As dawn broke on Tuesday, August 22, it seemed we were just getting ready to mark off another day on the calendar. But around 9:00am, the bodybuilding world came to a shattering halt. This was not just another day, and it’s a good bet that in years to come many will remember where they were when they heard the news. In this modern world of Internet hoaxes, fake news etc. there was a hope that this was just another made-up work of fiction … and yet.

As the pace of the story went into overdrive, we were to learn that this was no hoax, this was fact. Dallas McCarver, one of the most promising bodybuilders on the planet had passed away aged 26 … 26?

Late on Monday evening, August 21, Dallas returned to his Boca Raton home following a workout. Just before midnight Australian bodybuilder Josh Lenartowicz, who was staying with Dallas to complete the last three weeks of his Olympia prep, returned. What he found was shocking. Dallas was facedown on the floor, his face was blue and it seemed he had choked to death on something.

Josh heroically performed CPR on his host and then handed that over to the paramedics when they arrived. Dallas was transported to hospital and was pronounced dead shortly after.

Dallas mccarver hands on hips
Per Bernal


Throughout the past few days something remarkable has been happening. In 40 years of covering bodybuilding I’ve written many obituaries but the groundswell of sorrow for Dallas’s demise has been of a level I’ve not witnessed before. Now, okay, a major part is that we now live in a frenzied social media age where everyone can have their instant say. But nevertheless the outpouring of grief and tears for Dallas was of tsunami dimensions.

Why did the Dallas tragedy generate universal emotion? Well, first of all it was his age. Death at 26 goes way against the norm: a child is supposed to outlive his or her parents not pre-decease them. It’s an age where the law of averages say you probably have another 50 years left. It’s that decades long potential that has been taken away that Dallas will never tap into. And of course there was Dallas’s appearance with his All-American clean-cut look, topping off one of the biggest physiques on the current scene.

Dallas mccarver 2016 olympia
Per Bernal

But there’s more to the eulogies that were posted, than the previously mentioned points.

Quite simply Dallas was special; people instantly liked him on first meeting. His appeal was across the whole gamut of the industry. Show promoters who hired him were knocked out by his friendliness and energy. Fans, who gained a selfie photo op waxed enthusiastic about how much time he gave them, Magazines were impressed by his professionalism at photo shoots. And his special “it” factor radiated throughout all his video presentations. Everybody loved him and told of when they first met him and found him special.

Matt jansen dallas mccarver

Dallas McCarver with his friend and coach, Matt Jansen.


He was a great people’s person and even better kiddies’ person. His coach/training partner/best friend, Matt Jansen, says, “If you ever wanna see Dallas really light up, put him among a bunch of kids and he’s a 300-pound Teddy Bear.”

Further cementing Dallas’s patronage of the kiddies brigade; his ambition was to earn enough money to open a school for deprived inner city children.

In the November issue of FLEX we will be publishing full-blown tribute to Dallas, meanwhile some final thoughts.

Given the gregariousness of Dallas’s nature, his worldwide following, the sheer feel-good factor he always generated, I just can’t erase from my mind the reality that this most accessible and popular of bodybuilders would die alone on the floor of his apartment. Thank God, for the valiant efforts of Josh Lenartowicz, who was there at the very end, and oversaw his friend’s transition from life to mortality.

But one number keeps reverberating at the front of my skull. A figure that represents a life interrupted, a special soul lost, of being shortchanged on time, a numeral that screams out for attention: Why, why, why?   26! … 26! … 26?