jay could lose a couple of inches around his midsection and he can have a better V I think he will be incredible too.

    The only thing between Ron and Jay Cutler is that Ron has got a lot of muscle and a great V. Now I look at the whole body. Jay's legs look more complete compared to Ronnie's but Ronnie is massive and has that V and when he gets striated he is really hard to ignore.

Samir
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With Arnold And Eddie Giuliani.

    I like Dexter Jackson's physique and also Phil Heath. I think if Phil Heath can be like ten pounds heavier and compete full and dry he can be good too.

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[ Q ] Tell more about your background with Joe Weider.
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    [ A ] I didn't train with Joe but he was around me when I used to train at World Gym. On a couple of occasions I was training and Joe was motivating me and he was there in the gym pushing me. He was saying: "Oh Samir, your back is so thick." I think Joe Weider is one of the biggest muscle heads on the face of the earth - he really loves bodybuilding. He is easily the greatest businessman in the bodybuilding industry, no doubt.

    I hung out with Joe Weider so much at one time that I would go to his office sometimes four or five times a week; sometimes every day. When I came out here in '70, '80, '81 and '82. The guy has vision. I think the problem with Joe is that he is not holding ten watermelons in one hand; he is holding 200 watermelons in one hand.

    He has a lot of people to deal with. But when it comes to training he has a lot of wisdom. He advised me a couple of times on training, but he did work with me on posing a lot. In fact, before the 1983 Olympia I was in his room. He called me up and said, "Samir, come on up and show me what you look like." When I took my shirt off he was like freaking out. Grabbing the telephone saying, "Where is John Balik and Mike Neveux. Hurry up with the camera, Samir is looking unbelievable." Betty and Joe really thought I could win the '83 Olympia.

Samir
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
With Serge Nubert, Joe And Betty
Weider, Arnold, And Maria Shriver.

    It is a shame that Joe and I had a little business disagreement but I think sometimes people have misunderstandings and sometimes people forget, especially when you have 200 things going on. When you have to deal with Arnold, Frank Zane, Mike Mentzer, Casey Viator, and Tom Platz. He was in constant contact with the champions. Sometimes he doesn't deliver what he has promised, not because he does not want to. He just forgets. He just has so much on his mind. I personally forgive him because I think he means well and has a good heart.

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[ Q ] In all your dealings with Joe Weider over the years, were there any particular qualities of his that shone though. Are there any characteristics of Joe Weider's that you would like to comment on?
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    [ A ] Yes I do. He was very caring and if he liked you he would help. I can recall going to his office and he was really busy. I mean he would have the magnifying glass and he would be looking at slides and transparencies and when I get up, the minute I see him I say, "Joe, how are you doing." He tells me, "Oh Samir, I am so tired. " And even though I was there for some advice and for him to go through my posing routine you know what? He always made the time.

    I think he (Joe Weider) is a genius in this field. Look at what he can create. His magazines, the old Muscle Builder and Power, are one of the reasons I came to this country because they have so much personality. He has an eye for this. He knows how to make things look good.

    He is very good on the art of posing. I think he contributed a lot to me. When I would do a back pose he would say, "Samir, turn your neck to the right." That would make your trapezius muscle come out more and you can see more striations in it. "Open up your blades and squeeze it." In my opinion all of his advice makes sense.

Samir Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
A Young Samir.

    One time I told Joe: "Joe I am holding a lot of water." This was back in the '80s and he said: "Samir, go take a quarter tablespoon of salt and that is going to help you." And you know what? After looking at it, it does.

    If your aldosterone is high you take a little salt. Your aldosterone increases when you are dehydrated and you have no sodium in your system. Your body starts making it's own sodium. That is why you will hold water. The body makes its own sodium and takes the potassium into the subcutaneous space to create the balance. Joe Weider told me this before I even read about it.

    Whether it is scientific knowledge or he has that feeling for common sense, I think he was right. He is giving, he is caring, he loves the sport and he used to look after me well. He would invite me out to lunch. He liked me and felt like I had the potential to be great. And it is very unfortunate because sometimes there are mistakes done in business, although it might not be intentional, but I have to say he is good for the bodybuilding and likes the sport a lot.

    I buried the hatchet with Joe. I hold no grudges regarding business stuff and in fact when I approached Joe and tried to tell him what was wrong with our business deal, during that time Joe was sick and it was hard to get hold of him. And I didn't get the right information and it was kept secret from everyone. At the time Joe was getting some surgery and I was trying to reach him and because I didn't hear anything and I thought, "Oh no, what is going on."

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir In 1974.

