They call him “The Gift”, and for good reason. He began as a college basketball player with hardly enough muscle to be considered a contender for the Olympia title. He found himself drawn towards weight lifting and immediately noticed his talent, yet was unaware of his potential greatness.
“The first two years I competed as a pro, I qualified for the Olympia, and I declined that contest two years in a row. So every year I declined I would get ridiculed by fans and other bodybuilders,” Phil says. “I didn’t believe in myself and that I could be in the game and do something special.”
I would call 3 consecutive Mr. Olympia titles something special. With tons of hard work and repetitive viewings of Pumping Iron on VHS, Phil perfected his body and took his place on the wall of the Mecca of bodybuilding: Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach.
As I stood there talking to Phil, his muscles dwarfing mine, his wife brought him a bag with his next meal, which was not to be delayed nor interrupted. He ate it diligently despite the many fans and colleagues trying to grab his attention. After he finished he hit the spot light and gave a motivating and thankful speech.
A theme he reiterated throughout the evening was belief; believing in oneself and trusting when others believe in you.
“Without belief none of this would be possible. Without striving for excellence, striving for greatness, and wanting better each and every day will not yield being 3 time champion,” states Mr. O.
With a grin he added, “Hopefully 4 [wins] this September.”