Born 1964 in Nigeria and now living in America, Victor Richards has been known around the world for having one of the biggest bodybuilding physiques to have walked the stage in the 1990s.
His passion for self-achievement and bodybuilding caught Richards when he was a teenager wanting to improve his sporting ability in high school football, wrestling, and running track and filed.
Victor went on to win his Pro card in Nigeria, but he didn’t go on to compete in the Mr. Olympia as many hoped he would, there was a lot of mystery and uncertainty that surrounded his entry to the IFBB competitions.
This is his story:
|Full Name: Victor Lheanyi Richards
|Over 310lbs (140.6kg)
|Over 310lbs (140.6kg)
- 1992 Nigerian Championships 1st
- 1989 Mr. Barbados 1st
- 1984 California Gold Cup Classic 1st
- 1983 Teen Los Angeles 1st
- 1982 American Cup 2nd
Sports In High School
Victor Richards is known in the bodybuilding world as having one of the world’s largest and most muscular frames of all time. His 5’10” frame and weighing in at 370 pounds of solid muscle, it’s clear to see why he’s announced as a legend.
He was born the 9th out of 10 children and started weight training at the early age of fifteen, where he already weighed a solid 210 pounds. He enjoyed taking part in high school football, wrestling and running track.
In the beginning, Victor didn’t start weight training to enter into the life of bodybuilding, it just came naturally to Vic. At the ripe age of 17 years old, Victor started training in Gold’s Gym Venice beach California with his mentors David and Peter Paul, the “Barbarian Brothers”.
This is where Victor learned different techniques which grew his size tremendously. The Barbarian Brothers would use powerlifting routines in their standard bodybuilding workouts, which helped Victor to create his huge size and solid muscles.
A young Victor Richards.
Victor pounded the weights and after only 8 months of preparation, he increased his bodyweight to 225 pounds of muscle. This is when he entered his first bodybuilding competition,”The American Cup” which was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Victor walked away with 1st place in the teenage heavyweight class and places 2nd overall. Rich Gaspari stole 1st place that day.
When Victor was 18 years old, he was already 240 pounds. He competed in the teenage Los Angeles contest winning both the heavyweight division and the overall title.
Only two short weeks after the teenage competition in Los Angeles, Victor entered “The Orange County Muscle Classic”. Victor surprisingly didn’t place 1st in the lesser known competition as many expected he would. He was beaten by a local contestant who placed 4th to Victor only two weeks earlier at the Los Angeles Championship.
This is where Victor experienced for the first time, the politics and corruption that’s been known to enter the sport of bodybuilding. But Victor’s spirit continued to remain strong, and this small setback didn’t stop Vic from continuing in a sport which he loved so much.
Realizing His Own Ambitions
Weighing in at 245 pounds at the age of 19, Victor unexpectedly announced himself at the “California Gold Cup”. But Victor’s sights weren’t set on the teenage competition, Victor’s sights were set on the open class division. Victor walked on stage and came away with the heavyweight title under his belt and the overall title. This where he became the California Gold Cup Champion.
But something small unsettled Victor that day. When he arrived at the parking lot, his trophy fell to pieces. Obviously disappointed with what just happened. Victor realized that the true competition he should face would not come from a trophy or a contest, but instead from within himself.
First Stepping Onto The Scene
Victor first started to receive recognition in 1987 where he appeared in fitness magazines. He was talked about as the biggest bodybuilder to have ever lived. His huge solid 5,10″ frame carried a massive 300 pounds. Rumors have been said that his thighs were 35 inches and at this time he was only 21 years old.
“My middle name is an African name given to me by my Nigerian grandfather, which means With God nothing is impossible.”
Victor wasn’t just a heavyweight bodybuilder, he’s also studied at the University of Southern California where he obtained a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Human Behavioural Science. Victor’s philosophy on life and the connection between mind, body, and soul, enabled Victor to give speeches and talks around the globe on psychology, fitness, and nutrition.