    So basically when I met Joe after that misunderstanding, he promised that he would come down and work things out. So he has a good heart. But sometimes when there is a legal issue and you cannot come into contact with that person because then it becomes illegal, it is hard. But we have met several times, the last time being two months ago. So we buried that business issue and everything is okay.

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[ Q ] So for the record things are good between you and Joe at this point?
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    [ A ] I absolutely have nothing but love for Joe, I tell you. Sometimes there are misunderstandings though. I'm not perfect. Nobody is perfect. When you are someone like Joe Weider with thousands of people around you to deal with, somehow you will mess up something no matter what.

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[ Q ] What are your views on Arnold in relation to his involvement with bodybuilding?
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    [ A ] Arnold is another who truly loves the sport. If he didn't love it there is no way he would have stayed in it for so long. I tell you he is my hero. There are many things I can say about Arnold. He used to come down sometimes and pick on me. He would go, "Samir, every time you lose it is your God d@mn f***ing fault. You got the body and you should be in the money every time." And I swear on my children that Arnold would encourage me every time.

    One time in '88 I was in the gym at about 222 (pounds bodyweight) and Arnold said, "just go like that, don't change anything. Go like that to the stage." After that I went down to 202 and ended up flattening out. So he will make you hear it. He will just tell you to your face. "Why the f*** did you do that. I did this and that." He will give you examples of what he used to do. He was always complimentary and he would tell me in an obnoxious way sometimes but that was how he was.

    My view of Arnold is that he is probably the ultimate lover of the sport of bodybuilding. I think he even loves the sport more than me. Mike Mentzer once said, "No one loves bodybuilding more than you." I told him, "Arnold loves bodybuilding more than anyone." And you can see why.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir With Mando, Nasser, Youness And Jelailati.

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[ Q ] Of course Arnold and Mike had a falling out at the 1980 Mr. Olympia.
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    [ A ] Mike loves Arnold to be honest with you. But what happened was he didn't feel very good. He took the 1980 Mr. Olympia result very hard. In fact the 1980 "O" is probably responsible for why Mike Mentzer is not with us these days. Because it really got him down. It got him down to the point where he could not forget about it. He kept talking about it for years after that.

    And it's sad because I think mike Mentzer is one of the geniuses in this sport. He is very, very clean. I can't tell you how honest mike Mentzer is. But he took the Olympia so hard. Some people say Arnold fixed the show. I mean Arnold didn't fix the show. He won just because they love Arnold. Paul Graham, who was the promoter of that show, he liked Arnold and I think even the judges liked Arnold.

    So I think they were a little bit unfair because there is no way in H*ll Arnold should have won that show. And Mike Mentzer resented that. The way I saw it - and I was in the show and had no business being in the top ten that year - I wasn't impressed with Arnold. In fact, I was more impressed with Mike than Arnold. But Mike Mentzer should have gotten over it a week later or a month later but it stayed with him for years.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir In Lebanon In 1972.

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[ Q ] What do you think separates those who tend to hang on to these kinds of experiences and those who move on?
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    [ A ] I always believed that you have to move forward and you can't think about yesterday. All I do is learn from yesterday. Look, I was devastated earlier this year when I hurt my chest but deep down I knew immediately that I would recover and I felt very positive that I would recover and I did recover.

    I think that you have to delete the garbage and if you don't do that and you keep it, it is going to come back and haunt you and make it even more of a problem. I am always optimistic. I know tomorrow will be better. I have no doubt that things will get better. I would like to resolve issues with no hard feelings, without problems.

    I can't take what happened with Arnold at the 1980 Olympia personally. I can't hold grudges against Arnold because he chose to compete. A lot of people said, "Why should he compete. He is a superstar and he already won the Olympia so many times." So what. Even though he didn't deserve to win and won because he was Arnold, and everyone loves Arnold, he still won. I love Arnold and if I was on the judging panel that day I don't know how I would have gone.

    I am a little biased because I do like Arnold. When you train hard and are a hardcore bodybuilder, even if he is your idol you know he would not have deserved to win. I probably wouldn't have given him first. I mean Arnold didn't deserve the top five to tell you the truth. But you know it doesn't mean he is not The King. To me he is The King.

    Look what they did to Sergio in '84. Sergio came up to the stage and said: "You win them all and then lose one it doesn't mean anything." And so Sergio is great and if he were the real Sergio he would have killed everyone. But Sergio was not on. Whatever he did he did not peak the right way. On that night I looked at Sergio's physique and he had beautiful balance but the muscle wasn't pushing out and he was too dehydrated. Whatever he did backfired.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir; Hawaii Five 0.

