The Sport Remembers

© 2001. The text and photographs contained on this page are copyrighted, and may not be published on any other site,
or used in any other way without the express written consent of the author(s) and/or photographer(s).


Dorian Yates
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Photo - Credit to CHRIS LUND
When I became interested in bodybuilding in the early eighties, I devoured everything that I could find in print about the sport. During this time, I became aware of Mike and Ray Mentzer and was obviously impressed with the huge dense musculature that Mike and Ray displayed. More impressive than the physiques though was the radical and logical training approach that Mike was recommending through his regular articles in Muscle and Fitness.

Mike was a great inspiration to me during my early training days. I was lucky enough to meet Mike and Ray during one of my early visits to California, and during this time, we developed a friendship and mutual respect. I had spoken with Mike shortly before his death, so I was deeply shocked to hear of his passing.... and then the tragic news of Ray's death.

I will personally remember Mike and Ray as pioneers in the sport, strong proud men who stood up for what they believed in and didn't worry about going against the grain..... I WILL MISS THEM!

Dorian Yates
Mr. Olympia winner six consecutive years 1992-1997

Actor and Mr. Universe winner 1973 and 1974

Lou FerrignoHi Joanne!

When I read Mike’s books, I loved them. They brought some tears to my eyes since Mike loved bodybuilding and carried on the principles of Arthur Jones!

Mike will be (and is) missed and to me, he was a true class gentleman!

Lou Ferrigno
Actor and Bodybuilding Champion

[Note: Lou Ferrigno was only 21 when he won his first Mr. Universe title, a Guinness Book record that stands to this day. More incredible, at age 22 he won again - and to this day remains the only person to win consecutive titles! He went on to pursue his acting career and became the infamous character – Incredible Hulk. To many of us he is known as the Incredible Lou Ferrigno!]


Casey Viator
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I had the privilege to know and train with both Mike and Ray. We all understood the meaning of training hard and getting worthwhile gains in a short period of time.

Mike had insight when it came to helping people in their training and writing a multitude of articles that helped everyone in the industry. He persisted for years, his brother Ray was also a great asset to the sport, and his rugged physique set the standard for today's monsters in bodybuilding.

The Mentzer Brothers put a great mark in bodybuilding history.

They were both my friends, and I miss them. God bless them both.

Casey Viator
Youngest Mr. America and 2-time Pro IFBB Grand Prix Champion


Boyer Coe
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I have a very high regard for Mike Mentzer, and have known him for a number of years. I remember meeting Mike back in 1977-78 at the Mr. Universe in France. We became friends over the years both personally and professionally, working along side Arthur Jones, the pioneer of high intensity training, which Mike later perfected and brought to the masses.

The one thing that stands out in my mind regarding Mike -- besides just being a great bodybuilder -- was his intelligence and a very high degree of integrity. Mike would never lie about anything; a rare commodity in this industry. I enjoyed a lot of the same things Mike was interested in outside of bodybuilding, including philosophy. His deep interest in philosophy inspired me to study it even further. I have fond memories of just sitting back and discussing things with him for hours. Mike was a very kind person and a good friend.

Mike was a man who had special things to say even though it went against the grain of popular beliefs at the time. We've had many great times & travels together, and I will miss his company.

-- Boyer Coe
Four-Time Mr. Universe Winner - 1969, 1973, 1974, 1975


Frank Zane
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While I didn't know Ray very well, I became friends with Mike after the 1980 Mr. Olympia, Mike's last competition. Boyer Coe, Mike, myself, and our respective wives/girlfriends would often get together in Palm Springs and discuss the injustices of competitive bodybuilding.

I picked up a few good ideas from Mike in the early 80's regarding training methodology; such as the importance of slow negatives, and a unique one-legged calf raise technique on the Nautilus multi purpose machine that resulted in over a 1/2 inch calf growth in one month in 1981. The death of Mike and Ray is terrible news for myself, and the industry as a whole. Their presence in the bodybuilding community will be missed.

Frank Zane
Three Times Mr. Olympia 1977 - 1979

IRONMAN Magazine

Publisher/Editorial Director

I find it difficult to accept the fact that Mike and Ray Mentzer are no longer alive. Mike has written for IRONMAN for many years, but he and I met long before that in a gym in Maryland. It was just prior to his ascent in the sport. I was drawn not only to his incredible bodybuilding potential but also to his inquisitive mind and his far-reaching range of interests. At that time I was a freelance photographer, contributing to both IRONMAN and the Weider magazines.

Mike was an outstanding subject to photograph, and when the work was done, he was fun to be around. We saw ourselves not only as bodybuilders but also as iconoclasts. We had a passion for bodybuilding that transcended the purely personal experience and encompassed the almost evangelical aspect of knowing that bodybuilding is good for every body. Editorially, I took my soapbox out of the gym and eventually to the pages of IRONMAN, as Mike did. His ideas on training built on theories first put forward by Arthur Jones, the creator of Nautilus machines: They both espoused brief, intense workouts. Back in the 1970s virtually all bodybuilders—myself included—overtrained, but Jones, whose voice was heard loud and clear in the pages of Iron Man circa 1970, and then Mike, who honed Jones’ theories, helped us understand how detrimental overwork can be.

