Paris is quite an exceptional individual. Both physically and facially
he is virtually faultless, possessing not just a handsome face but
wide shoulders, narrow hips and breath-stopping shape. Watch him in
World’s gym, Venice where he does most of his training. Heck,
the man looks good just loading a barbell! He has perfect posture
and seemingly everything sits right. His clavicles are perfectly horizontal.
His lats are neither too high nor too low. The natural shape of his
pecs and shoulders are enough to make grown bodybuilders cry. The
Paris thighs sweep out magnificently only to tuck in neatly at the
knee, below which his huge calves balloon out to perfectly formed
diamonds. You just cannot fault the Bob Paris body!
You haven’t heard too much about
Bob lately because he has been concentrating on his one-on-one training
business and his acting career. In fact, Bob deliberately took his
bodyweight down to around two hundred pounds for some show business
parts earlier this year, but his burning desire to return to bigness
has struck once again.
Life can be a bitch sometimes. Just
ask Bob Paris.
When Bob Paris left Indiana in 1981
to move to LA to train at the famous World Gym in Santa Monica, he
was a complete unknown. But he had a dream—to become a great
bodybuilder. Quickly coming under the tutelage of one of America’s
top amateur bodybuilders, Rory Leidlemeyer, he trained for a year
and in 1982 he entered the NPC American Championships. Weighing only
200 pounds and not at his best, he placed third. A fellow by the name
of Lee Haney happened to win while another newcomer to the National
ranks at the time, Matt Mendenhall placed second. Still, third place
at your first National ain’t nothing to cry in your protein
Haney shocked with his huge size and density and others lamented that
Matt has mis-timed his peak, the youthful Paris impressed many, many
people. Sure, he wasn’t that big or hard enough to over-take
the two Goliaths, and his inexperience showed onstage but the shape.
Man, the shape on this kid! Already the later-to-be world famous shape
and symmetry was clearly evident and taking form. Some were already
calling him the “new” Steve Reeves, what with his ultra
wide shoulders, narrow hips and waist, natural good legs and his model
good looks. Men were envious and women drooled.
People started paying Bob a lot of
attention after that, Articles were done on him and he made the cover
of some magazines. He was called a future Mr. Olympia if there had
ever been one. To be sure, this was heady stuff for a shy, sensitive,
quiet kid from Indiana. But it have him the confidence he could be
a successful bodybuilder.
The following year, training under
Dan Howard and then later, former Mr. America Jim Morris, Bob added
20 pounds of muscle in all the right places to his shapely physique
and became NPC heavyweight champ, beating in the process Rory Leidlemeyer
and Mike Christian. Not long after that, he was World Amateur champion,
displaying one of the most beautiful and aesthetic physiques to ever
grace a posing platform. It seemed he had the bodybuilding world in
his hip pocket. He was sure to take the pros by storm. Bring on the
But despite all the adulation and fanfare,
Bob had his detractors too. No matter how symmetrical and perfectly
proportioned his body, no matter how handsome his movie-star face
and even though he stood 6 feet tall and weighed 225 pounds of rock
hard muscle at the World’s (and Bob Kennedy told me that no
one but no one looks bigger, wider or more impressive training in
the gym before a contest than Bob Paris) some judges and hardcore
fans complained he just wasn’t big enough. Or freaky enough.
Not enough veins and vascularity. Not enough lumps, bumps, bulges
But Bob Paris has always marched to
the beat of a different drummer. He had often said at his seminars
and in print, his goal in bodybuilding was not to build the biggest,
freakiest physique he could but rather to make the male physique look
as beautiful as possible. He trained with shape and aesthetics in
mind as he was an artist and his body was his choice of medium—an
artistic expression of his beliefs on bodybuilding. To build a physique
contrary to his beliefs would be an act of self-betrayal.
it wasn’t just his type of physique that put people off. It
was his attitude and views on life and bodybuilding. He wasn’t
your usual dumb-jock bodybuilder. In a short time he had established
himself as one of the more intelligent and cerebral persons in the
sport. He was a deeply private person who thought deep, different
thoughts. And he was a loner, he kept to himself. Some people misinterpreted
his shyness for arrogance. But most people just couldn’t figure
Bob out. He was an enigma and an aura of mystery surrounded the man.
