Mike Katz was born 11/14/44 and has a son and a daughter. Michael just turned 32. Michele is 30. They both have children Michael's daughter is Lindsay and Michele has Kylie. Mike Katz says that being a grandfather is wonderful. All the great things anyone ever said about having grandchildren are an understatement.
You can't know until you become a grandparent. It's different from being a parent because I was involved in trying to conquer the world as a young man - trying to get an education, playing pro football, wanting to be a great bodybuilder. The kids were important and, when push came to shove, they always came first, but there are so many other things when you're trying to earn a living and maintain a house and save for their college, not to mention trying to satisfy your own competitive desires. But now as a grandparent I can just sit back and notice my grandchildren's eyelashes and the dimples on their fingers.
When I talk to young guys who are fathers I sometimes tell them, "Don't wait to be grandfathers to be fathers." I don't know if that's been said by others before but there's a lot of wisdom in that advice. I sometimes wish the clock could have stopped when I was raising my own kids. But I think a lot of grandparents feel that way.
The sport of bodybuilding had changed from the golden era when the money came in. The same thing applies to the 'golden age' of football because before you had money all you really had was each other. But in football they had the acceptance of the public so if you weren't making much money you could at least hear 30,000 fans screaming for you. But with bodybuilding, all we had was ourselves, supporting each other and sticking up for each other and justifying what we were doing. Then at times we'd have to defend ourselves against being called 'gay' or 'narcissistic' or 'muscle-bound' or any of the other stereotypes that the public labeled us with. But football or baseball players at least didn't have to deal with that. So we had to stick together and there was, as you said, camaraderie even though we were competing against each other. And we did respect each other and socialize and even help each other, even if we were competing the following day.
We'd all jumped back and forth helping each other train. The thing that's interesting is that when I listen to older guys like myself I wonder if they aren't living in the past. It's as if their time was the most special time and no one else can share what they had. But what I'd like to say is that I'm not a dinosaur. I'm older; yes, and I don't compete; that's correct. But I'm very much involved in the sport and I'm very much involved in helping certain athletes make health judgments, financial judgments, and sportsmanship judgments. The wisdom that I've got and the mistakes I've made, as well as the things I've done right, all go into this. And I tell them that our "Golden Age" was wonderful and I would never want to compete in any other age of bodybuilding. But the point is that this wasn't the only period of value because there were guys like Bill Pearl before me and guys like Coleman who have competed after me. So the question is, "What can we take from each generation?" From Grimek and Reeves and Pearl to Arnold and myself and Louie and then Haney and then on the Yates and Coleman eras, I think everybody can learn something from everyone else. They can learn some good stuff from us and we can learn from them.
The point is that I'm happy about when I competed and feel very fulfilled about what I've done and whatever young guys today can learn from me I want to give them. I don't want to be angry and old and grumpy and think that my generation of bodybuilders is the only one should be admired. We can all learn how to be better people from each other. Bill Pearl is still out there and active and I admire him tremendously. He's promoting bodybuilding in a very positive way and, obviously, Arnold's doing his thing and I'm doing my thing and we're all working toward the improvement and success of the sport.
What I'm trying to do, as part of my generation, is help guide some of the guys today in regards to their health and finances so they don't end up broke and sick. It's like in boxing when you hear the story about the punch drunk guy who can't function anymore and lost his life savings. I'm trying to show guys how to get a financial cushion and invest their money properly, like Kevin Levrone who owns his own World Gym in Maryland and who is doing very well with his music. So he's kind of spread out, not just relying on bodybuilding. It's interesting how most of the great, great bodybuilders have got more than just bodybuilding. I know Yates is extremely well off and I know Haney is doing very well and Franco for our generation and Bill Pearl.
I think probably, when I was very young, my idol was Steve Reeves. You know, when you go to the Saturday matinee and your throwing popcorn and having a good time with your buddies and probably driving the usher nuts and instead of seeing "The Three Stooges" or" Our Gang", you all of a sudden see "Hercules" and you're like, "Oh my God!". You're just going through puberty and you're trying to find yourself and then, there it is. I'm sure it was the same for guys of your generation who, at 9, 10, 11 and 12 years old first saw "Conan" with Arnold and got inspired. So for me it was Reeves.
