Welcome to part two of my interview with IFBB Pro Abbas Khatami. If you recall part one ended with us taking a look at the laughable situation of the current tide of pro cards being issued to people who would NEVER have gained a pro card in years gone by. So carrying on with our look at bodybuilding today let’s take a look at a couple of the new divisions through the eyes of the Persian Missile....
You made reference to dwindling numbers attending shows at one point in the past. I think the introduction of men’s physique and the bikini division for women may have contributed to an upturn in attendees, making the sport more accessible to a general audience. What are your thoughts on these new divisions?
“In one way it’s great but in another way it’s taken away from the foundation that built this which is bodybuilding. I mean in one way it makes it more attainable to become a Physique or Bikini athlete and also it is more mainstream with regard to how it’s presented to the public. I know for a fact kids these days Do NOT have the work ethic I or anyone else before me had to climb that ladder to get to the top. Nowadays guys can look at a physique guy or women can look at a bikini girl and say ‘I can do that’ or ‘I would like to look like that’... it is more attainable. I also feel that bodybuilders have ruined the sport themselves by pushing the envelope of size.
Trust me when I say you will see a lot of people passing away ‘cause of this craziness in pushing the envelope. BUT and a BIG BUT the judges had a say in this when Dorian became Mr. Olympia. They could have picked a more symmetrical package and kept the symmetry there and stopped all this mess by not allowing protruding guts back then. It was that single moment that turned the sport forever.
So in a way I am for it but I'm hardcore bodybuilder at heart and always will be. That's not to say that I think the added divisions are great but I have respect for the bodybuilders and at least put these bodybuilders and women’s physique athletes on first so they have an audience to pose to. It’s not fair at all when those guys come out and more than half the audience is gone. Oh and another thing, cut back on giving out so many pro cards! Only reason I see that being done is that people are either 1, too lazy to train hard and come in condition or 2, the sport is dying due to the fact again people are lazy and don't wanna work hard or have patience, so let’s just appease everyone like a little baby when it cries.
But I guess it’s just ‘the pussification of America’. No one wants to work hard anymore at anything! They just want it easy and do any stupid drug or dumb ass exercise they see some jack ass made up on Instagram for booty. LUNGE mother fuckers just lunge and sweat your ass off. Suffer a little and get tough. I just bust my ass so much I have no patience for pussies or people thinking there is some easier route.”
What do you feel is the biggest hurdle that has to be overcome in the sport today and how do you feel about the increasing involvement of social media in an athlete’s pre show game plan?
“Well the supplement companies have just made whores out of everyone to be honest. People have not stood together to say ‘if I'm gonna work your booth I need to be paid’ or ‘I need to be paid to rep your product’. The supplement companies have out smarted everyone.
They pick any little girl who has a nice ass or who is starving for attention and say ‘if you put our product in a pic on your IG account we will send you product ‘ or some naïve Bodybuilder coming up who makes no money dishing them the same line of shit. PEOPLE. PEOPLE ...when did you all start working for free? We used to get paid $500 a day working a booth plus air fare and hotel. I didn't know people were such suckers for just product or some followers or just to say they are supposedly SPONSORED by a company.
Let me put it to you very simply ... stick together and don't do shit unless you get paid. WHY In gods name after all the work you put in to your body ,busting your ass and spending your own money would you sell yourself short like that? “
And social media?
“I think it’s great to show off to your fans your progress but at times I feel as if sometimes the show’s already won before it came along because people are already looking at your pics. It’s not like before. Before you dieted and maybe the only people who saw you were friends who spoke about you and word got around or you posed for some judges to take a look at you and people would be expecting you to show up on point. I personally tell my clients to not post up pics till about maybe and only maybe a week or a few days prior to the show. Reason 1) at that point no other athlete who may be coming into the show can do shit about their condition . Reason 2) I tell my clients to not look at others posting their pics up cause it’s just a mind fuck.
I personally have my clients out condition anyone who was in more condition than them at 8 weeks out. There is no fucking reason to be close to show ready 8 weeks out. I have been seeing a trend in this nonsense. Why the hell would you wanna hold that conditioning for that long. At most my clients are ready 2 weeks out and I tweak things from there.”
What ultimately led to you taking a back seat from competing and how hard was it to step away?
“There were a few times I took a step back. First was back in 2011 when my friend passed away. It hit me hard, plus I was sitting there at 270 lbs and really not doing anything in my life. Life hit me hard. Your life flashes in front of you when you don't have anything and your training partner passed away and I just wasn't happy where I was at in my life.
