At the age of 21, my entire existence revolved around my workouts. I wanted to look like the legends of bodybuilding who graced the pages of Muscle & Fitness and all the other bodybuilding magazines. I read everything I could get my hands on concerning these athletes’ training routines, food recommendations, and how they prepared for competition. I was a sponge, soaking up knowledge wherever I could get it.

Being from a small town, where everyone was pretty close, I had an awesome core of musclehead buddies who all wanted to be bodybuilding superstars just like me. Our entire lives—every day from waking up to lying down— were all about growing bigger and stronger muscles. 

After graduating from Spartanburg Methodist College, one of my friends and I decided to open our own gym. With blood money from our parents, we opened the Olympian Fitness Center in Spartanburg, SC.

Man, we were in hog heaven after that. Training and eating were all we thought about. As a result of our passion for training and with support from our community, we opened a second gym six months later.

The road to bodybuilding success wasn’t without its challenges, though. The year prior to preparing for the 1982 NPC Nationals, I developed a cyst on my right wrist. It caused so much pain that I had to have surgery to remove it. It was during my time of healing that I decided nothing was going to stop me from achieving my bodybuilding goals. 

As my training buddies and I sat talking a few weeks after my recovery, I made this profound prediction: “I will shock the world of bodybuilding in 1982.”

I trained like never before, gave my body the best quality nutrition, and I made sure to get the proper rest I needed every day to repair for the next workout. To add to all of this, I worked full time at my gym and brought my family home in the middle of the summer.

And shock the world of bodybuilding I did! In 1982, I won the Atlantic USA, became the first NPC Junior National champion, the NPC Nationals champion, and then the IFBB World Amateur heavyweight champion.

There’s a proverb that goes: “Convenience is made through inconvenience.” The earlier you’re about the business of discipline and hard work, the sooner you’ll find the fruits of your labor just around the corner.