    So the judges gave him exactly what he deserved (Sergio placed eighth ay the 1984 Mr. Olympia). But if I think it was Arnold competing that year, who knows, because Arnold was so popular in many ways - not just as a bodybuilder. People relate to Arnold's personality; they like him. If he deserves tenth one year, probably he would get second or third or even a win.

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[ Q ] Whomever the judges like in terms of personality must have an influence on the overall result, right?
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    [ A ] I agree. Because Arnold never showed a losing face: he was always up there with a sense of humor, he would laugh and joke around. He had that happy, positive attitude. Believe me, right there he is going to make three or four places. When they are choosing the winner and you don't have that attitude it is going to knock you down right there.

    It worked for Arnold all the time. You can read it on people's faces whether they have a winning personality. For Arnold it is automatic. But Arnold did look good also a month or so before the 1980 Olympia. I saw him at World Gym and thought "Wow." I was impressed and thought that he could pull it off for sure. But he did not look the same in Sydney.

    Here is another funny story. I saw Lou Ferrigno at the 1992 Mr. Olympia and everyone was knocking him down. And I saw him at 325, ripped to the bone. And he was very, very conditioned.

    I thought if he were to go onstage like that he would be very hard to beat, a troublemaker and a major player in that show. And when I went backstage I looked at Louie and he was 285 and as smooth as a pancake. He didn't look good at all. All he did was lose 40 pounds of quality muscle. Lou doesn't want to admit it but later on when I was talking to him he swore to me that he was getting up at two in the morning to do two hours of aerobics - two hours of treadmill!

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir With Arnold No Last Name Necessary In 1981.

    So although Lou didn't get the same deal as Arnold, and Arnold did look better in Australia than Lou did in 1992, Lou looked really flat. And everyone said, "Oh, Lou is not that good." But it wasn't because it was age related or because he hadn't competed for many years, it was because he tried way to hard and I'm the first person to make those kinds of mistakes.

    In 1988 I was 224 shredded and according to Tom Platz and Arnold, they had no doubt I would win that Olympia. And then I went down to 202 and then tried to go back up to 207. But I still felt that something wasn't right, my body wasn't rested enough.

    You do not need to make such drastic changes. It's not that you won't look good if your start at 225 and go down to 220 - you could look great. But it's going to take a long time. You have to take it very slowly if you are going to drop to 202 or 200. You could still look ripped and hard but you can't go very fast and expect the body to look great at that weight. You have to go very slowly. No drastic ups and downs.

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[ Q ] Would you bulk up in the off-season, or did you prefer to stay within sticking distance of competition weight?
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    [ A ] When I was up to 224 I was in great shape. During that year I went up to 253 and when I went down to 224 I was really ready. But unfortunately, and I have to tell you, you should never listen to anybody because if you listen to too many people you will screw up, I made a mistake.

    If you have too many chefs in your kitchen you will screw up. If you have guys like Art Zeller, who is another artist who loved bodybuilding and is no longer with us, telling you things. He would go, "Samir, you will win whenever you want. You have a pretty body, don't get too big." Forget it, it is irrelevant.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir With Dennis Tinerino, Arnold And Franco Columbu.

    You just have to take your time to reach that point and you cannot do it fast. Fast up and fast down is a big mistake. So I dropped from 224 to 220 in three weeks. There is just no way. I did not have enough fat on me to drop that much weight. The body needs to adapt so you need time. I would have probably looked unbelievable at 218 so what I did was go to 202, then after the show it took me three or four days to get to 214 and I looked amazing, incredible. Way better than I did at the show. Live and learn.

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[ Q ] How did you deal with what happened at this show?
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    [ A ] One thing about me is I am not a sore loser - what's done is done. Sometimes the judges are unfair. Sometimes they can cheat you in a couple of places. It depends on your manner on the stage and your attitude but sometimes every now and then you can get one judge who is really biased and dislikes you and then you can get one who really likes you and will help push you two or three places forward. The judging system is not always accurate in the IFBB and that is very unfortunate.

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[ Q ] Do you think the judges should be rotated to help ensure a better-balanced decision?
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    [ A ] Yes, One hundred percent. I think I am going to vote for you as the next IFBB president or the next IFBB pro division person in charge. The thing is I think one good judge in the sport is Jim Manion. He is a master and really honest. And he is really an expert. And another thing about Jim Manion is that he doesn't give a s**t. He will give you what you deserve and it doesn't matter if you had wine with him the night before. Jim Manion was a hardcore bodybuilder himself.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir With Daughters Maria And Angela.

    You have three or four very good judges but like you said, if you don't rotate those judges it will really make a difference. You really have to put expert judges and sometimes you have to put hardcore athletes who have been there and done that for 25 to 30 years.

