Mezza writes for the Beef mag - The Great British Magazine - Article 1

My brother used to have all the Marvel comics: Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, etc. I would spend lots of my time looking at the pictures of these men with super human powers, and of course my favourite was the Incredible Hulk. He was the strongest and most muscular of them all, and I wanted the muscles he had. So much so that I would draw them on my chest and abs with a green felt tip pen, then flex my Muscles in the mirror... I would be around 8 years old at this time... The Hulk was my hero, the TV series was on once a week every Saturday, right after Worzel Gummage, he could put a few cakes away. But still to this day the intro of the Original Hulk has its place firmly in my mind, and all my Childhood dreams came from watching the Hulk. Without him many of you wouldn’t know who I am.

" Going back to the early 80’s I was just a small boy, shopping with my Grandma. I can clearly remember her asking me if would like a comic. But I just stared up at the Muscle mags. Flex had Lou Ferrigno on the front and the words above him THE INCREDIBLE HULK. As I got a little older the cartoon He-man was my favourite. That man had muscles in his face... I had all the figures - I spent hours with them and of course He-man was mashing the other figures up... By this time I had a small Steel barbell that my Uncle Lenny had made for me, and my brother’s Bullworker that me and my mates would take turns on who could press it in the most .... I also had one of those punch balls, can’t remember the proper name, where you would stand on the wood platform that had a spring at the bottom with a steel bar through it with the Punch ball at the top. After watching Rocky 2. I would Go upstairs, put on my Big Red Boxing Gloves and punch till I could no longer Breathe. Well almost...

My bedroom wall was plastered in my favourite Muscle stars.. back in the day ... Shawn Ray, Berry Demey, Eddie Robinson, Mike Ashley, Mike Christian, Lee Haney, Lee Labrada, Rich Gaspari, Bertil Fox, Mike Quinn, Vince Taylor. Mohammed Benaziza, Francis Benfato, and Arnold ...... I had Flex mag delivered once a month and I would go into my own little world reading and looking at the photos of the above names, and hoping that one day I too would have a body like theirs. I would Dream of one day living in California, Training at Golds Gym, sun bathing on Venice beach, living out My Dreams...

I started High school at 12 years old, and I can clearly remember the teacher in English class going around the class room and asking everybody to stand up in turn and say what they would like to be when they got older. There were brick layers, football players, painters and decorators... then it was my turn: I said that one day I would like to be a famous Bodybuilder like Arnold S. The classroom just erupted in laughs and stuff hurled at me... wonder who laughing now!! I wasn’t the most academic kid at High School, but it didn’t bother me. I would sit in Class and day dream about the gym, and Bodybuilding.... At lunchtime I would run home, while my mates were going to other schools and having arranged fights at dinner time, I would be eating almost raw steak. Remember I was only 15 to 16 years old here, and I’d read in the mags “the rawer the better.” So I would just defrost a frozen steak for a few seconds, then eat it all most frozen... I didn’t have the time to grill it anyway. Then I would run back down the fields back to school, where most of my mates would be in the headmasters office. LOL. My Bodybuilding Dreams and lifestyle kept me away from lots of the problems that my friends were getting into....

My first time in a gym was at the local swimming baths. It was only a very small gym, and I would go once a week with my friends on a Sunday and while they were messing around, I was in the Zone and of course training to be one day Mr Olympia. The equipment was those machines that were a all-in-one - latpulldowns, machine press, for chest and shoulders’ leg extension and reverse leg extension.... type of thing. Them were the days eh! They also had a few barbells and dumbbells, and that was about it..

As I got a little older my mum bought me a second-hand Weider Multigym. I would go on that around 3 or 4 times a week. My bro made me out a program... Neil bought me a chin up bar, and I would do chins just about every time I went under the bar. Did that for years.. He would give me a dead arm or dead leg every time he walked past me. I used to say one day when I was bigger than him I would hit him back so hard he would never get up from it, and normally if my mum wasn’t around he would give me another to shut me up. Then I would run upstairs and knock my punch ball in, as I was so upset and angry. I would not put my gloves on. I never did punch my big bother back. There is ten years between us - I guess that’s why. For my 12th birthday my mum found me a real gym and paid a one years membership for me. That was a lot of money back then for a one parent mum. Without my mother I would not have been able to go to the gym never mind win a bodybuilding show. My mother supported my brother and I in our chosen interests. Neil is a rock star, and I was going be a Champion bodybuilder of course...

The gym was called Workout Warehouse and became my second home for ten years. The gym owner was called Alan Guest - he was massive like the men in the muscle mags I thought. He wrote out a training program for me - 4 times a week it was. Looking back it was high volume, ie: lots of sets. I trained like there was no tomorrow. Never missing a workout. I got myself a training partner, and we would take every set to failure. Then forced reps, then a drop set with forced reps. We did that for every exercises, as I thought if we trained harder than everybody else we would get bigger than everybody else. In my mind every rep, every forced rep, every drop set, would take me one step closer to my dreams - huge muscles, California, Golds Gym and all that, so I would train like I was possessed. I had the eye of the tiger, the drive, total commitment to my passion, the sport of Bodybuilding.. Workout Warehouse was jam packed with great workout equipment. It was the gym to train at, it had a hardcore feel to the place due to the Bodybuilders who trained there. The brick walls had Muscle warriors painted on the wall, the speakers had heavy metal pumping out. The place was bouncing, the men that trained there were really strong - like 5-plate benching and 8-plate squats. It had positive energy pulsing through the stone and mortar that held it together.... Ian Harrison was Alan’s training partner for some time there. Billy Payne trained there from time to time, as did Rick Berby, and Julian Casey, all very good Bodybuilders.. The gym is still there to this day, it’s a very different place now. I call in now and then, it’s a totally different place, but I can still remember the equipment we used, the smell of sweat, the screams of pain, but the paintings are no longer on the walls...

But my childhood memories are still there.... I trained there for 10 years.. before leaving and moving on to the Halifax Bodystation. Distant dreams of years gone by.

MEZZA

PS: What ya benching?

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