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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.
T.S.: 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 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
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
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
VR: Actually I
did not care 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
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
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
TS: Damn, they
were awesome 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
TS: Did you ever
see him after you made a name for yourself and tell him about how he
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
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
TS: That’s a
pretty funny story. It amazes me how guys who nobody knows who the hell
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
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
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
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 junk. 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 I.F.B.B. Pro.
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
TS: Then how
come you competing in the Nigerian Championships to get your Pro-Card in
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
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.
VR: I held duel
citizenship in both the USA and in Nigeria. So I simply flew down to
Nigerian 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
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