Yes I turned pro, but that didn't change anything for me like the question that was asked earlier. If anything I put more pressure on myself to get bigger and push the envelope and when my training partner passed, something inside me changed. I had to put a halt on things, I still trained but just didn't push like I did. After a few years break I felt I still had it in me and had the drive and desire to compete again. Then I got hit with the supposed blood clots and that stopped me from going further until I finally got comfortable again knowing it was a false report and started training hard again- but even then I was a little scared cause of what happened to me even though it was false it mind fucked me pretty good.
Anyways I overcame that fear and training was at 100%. I got back up to 275lbs but then I was having troubles in my relationship and had to come to terms with that at around 8 weeks out from the 2014 Australian Pro. My training partner at the time sat me down and said this girl is NOT on your side. She should not be arguing with you about petty shit like I was going through. I sat her down after that and explained I needed to do this and that we'd have a little vacation in Australia after the show.
Wasn't till I opened a phone up that looked like mine that I saw a video that was sent to another dude I had known for years. She had been talking to him before we ever met but said she had no contact with him cause he was supposedly crazy. Anyway I was crazy in love at that time so I believed her. That being said once I found that out I just couldn't stomach it and threw her ass out and finished the show myself.
Wasn't my best showing at the show, I got all backed up and couldn't shit for days LOL. I decided to take a little time off and not do another show right away. My plan was to give it a year and come back the following year but again another hiccup, my neck was increasingly getting more and more painful to the point I finally got surgery and replaced a disc in my neck. So I was seeing the signs that it was just time to slowly let go and just do this for myself. So after the neck surgery I was clear headed and decided to do one last show for myself and all by myself .
No training partner , no one helping me with my diet. It took me 6 weeks to recoup from surgery and then I had planned a 3-4 month offseason and then 3 months to diet down for the California Pro. I did just that, I came back after disc replacement surgery and competed (but not at my best) within 7 months. All the while, for almost 4-6 weeks of my prep, I was miserable and thinking to myself what the fuck am I doing this for?
I had to remind myself I am doing this for myself and to put it in my mind I can come back from even a neck surgery and depression. I knew all along this was my last show. It was time for me to move on and go in another direction in life. I had grown out of bodybuilding. It did nothing for me anymore. The excitement was lost.”
You spoke about the difficulty some face when transitioning back into what you refer to as ‘real life’. Was this an issue for you and how would you advise someone embarking on this shift?
“Yeah real life hits hard when you have nothing else in your life besides the pursuit of the ‘elusive pro status’, or all you have been doing is eating sleeping, training, competing, and for some maybe working or doing things to just get by in life. Yeah that's all fine and dandy when you are in your 20's maybe for a little while but trust me when I say it’s no way to live!
I was lucky enough to have clients to train and invested some of my money with my father in property. It’s a waiting game though to get your money back but it was well worth it. Even though I had things on the side to do, transitioning back to ‘real life’ was... let’s say hard but not too hard for me. I knew at around 30 years old by the time I was 40-42 years old I would be done and would have to change my lifestyle . I couldn't keep pounding my body like I did. Do I look back and wish I could have? Yes, of course, but I played the game and had fun doing it. I knew I always wanted a family as well and knew that the bodybuilding lifestyle wasn't best suited for being in a relationship or taking care of a family either.
So my advice to others is enjoy your life, don't take this whole bodybuilding lifestyle to heart and let it rule your life. It may give you some temporary satisfaction but in the long run all you are doing is paying for yourself out of pocket when you could be using that money for many other useful things. Also know your limits, what I mean by that is don't let others blow your head up and keep doing show after show. You need to think about your future and health. So while thinking about getting into the sport you best think about how to get out of it as well or at least be doing something so you have a career or something to fall back on.
Too many people I know, including myself, think that living this lifestyle will give you something in return or you can live on it. IT WONT, the best it will give you is structure and discipline in your life. Use that to embark on other areas of life and grow in other areas than just your body. Ass, tits, looks, and muscles will all fade eventually. We won’t stay the same forever, so what's in your head and your heart will always shine way after we are done with the sport. “
How would you like to see the future for bodybuilding as a sport and any comments on the new Classic Physique division?
“As for the future of bodybuilding I'm sure it will stay around for a long time, they will always be adding new divisions or whatever just to keep it alive. Bodybuilding in itself I think sadly will die out eventually, and the other divisions will continue. As for bodybuilding in the middle- east though it’s a whole new thing and over there it’s like how it was for bodybuilding in the 80's and 90's here.
Classic physique division was a great addition. It’s more attainable and much more aesthetic and streamlined. If they had that out while I was coming up I might have tried it to be honest. Most of my posing routines were based on a lot of the classical style poses. I think it keeps the whole sport in check and plus you can only be so heavy for a certain height which will keep everything in check including Growth Guts.”
You still have a lot of clients you assist and are known for going above and beyond when it comes to helping them achieve their goals. What advice do you give them and what is the best piece of advice you can give someone considering competing?
“The advice I give my clients is kinda what I said in the question about ‘real life’ . If you are going to do this do it for yourself and enjoy your life as well. Don't let it run your life or plan everything around this. When it’s time to prep for a show I tell them to do it a 100% or don’t do it at all. If unforeseen things come up and its priority over a competition then that should be taken care of, like health, family or work. I see way too many people push and push when they shouldn't be just so they can say I GOT THROUGH IT , I made it to the show! WOW who fucking cares?
Health is more important than anything. Prime example is one bodybuilder who almost passed out on stage at one of the Arnold Classics here just recently, and people are saying now they respect him more??? I just don’t understand this. It’s your LIFE. Or when I see others who have come up at the same time as me or even after me keep pushing through when I see them posting how they tore something or are going through treatments just to get to the show. I just shake my head... These are signs people! Signs your body is telling you to chill! When you get older the body doesn't recoup as fast as when you're younger.
So I always ask my clients how they are feeling. I've been through the ups and downs and I listen carefully to what they are saying so I know when to back off or know if they are just complaining for the sake of it.
That being said I was coached by one of the best while coming up and even then I had to listen to my own body when I was told, ‘it's ok you're fine’, when I was shaking and my sugar had dropped. NO I was not fine! My sugar was at 46 and I needed carbs. Fuck that shit, and I was known for my conditioning.
So my advice to people who want to compete is DO NOT listen to every jack ass clown out there who has just done one or two shows even if they are ‘pro’. It takes years and I mean years to know your own body let alone someone else's. Do your homework if you are gonna find a coach and don't just go to someone just cause they have a TEAM. That doesn't mean shit, doesn’t mean they know a lot either! Many people I find going to these TEAMS do so because they just want to place well. That means you are pretty much paying for your placing. I find that pathetic.”
Finally what are you up to at the moment and how do you see your own future evolving both in and out of this sport?
“At the moment I'm living out in Arizona again after leaving here to move to California back in 1997 to be closer to my family. I find it to be much more laid back here and there is a diverse population here of more Midwest and East Coast people who I get along with much better. I'm still training but just going with the flow and listening to my body. It still a little hard to take it easy cause all I knew was to go all out or nothing so I am working on finding that happy medium. As for work, I still prep some people here and there. Honestly I just take on clients who really want it.
I have no time for people who are cheap or don’t have the heart. I say this all the time, if you really want it you will find a way to make it happen. While I was in school out here when I did the Collegiate Nationals I had hardly any money, but I did what I could to hire the best that was around to guide me. I didn’t bitch or complain about paying JJ Marsh one bit. I saved and did what I had to do to make my dream come true. So yeah I really have no tolerance for whiners, if you don't have money don’t do a show I say
But I will always be around in the sport. I don’t necessarily go to all the shows I use to, it’s just not the same like I said. So I'll limit myself to just going to the Olympia or Arnold Classic where I can see friends I have made while competing.
Out of the sport currently I'm back doing what I use to do with my father while growing up which is remodeling and construction. It keeps my attention and I'm so detail oriented I put my all into each project just like I did while I was competing or when I have a client. I find it calms me and I'm using my mind in other ways than just in the gym. Plus I have more time now to invest in enjoying my life, traveling, being with my friends, letting loose more on my diet , and honestly finding that special woman who I can have a future with.
I've always wanted a family and love being with family, so it’s time to find and make my own now. I never really had luck while competing finding a good woman cause I think and know the women I had involved myself with were trying to compete against me or loved the fact of who I was and what I was doing but when they got involved they just couldn’t handle the lifestyle or me while at shows just being social and nice to fans or whoever came up to chat.
“So yeah I'll always be around and will always love the sport, taking a step back but never disappearing LOL. Will always say what's on my mind and keep it REAL and 100% no bullshit. Now it’s time for me to pass along my knowledge and be happy watching my clients KILL it on stage. That makes me feel good now. And just to stay in shape for myself and be healthy and start a life and family with whoever comes into my life.
“Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me and I know my answers where LONGGGG but I’m not one to be short on words. “