    I think if you have guys like Lee Labrada, Rich Gaspari, Lee Haney I guarantee you will have a complete result. Because I know these three guys will not cheat you because they have been through the torture of hard training, they have been through the competitions and they know the art of bodybuilding. You have guys like Sergio Oliva - those guys need to be judges. You can't have someone who is hairdresser and becomes a judge.

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[ Q ] Tell me about your artistic endeavors? I understand you are not only artistic in the physical sense.
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    [ A ] I have been talking to you about the art of bodybuilding and I had never done much work with other mediums and oils. But I have friend, Mohammed, who is the owner of Dream Tan, and he is an artist. He took art classes and went to art school for years, so he has been helping me learn how to blend color and how to use oils. He told me from the very first time he was impressed - he already gave me an eight on my first painting.

    It's going to take time and it's going to get better. Because with oil it's good because when the canvas is wet you can paint over color and make the corrections. So I love art and am enjoying it and doing a lot of it.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir And Maria.

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[ Q ] Do you see your body as a canvas that your are constantly working on? Can the physique been viewed as living art?
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    [ A ] You have to look at the physique and you have to look at the weaknesses and there is a way to improve weak body parts by not over training them. The art of bodybuilding is amazing; you can see it on people's physiques.

    You have guys like Frank Zane looking so good. Frank Zane could draw with his body onstage. Lee Labrada also is an artist and when he pose you can see that there is art in the pose. Gary Strydom doesn't draw with his body (laughs). He once told me that there are a lot of people who create an illusion with their bodies on the stage and he is not one of them. So what you see is what it is.

    Actually there are some people who use airbrushing on their bodies. They do this on certain areas to create more separation. I could call that cheating. If you take an airbrush and go around your abs you recreate detail. So you go with airbrushing and you use brown and a little lighter brown and then a little whiter in certain areas. But it has to be done by a master artist.

    Believe me, under the lights the muscle separation and striations are twice as good. It is best if you go with airbrushing around your abs, your intercostals and serratus and when you flex them and hit those particular poses, they are going to come out looking deeper under the light. This is going to create more of an illusion.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
With Lou Ferrigno And Sergio.

    It does make sense. My friend Mohammed agreed with me. You know the color you get with dream tan, well you need to be an artist to put that stuff on. You need to blend it in very nicely and it can make you look unbelievable.

    In my opinion this kind of color can make you look better than other colors because you can go deeper in some spots and go lighter in other areas. The bottom line is that you need to spread it very nicely, equally. You really need to have someone help you to apply it.

    And Frank Zane was an artist when it came to tanning and so was Tom Platz and Lee Labrada. I tell you, Lee Labrada did crazy stuff with his color. When Tom Platz came out to LA from Michigan he always used iodine with his oil and when he rubbed it in he rubbed it so smooth that he really had a golden color.

    The Golden Eagle was very good with color. And Frank Zane on the stage, his skin just looked so healthy and so unreal. But airbrushing is a different thing. I have a suspicion that at least three people have done this already and I don't think anybody has really noticed. I know some people have done it but I am not going to accuse them because they will think I consider it cheating. In a way it could be, but I'm not sure. You can do it without airbrushing or you can do it with airbrushing where you are not making it excessive to where it looks like cheating. I wouldn't consider it cheating though because it is not an implant. And an implant is cheating.

    It is up to you what you do. If you want to put lipstick you can put lipstick (laughs) or you could put gel on your hair. So I would not consider these things cheating and in the same way I wouldn't really consider airbrushing cheating. Airbrushing will, though, definitely enhance and give you at least ten percent advantage over the other competitors. I would sooner see it in place of synthol use and surgical implants. Those things are in my eyes disgusting. Guys who use synthol and have implants are in my opinion completely stupid.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir And Randa Bannout.

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[ Q ] Why do people use synthol and implants if it is so obviously wrong in your view?
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    [ A ] Well, sometimes the problem is that they don't think it is going to show but it does show. There are very few people who cannot see it. It is obvious. Maybe for one percent of the guys it does not show but for 99 percent of the guys it does. It is not just synthol. They inject into certain areas other substances. There was an Italian water-based product (Esiclene) at one time that was used for site injections. It was a fast acting anabolic that you could inject into a certain area. It does swell but it doesn't look as obvious as synthol. This product still exists today.

Editor's Note:
Esiclene is an Italian, water-based steroid. Esiclene will swell a local injection site and cause the muscle to gain size temporarily (It is purely a cosmetic enhancer).

The drug also gives the muscle additional definition and hardness for its duration of use, which is usually 20 to 30 hours. It is very painful to inject and also toxic on the liver.