But after I started buying the magazines, after I was introduced to the movie part of it, it became John Grimek. So it was initially Reeves and Reg Park and then Grimek from the magazines. But finally, after I started reading about it, it was Bill Pearl. He was big and thick and beautifully symmetrical and he never even have to pose. He had certain poses of course, but I think he was one guy who didn't even have to pose
When I started getting to the point in my career when I was going up to Holyoke with Ed Jubinville up in Mountain Park, I was just starting to devote all of my training to bodybuilding. Before that I was playing with the Jets and could only bodybuild part time. That was '68 when I was injured, which was the year before they won the Superbowl. So my football career ended with the knee operation.
I had had two goals when I was a kid and one of them was to be a teacher. I was inspired by my health education teacher, Mr. Girosa. So once I stopped playing football I became a full-time teacher and I had a wonderful lifestyle where I would get out of school at 2:00 and could go to the 'Y' and train there from 2:30-5:00 or 2:30-6:00 while everybody elsse was working. So I was able to make a living and also work hard as a bodybuilder.
Before I met Arnold I went into Weider's contests because the AAU wouldn't let a professional athlete compete in their amateur contests even though I was playing football, it was because I was paid to play football. But this was also a time when they wouldn't have any black Mr. America's. Sergio couldn't win the Mr. America with them so he went to Joe and the IFBB. Everybody that wanted to get a fair shake went to Weider. So I got to compete in the IFBB version. The first time was in '67 and I won Best Chest. Those shows were all at the Brooklyn Academy of Music or Town Hall and promoted by Tom Minichiello, he was a great, great guy, along with Ed Jubinville.
Anyway, early on I was all chest. As a football player I didn't need giant calves or 32" thighs. They wouldn't have helped me in football. So, my natural bodyparts that came easy grew bigger and the parts I didn't need for football didn't. So early on I didn't have the proportion or symmetry but I was one of the fastest guys in the NFL. At 265 I ran a 4.6(sec) 40. The backs weren't running that speed. Plus I was the strongest and biggest guy on the field. But nobody really lifted weights back then. They didn't understand what I was doing. They thought they'd all get musclebound and slow but here I was, getting big and strong and fast from it. Still the coaches told them not to lift. I knew that the coaches didn't know what they were talking about.
I could also dunk a basketball from a standing position. At 6'1" and 260-270 I could dunk a basketball with two hands. I did some pretty unprecedented things. But today there are a lot of big, talented guys who've benefitted from weight training. You'll see 6'8" linemen today who weren't talented enough at basketball but who are incredible athletes on the football field. Back then a 200 pound athlete was considered big.
Mike circa 1970
It's like in boxing where you had Rocky Marciano who was the heavyweight champ in the 50's at 5'10" and 185 lbs. Even Joe Frazier, only 30 years ago, was something like 5'11" and 200 pounds. But today you've got Lennox Lewis whose 6'5" and 250 lbs.
My chest is ranted as being among the best of all time- even to this day. This is a product training and genetics. I think my typhoid process, the tip of my sternum, is very high, compared to most people. So I think the skeletal genetics create the potential. It's like Platz's thighs. Why doesn't everybody have thighs like his if they're all doing the same exercises? Or Schwarzenegger's arms. I still think that he has the best arms of all time. He just has that certain bicep and roundness to his tricep that's one of a kind. So I think I'm just fortunate, skeletally, to have my structure, along with a lot of pullovers and learning to control my diaphragm.
Arnold would always make fun of me because he thought I was holding my breath. He had this little Volkswagen and no money, except what Weider paid him and he had this little third floor walkup in Santa Monica with Franco. So he'd tell me to wait in his car while he went in so I'd fall asleep. Then he'd come out to check on me to see if my chest deflated when I was sleeping. But it wasn't and that's how he knew that I wasn't holding my breath. That was his little trick.
