MO: What do you feel your calling in this sport is?
VR: I think my calling initially in this sport was instead of winning titles and
competing was to mentor people and give a voice to people that didn’t feel they
could speak up. I don’t think I would have been able to do that and compete at the same time. I wouldn’t have been able to be an advocate and voice for the athletes and the fans if I had been competing. As your life experiences goes on your calling becomes more and more clear to you. Sometimes you don’t know where they are leading you and then once you arrive it all makes sense. The life experiences I have had have made me even more passionate to pursue my calling. So know I am committing all of my time and all of my energy to being that voice and that advocate. Over the years many have tried to silence my voice and discredit me. I am not a dog - I am a wolverine and if you back me in a corner I am going to fight!
MO: What experiences did you have with Joe Weider?
VR: Joe himself has always treated me great. Anybody that knows Joe knows that he has a great passion for bodybuilding and bodybuilders. Joe was surrounded by ignorant people that knew nothing about bodybuilding and just wanted to count dollars. These people were weak minded, jealous people that wanted to humiliate bodybuilders because they didn’t like bodybuilders. Some of them had good reason not to like some of the athletes but some of them were just insecure. These were Joe’s business advisers. In order to control and exploit the bodybuilders they were so jealous of they chose to take actions that would make the athletes live in hardship. It wasn’t unusual for me to see Mr. Universe contenders sleeping in a van outside of Gold’s gym, starting a fire to cook their meals. The publications were making tons of money yet the athletes who were in the magazines holding a jar of protein had nothing to show for it. When other sports like professional wrestling and golf were investing large amounts of money on public relations to position their sports for the future bodybuilding was like a rancher that took their cattle to the desert and refused to feed them and still expected to produce large amounts of milk. Instead of using their own money to invest they were caught up in exploiting the athlete. It didn’t matter if it was bad press as long as it was cheap press. You don’t see the NBA putting Denzel Washington on the cover of their magazine because he likes to play basketball on the weekend. If a famous person went to the gym one day
in their life they would end up on the cover of a magazine just to create some buzz. The fact is Joe’s advisers didn’t want to spend any money to promote the sport. I don’t blame it all on Joe but his organization was setting the trends. So if not paying bodybuilders and producing questionable supplements was the model Weider showed everyone else followed suit. It was profits first, athletes last. Joe didn’t really start putting people under contract until Vince McMahon’s WBF came into play and Joe didn’t want to lose them to the WBF. As soon as the WBF went out of business most of the athletes had their contracts cut. I have always had the utmost respect for Joe, how he treated me and what he has done for bodybuilding. My opinion both public and private of Joe Weider has always remained the same. I can’t say the same for some the executives and athletes that praise him in public and trash him behind closed doors. They do the same thing to Arnold.
MO: Tell me about the movie roles you have turned over the years, Vic.
VR: Well over my lifetime I have turned down four different movie rolls. Two of
those four would have been very lucrative and would have opened many other
doors for me in Hollywood. I was living and training in Southern California and was among producers and movie stars on a daily basis. All my life I have always been against racism, stereotypes, and injustice. Most people that are racist haven’t had a bad personal experience with the race they are racist against. They have their thoughts and beliefs shaped by movies and TV shows that perpetuate fear and hate mongering and ignorance by promoting stereo types. So when I was asked to take
rolls as a violent big, muscular black man beating up a little old white lady I
declined each and every time. Why don’t I deserve the same roles Arnold does? We both have thick accents (laughs out loud). How is it going to help my children, other black males and the sport of bodybuilding if I take a role as some violent street thug? How is taking a role like that going to increase unity and quality of life for any person with dark skin? I simply couldn’t be a part of it. It cost me a lot of money but there is no price that can be put on my integrity and moral compass. It’s the same reason I didn’t compromise my principles for competitive bodybuilding.
MO: Well that leads to my next question, Vic. Why exactly didn’t you compete? We have many rumors over the years.
VR: First I believe that the reasons I started to lift weights are different then 99% of the people that were going to the gym. I happened to have the great experience to feel what most people, could not feel about bodybuilding. That is to take it beyond physical and beyond mental to a spiritual experience. Bodybuilding became spiritual to me. Jumping on stage didn’t feel spiritual to me at all. Just as the synagogue to the Rabbi, the Vatican to the Pope the gym was my spiritual ground. To have competed on the stage which is more for showmanship would be like bringing a stripper to the holy temple. Before I went to the gym I had already dreamed and visualized my entire workout, my recovery and my growth. To let a panel of judges determine my worth when I wasn’t doing this for anyone other then myself seemed crazy to me. I also knew that if I was competing and taking endorsements that my voice would try to be silenced. It happened anyway.
