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The New Guard: Hunter Labrada and Sergio Oliva Jr.

The sons of Lee Labrada and Sergio Oliva follow in their fathers’ footsteps while charting their own bodybuilding glory.

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Lee, was there any hesitation on your part when Hunter came to you and said he wanted to be a bodybuilder?

LEE LABRADA: Knowing how stressful bodybuilding can be on one’s body, I was concerned. But Hunter has a natural affinity and God-given genetics. I like to say God gave us those and I just passed the torch along! The kid is built like a brick house, with symmetry to boot. He’s a larger and improved version of me [Hunter is 5’9”; Lee is 5’6”]. Any time you have a son who aspires to go into a professional sport, you’re always concerned for their safety, but I couldn’t think of a better sport than bodybuilding.

Guys, do you ever feel any pressure as bodybuilders because of who your fathers were in the sport?

SERGIO: [laughs] Sure! But there’s no point in even complaining about it. Hunter hasn’t competed yet, so we still can say I’m the first bodybuilder who stepped up and took after someone who competed on the Olympia stage. I’m gonna be the biggest idiot, crying because someone wants to compare me to my dad [laughing]. I mean, who was I kidding getting into this?

HUNTER: I wouldn’t say it’s pressure. It has affected the way I view competing. I’m always going to be compared to my dad, and Sergio will probably tell you the same thing. He was having photos of himself from his first NPC show Photoshopped and put next to his dad at the Olympia. I haven’t reached that level. I’m not there yet and I know I’m not. But I know I was blessed with the same genetics and tools and even more opportunities than Dad. It’s not so much pressure as the feeling [that] I have a very large set of shoes to fill, but I am looking forward to doing the work o try to do that.

SERGIO: Hunter is right. I was a 176-pound middleweight and people were comparing me to pictures of my father on the Olympia stage, which was ridiculous. When I started competing, I won some contests and there was talk—“Oh, he only won because of who his father was.” But I feel if anything, maybe I get judged a little more harshly than others because of who my dad was. People assumed my dad was helping me get ready for my shows and he really wasn’t. I understand it, though. If I saw Arnold’s son onstage and he looked good I’d probably be like, Hmm, he could look better, he’s got Arnold helping him. There was one point separating second and third and a point separating first and second at the Junior Nationals this year [Oliva placed 3rd in the super-heavyweight class], so you can’t tell me I’m getting any favors when I lose by a point. Hunter and I are walking proof that bodybuilding is about genetics and hard work.

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