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[ Q ] Would this steroid be absorbed into the bloodstream like synthol?
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    [ A ] I guess it depends on how deep you inject it. If you inject it very deep it doesn't do the job properly. You have to go half an inch instead of one and a half inches. If you go a quarter of an inch or half an inch, depending on the skin's thickness it does make a huge difference and it does not show. It's funny. I remember one guy who came out onstage and you could actually see where he put the needle. It looks disgusting, ugly.

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[ Q ] And you never needed to do this of course.
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    [ A ] I have never done anything like that. I think anyone who does anything like that is whacko. You might as well go on the record and say, "I have calf implants." It's not acceptable but if you are honest about it and you want to look good on the beach and have a balanced body, yes. But the IFBB does not accept it and I think that is good. At one time they were testing for it. I suspect ten guys who are using these kinds of things but I'm not going to name anyone. By the way, it was never Frank Zane. Those artists never use anything.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
With His Girls.

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[ Q ] Just a wild guess but I am picking that winning the 1983 Mr Olympia has been your biggest bodybuilding achievement to date?
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    [ A ] I do feel I could have won the Olympia more than once. Sometimes I do get a little too cocky and say, "If you are a doctor once, you don't need to be a doctor twice." It didn't work for me every time, but I think two or three times I was pretty close to winning again. But I blame me the most because I made huge mistakes and trained too hard.

    The fact is I had the potential to win it many times. I am very proud that I won the last one in 1990, the Pittsburgh Grand Prix. I looked good there and during the Houston Grand Prix a week before, although there I was standing next to Gary Strydom and he beat me there. He was fuller than me and at least as ripped as me, possibly more so. It could have gone either way.

    I enjoyed it when I won the WABBA world in Boston, which was a very good show, very exciting. I would have loved to go onstage in the IFBB show looking that good. Not so many people have seen me in that condition so I decided to produce a DVD, which includes my performance there.

    I look at it and can't believe how ripped I was. It was good that I won that show quite easily when Eduardo Kawak and Jeff King came back in and placed behind me at that show. Mike Mentzer was there and he was stunned. Art Zeller said, "Samir, you looked way better than at the '83 Olympia." Also, look for some footage on YouTube of me posing with Regis Philbin. I looked okay, but you have to see that. It is hilarious.

CLASSIC QUOTE
Samir on his one time Mr. Olympia win: "If you are a doctor once, you don't need to be a doctor twice."

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[ Q ] Regis is a big bodybuilding fan.
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    [ A ] Oh yes, I love Regis. He is very funny, and a great guy. You know what he did. He was discussing the book, Mr. Olympia, Muscle Mastery, and he says to me, "I loved that book. I read every word of it and it makes sense and I'm following that advice." He said, "Samir, I would love to compare with you." So he took his shirt off and I was in my posing trunks and then we started doing double biceps, side chest, and lat spread, he is just so funny. He wasn't self-conscious about standing next to me and I was in great shape.

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[ Q ] Your coloring for the WABBA show was perfect. What did you do to enhance this aspect of your presentation?
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    [ A ] My color was brown and gold mixed together and it was incredible. I was lying out in the sun quite a bit and then I used this product from France, a spray. I used it for three days: one day I sprayed evenly everywhere and when it dried up I took a cold shower. The following day I did it twice: in the AM I and then took another shower and then in the PM completed this process. So after three days my color looked incredible. I felt like a bronze statue.

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[ Q ] I hear you are getting back into good shape after your 2007 chest injury Samir?
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    [ A ] Oh my training is going very good now. It's excellent. All of a sudden I'm filled up; I'm 224 and my body fat is starting to go back down and I'm growing again. Believe it or not I dropped down to close to 210 and I was a little bit soft. Now I am like 224 and getting much harder. After my chest injury though I experienced severe dental problems and had to get this addressed, and that slowed me down even more.

Editor's Note:
Towards the end of 2007 Samir underwent dental surgery to treat an infection that had spread. It required him to wear implants for four months after this surgery. These dental problems had plagued Samir since his ill-fated 2006 San Francisco appearance.

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[ Q ] 210 pounds is not exactly small though. Most bodybuilders would probably aspire to 210.
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    [ A ] I was at one point close to 217 and really cut, really sliced. I was in good shape, and then all of a sudden this thing happened (the dental problems). I am on my way back and my mouth is never going to be a problem for me again. I have finished with the worst of it. I can smile comfortably now and can put pressure on that side of my mouth so it is going to be okay. I suffered a bit as far as strength but now the strength is back up to where it was and I am grateful. I'm still training here and kicking back, you know.