Creating Quality Nutrition
When Victor was traveling and giving his famous speeches around the globe, there was one question he would always be asked. And that was regarding quality nutrition. He realized that most corporate nutrition companies were not supplying the public with the quality goods they promised inside their supplements.
With some research and dedication to finding the right type of ingredients that make up quality products, Victor wanted to start supplying the fitness world with state of the art cutting edge supplements. His main goal was to bring to the table products that didn’t contain fillers or low-quality ingredients that so many companies at the time often used.
Victor successfully started and managed his own supplement company that succeeded in delivering his products with a clear cut definition of health and fitness for sporting athletes.
Mystery Surrounding The IFBB
With Victors huge size and success as a teenager, there was word going around that Victor could be a strong candidate for a Pro competitor in the 1990s. There was some mystery and issues that prevented Victor from entering the NPC competitions and qualifying as so many other did at that time.
As Victor held a dual nationality of the United States and Nigerian, he decided to enter the 1992 Nigerian Championships, where he smashed the competition and won his Pro card.
Even though Victor rightfully gained his pro card in Nigeria, there was still a lot of resistance from the IFBB which wouldn’t allow him to enter their competitions. At the time Victor was under contract by Joe Weider, who would have done anything he could to allow Victor to compete in the IFBB.
Still today, uncertainty surrounds this time of the 1990s and the decisions that kept Victor from competing in the IFBB. Even more so as the head of the IFBB at the time Wayne DeMilia who was a savvy businessman, would have supported Victor’s entry to the “Night of Champions” in New York, as he knew ticket sales would have rocketed.
This left Victor with an uneasy feeling towards the IFBB and pro competitions and their governing bodies within the sport. Here’s Victor explaining why he discontinued his search for 1st place in the IFBB;
“In current bodybuilding I dislike the kamikaze attitude to get ripped at all costs. I don’t love bodybuilding enough to sacrifice my life for it. If these kamikaze guys are thought to be smart or intelligent, I’d rather be to be thought of as foolish.”
Gate Crasher At The FIBO
In the 1994 FIBO competition, Victor decided to step on stage unannounced and tried to embarrass the leader at the time, Dorian Yates. Mr. Yates was guest posing at the very same moment when Victor decided to instruct a fellow competitor, Francois Gay on exactly what to say with clear cut instructions when he would step on stage.
Francois announced to the crowd Victor as a 320 pounds athlete “The natural uncrowned Mr. Olympia.” At that very moment when Victor was posing to the crowd, an angry and upset Bernd Beiderbecke, who was the German edition of Muscle & Fitness, jumped on stage and snatched the microphone away from Francois.
Beiderbecke shouted to the audience; “Don’t you want to see Victor cut and in competition just once? Has this guy the guts to walk onto the Mr. Olympia stage? What will he look like when he diets down? Right now he looks like a water balloon. How can he call himself a natural while looking like a water tank?”
Even though Victor was being denounced by Beiderbecke, he continued to pose and tried to overthrow Yates on stage. Later that night Victor apologized to Yates for overshadowing him in the competition. Although it was only Victor’s opinion who saw himself as the champion that night, Yates only reply in bemusement was “Oh, alright mate. Funny old world innit?”
Upset In The FIBO
The angry Bernd Beiderbecke commented on why he rushed on stage and made his statement. This was because of the way in which Victor disrespectfully announced himself uninvited on stage in the competition. This was possibly something that hindered Victor from competing professionally later down the line. This, Beiderbecke added, was a selfish act that put the reputations of the contestants in the Mr. Olympia at the FIBO on the line.
Bernd Beiderbecke was speaking for the whole community who were eager to see Victor flexing on stage in contest ready conditions, lean and ripped. Another bodybuilder (Joe Weider) in the community of the sport wanted to see Victor stage ready for competitions and not looking overweight.
Joe Weider was the one who had Victor under contract, he knew the only way he would get him into shape was for Victor to enter a contest. This, Joe said, is the only way someone will get lean and prepared for any event. But Victor didn’t comply, he continued to remain bulky and overweight most of the time he was under contract with Joe. Mr. Weider eventually lost patience with Victor and dropped him from his contract.