MO: Tell me more about that.
VR: Jim Manion and Wayne Demalia actually blocked me from guest posing in the USA. They tried to do the same in Europe but their influence wasn’t far reaching enough. When the NPC tried to get me to guest post Manion would contact the promoter of the NPC show and tell them not to hire me. When the AAU or other organizations would try to get me to guest pose Manion would call me at home and tell me I couldn’t guest pose since I was an IFBB athlete. This is why most of my guest posing took place in Europe. This is why you guys never saw me in the USA. I was determined to become even better then before once they started blocking me from posing in the USA. This lead to my pose down with Dorian (Yates) at FIBO in Germany. The pose down was actually orchestrated by John Brown (Mr. Universe). He told me “Victor we have seen bodybuilders and we have seen bodybuilding. Victor you are the bodybuilders bodybuilder. You must be seen!” These giants of the sport could look at me and tell I wasn’t on GH or insulin because my stomach wasn’t distended like the rest of their champions. After that incident I found it funny that people who were friends to my face were actually threatened by my presence on stage. The only people that were congratulatory were Lenda Murray and Kevin Levrone. Kevin urged me to compete and told me any show I entered would be mine. He told me he was sure I could win Mr. Olympia hands down. He hired me on the spot to guest pose on his show. Another bodybuilder paying me to pose at his show. He had just won the Arnold Classic and had placed 2nd at the most recent Mr.
Olympia! I still chose not to compete because I wasn’t going to compromise my
principles. The feeling I got from training was so powerful, so spiritual I wasn’t
going to do anything to risk that feeling. I also wasn’t willing to risk my health. All
the people who would clap for me if I got on stage would they be at my funeral if I died from the rigors of contest preparation. Diuretics and dehydration were not
things I was even willing to consider. For me it has always been about wellness,
balance and health.
MO: Vic what are your current and future goals?
VR: Well I want to return bodybuilding to what is was originally intended to be. The mind, the body and the spirit. Master thyself. When people talk about anti-aging, that is bodybuilding. When people talk about sexual health, beating depression, preventing diabetes-that is what bodybuilding is truly about. True health and true wellness. Bodybuilding today is like a beautiful car that people have taken and sold for parts. There has never been any sport that covers health from every angle. Ant aging, mental health, and warding of depression. If bodybuilding is practiced to the fullest 90% of the big pharmaceutical companies would go under. Doctors would be in the soup line. Just like any great innovators that weren’t recognized when they were alive, my philosophy about true bodybuilding will be studied and celebrated long after I am gone at the top learning institutions. Yale, Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge.
MO: So, Vic what are you doing now to create that legacy?
VR: For years I have had a vision of a sorts of a research and investigation consortium. To this end I have created the VRRI (Victor Richards Research Institute). We have primary goals. To empower athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike to achieve optimal health and optimal finances. I am sick and tired of seeing people spending money on products they saw in a special 4-page ad report when they could be investing their money in products that not only are proven to be beneficial but come from companies that actually pay their customers for their business. There are some really dynamic and cutting edge companies and products out there that get overshadowed by the big boys who dominate the ad space in the muscle magazines. So the VRRI will be continually researching and suggesting products and services that are not only cutting edge and of great benefit - they will often come from companies that will pay people for their referrals and any sales they generate. The VRRI is committed to providing solutions rather then focusing on problems. We will create an army of wellness champions. Lastly, we are in discussions for a series of Vic Richards Wellness Centers both here in the States and abroad. The VR Wellness Centers will offer the best of the best in wellness, fitness and nutrition technologies.
MO: Vic what would you most like to see change in today’s bodybuilding world?
VR: First I want to put an end to athletes being exploited. It isn’t unusual these
days to see athletes that were exploited by the establishment now starting their
own companies or shows and perpetuating the exploitation because they have
discovered the money isn’t on stage. It is off stage in the endorsement banners and event sponsors. This http://www.hermesoutlets.us/ needs to stop. The athletes that actually sell the products, magazines and event tickets with their blood, sweat and tears need to be the ones benefiting the most and I will not rest until this occurs. I am so humbled when I have pros and up-and-coming pros contact me for mentoring and advice. They can’t say it publicly but I have so many people contact me
via phone and e-mail and thank me for being an advocate for athletes and the sport itself.