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[ Q ] You have had a pretty difficult year as far as injuries and medical problems go.
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    [ A ] Yes, it has been really bad. Let me tell you, the main cause of all of my problems was this root canal. That was one of the main reasons I embarrassed myself in San Francisco a couple of years back. And now it hit me again. So now we finally got it removed and in plaster.

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[ Q ] So what are you doing these days other than training?
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    [ A ] Just kicking back. Actually on Sunday I am going to something Arnold has organized for Reg Park. It is on Sunday at 4:30. Jon Jon called me yesterday and told me.

RELATED ARTICLE

[ Click here to learn more. ]
Reg Park Memorial Service!
Reg will live on in the hearts and minds of those he influenced. What follows are key speeches from Reg’s wife, Mareon, son Jon Jon, daughter Jeunesse, and the great Arnold.
Author:
David Robson

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[ Q ] Excellent. Reg was a tremendous guy. I understand you are also helping a young up and coming bodybuilder to make it to the pros. Tell me more about that.
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    [ A ] His name is Kamal and this guy has got very, very good genetics man. You should see this guy in person. He has a good back and his arms are very good. I took some pictures of him as he held a sledgehammer and beat up on a rock that looked like the surface of the moon (laughs). I took them with David Paul. I have a fairly good lens but David has a lens that can shoot you here to New Zealand. It is so powerful; you can see the fuzz on the athletes face from 50 yards away (laughs).

    I will get a lens like that. You know I am really interested in the art of bodybuilding and thing is I can do a very good job of shooting guys in that way and making them look as artistic as possible. I really could do that. Art Zeller is a great outdoor photographer, but I think taking poses from head to toe and making each and every one look so much like a Frank Zane, that would be a job for someone like me. Set them up so they would look proper, not awkward.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Kamal.

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[ Q ] Shoot them from the right angle, in the right position.
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    [ A ] Exactly. I think I am going to try to do that and we will see. Maybe I could start selling pictures (laughs). I have a couple of kids who are training for shows right now and I am going to take some good pictures and I will show you.

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[ Q ] I will give you my honest opinion.
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    [ A ] I'm sure you could; I think you and I have similar kinds of tastes in the bodybuilding game.

    Something interesting. I was just watching TV before and they reported on a big steroid scandal. They showed a bottle of Anadrol (laughs). They showed Victor Conte as well. A lot of people buy their stuff from him. I met him in Las Vegas a year ago and he said, "Samir, if you need anything I will be glad to send you any supplement you want." And he gave me his card.

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[ Q ] He wasn't talking about ZMA, right?
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    [ A ] I'm not sure (laughs).

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir's Boys, Jesse And Sergio.

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[ Q ] What is your view on supplementation of the nutritional kind?
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    [ A ] Supplements are a great topic to talk about because they do work but you must get it right. Sergio and Arnold and guys from their era didn't really use supplements but they became major stars. But nevertheless there are a lot of great products that do help accelerate your progress. Instead of it taking you ten years to become a champion, nowadays you can do it in three or four years.

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[ Q ] Back in the '60s and '70s they didn't have access to the vast array of supplements they have today did they?
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    [ A ] That is right. And today supplements can help you to cut down on the steroid abuse. It is very important but some of those athletes are just using both (laughs). They are taking a lot of products right now like the NO-Explode (the Alpha-Ketoglutarate). And they use an excessive amount of glutamine and creatine along with branched chain amino acids.

    Today they have everything available. If Sergio and Arnold had all of these tools they too would probably have gotten another ten percent better. I definitely think supplements do work. But there is a point where you need to draw the line. There is a boundary for how much of a product you should be using.

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[ Q ] In your view how much is too much when it comes to supplementation?
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    [ A ] I think if you have a positive nitrogen balance and you are taking 100 grams of protein divided by three drinks, like 30 grams per drink in between meals for example that would be good. This would really help you and will definitely keep you in a positive nitrogen state. Taking the branched chain amino acids also is a plus.

    Taking extra L-glutamine is also good. I have used this product called Mega NO2 and it helped me a great deal. Several companies are making this type of product. I use Mega NO2 made by a company called Pro Fight, and that stuff filled me up and it felt like I was using something else. Seriously. They make another product called Trim and Cleanse and I take it in the morning when I wake up. It keeps my stomach feeling empty and I have no desire to eat.

    People often don't understand the importance of cleansing the stomach on a regular basis. You have to keep flushing your intestine always. I mean I have taken EAS products; Bill Phillips used to send me boxes of product and it was good; I liked it. The first NO product I used was from BSN and it was very good. Then last year I used Mega NO2 from Pro Fight and I felt like something really happened. I felt harder and fuller.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir Bannout.