Why Victor Never Competed
Among the fact that Victor caused an upset in the FIBO where he stepped onstage unannounced, there was also the fact that Victor carried a huge amount of weight during most of his training seasons. This lead some to believe that Victor couldn’t get lean enough and remain that way for serious competing.
Perhaps it was a fear of losing if he were to compete and find that he couldn’t match the Pros at the time, or it could have been that he wasn’t ready for that type of life and dedication that comes with competing in the Mr. Olympia.
One thing remained, and that’s Victor never met his full potential in the sport of bodybuilding. The question if he could have been the best shall remain unanswered. But one thing can’t be taken away from Victor, he was a huge personality not only on stage but also off.
“Some bodybuilders had became trophy to the bodybuilding establishment while in pursuit of trophy.”
Heavy Weight Training
Victor didn’t grow his huge size from using light weights and lots of reps. He grew not only his physique but also his reputation for being able to throw around some serious weight. He cited to have the ability to use 550 pounds on the incline bench, something many other Pros at the time would struggle with at the time.
“I can do 200 pounds on dumbbell press. I’ve done shoulder presses in the range of 450 pounds; squatted nearly 900 pounds, and I’ve done barbell curls up to 315 pounds. And I never liked using a belt or knee wraps.”
As for the type of training that Victor would use to grow his famous size and strength, he utilized hypertrophy-type resistance training, alongside powerlifting movements with enormous weights. This is what grew the deep and dense definition on Victor’s physique. Little is known about his actual training routines, all that can be said is, that it was heavy and intense.
“I believe in doing my first workout in the morning on an empty stomach because a hungry man is an angry man. Anger often helps fuels my workout.”
Visitor’s methods in philosophy were unconventional not only in life but also in the gym. He would often like to train on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Then he would consume a huge amount of calories each day, depending on his workout intensity for that particular day. Here’s Victor talking about his training routine and diet;
“I believe in doing my first workout in the morning on an empty stomach because a hungry man is an angry man. Angers often helps fuels my workout. After training I’ll mix 16 ounces of unsweetened 100% apple sauce with Rebel Nutrition Ionic Whey to feed my muscles. Then I’ll take an hour siesta or nap to let my food digest before tending to my other daily activities.”
30,000 Calories A Day
There was a time when Victor could eat a whopping 30,00 calories in one day, but this wasn’t his ordinary diet, this was just a time when he ate a Caribbean diet which can be extremely high in calories and was blown out of proportion by a leading magazine editor of the time. Here’s Victor clearing the air of the 30,000 calories a day diet;
“I have never said that I consume 30,000 calories daily. My statement was taken out of context by a major magazine’s quack editor who wanted to make a name for himself by creating a controversy. His original question was, “What is the most calories you’ve ever consumed in a day?” I answered that I had once consumed close to 30,000 calories when I ate Caribbean and African cuisine which can be extremely high in calories. I have never claimed to eat 30,000 calories on a daily basis.”
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Idols and Influences
The Barbarians David and Peter Paul taught Victor how to lift heavy and grow his size in only a short space of time when he entered Gold’s Gym for the first time. This motivated Victor and influenced him to grow his size beyond recognition.
Sergio Olivia, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bertil Fox, Mohammed Benaziza, Franco Columbu, Dave Jones, and Lee Haney were all among Victor influences in life, and bodybuilding.
What we can learn from Victor Richards
Victor can teach us not only to train hard, eat massive amounts of food and grow larger than ever by adopting some of his training techniques that he picked up from the Barbarian Brothers.
We can also learn that it takes a champion to admit defeat and bow out gracefully when the odds were against him. His approach to life and the way Victor believes that training should be for self-achievement and not for the crowd or the judges of competitions, teaches us the only recognition we truly need is within ourselves.
With hard work, discipline and commitment from any moment in life, achievements can be made and won. What will always remain within Victor is self-respect and a drive to continue towards health and fitness.