Shawn Posted this on MD earlier today:
I had one hell of a Dream this Summer and woke up to write about it...................
Don’t Call it a Comeback
And so it was, the awaking of the young hungry Lion in me.
As I walked away from Center Stage in 2001, I never looked back as a Bodybuilder but rather ahead as a person looking for the meaning of life as a civilized person eager to contribute to society not with my body but with my brain, my heart and soul in a way I hadn’t conceived yet. I had spent a lifetime in the gym building my body for battle against the best in the world on a platform bigger than myself and sometimes a world away from my home. I dreamt a dream of glamour, fame and adulation as a young teenager in high school by flexing my way into people’s hearts and homes through popular magazines and television never fully grasping the impact my body of work would leave on the sport when I walked away with my belly full. From 17 to 36 years old I denied myself the simple pleasures in life because of my love affair with the Iron and the Stage. I traveled the world in celebrity style signing autographs, collecting pay checks and inspiring people to dream as only a Professional Bodybuilder could. From Russia to Australia the fans marveled at what I was able to do with my body through training and dieting, carefully sculpting it into one of the world’s best built men at a body weight of 210lbs. I battled Giants in the land of Giants, slaying them with the same style and grace of some of my predecessors like; Labrada, Makkawy and Dickerson in years before my arrival on the Pro scene. The little guy beating the bigger guys with complete packages combining Shape, Detail and Balance I loved it! I marketed myself as the ideal of the Iron Game and the fans, photographers and writers came to appreciate that. Year in and year out I sacrificed Birthdays, Parties, Special Occasions, Family Gatherings and Holidays in favor of dieting and training for the next contest or appearance to please myself and my fans. Selfishly excluding opportunities to bond, love or share emotions with friends and family in favor of fighting the battle so I could win the War! “I’m a man on a mission” this was my mind set, focused on the Prize of a Sandow Trophy which reflected the epitome of Bodybuilding’s finest. I pursued this dream and goal of mine to the exclusion of life’s guilty pleasures yet I was living the dream and enjoying the fruits of my labor, sadly alone and by myself. I knew there had to be more to this life.
To this end, after an illustrious career of competing, traveling and promoting the sport, I walked away in my prime to pursue all that was missing in the way of “Sharing a Life.”
In 2003, I got married. In 2005 we had our first child. In 2006 I promoted my first ever Pro/ Am Bodybuilding Contest and Expo. In 2007 I was formally inducted into Pro Bodybuilding’s Hall of Fame. In 2008 we had our second daughter as I also became a staff Writer for Muscular Development Magazine and Radio Host. During that same year I promoted the first ever 202 Men’s Pro Contest in New York City.
Over the last two years I have sat silently witnessing the division of the 202 Class grow in popularity and interest while feeling a simmering fire igniting in my belly to get my “Mo Jo” back. I had been in retirement mode basking in the success of glory days gone past and being a happily married father of two enjoying Birthdays, Parties, Gymnastic Classes, Ice Skating and Dance Competitions with the family, life was good.
As luck would have it, opportunity came knocking and the door opened. On the other side of that door I saw things I hadn’t seen in several years, things like; Challenge, Cheering, Battles, Structure, War, Discipline, Health and Victory! These are but a few things that got my eyes and ears open where they were once closed. After being a Fan cheering for the success of this new division still in its infancy, I thought what better way can I contribute to its growth than to throw myself into the fray and challenge all comers both past and future to stand with me on the Battle Field in a “Battle Royal” of sorts taking on all comers. So here it is, “The old man challenges the New Jacks to a Pose Down” of sorts. These guys get the chance to compete with history, some of whom had barely turned Pro and grew up on the foundation I helped lay back in my heyday which served as a motivation for them to lift weights and compete in the first place.
I had talked and seen enough, to the point where I made up my mind that life is short and there is a dream I once had that got shelved because “Life” got in the way.
Suddenly, I found myself looking for a fight I felt I could win only this time the Battle Field is a bit more level but the challenge is still great. I will have to call upon the former warriors who inspired me to be the best I could to bring my best from yesterdays past into today’s Battle, so I can win the War tomorrow! Names like; English, Henry, Dugdale, Raymond, Correa, McQuay, Shabazz and Jackson sit firmly on the lips of those who follow the new division but there is only One name that will bring out the best in all of them and that’s, “Shawn Ray!”
By me coming to a place that is hungry for interest and flavor, I’ll have to be nothing short of amazing to stand with these Gladiators! By sheer will, I will have to regain a discipline that has lain dormant for years and force myself to build an appetite of epic proportions to pack on muscle that has been replaced with Flesh and Bone. Coming from the civilized mentality of husband and father, I now have to go back to being a Warrior and a Soldier fighting through every rep and set in the gym! Many will ask why but like those before me who have been down this road, the reason is simple: When Dreams come true the man dies a slow death. It’s the Journey on the way to reaching your Dream that we find Life in abundance.
Satisfaction for an Athlete comes from the Trials and Tribulations of testing their Metal. There is nothing to prove here except that just because one Dream doesn’t become a Reality complete with a Sandow Trophy doesn’t mean I can never Dream again? My Dream came back to me while watching and cheering these guys battling it out onstage showing us things with the human body only the “Challenge” of Competition Training can provide me.
In summation, The Challenge for me has given new meaning to the term of “Life after 40!” The road although long and winding, is a road I have traveled many times before and have become all too familiar with. I have always said, the Journey is where my happiness lies and now I have been presented the opportunity to Dream once more and meet Happiness in a familiar place of excess onstage and in the gym. It is here that I’ll test the boundaries of my inner self and mortal being to bring the most polished and refined Shawn Ray Physique to center stage once more against the best 202 Competitors worldwide! This is a one shot deal to put up or shut up in an industry that has been unforgiving to Comebacks by my predecessors yet the challenge is all to inviting to someone such as myself. One who likes to do what others say I can’t, in the face of the naysayer’s for it was these people who helped me create my legacy in this business. While many might have opinions as to why and what’s to be gained, I simply say this familiar quotation: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
Blessed with good health, genetics and my family support group, today and tomorrow have new meaning in the life of a retired Pro like me. I’ll be putting away the old gym clothes in favor of Full Metal Jacket Gear going in for the Kill!
For me this Challenge represents a Blessing but I realize the same amount of people cheering for me there will be equal amounts working against me. The Deck is stacked and the verdict is still out. Can I return to my glory or will I be but a shadow of my former self?
It is this question that the Challenge has given me purpose, for as much as I am in a War against the best, I will battle daily against an image I have engrained into the fabric of this industry as a former competitor. I will be up against a standard I set for all the guys I am competing against. My satisfaction will come in the form of looking the naysayer’s in the face at the finish line and reminding them later that while they might not have believed in the beginning of this journey it was people just like them that created me in the first place.
I have a nutrition company that believes in my Dream with revolutionary products to help supplement this challenge and the people and staff at Muscular Development Magazine that want to see this Dream take Flight who will help see me through this journey and for that I am eternally grateful!
So with these two words, I have changed the course of my life and this industry forever,
Similar Bodybuilding Threads: