|Though conspicuously absent from the stage, he is not short on commentary, and in the following interview, the final fifth part, he tells all about his bodybuilding career, bodybuilding drugs, judging, the future of the sport and much more.|
An Interview With Nasser El Sonbaty
By: David Robson
In this fifth installment of the exclusive Nasser El Sonbaty interview series, the man who many consider the most impressive bodybuilder of the ‘90s has characteristically come out with all guns’ blazing. That he has been criticized for speaking his mind has not dampened his enthusiasm for telling it like it is and the interview you are about to read proves just that.
With his reputation and extensive experience as one of the best bodybuilder’s ever to compete, Nasser has decided to reach out and provide information not previously known to the masses. Why is he doing this? Other than the fact that he can is his need to set the record straight on the fraught with controversy, bodybuilding scene. While many speculate as to what professionals “use” pre-contest or why certain bodybuilding athletes behave as they do, Nasser candidly discusses what he has seen directly. Why speculate, why leave it open to debate. This is how the self-proclaimed “Uncrowned Mr. Olympia” and “Wizard of Truth” thinks. Just provide the facts. Simple really.
With a revealing book in production that promises to be more than merely a vitriolic, bodybuilding industry tell all, Nasser has, of late, been probing the depths of his vast memory bank. Consider the following interview, although, again, highly provocative and revealing, an entrée to the book, expected to be in stores later this year.
Q: Hello Nasser. You mentioned your staph infection ordeal briefly in our first interview. Can you please elaborate on exactly what happened here?
In spring 2003 I started my diet for the NOC in New York City. This so-called Night of Champions was the third highest ranked show in pro bodybuilding after the Arnold Classic and the Olympia, the latter of which is the highest ranked pro event. I had won that show (the Night of Champions) before (in 1995) and I was also second there (in 1994). About two weeks out of the 2003 show I started feeling very sick, and also my lower body began filling up with water. I had to cancel my photo shoot with Chris Lund from Flex magazine. I started coughing and got hiccups. The hiccups did not stop, not even at night time so I could barely sleep. I still wanted to make it to the show and I had only two more weeks to go. But it got worse and worse. My right rear shoulder started visibly producing pus. I did not call the doctor but instead called my mom who flew in from Germany right away to help me out. I still did not comprehend the dimension of this sickness. When my mother arrived here shortly after I called her to help me out, she also began extracting pus from my deltoid with needles. It went on for two whole days and the syringes never stopped filling up. Pus was just pouring in colors white, yellow and brownish.
My mother vehemently urged me to go to the hospital but I still wanted to do the show and wanted to go to the hospital afterwards. As a bodybuilder you are used to pain, so I just wanted to endure it until the show was over and then I would consult a physician. Finally the needles were not long enough to reach the bottom of the infection on my rear right deltoid, so I went to a local hospital in the north of San Diego County and intended to stay there for one day only. I got hooked up on IV’s and was supposed to stay there. But I still wanted to do the show and checked out after almost a whole day of being there. At home again, I continued experiencing hiccups and my shoulder swelled up even more. Two days later I called a good friend of mine and told him that he should pick me up take me to the hospital. My friend told me that he must first have breakfast and that he would come by afterward. I told him: “you do not understand, you have to come right now, I am dying.” My friend and business partner, Fred, then came immediately and drove my mother and me to the La Jolla, CA hospital where I was put right away into a wheelchair. My blood was checked and all my values were off, my blood sugar level was off; I did not have any minerals in my system. And I was close to kidney failure. A doctor told me that he had to open me up right away to drain my delt. I had a staph infection.
I just took a seat on a hospital bed and the surgeon started out – without anesthesia – draining, cutting and scraping dead tissue out of my delt while my mom held the tray behind my back so that all the removed substances could be collected there. It was very smelly, so much so that my mom told me later that she almost had to throw up. For sure I had to stay in hospital and I remained there for ten whole days. I lost almost 70 pounds during that time. The more time passed, the less I trusted the four doctors on my case. Every one of them had a different theory about my situation and my future treatment. They just pushed my medical chart from doctor to doctor. I also had to give blood samples four times a day, every day. And they woke me up once at 4.00am, eight days after I was hospitalized, to place me on a scale to check my weight. I got really upset and asked them why this did not happen way before but I was told that they “did not have time before.” I also had IV’s in my left forearm for the first five days and my right delt was packed up in a huge dressing. So, when I went to the bathroom I had major problems because the IV stand was with me and I had to pull it behind me. I could barely turn because of the freshly surgically opened shoulder. Also it was not possible to close the bathroom door behind me because of the long IV cable.
