Inside the Numbers with Hidetada Yamagishi heading into the Atlantic City Pro

by Allan Donnelly

September 11, 2008


When the IFBB season began in February of this year, Hidetada Yamagishi had much bigger concerns than stepping on a professional bodybuilding stage. Two months after placing 13th at the 2007 Mr. Olympia on December 8, Yamagishi – the first Japanese bodybuilder to compete in a Mr. Olympia – was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and charged with six felonies and three misdemeanors. Eventually, all but one of the misdemeanor charges were dismissed, and Yamagishi was allowed to return to his home country of Japan. With his visa revoked, Yamagishi’s future as a competitive bodybuilder in the United States was in limbo. But three weeks ago, Yamagishi was finally allowed entry into the US and this weekend at the Atlantic City Pro, he will make his much-awaited return to competitive bodybuilding.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS WITH … Hidetada Yamagishi

3 … Years as a professional. In his first contest, the 2008 Ironman Pro, Yamagishi did not place.

3 … Place, at the 2007 Sacramento Pro – Yamagishi’s highest as a pro – where Yamagishi became the first Japanese-born bodybuilder to qualify for the Mr. Olympia.

13 … Place, where Yamagishi finished at the 2007 Olympia – one spot ahead of Toney Freeman, four behind Johnnie Jackson, seven behind Melvin Anthony and two ahead of Will Harris, all of whom will be competing in Atlantic City. Only Harris and Yamagishi have yet to re-qualify for this year’s event.

70 … Days, the amount of time Yamagishi spent in Los Angeles correctional facilities after being arrested on December 8, 2007. “I thought I could get out very quickly because this was my first time being in trouble,” Yamagishi says. “But I was wrong. After one month in the jail I started thinking Oh my God, because I had no idea how long I would stay there. If you have a certain time like one year, you know the goal, the certain date when you will get out. So it makes your feeling a little easier. I didn’t know when I would get out. It could have been tomorrow, it could have been one year ago. So it was tough. Really tough.”

Hidetada Yamagishi on Monday, September 8: Five days out from the Atlantic City Pro

230… Pounds, Yamagishi’s weight when he was arrested on December 8.”At the time I thought Thank God I have bodybuilding,” Yamagishi says. “And I used to do judo so I had to tell everybody I’m doing bodybuilding and judo so I tried to make everybody really afraid. I don’t know, I guess it worked.”

200 … Pounds, Yamagishi’s weight after being released from custody on February 14. “It took long, like maybe three months to get back my size and get back to 230,” Yamagishi says.

205 … Pounds, Yamagishi’s predicted contest weight at the Atlantic City Pro, two more than he weighed at the 2007 Olympia. “I needed more separation in my quads,” Yamagishi says. “This time my quads and arms will be much improved.”

Yamagishi at the 2007 Mr. Olympia, where he placed 13th

202 … Class, where Yamagishi could eventually end up in 2009. “In Atlantic City they don’t have the 202 but if they did I might compete,” Yamagishi says. “I have been looking at the class. They are really good. Like Flex Lewis and Dave Henry of course and Kevin English. Maybe I can have a chance in the 202 class [next year].”

378 … Days, since Yamagishi last competed, at the 2007 Mr. Olympia. “It was the toughest year in my life,” Yamagishi says. “But I learned a lot. You have to learn. You have to change your life. So I have to you change my life and use this as a learning experience, to be better. But I can’t wait, I feel really happy to just be able to step on stage.”