    I literally have everything else available to me but I will now use the Pro Fight supplements. I do like a couple of other brands. SAN is one that works well and is made by the German Guy, Matthew Boldt, endorsed by Dennis James. The owner has a very good work ethic and whatever he does, he does it first class.

    Most supplements that they sell today are good. The bad part is that some kids over-abuse certain things. They start to rely more on supplements. Part of it is taking the proper supplementation but, for example, too many thermogenic products are not good for you.

    If you have a fast metabolism and you take something that has a huge amount of caffeine and ephedrine hydrochloride it will somehow deplete you; somehow make you flat. So you have to know where to draw the line and keep the balance. I think 200 to 400 grams of caffeine should be more than enough in my opinion.

    For me personally if I take too much caffeine I freak out (laughs). Too much I can't do. 200 milligrams before a workout and I will feel great. More than that I get jittery and I talk too fast, and can't concentrate. This causes me to be too adrenalized.

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[ Q ] What is he best way to cycle thermogenic products?
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    [ A ] Well you have to know how to deal with plateaus. In my opinion you do it for three days and then you stop for three days - then you go back. If you keep taking it higher and higher it won't work.

Samir
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir At Age 52 (All Natural!)

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[ Q ] If one of your clients asked you what you would recommend as being the three most important supplements to take what would you advise?
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    [ A ] I am somewhat of an old fashioned guy (laughs). I still respect guys like Bill Peal and Vince Gironda. I wouldn't mind taking desiccated liver, definitely branched chain amino acids, and a pharmaceutical grade, L-form, pure-grade free form amino acid. This stuff works, no doubt.

    I once went to Joe Weider's office and bought a bunch of this stuff, very expensive. It was pharmaceutical grade, the purest form amino acids you could possibly get. And I was spending a couple of hundred dollars on one month's supply.

    When I won the Olympia in 1983 I had a couple of bottles and I was taking about 15 to 20 capsules daily. And I used to chew them; they tasted really kind of sour (laughs). I was eating them while dieting to make sure that it went through my lymphatic system. I would kind of bite it and let it sit under my tongue. That's how mean I was to myself (laughs). It was the most disgusting way to do it and I had the willpower and I wanted to do it. Seriously though, the stuff was very good.

    So I would say the top quality, pharmaceutical grade free form amino acids number one, an L-Glutamine supplement and a good amino acid chelated mineral and antioxidant combination.

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[ Q ] No whey protein in the top three?
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    [ A ] Well, whey protein isolate is pretty good. But you wouldn't need more than 35 to 40 grams two to three times a day. You don't need to down gallons of this stuff. If you are eating 200 grams of protein plus you add another 60 to 70 grams from a protein drink I think that would be perfect. You don't need to eat 600 to 700 grams of protein a day. That is just insane.

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[ Q ] Getting back to amino acids, is it practical for most supplement users, especially those on restricted budgets, to use pharmaceutical grade amino acids?
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    [ A ] If you can't afford it just go and buy regular amino acids.

Samir
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
With Arnold And Franco.

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[ Q ] How do the two different types compare?
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    [ A ] Well, some companies will sell you pre-digested protein as an amino acid, not an L-form. They tell you the amino acid sequence but they don't put an L on the label. If there is no L- as in L-Arginine for example, it is not pharmaceutical.

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[ Q ] So your advice is to look for the L form.
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    [ A ] Yes, if it is not an L-form that means it is definitely not pharmaceutical and is more likely pre-digested protein. The pre-digested form will work but it is not a Rolls Royce; more like a Volkswagen or even maybe even a bicycle (laughs).

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[ Q ] Maybe not even that.
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    [ A ] Yeah, maybe like something like roller blades (laughs).

    But also you can get some really good quality aminos. There is a German one and the Japanese make a great one also. There are grades. The product that we got from Tyson in the late-'70s, early-'80s, believe me it was the best amino ever up until now. I have hardly seen any amino acid products this good. They only sell to hospitals, nowhere else. It was just incredible.

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[ Q ] So you would need to steal them from your local hospital to obtain them.
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    [ A ] (laughs) Well I am taking some aminos right now and again I have to say they are pretty good. I am happy with what I am using. Again I would have to give P ro Fight credit for their aminos and they are not bad at all. I don't think they are as good as Tyson though.

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[ Q ] You don't hear too much about the Tyson company these days.
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    [ A ] Well, they used to have an office in Santa Monica (Tyson and Associates). They only sell to hospitals and medical centers.

Editor's Note:
Tyson and Associates nutritional supplementation company, established by Don Tyson, a nutritional researcher for 42 years, who manufactured amino acids and other essential nutrients for 22 years, became, in 1980, the first US distributor of oral amino acids for human clinical use.

