Bodybuilder Craig Titus

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Craig Titus Interview

Craig Titus Pics

MZ: How, when and why did you first start bodybuilding?

CRAIG TITUS: When I was in high school, I was 5'6" and graduated at 140 pounds. I lifted weights in school but never gained that much muscle because of making my weight class for wrestling. I wrestled in the 132-pound class my junior and senior years. During my senior year in 1983, I would sit and read the muscle magazines, looking at and admiring athletes like Mike Christian, Robby Robinson and Lee Labrada. I was amazed at how awesome they looked. I knew I wanted to become a bodybuilder.

Straight out of Riverview High School [in Texas], I began training so that I could one day walk on stage [at a bodybuilding show]. The funny thing is I actually grew three more inches in height by the time I was 19 years old. Five years after deciding to pursue my dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder, while living in Houston, I walked on stage at the 1988 Houston Bodybuilding Championship weighing a mere 176 pounds-and I won the overall. I was hooked. As the years passed, I won the overall in my next five shows.

I turned pro and fulfilled my dream at the 1996 USA Championships. I dedicated this victory to my son Aaron, who passed away in 1989.

MZ: There was a "scandal" at the 1995 U.S.A. What exactly happened there?

CRAIG TITUS: Prior to the 1995 USA, I had been going back and forth from L.A. to Louisiana battling my conspiracy charge. Rumors were circulating around the contest hotel in Denver like you wouldn't believe. People were actually saying that I was going to jail for 20 years. The one that really made me mad was, "If Craig wins this show the DEA is going to arrest him on-stage." I guess it was my fault, but I was trying to keep my personal life from affecting my placing in the show or my career for that matter. Maybe I should have issued a press release, letting the pubic know what was going on. You definitely learn from your mistakes. The gossip that comes out of a person's mouth never ceases to amaze me.

Five months prior to the USA in Denver, the magazines were picking me as the winner.The prediction was that I was the one to beat, and of course believing the hype. What a big mistake that turned out to be. When I lost to Phil Hernon that day, a man that I have beaten twice before, I was furious. I stormed off stage. I somehow felt that the rumors of jail delayed me in turning pro. After cooling down and realizing what a big mistake I made, I came to the conclusion that I lost because I simply wasn't good enough to be a pro yet. A thought that would fuel my pursuit of greatness in the IFBB.

To this very day, some people believe I lost because of my troubles with the law, but I myself think I lost because I wasn't good enough. Walking off stage, well, show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.

M.Z.: Why is Muscular Development's John Romano so anti-Titus? Please be specific.

C.T.: Again this all starts at the 1995 USA in Denver, when John came to my room for an exclusive interview on my troubles with the law as well as me walking off stage. I explained to Romano in great detail my case and let him know that the government would not have convicted me if I cooperated with the authorities. In other words, give them information so that they could indict other bodybuilders. John wrote the article for Muscular Development where he defended my integrity and set the record straight in my defense. It felt good to finally get the truth out and put an end to all the rumors of being a rat as well as going to jail. As a matter of fact, Lonnie called the authorities in my case to see if I was cooperating with the law in Louisiana. Without talking to me first, Romano wrote another article stating that I was a rat. It was devastating to see this in an international magazine or in any print for that matter. He tore my character apart and I was not going to stand for it.

Why in the hell was Romano so concerned if I was a rat or not? The only people who are concerned if someone is a rat or not are criminals. So I did a little investigating and found out that Romano is no more than a common thief. He committed telemarketing fraud, where he would call unsuspecting people and make false promises over the phone to steal their hard-earned money. This kind of scum targets the elderly, who have a hard time defending themselves; what a man. Who in the hell does he think he is to judge me? This pathetic human being actually had the balls to smear my name. Every time I am asked anything about Romano, I state exactly what I think of him...this is why he is so anti-Titus.

He constantly makes derogatory statements about the NPC and IFBB, along with the heads of those two organizations, both of whom have enabled Romano to make a living from the sport of bodybuilding that his wife participated in for many years. Romano went so far as to have cartoons of Lonnie Teper and me printed in Muscular Development magazine, where he again made a failed attempt to make us look silly. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of Romano smearing my name. I'm not angry. I just feel sorry for the lost soul.

M.Z.: You did have some sort of beef with Ironman's Lonnie Teper as well. Can you explain?

C.T.: The beef I had with Lonnie started at the USA in Denver [in 1995]. Lonnie and I were good friends prior to the show and are really good friends now. As a matter of fact, we still laugh our asses off at some of the things we said about each other in the mags. I can't remember exactly what was being said but I do remember when it started. I was told at the contest hotel in Denver that Lonnie was spreading the rumor that I was going to jail. To think I actually listened to John Romano when he told me -- that is something I still regret to this day. So, thinking John was a man with integrity, I believed what he said and confronted Lonnie. Because of all the pressure I was under, getting ready for the show combined with the frustration that my good name was being jeopardized, I was ready to blame anyone for the rumors. After telling Lonnie to shut his mouth, in the hotel restaurant, I later found out he was discussing whether the rumors were true or not and had genuine concern for my well-being. To say the least, I felt terrible. Lonnie and I are very good friends and he is definitely an asset to the sport of bodybuilding. Getting on his bad side was not a good idea.

M.Z.: Do you think the sport of bodybuilding is dying or just changing?

C.T.: From what I understand, the crowds at the Arnold Classic and the Olympia are getting larger every year. Bottom line, these people aren't showing up to see the expos. They're coming to see the bodybuilders perform. No bodybuilders, no expos. When a nutritional company introduces itself to the market, whom do they have representing their product? A bodybuilder. When a fitness clothing line hits the scene, bodybuilders wear the clothes. Literally, every major nutritional company, the big guys, Met-Rx, Weider, Twinlab, and even EAS are who they are because of bodybuilders. Big money. So do I think the sport is dying? Hell, no. It's more popular than ever. The only thing that is changing is the athletes.

M.Z.: Do you think the magazines that are choosing to feature natural bodybuilding and women's fitness are selling out?

C.T.: Natural bodybuilding, I guess that's kind of like the "natural" NFL or the "natural" boxing association, or how about the "natural" track stars in the Olympics. I'm so sick of hearing about natural bodybuilding. Point is, every sport has athletes who use enhancing drugs. The tragedy of the decimation of an athlete's character and career does not come from using steroids; it comes from the illegality of being caught. So the question should be, "When does a bodybuilder consider himself natural?" When he decides to quit after 10 years of using 'roids and finds it convenient for the pages of an All-Natural magazine, or when he realizes he can't make it as a pro bodybuilder and becomes a model and starts taking acting classes. Don't get me wrong --- I respect any bodybuilder whether he is natural or not, but is he "natural?" I don't know and the point is that I don't give a damn. Just don't tell me how natural you are because I don't want to hear it. Any magazine that promotes an athlete's career is an asset to the sport but when its pages are used to downgrade the sport as a whole, it is selling out.

As far as magazines choosing to feature women's fitness --- hell, no I don't think they're selling out. They're selling magazines, and some of them to me.

M.Z.: Any final words for your fans out there?

C.T.: I would like to thank all the people who have believed in me during my career and have stood beside me through good and bad. Thank you for your letters and cards. They are such a positive force for me and give me more fuel and strength to be the best I can be in the IFBB, I will be back on-stage very soon and I will be a champion.

Never let anyone or anything take away your dreams. What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger.

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