Very few modern athletes had reached the heights of popularity that Sadik Hadzovic had. Whether he was competing onstage, training in the gym, or posting on social media, everything he does is watched by many of his loyal fans and supporters.

The former Arnold Classic Men’s Physique winner was the featured guest on this week’s episode of “The Menace Podcast.” Host Dennis James spoke to the New Yorker by way of Yugoslavia about fatherhood, his family roots, and a lot about his career.

James asks about when Hadzovic made the plunge to compete, and he gave a surprising answer for a man that has stood on the Olympia stage in two divisions (Classic Physique and Men’s Physique).

“I never wanted to compete. I’m working out, you know, I’m working out to look good to impress girls, go out, and pick up girls with friends. I was thinking about modeling because there was no Men’s Physique, there was nothing like that. I’m doing biceps curls, and Steve Weinberger comes up to me and he’s like ‘Hey, you got a really good physique. You could go pro. You should do my show.”

He turned Weinberger down that time, but eventually, Bev Francis asked, and he couldn’t say no. He would take to the stage in 2011, and turned pro in the new Men’s Physique division in 2012. Once he reached the pro ranks, his confidence skyrocketed … until that year’s Olympia.

“I knew I could win. I won my first pro show shortly after the (2012) Junior Nationals. So I won that show, qualified for the Olympia, and I got fourth place, and fourth place was devastating. I was like, ‘fourth place?’ I never finished outside of the top two (except) once I placed third. Fourth place to me was devastating.”

Even though he hasn’t won the Olympia up to this point in his career, he was considered by many to be the face of the Men’s Physique division. Hadzovic explains what that was like for him at the time.

“You know how it is at the time. At the time, we don’t even recognize, we’re just machines. We’re just machines eating these meals and lifting these weights, and doing the cardio. So looking back at it now, I’m like ‘holy s***, I’ve done a lot of cool things. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve been on magazines, I’ve traveled to do shows, and people know my name. They still know my name, which is cool.”

After a couple of crossovers between his two divisions, Hadzovic took time away, but he made it clear to James that he is far from done, and Athleticon in 2022 is the show he has in his sights.

“Next year will be Classic Physique for sure. In fact, I just started prepping last week. For me, it’s my passion. It’s my passion, man. I know I deserve to be up there with the best of them.”

The full episode of “TMP,” including Hadzovic talking about the transition to Classic Physique, working with Frank Zane, and much more, is available to watch over at the Muscle & Fitness YouTube channel. Each new episode drops every Sunday at 6 p.m. EST. The audio version is available att Spotify.

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