The Early Days (by Trevor Smith)

O.K. O.K…..we all know that some of the biggest and freakiest men ever to compete in the sport are names such as Nasser El Sonbaty, Dorian Yates, Jean Pierre Fux, Marcus Ruhl and Greg Kovacs. In fact, Muscle Mag International and in particular it`s supplement company Muscle-Tech, would have all believe that Greg Kovacs is the largest bodybuilder ever to step on a competitive stage. Now while that may be the case going by sheer numbers—Gregg is around 6`3" and competes between 320 and 330lbs—for my money, the most insane mass freak I have ever laid eyes on in my entire life is someone who never stepped foot on an I.F.B.B. stage. That man is Victor Richards. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to speak with this man who is admittedly a bit of a recluse, to gain an insight into how he got started in bodybuilding, what his beliefs are and what he thinks of the current superstars.

TS: Hello Vic, I have to tell you I didn`t think I was going to be able to track you down…after all you have been all but absent in the sport since 1994. What have you been up to lately?

VR: Basically I just got tired of all the politics and bullshit within the sport. My heart was not in it anymore, so I decided to take some time away to focus on my education and some business ventures.

TS: Why don`t we do this Vic, tell everyone how you got started in bodybuilding.

VR: It was actually a bit of an accident. Back in 1982 I was playing football in high school and never touched a weight, yet at 15 years of age I was already 215 pounds and strong as an Ox. All my friends thought I was some sort of freak of nature because while they were busy hitting the weights to get stronger for football, I spent my time doing other things. Yet whenever there was a strength challenge, I always came out on top. One day a bunch of my friends and I took a trip down to Venice beach, basically to catch some waves and see the girls in bikinis. While we were walking around the Venice beach walk, this bodybuilder stopped me and asked me who I was and what I competed in. When I told him I did not even work out, He couldn`t believe it. He asked me my age and was shocked when he found out I was only 15. He said: "Kid, right now in your shape you would whip every teenagers ass in any competition, you got to come see Gold`s Gym with me" So off we went.

TS: And what was that like

VR: Well I remember going into the gym and seeing all this bodybuilders flexing and staring at themselves in the mirror, walking around without shirts on. The guy who brought us there was pointing different people out saying "That's Mr. America…..see over there, that's Mr. Universe and over there that`s Mr. World" and so on.

TS: What did you say to him when he was pointing out all the champions to you at that time.

VR: Actually I did not give a shit about any of those ego filled guys and told him I did not care and was not impressed. After he went through his litany of who`s who, I just wanted to know one thing.

TS: And what was that?

VR: Who in the hell the two animal twin brothers where in the back corner bench pressing 500lbs. wearing overalls, flannel shirts and work-boots. To me I never saw anything like them in my whole life. At that moment I knew that was what I wanted…Not to look in the mirror at myself, but to train with the passion and intensity of those two monsters.

TS: I assume you are talking about David and Peter Paul……The Barbarian Brothers?.

VR: Exactly, I was totally awe struck. But it gets better. Right after I pointed them out, one of them yells over in a mean growl: "Hey you!" I thought, rather I hoped he was talking to one of my friends, but I soon realized it was me he was pointing to. I said yes in a very nervous manner and he barked back something about me having what it takes to train with them and to come over there. I could not believe it. And that is how I got my start in bodybuilding. Back in 1982 at the age of 15, I began training with the Barbarian brothers.

TS: Damn, they were the shit back then, that must have been really exciting, how did you like the training?

VR: It was exactly what I needed. To them training was about the moment, a spiritual quest between you and yourself, no mirrors, no crowds, no applause. Training was sacred and training was hard and training was heavy. Within a few years I had gotten so big and strong, that I actually surpassed both David and Peter in terms of size and strength.

TS: That is pretty amazing, what else was going on there at that time

VR: Well after I was training there for about a year, I remember seeing this guy walk in and everyone was crowding around him because he had just won the Mr. America. Now I had seen a lot of the professionals throughout the year, but this guy was different, I never had seen a bodybuilder as freaky looking as him before. So, like a little kid, I ran up to him to ask him some questions and that`s when I got my first sour taste of the sport…..The Bad Attitudes. As soon as I opened my mouth, he turned to me and screamed for me to get away from him and not to disturb his training. Now I can understand if he would have said "Son, I cannot be disturbed when I am training, but I will be happy to answer your questions when I am finished." But instead he humiliated me in front of the whole gym, and I left very embarrassed and upset.

TS: Who was that bodybuilder?

VR: Tim Belknap

TS: Did you ever see him after you made a name for yourself and tell him about how he treated you?

VR: Strangely enough about a year later, I had made such tremendous progress and started making a big name for myself, so one day in Gold's, he came up to me and was super nice and said "Hey Vic, man you look amazing, what are you doing to get so big" or something to that effect.