Why couldn’t he act or talk like other bodybuilders? But he
was articulate and bright and used words like “efficacious”
when he spoke. He had a philosophy on life, that there should be balance
in all things. Balance in his physique and balance in his life.
Another thing that bothered people
about him was he didn’t just think about bodybuilding all the
time. He had other interests. He had an appreciation for the arts,
was interested in acting, designed his own line of clothing and wrote
poetry. His writing was a form of self-exploration, a way to self-knowledge
which he felt was as important as building a physique. The more muscle
he built on his body, the greater need for growth in spirituality
and intellectuality. There seemed to be an almost kind of Zen spiritualism
in his thoughts and the way he lived his life. Paris’ holistic
approach to life permeated his training philosophy, the diet he followed,
how he handled stress, recuperation and all the other things a bodybuilder
must be concerned about.
Unlike most bodybuilders who only think
about themselves constantly, Bob thought of others. He did charity
work for the Cancer Society, The American Diabetes Association and
Paul Newman’s Drug Abuse program. Bob would do seminars and
give the proceeds to fight diabetes and often visit hospitals to talk
to diabetic children.
As one writer put it, Bob Paris was
dedicated to making the most of his potential to live life to the
fullest and to improve the lot of those lives he touched. And that’s
not how most world-class bodybuilders live their lives.
Heading onto the Mr. Olympia contest
in New York in 1984, great things were expected from Bob, although
most of the pre-contest hype centered around the return of The Myth,
Sergio Oliva. We heard through the grapevine that Paris was at his
all-time best and would definitely threaten for top spot. He looked
like a larger version of Frank Zane but with size. How could he fail?
But to his great shock and dismay,
Bob placed only 7th, ahead of Sergio and a lot of great bodybuilders
but far below what he expected. Again the complaints were familiar
but dubious. He was hard, cut, symmetrical, proportionate, tanned
and absolutely beautiful to look at but he just wasn’t big or
ripped enough, especially against Haney, Beckles and the top bodybuilders
of the contest.
upset at his poor placing, Bob put in another year of high-intensity
training getting ready for the next Olympia in Belgium. Gunnar Sikk
who was in Santa Monica a few weeks before the Olympia saw Paris performing
super-sets of 500 pound full squats and 400 pound hack squats, 12
reps a set! And he was up to 235 pounds in contest shape! Who said
Bob Paris wasn’t big or strong?
Somehow Bob had managed to add pounds
of muscle to his body without compromising his own artistic ethics.
He would present to the judges the type of physique he wanted to show
only bigger than the year before. Unfortunately, Haney, Christian,
De Mey and Gaspari were bigger or harder or both. So again the judges
ignored the absolute beauty of his flawless physique and scored him
down heavily for not being ripped. To his utter shock, Bob placed
only 9th, worse than the previous Olympia. It would be a gross understatement
to say his placing devastated him.
But that was the straw that broke the
camel’s back. Bob had had it with bodybuilding. He was fed up
with the critics, the judges, the excess steroids and totally disillusioned
about the sport he once loved so much. He decided to drop out of the
Instead, Bob put all his energies into
acting. He took acting lessons for 30 hours a week and appeared in
various TV and movie parts. Just recently, he graduated from class.
As well, Bob continued to work on his clothing line. Unfortunately,
the line fell through due to manufacturing problems but currently,
Bob is negotiating with another manufacturer. During the year and
a half he took off serious training, his bodyweight dropped to only
175 pounds and most people speculated that Bob’s competitive
career was over.
But once a bodybuilder, always a bodybuilder,
as those bitten with the iron bug can attest. The flame for competition
still burned within and after some soul-searching, Bob decided to
return to competition. Due to not competing last year, he is ineligible
for this year’s Olympia in Sweden but will make his return at
one of the Grand Prix’s after the Olympia contest.
Bob says his mind is now clear. He
feels that bodybuilding is what he does best and he should not waste
the gift. He thinks there is a market for his type of physique and
that his body can be a link between bodybuilding and the mainstream
world. If anybody can accomplish this feat, Bob Paris is the man.