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[ Q ] You mentioned before that 600 or so grams of protein per day as being excessive. In your opinion why is this exactly?
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    [ A ] I think it is 100 percent insanity. I think your kidneys will get ruined and do you really need it? You don't need that much. For God sakes a normal person can get away with eating 100 grams. But if you even triple that for bodybuilding I can understand, but of you are more than quadrupling it that is insanity. You don't need it; it is going to waste. You are pooping it out or converting into glucose.

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[ Q ] Mike Mentzer once said that most bodybuilders force-feed themselves massive amounts of protein and calories well beyond what would reasonably be expected to produce sufficient results in muscle growth. He asserted that a reasonable expectation for the average bodybuilder would be 10 pounds of muscle per year, or 12 grams of muscle per day.

By Mentzer's estimation this bodybuilder would need an additional 16 calories per day beyond maintenance to achieve this ten pounds per year gain in muscle. Are bodybuilders today taking in too many calories and too much protein in your view?
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    [ A ] He ( Mentzer) is right and he had enough muscle on him to back up what he stated. I never saw Mike Mentzer eating a Calahan cut steak. This is like a 22-ounce prime rib steak. You don't need that much. I know Tom Platz was big on protein but I can guarantee that he never ate more than 300 grams a day at his best. I tell you I never in my life, even when I won the Olympia, never ate more than 250 grams of protein per day, 300 grams maybe at certain times.

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[ Q ] So you would get around 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight of protein per day?
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    [ A ] Yes and that is all you need.

Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Samir Bannout.

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[ Q ] A doctor told me recently that the average man only needs 30 grams of protein per day to survive. To me it sounds like this would barely be enough for recovery purposes for anyone.
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    [ A ] Well, he might be talking about someone wanting to live to 80, but he's not talking about muscle building. Come on, you need that nitrogen retention to blow up. If you don't have the materials to build a house, how can you build a house? We are looking into building our bodies.

    I believe if you keep it at around 250 and you take all the necessary supplements and drink a lot of water you should be fine. Some individuals may encounter problems if they are predisposed of have an existing health issue. But they should know first. I never had a problem, but I never went crazy on protein, ever. I would convert to a monster if I consumed 350 grams of protein every day.

    Today I have had close to 100 grams if I am lucky. But I still have three meals to go so I will probably eat another 100, 150 at the most. So it will be between 200 and 250; I am not precise about what I am taking.

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[ Q ] So you have been taking in this amount for the majority of your bodybuilding career?
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    [ A ] Well around contents I make sure I eat about 50 grams of protein every two to three hours. Right now I'm not so critical about my timing, so it is pretty off the wall (laughs).

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[ Q ] Well I think some doctors would class you as certifiably insane and suicidal.
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    [ A ] Oh for sure. One other thing: they have this product called New Way. Let me go through my health food store and show you (laughs). I have so many supplements here in my closet; you will freak out.

    Check this out: here is this protein called New Whey, which has 42 grams of protein, zero sugar, zero fat. It is a liquid fruit punch. I don't think it is more four or five fluid ounces. You drink it in one go and it is gone - 42 grams of protein. I have a couple of boxes of them here. Every now and then if I wake up at night and I am hungry or have to urinate I will just go to the fridge and open one - 42 grams of protein.

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[ Q ] Please, you will have to take a photo of your supplement cupboard for me.
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Samir
Click Image To Enlarge.
Some Of Samir's Supplements.

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[ Q ] Well at your age and current level of development all these supplements must be paying off. To conclude this interview Samir please tell me what you like most about bodybuilding?
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    [ A ] It is fun. When you workout with weights it is fun and when you are competing it is fun. As Frank Zane once said: "It is fun, it's an art, it is a performing art and it is a joy to see yourself lifting weights in the gym." It is a joy to be lifting heavy weights as long as you don't strain and injure yourself like I did a while back (early 2007).

    Then after weight training you do your aerobics and all together it is just great. When you get it done, you enjoy the fact that you did it. When you do the aerobics you get that endorphin rush. It's just a great feeling. And again, I like the feeling that you are building your physique.

    You don't have to do it for the Mr. Olympia or for the Universe. Just having that athletic quality look is fantastic. It's a joy. So I enjoy bodybuilding from the training in the gym to the feeling it gives to the healthy eating and improving your health.

    The look is beautiful. You don't have to look like Gary Strydom and to be that freaky massive. Just looking hard and gnarly, whether you are 175 pounds or 225. I love the look.

    Visit Samir at samirbannout.net

Part 1 | Part 2