I was born July 12th in Brooklyn, NY. At the age of six, I became a ward of the state of New York due to a problematic home environment. For the next ten years, I would be in transitional placement moving from several foster homes to institutional placements. It was within this environment I found weight training as my refuge.
Deep inside of my soul, there resided many talents that few people were aware of most importantly my burning desire to be a visual artist. My two worlds would eventually meet and interconnect as my own body became my subject of study. I became my own living model. I utilized my own physique to gain a greater understanding of space and movement, creating works of art that became increasingly detailed and complex over time.
My exponential growth and development drew the attention of my 7th grade English teacher. Since my school conduct was far below the expectations tolerated by the facility that housed me, I was introduced to the idea of teen competition. Because of my enthusiasm and desire to measure my physique against competitors my own age, bodybuilding became the behavior modification tool that would prevent me from becoming a so-called “statistic”.
The beginning of my bodybuilding career helped me to build my confidence and the belief in my own ability as a bona-fide competitor. I spent the better part of my middle school traveling to different shows and taking teen titles. After taking second for the first time in my young competition career, I decided to take a hiatus to pack on some real muscle and re-emerge as a force like no one had ever seen.
It was at this time that I was introduced to what would become my home and institute for competitive education, 5th Avenue Gym. It was in this small basement gym in Brooklyn, NY that I met some of the most impressive natural athletes the world had to offer. It was here that I would soak up the knowledge that would provide me the ammunition necessary to destroy the biggest bodybuilding monsters.
Before my 19th birthday I turned pro with a natural organization, and held the distinction of being the youngest natural professional bodybuilder in the world. My pro status allowed me to take my competitive aspiration to a larger stage.
I won every professional title that organization had to offer. In the summer of 1997, I set my sights on gaining professional recognition with the IFBB. It was brought to my attention that in order to gain pro status I would have to first qualify through their amateur organization called NPC.
My competitive career with the NPC was filled with mixed success. As a natural athlete, my goal was to win the Team Universe and acquire pro status with the IFBB through the Amateur World Championship. In 1999, after two unsuccessful attempts, I won the heavyweight division and overall title at the Team Universe and was invited to compete at the World in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Recognizing that I had placed fourth out of dozens of the world’s best competitors, I was still disappointed. I took a four year hiatus to re-group and continue the never ending work on developing my physique. I was determined to take my rightful place in the pro ranks.
The nay-sayers said that it couldn’t be done, and I began to believe them. I went to school and focused on developing my talent as an artist while continuing to use my own physique as my artistic learning tool. I continued to do what had always brought me great comfort and feelings of stability and consistency; I trained and trained hard, but not for the purpose of anything but my own peace of mind.
In 2004, it was brought to my attention that the NPC Team Universe had become a Pro-Qualifier for the IFBB. Though I had been away from the competitive scene for five years, I committed to myself that I would return to reclaim my title as Team Universe overall champion and ascend to the IFBB pro ranks. As a result of my dedication and desire to overcome the ever-surmounting odds against me, I arrived from my home in Jacksonville, Florida to NYC’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center to do damage. On August 8th 2004, the judges recognized the physique that I labored for so many years and awarded me the heavyweight and overall championship by unanimous decision. My day had finally come. After 16 years, I finally made the transition to the IFBB Professional ranks.1