Mike loved being an iconoclast. He’d walk into the Second Street Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, eating an ice cream cone. It would be two or three weeks out from contest time, and he’d let everyone know he had his own way of getting into shape. Other competitors would get upset, as they were restricted from such treats. Hearing that was all Mike needed. He’d get rolling on why his diet ideas were more rational than theirs, and the discussions would often become very heated. Mike loved every minute of it. I think that he and I got along so well because we both enjoyed debate, no matter what the topic. I didn’t always agree with him, but that didn’t stop us from being friends. It’s interesting the way people affect you. The people who affect me most are not those who agree with me all the time but, rather, those who challenge what I say and think. Mike was a challenge and a pleasure to be challenged by.

In May of this year Mike was riding high, filled with an enthusiasm that harked back to his competitive days. He’d signed a contract with Contemporary Books to write a Heavy Duty book with John Little, and he was shooting a long-awaited Heavy Duty training video. It’s ironic that they both wrapped the week he passed away. If anyone needs proof of the importance of doing what’s most important to you and not procrastinating, Mike died with the next chapter of his career all planned out. Now it will never be written.

Ray’s medical problems were a part of the catalyst that reunited the brothers after many ups and downs. Mike had been taking care of Ray for the past two years, and solving his brother’s kidney problems became the focus of Mike’s life. I talked with Ray at the IRONMAN Pro Invitational in February, and he expressed his love and appreciation for his brother. When they needed each other, they came together and connected as never before. They died as they had lived over the past couple of years, very close together.

Mike passed away on June 10 of an apparent heart attack. Ray died on June 12 of apparently natural causes. Because of the unusual timing of the events, the Los Angeles County Coroner is performing autopsies.

*** *** *** 

John Balik's Editorial appeared in IRONMAN September 2001 issue and is posted on The Sport Remembers memorial link with his permission.



This is by far the most difficult and heart breaking editorial I have ever had to compose since I started writing for bodybuilding magazines almost 25 years ago.

On Sunday, June 10th, my friend and fellow colleague John Little called me from his home in the USA to inform me that legendary bodybuilder and writer, Mike Mentzer, had been found dead by his brother Ray at their home in Redondo Beach, California.

Mike's death was apparently due to a heart attack. He was only 49 years old and had been receiving treatment for heart related medical problems.

In fact, I had spoken to Mike on the phone several times during my May visit to California, and he outlined his medical condition in full detail. However, I must say he was unbelievably optimistic about the future.

He was particularly excited about a new video he was making, plus he agreed to start work on a new Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty Corner column exclusively for the British and European Flex editions, which ironically would have commenced in this very issue.

His brother Ray, who I last saw in February this year, was in very poor health, suffering from serious kidney disease and had to withstand three long sessions of dialysis treatment every week.

Two days after Mike's death, Ray who was 47 years old, was also found dead at the apartment.

The deaths of Mike and Ray Mentzer are very sad and a major loss to the sport of bodybuilding. Mike in particular was perhaps the greatest bodybuilding Guru the sport has ever known, because of his philosophical and exercise instruction during the last twenty years.

I doubt very much if there will be another like him.

We extend our sincere condolences to Mike's and Ray's family.

Chris Lund's editorial appeared in the August FLEX magazine in the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Holland.

Chris Lund
FLEX UK Editor Since 1985


It started out like most bad news does: as a rumor you hoped wasn't true. Then came the confirmation: Mike Mentzer had passed away on June 10. Then, as an added shock, we learned of the sudden death of his younger brother Ray, who died two days later.

Mike Mentzer's Hercules Pose
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As painful as these events were for all who loved the Mentzers, perhaps it's fitting that these close brothers left us on nearly the same day. They were born just two years apart -- Mike died at 49, Ray 47 -- and both passed away in the apartment they shared. Mike and Ray spent many years together in our great sport, and their contributions and influence will surely last.

Mike is the better known of the two, of course, and I had a long and close association with him. I remember when he came out to Southern California in 1975. He had a thick powerful physique, and his intensity in the gym became legendary. On more than one occasion, he nearly won the Mr. Olympia; the fact that he never did shouldn't diminish his great accomplishments onstage.

I'll always remember Ray as a quiet extremely nice guy. While he never achieved the fame of his older brother, Ray was a fine bodybuilder in his own right. I remember working with him before he won the Mr. USA title in 1978.

I recognized Mike's talent as a writer early on, and invited him to work with me in my publishing offices in the late '70s and later for a spell in the early '80s. While I admired his convictions, I didn't agree with his conclusions, and we would argue from time to time. Mike and I got together again in the mid '90s and he wrote for FLEX and MUSCLE & FITNESS. It was the nature of our relationship that we went hot and cold, but there was always a mutual respect, and Mike once even graciously penned an article about how I had helped him when he arrived on the scene. I always appreciated that.

Mike was an intelligent person, a fine writer and an extremely passionate advocate for his beliefs. He had a forceful and aggressive approach to training -- it was as if he were attacking the weights. This was a man of passion and complexity who expressed himself through many channels.

Mike and Ray Mentzer will always be remembered in the bodybuilding world for their dedication to the sport, and they devoted their lives to it right up to the end. Mike's writing will have lasting contributions, and the photographs of his physique will continue to inspire.

I'll miss Ray and Mike. I hope they are at peace now.

Joe Weider

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