Athletes & Celebrities

Vince McMahon: The WWE's Ringmaster (WWE)

WWE founder Vince McMahon has walked the bodybuilding and fitness walk virtually all his life.

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DIVING IN

Vince McMahon doesn’t know how to jog. It never occurred to him sitting backstage at the Royal Rumble in January ’05. For 2 ½ hours, he was just sitting there, not expecting to have to go in the ring. Then something—presumably an unexpected plot twist—forced him into the ring, quickly. How else was he going to get there? “I just started sprinting as fast as I could and I dove into the ring,” says Vince. He also severed both quadriceps tendons in the process.

He was out of action for months. He and Stone were forced to work his legs back into lifting gradually. But before you knew it Vince was back to leg-pressing 800 pounds for reps and doing free weight squats with a safety squat bar. It drove his physical therapist nuts; PTs tend to treat every patient more or less the same. “But you can’t handle Vince like an average person,” says Stone. “Because he wants to be thrown into the same ring as Triple H, and he wants to be in the same gym as Ronnie Coleman. As far as intensity, he’ll match anybody.”

But when has Vince ever jogged into anything? Sprinting as fast as he possibly can is how he got to be where he is—and how he stays there. Vince’s quads are fine now. And his knees are better than ever. Since they had to sew his quadriceps tendons back through his kneecaps anyway, doctors figured they’d clean out all the crap in his knees while they were at it. “They’re stronger now than even Mother Nature had intended,” boasts Vince. “You always have to turn negatives into positives.”

TERMINATOR 4?

How about doing that one pose that Arnold did back in the day, Vince? That would open up the story nicely. Just lean over this barbell and look tough. Vince is incredulous: “I’m supposed to do something that Arnold did? Holy shit! That’s really intimidating!”

That’s Vince, out of the ring, being humble. So humble that this photo shoot almost didn’t happen. Triple H shot with FLEX four years ago, at which time the magazine expressed interest in Vince. “They don’t want me,” Vince responded. But every time Triple H would see FLEX Editor-in-Chief Peter McGough, McGough would inquire about Vince’s availability. Then when Hunter ran into McGough at last year’s Olympia, again they discussed it, and again Hunter went back to Vince. “This is the time to do it,” Hunter told him. “You’re 60 years old. To show the world how good you look at 60—you gotta do it.” Vince finally caved in.

Now Vince can’t stop laughing. “Give me a serious look now,” says the photographer. “I can do serious,” Vince says. He immediately cracks up. “I have to get in the mood to do serious.”

Who is this guy? Anyone who watches the WWE wouldn’t recognize him. Did he just act like he was biting that barbell with his eyes crossed? Was that the Mr. McMahon we see on TV who just held up two miniskirts, worn in previous shoots by his WWE divas, and asked which one we’d prefer him in? “This is my first photo shoot,” says Vince. “I don’t have a clue.”

Since when does Vince McMahon not have a clue? Since when do people tell him what to do? Like the photographer, the photographer’s assistants, his son-in-law? “Drop your shoulders… chin up, Vince…turn toward me!”

“The one thing that will shock people about Vince is that he’s actually very shy,” says Triple H. “If you see him on TV, you would never guess. If you did business with him, you would never guess. He’s not big into showing off how big he is or anything like that. And he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Vince comes from a very humble background. After Steph and I got married, the more I got to know him, the more I started to realize that he’s just a regular guy. He has very simple means in his life: He needs a car to get him to where he needs to go. He needs to work hard. He needs to train in the gym and eat good food.”

Back to the Arnold pose: Since when is Vince intimidated? “I don’t think you’re ever really as good as you want to be to do these shoots,” he says. “So if I appear to be humble, it’s not really that I’m humble; it’s that I’m realistic. But maybe intimidated isn’t the right word. I’m not afraid of anybody or anything—never have been. It’s more a matter of respect. I’ve always had a deep and abiding respect for bodybuilding and the people in it, and here I am. I’m a little kid in a candy store right now. For me, this is Christmas and there’s a big present under the tree.”

Who says Santa doesn’t exist?

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