Once, at night time, the wound broke completely open from the blood pressure inside my shoulder and there was blood just spraying out like a water fountain. The nurse panicked and I had to tell her to calm down and apply a new clean dressing. Supposedly there was no night doctor there. At the same time I was put on a 1600-calorie diet in order to regulate my insulin. But this was almost unbearable. Going from a bodybuilding pre contest diet to hospital and basically continuing a diet while also being so sick and being off my pre contest drugs (anabolic steroids and GH) so rapidly, created complete chaos in my system. I got the impression that the doctors experimented with me; they never had such a freak on their hands before.
I was so starved that I began taking away food from the lunch cart (all the different meals for all the different patients). Also another friend of mine started smuggling food in for me. I just could not help it. During my stay some fans recognized me and took two T-Shirts, one tank top and my slippers away. The nurse did not want to believe me, she thought I was making it up and she told me that no one wanted her clothing (laughs).
Also there were several desperate attempts from the side of the hospital personnel to get water out of my legs and elephant-like looking calves. Nurses wanted me to wear high heals to get my water out – just ridiculous! Then they wrapped bandages around my extremely swollen legs and calves to get rid of the excess water. My mom called these peoples’ attempts to help me “animal treatment”. I was given diuretics for water loss but my body was so used to diuretics from competing that a regular amount was barely anything for my system. It was nothing. So my dad who had also meanwhile arrived from Germany and my mom brought from my house more and stronger diuretics, which I self-administered to get my water out. We three had been concerned that the accumulating water could move to my heart and by seeing what the doctors did we just could not trust them fully. One of the doctors even started screaming at me because I wanted to have it explained exactly what the plan was and how they wanted to proceed with me regarding my treatment. I told him that he should lower his voice because “we are not at the marine recruiting center in Camp Pendleton “. And I also told him that I was very well educated despite him thinking that I was just a self-abusive bodybuilder.
As I said, I checked out after ten days despite the demands from the doctors to stay longer. Originally I was also supposed to stay there for much longer, they also wanted to put a tube into me, going from my left biceps to my left front delt. I was supposed to receive antibiotics via an IV because they claimed that I still had bacteria in one of my heart valves. I later went to another independent doctor who did a so-called cardio echogram on me. The result was that my heart was completely bacteria-free. My final experience showed that I had only one capable doctor; it was the doctor who got my pus-spewing delt clean. It was the same doctor who had done another surgery on me in 1998. I will tell you about that at another point in my story David.
Q: Switching topics, what are your thoughts on the latest Craig Titus saga Nasser?
Many of us know that IFBB pro and party man Craig Titus and his wife Kelly Ryan were arrested for “murder” in December of 2005. I am not taking sides but we will see what the end result of this case and its investigation will be. But little Chihuahua Shawn Ray (by the way he is not 5′ 7″, as he claims, but, in reality, he is actually barely 5′ 5” – just this info here to set it right guys) at that time when the arrest of these two individuals was made pubic, little decayed, gloating and hypocritical Shawn posted somewhere on the internet a photo of sad Kelly next to a photo of a monkey or an ape. He also forwarded it to everyone and found it funny. This to me is extremely low class. First of all there is no reason to pre-convict people, secondly it is bad to have fun over peoples’ misfortune and thirdly as a so-called born-again Christian you should know better Shawn. You are not religious “my friend”. A religious person would never have done this.
I am amazed that people like you, Wheeler, who “converted” and became a born-again Christian, only become religious when your career is over, or you are terminally/terribly sick, or you are getting older and with it getting close to the grave yard or when you have experienced imprisonment. Why were you and others not religious before? Were you too busy shooting steroids up, talking non-stop about yourself and selling drugs as others say? Be aware that karma catches up with every one of us, including myself. Also going to jail would have made you most likely more respectful, appreciative and indeed more religious. Imprisonment is still a solution for you, Mr. Chihuahua, in order to wake up and to take responsibility instead of making others pay and suffer. People do have the word of mouth Shawn, if you know what I mean! Also is it true that you owe money to Lonnie Teper, the famous MC?
Q: I understand you spent some time hanging out with Craig Titus when he was a free man? Tell me more about that.
I met Craig Titus for the first time in Boston, MA on Sunday April 30th of 1995. It was the very next day, after my first IFBB pro contest win in Houston, TX. Titus and I guest posed at the NPC show in Boston, MA together. He was very friendly and talkative. Also it seemed that he was very impressed about my pro show win and my physique because it was less then 24 hours after the show. At that time Titus was still an amateur, a very good one who still had a full head of hair and who was on many different muscle magazine covers. He was an upcoming bodybuilding star.
At the USA ‘s in July 1995 he did not win his weight class (he came second in the heavy weight class) and walked offstage after refusing to take his second place trophy behind Phil Hernon, who turned pro by winning this class. Titus got a six-month suspension for that by the Godfather Manion. A year later, in 1996, Titus won the USA overall and turned pro.
