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To the Victor...

Victor Martinez and what could have been.

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Per Bernal

He’s never been the biggest guy, though he’s pretty damn big. He’s never been the leanest guy, but he’s usually lean enough. And he’s never flexed one body part that wows you, but together they all do. Since his pro debut in 2001, Victor Martinez has utilized his classical combination of shape and size to etch out a remarkable career much greater than his tally of seven pro titles. And yet the past decade was also marred with a pang of melancholy for what could’ve been.

Per Bernal

THE RISE

Born in the Dominican Republic on July 29, 1973, Martinez won a New York City bodybuilding contest when he was a teenager. He rose through the East Coast muscle ranks but didn’t enter his first pro qualifier until he was 27 in 2000, when, seven months after taking his class but not the overall at the lowly Junior USA, he won the NPC Nationals. Seemingly rushing out of the shadows to beat pre-contest favorite Troy Alves, Martinez was suddenly bodybuilding’s next big thing. At 5'9" and 225, he had it all—quads, lats, pecs, arms, abs—but what was best was the way everything flowed together for a pleasingly symmetrical physique. His shape could make bigger Goliaths look like bags of parts. 

Still, he struggled with his conditioning his first two years in the IFBB Pro League and suffered embarrassingly low placings as a result. (Wait, wasn’t Victor in that show?) He won his first pro title in 2003 over a weak lineup and another in 2004 against a stronger cast. The Olympia is where rankings truly get sorted out, and his fifth in 2005 was an eye-opener. The following year, when he was third behind only Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman, this New Yorker had quickly climbed to a bronze place in bodybuilding’s ruling trinity. Could Martinez seize the crown?

 

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