In California I'd stay with my aunt Vivi. She was my mom's sister and a nurse and she and her husband lived in Brentwood. I used to go visit her before I was really even into bodybuilding. I loved the surf and the hot rod car - still do. Anyway, after school would let out for the summer Weider would invite me to come out to L.A. and so I stayed at my aunt's house. A lot of times she'd either bring me to Arnold's and we'd go to Gold's from there or he'd come pick me up.
So Arnold and I had a really good relationship. I'm not saying we were best friends because he had Franco and I wasn't there all year. But the little but that I was there he took a liking to me and we just trained together. He didn't like training legs and I did so I was perfect. He knew he had to train legs but didn't get too excited about it. But that was one of my strongest points. Even though my legs weren't like Platz's my legs were extremely strong and I pushed him. We were the same height and the same weight and he loved to aggravate me and I was a good target to be annoyed, but not come up swinging. (Laughing) Our personalities just meshed and we became real good friends and training partners and so I learned a lot from him. He learned a lot from Weider and all of the great California bodybuilders out there. So I learned from him and then brought all of the information back to the east coast where I disseminated it to the people back in Connecticut and New York.
I saw 'star quality' in Arnold at the time. It reminded me of Joe Namath. I saw that star quality in Joe back in '67 when he and I were good friends, and we still are to this day. So Joe had it and then Arnold comes along and I see the same star quality on him. So, I mean, I knew it. And when people laughed when he said he was going to become a movie star I said "Just wait." And when people laugh now when he says he has certain political aspirations, I wouldn't laugh too hard because the last laugh's going to be on you when it comes to him wanting to be anything.
I think by virtue of the fact that bodybuilding is so much more popular today, there are so many more gyms and health clubs. It enables people in general to get off the street and get healthy. Today you don't have to face the stigma we had to when it came to wanting to have a nice body. So now that more people are lifting weights there are more competitors in bodybuilding shows. There are also more drug-free 'alternative' bodybuilding shows. People are much more concerned about nutrition and supplements. You've got to look to Weider. Even as he's gotten older he's still working, with his brother Ben, to promote fitness and bodybuilding throughout the world. They're helping to educate the public about bodybuilding.
As for the new guys, I know that Kevin Levrone did a wonderful job with the Special Olympics. When the World Games came to New Haven thanks toTim Shriver, Arnold's brother-in-law, Arnold came and I got Kevin Levrone to come and participate and he was wonderful. Lee Haney does a wonderful job doing charity work. He's very religious family man and a great representitive of the sport.
To me Cutler is like the Bill Pearl of today. He doesn't even have to pose. In fact, I think he looks even better relaxed. And I saw that years ago when he was just starting out. I saw his bone structure and I knew he was just special. And this is not to take anything away from Coleman. Coleman has been great in his time and Yates before him. But Cutler is like Haney, only freakier- almost unbelievable. I mean, with Haney, he had body parts that were believable. But Cutler, he's got the genetics of a Haney or even a Flex Wheeler, but just a monster. A monster that's still beautiful. Not that monsters are ugly, I mean, Yates' back was beautiful. It was to him like my chest was. And Coleman is just a genetic marvel. But, and this is just one man's opinion, but I don't think either one has the overall beauty to their physique of a Cutler. There's this huge amount of mass with these sweeping lines... When I emceed the Southern States show in Florida he guest posed at over 300 lbs. and he still had serratus, still had those lines.
I don't want to die just another slob-with my name on a gravestone someplace. I want to die with my name somewhere at the top. Make a little dent in the sport I'm in, so that maybe forty years from now people will say, 'Hey, that guy was Mr.America.' This would give me enough happiness to die with a smile on my face.
- Mike Katz
I won't do anything else until I win Mr.Universe. If I have train ten years, I'm going to win it. I don't know why I say that because the education is just as important, but I could not be happy right now going out as a loser. I placed third in Mr.Universe last year. If I went out as a loser it would make the ten years I've spent in bodybuilding a complete waste.
- Mike Katz
I want to be bigger than everybody else, but I wouldn't want to be so big that people can't accept it. For instance, if you come in with 30-inch-arms, even your own peers aren't going to accept that. I wouldn't want to be that way. I wouldn't want to infinitely become unreal.
- Mike Katz
Similar Bodybuilding Threads: