BRIAN WHITACRE : “I WON’T BE COMPETING IN 2014”
Interview by Ben Yosef
MARCH 2014 COVER STORY
It sure was a tough pill for this Natural Bodybuilding living legend to swallow when for the seventh time he was denied an Overall WNBF World Championship victory. Especially considering that he and most everyone else felt this was his best package yet.
Unfortunately for Brian, Shevon Cunningham (a WNBF legend as well, and at the big show for his sixth time) would also be at his career best. Brian would later write on his website recap of the show “…it was simply a matter of what the judges preferred… size and balance versus condition and posing.”
In 2013 Whitacre would forge ahead with his prep while tending to a wife in the midst of pregnancy complications. Contemplating calling it quits , it was his wife that encouraged him to continue. Was it all worth it? The introspective and insightful Brian Whitacre shares the details of this experience, his perspective on where the sport is today, as well as his future within it.
BY: Congratulations on an awesome showing at Worlds! You have such an incredible physique. I have been a big fan of yours for many years.
BW: Hey Ben, Thanks. And thank you for all the awesome coverage you are giving to Natural Bodybuilders.
BY: Let’s start with the future. Are you going to compete in the 2014 version of the WNBF World Championships?
“As we speak my wife is due with twins, and family is a much higher priority for me than Bodybuilding ever will be.”
“I still need some more size to be able to compete against the best in the sport.”
BW: I won’t be competing at the 2014 Worlds. As we speak my wife is due with twins, and family is a much higher priority for me than Bodybuilding ever will be. I also think an extended off-season will be beneficial for me, since I still need some more size to be able to compete against the best in the sport.
BY: Oh wow. Let me first say congratulations on the soon to be new additions to the Whitacre family. Everyone must be very excited. As for sitting out, we will definitely miss seeing you do battle on the 2014 Worlds stage. You came damn close to taking it all last November. And you looked phenomenal up there. Many believe the 2013 Brian Whitacre package was your best yet. I read your review of the show on your website. It seems that you also agree that this was the most competitive look you have ever produced.
“I will definitely miss the stage, but…I still have plenty of competitive seasons left in me!”
“I do think it was my best physique to date, but at the same time I’m very confident I can continue to make improvements…”
BW: Thanks Ben. It will be a fun time but lots of challenges too! I will definitely miss the stage, but one thing I love about Natural Bodybuilding is the relatively long lifespan of a competitor. I still have plenty of competitive seasons left in me! The loss at Worlds was tough to take. I put a lot into that prep and really thought it was my year. But, Shevon looked outstanding and I can’t fault the decision. I do think it was my best physique to date, but at the same time I’m very confident I can continue to make improvements, even at my age (37).
BY: Yes, that’s a great point with regards to the longevity of a natural competitor, and this is something that many of us need to keep reminding ourselves of. I will be turning forty this year and I have not been on stage since 2007. That being said, I plan on returning to the stage, hopefully in the Spring of 2015.
Considering the one single point that separated you and Shevon Cunningham for the Overall, it is safe to assume that the title could have gone your way. That being said, does coming so close illicit feelings of encouragement or is this more of a disappointment?
“When the decision didn’t go my way, it was gut-wrenching but I’m proud of how I reacted. I shook Shevon’s hand and congratulated him…”
BW: Glad to hear you plan on getting back onstage. Forty is young. Just look at guys like Marshall Johnson! Losing the Overall was a disappointment for me. This was a tough prep. I nearly called it quits this year with about eight weeks to go when we found out there were some complications with my wife’s pregnancy. I pushed through because she wanted me to, and was confident I was at my best when I arrived in Massachusetts. When the decision didn’t go my way, it was gut-wrenching. But I’m proud of how I reacted. I shook Shevon’s hand and congratulated him, because I knew he had worked just as hard as I did.
That said, I strongly believe that failure is the greatest motivator out there. I lost a unanimous decision to Hayzer Cayli for the Overall in 2012 (even though I defeated the 2011 Overall Champ Rich Gozdecki in the process). For all of my 2013 prep, I put a sign in my gym locker that said “0 votes.” I looked at that sign every day. During my next prep there will be a sign that says, “1 vote.” I am a big believer in setting goals in life, both professionally and for hobbies like Bodybuilding. Every day I try to take steps to move a little closer to those goals.
“I am looking forward to the future, particularly with the ‘opening up’ of the WNBF.”
“I strongly believe that failure is the greatest motivator out there. “
I am encouraged that I have continued to progress as a Bodybuilder. My first Worlds Overall was 2007, where I finished dead last. In 2008 I managed one Overall vote, and I got two in 2010. By 2013 I got three. I am looking forward to the future, particularly with the “opening up” of the WNBF.
BY: Yeah, Marshall is the man. For real. Brian, you have a great perspective regarding your performance over the years at Worlds, and as a Bodybuilder in general. As for the pregnancy complications, I can only image how tough that must have been with your wife having trouble like that. I take it everything is ok with her now?
“Actually my wife has been in the hospital on bed rest for the past six weeks. She can only get up to walk for 15 minutes a day.”
“It is a tough situation for everyone, especially our two-year old, but we’ll get through it.“
BW: Actually my wife has been in the hospital on bed rest for the past six weeks. She can only get up to walk for 15 minutes a day. The twins are being monitored 24/7 to make sure they are doing okay. They could come at any time if there are signals they are in distress. It is a tough situation for everyone, especially our two-year old, but we’ll get through it.
BY: This sounds pretty intense. Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.
BW: Thanks Ben, we appreciate the prayers!
BY: You are relatively reclusive when it comes to social media and much of the action and hype that surrounds the sport. I was actually concerned that I may not have even been able to reach you for this interview. Why do you keep your distance?
“I find it hard to believe that people actually care what I do on a daily or even weekly basis.”
BW: Regarding social media, there are a couple of reasons why I am not that active. The first is that I find it hard to believe that people actually care what I do on a daily or even weekly basis. The second is that committing to having a social media presence is a giant time commitment, and it’s one I don’t care to make. My job is pretty demanding, and I prioritize family and work over trying to make a name for myself. I think social media is great if you are trying to promote yourself or your business, but I am not. I like to think of myself as a friendly guy. I hope my lack of activity on Facebook doesn’t detract from that!
BY: You would be surprised how many people would be interested in the play-by-play life of Brian Whitacre. You are a World Champion Natural Bodybuilder. And arguably one of the best ever. I am sure a more active social media presence would inspire the fans as well as generate new ones. That being said, I totally hear you. It can be an incredible time commitment.
What’s your take on the buyout of the WNBF/INBF?
BW: I am stoked about the upcoming changes in Natural Bodybuilding. I don’t think there’s much debate that the top two organizations are the WNBF and the IFPA, and the buyout by Nancy, Tina, and Bob seems to be a HUGE leap towards getting the best natural physiques on the same stage. I have so much respect for Nancy, not just as a Bodybuilder and promoter, but as a person in general. She dedicates a HUGE chunk of her life to Natural Bodybuilding, with very little in return. I just met Tina and Bob at Worlds this past year, and was immediately impressed with their passion for the sport. They gave me some very insightful feedback after the show was over that left me with a very good impression. I’m sure there will be some growing pains this first year as athletes cross over for the first time and close decisions will be analyzed for any hint of “organizational favoritism“, but there is little doubt that the buyout and opening up of the WNBF is the best thing for the sport.
BY: Brian, with all that you have going on in your life right now, I appreciate you taking the time to share a piece of your story with NATURALMAG. When can we expect to see you back on stage?
BW: No problem Ben. Thank YOU for all the great coverage you are giving to natural competitors. I’d like to say that I’ll be back onstage in 2015, but I can’t commit to that just yet. Contest prep with one toddler was hard enough. Life with “three under three” will be even more challenging! Regardless, I do plan on being back for some of the top IFPA / WNBF shows at some point. I have quite a few friends in the IFPA (including Yorton Cup Champs Doug Miller, Philip Ricardo Jr., and Valentine Ezugha) and I would love to share the stage with those guys! NMI
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