TS: What did you say?

VR: I said, you don't remember me do you? He was confused and so I told him about what happened last year and he was backpedaling saying that he didn`t remember doing that and that he was sorry. To me I could have embarrassed him and evened the score, but that would have only brought me to his level. He knew I had surpassed him in terms of his physique and that was enough for me.

TS: That`s a pretty funny story. It amazes me how guys who nobody knows who the fuck they are 5 miles out of Venice Beach, California, have the attitude of overpaid actors and actresses or overpaid football players. It is a shame that they don`t realize in the greater scheme of things they are as insignificant as a spec of flea shit on the back of a fly feeding on the rotted carcass of a sewer rat.

VR: Right, that is one of the things I hate about the sport. The backstabbing, the politics, the attitudes. It is just not my thing. All I care about or ever cared about is training. To me training is like meditation. I can focus on my inner self and do not have to worry about judges or anyone else for that matter.

TS: Well Vic, I remember reading about you for the first time in 1987….I think then you were like 280lbs. when everyone else was 240-250…How come you didn`t compete then.

VR: Well you have to understand, I did two competitions as a teenager (one of them against Rich Gaspari who was 2 years older than me) and after my second competition, which I won, I remember walking into the parking lot carrying my trophy and having it literally fall apart in my hand because it was such a piece of shit. At that point I thought to myself, "All this hard work for a trophy that can`t even stay in one piece" So I decided to just get totally enveloped in my training and get as big as I could.

TS: Well you certainly did that….There was talk in the late 1980`s and early 1990`s that you were going to enter the NPC USA CHAMPIONSHIPS. In fact I remember waiting in anticipation to see you come out on stage and dwarf everyone on stage. Why did that never happen. I mean, you were doing a lot of guestposing for the MUSCLEMANIA shows and I think you were hitting the stage at a pretty hard 292lbs. Remember this is back when Haney was doing his last Olympia at 243lbs. and Dorian was coming on at 240lbs. So to me I thought you would crush a hell of a lot of people seeing how you were outweighing everyone by 40 or 50 lbs.

VR: This is pretty interesting. You see, bodybuilding is all about power and control. The competitors are nothing but pieces of meat to the powers that be. I was getting a lot of guest posing work for NPC sanctioned shows, and the powers that be felt it was unfair that I was not an NPC athlete. Basically they were putting pressure on the promoters not to allow me to guest pose. I felt they were trying to get me to compete in the NPC for the sole purpose of making me look like a fool on stage.

TS: How would they do that if you came into a show in shredded condition 50 pounds heavier than your nearest competitor?

VR: Oh come on, do you really think that the best man wins? I was not going to be made a fool even if for only one show. Nobody was going to force me to compete.

TS: Then how come you competing in the Nigerian Championships to get your Pro-Card in 1992?

VR: That is a funny story. You see, after the heads of the NPC and the IFBB were putting pressure on promoters to not hire me for guest posings, I simply went over to Europe and made a killing. Their power was not immediately felt over there. However, it wasn`t long before I started to feel their wrath, and even the guest posings over there began being cancelled due to fear of reparations from the powers that be. It was around this time that I had gotten a contract with Joe Weider—who is really a great guy—and even Joe was getting a lot of pressure for me to have to compete. Everyone thinks that Joe controls the sport, but he really doesn`t. There are a lot more powerful people behind the wheel.

TS: So Joe told you that you had to compete in the Nigerian Championships to keep your contract?

VR: No, Joe just said that I needed to compete and get my pro card. Now obviously, the powers that be, thought I would have to due the NPC Nationals, North American, or the USA to get my pro card, and this would be their chance to teach me a lesson. Except they forgot one small detail.

TS: Which was?

VR: I held duel citizenship in both the USA and in Nigeria. So I simply flew down to Nigeria and did what essentially was to me, a guest posing. Of course, I was so far ahead of the other competitors that I easily won. I got my pro card, and of course got to keep my contract….for a while anyway.

TS: That is a pretty funny story. Of course I have no way of confirming if it is true, but it is pretty funny if it is. Now I would like to jump ahead to 1994. During this time I remember flipping through my copy of Flex magazine and all of a sudden coming to the page reporting on that years FIBO. Suffice is to say I nearly shit my pants. To this day, I have never seen anything bigger than you were at that show. You were 320-330lbs. and granted you were holding a lot of water, but at 5`9`` that was the most amount of muscle I ever saw on a human being. You made Dorian look like a baby—now in all fairness, Dorian may not have been fully loaded during that time, but I still could not get over the size of you. I also remember that there was a lot of controversy when you hit the stage with the other athletes. Please tell us about that time and what the hell you did to get that freaking massive...

Continued at "FIBO 1994"....

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