I do not have much to say about the fact that the famous MC Lonnie Teper called Titus a “Tight Ass”. Some individuals also called Titus a “cocky son of a bitch.” For sure I heard stories about him, like there are stories about every pro bodybuilder. I, for instance, know a guy who was incarcerated in the same facility as Titus near of Santa Barbara, CA. He told me while Titus was behind bars there that Titus was doing so-called escort service for men: for money and for fun. There he also, in addition to this escort service, performed naked squats. He tried to prove how deep he could go by trying to touch the floor with his balls. One of the guys I know personally was with Titus at this time and he said that Titus definitely could do it (touch the floor with his balls).
There was the rumour once that Titus had shipped 950 hits of ecstasy pills to a DEA agent. He had also supposedly gotten community service for a minor conspiracy charge regarding anabolic steroids. Ruth Silverman originally made this information public. At that time, (in the mid-‘90s) she was writing for Ironman magazine. Titus made the following statement in February 1996: “Check out 50% of top amateurs and top pros or the next ten guys in your local gym. We all know this stuff is going on all the time. Not exactly the crime of the century now, is it?” What I have heard also is that Titus liked to live large, he held all kinds of ecstasy parties with cocaine also, with the ladies but also on and off with the guys as well. But I am not judging him regarding his social activities. It is just what I have heard about him.
Also the rumour was going that he was originally on the search for a Fitness girl who was also an IFBB pro. So he called all the different gyms in the US after he had got all the different phone numbers for where these girls were working out. And after calling here and there, he finally found his future wife, Kelly Ryan, through this kind of search. Regardless, Titus was known to be a good-looking, badass guy with a bad temper. But as long as he felt that he was physically inferior he was pretty much calm. But with all kinds of drugs in his system, from anabolics along with GHB, ecstasy, nubaine, ketamine and cocaine up to heroin, and being awake for several days non stop sometimes he developed into a explosive drug cocktail; a seldom before seen extreme of extremes. In between Titus went to jail for two years for different drugs charges and also spent time in a halfway house facility.
Also people like Manion, the Godfather, at the beginning and in between, tolerated his extremely unusual behaviour with his excessive drugged after-parties after shows like the Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH and Las Vegas, NV. Titus always claimed that there were always thousands of people at his organized post contest parties, but if you went there you mostly never saw more than 50 people. He was the host and also the drug supplier.
In his prime time and later, Titus had lots of fake friends, mostly guys who were either addicted to the same drugs and lifestyle as he was or/and he had friends like the faceless and nameless kinds of people you find plenty of on the bodybuilding Internet boards – who come out at the end as true smart asses with malicious glee. In the end, when he went to jail in Vegas, NV, for murder charges around Christmas 2005 with his wife Kelly Ryan, a former IFBB Fitness champion, there were no friends anywhere.
As the German saying goes: “In der Not sind alle Freunde tot “, which translates into English: “In the emergency all friends are dead (non-existent)”. The same with Hide, the Japanese IFBB pro: so where are Hide’s friends? By the way, the DCM (Milos Sarcev) was waiting at the Los Angeles LAX airport for Hide’s arrival from Tokyo, Japan on the 8th of Dec. 2007. Milos was Hide’s supposed pick up (connection). Hide is still behind bars (at the time of this interview’s publication Hide is freed from jail), I am wondering why the loyal DCM with all his money did not post bail for his so good friend Hide – or does the friendship stop when it comes to money?
Where is my money DCM?
Nevertheless I am not like most other people and I do not pre convict Titus. In the end we will see what comes out. As long Titus and his wife are not convicted they are, in my eyes, innocent until proven guilty.
Titus’s personal history cannot be used to find him guilty without reasonable proof. Personally I never had a problem with Titus; I actually found him quite an interesting and entertaining character.
Q: There has been a lot of talk on the Internet concerning yourself and your so-called adventures with Synthol. You came out recently and said you used another site injectable called Esilene, not Synthol. Tell me more about Esilene.
I know of pros’ that competed with me for many years that injected Esiclene on a daily basis for the last 14 days prior to the show. This is definitely very painful as Esiclene burns like hell. When I used it, it was either off-season for my delts and/or arms before I trained one of these muscle groups. Yes I did it on and off during the off-season. Also when it became rare I just saved it for the shows. Esiclene works very well for smaller muscle groups like front delts, side delts, rear delts, the biceps height, and the different heads of the triceps. From my experience, Esiclene worked best when I injected it into smaller muscle groups on the day of the show. Also once I had it injected (Birgit, my former wife, did it for me) in all different parts of my back. The first couple of hours it looked good but then for the finals in 1998 (Arnold Classic) my back became watery. So this was an experience that I am giving out for free here and now.