|Though conspicuously absent from the stage, he is not short on commentary, and in the following interview, the fourth of five parts, 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
When one interviews professional bodybuilder Nasser El Sonbaty they learn to expect the unexpected. You never really know what Nasser will come out with, but it is safe to say it will radically depart from what the public have come to expect from most bodybuilding interview subjects: he tells everything, political correctness be dammed. As an interviewer you must set aside all pre-conceived notions of what the foundations upon which professional bodybuilding are built and let Nasser tell it how he has observed it.
With my prepared questions ready for this most recent interview with bodybuilding’s persona non grata, I got to work probing Nasser on his early bodybuilding experiences. What he gave me went off in an entirely different direction to what I was expecting. We followed this direction.
My initial intention for part four of this Nasser interview series was to get the inside word on the dynamic that exists within bodybuilding at the highest level. When you get, all in the once place, a large number of athletes who have endured 12 weeks of starvation diets, who are focused on winning and who possess the kind of aggressive mindsets needed to dominate in a testosterone charged, egocentric sport such as bodybuilding, just how do these guys interact? My line of questioning began with this thought in mind. Nasser not only sought to the answer my question but also proceeded to give me a blow-by-blow account of various personal pro bodybuilding friendships he has had. To say he was detailed is an understatement.
From the outset Nasser was seemingly on a blitzkrieg mission of destruction, with several high profile subjects’ in his sights as he commenced a personal shock and awe campaign on a scale unprecedented in the history of bodybuilding. Like all organized activities bodybuilding has its share of rivalries and face-offs between its various adherents. Nasser has had his fair share of each.
For many years Nasser has experienced and lived with what he considers to be injustice of the highest magnitude, lies and deceit that have, in his words, forced him to finally speak out. He has carried the various negative experiences he has had with him and bided his time. When I began questioning him on relatively innocuous issues he made it clear he was out to speak his version of another kind of truth and nothing would stop him from doing so. Being a believer in democracy and impartial in my judgements I gave Nasser the floor. What follows is the result, in Nasser’s own words.
As we have come to expect from Nasser, the man holds nothing back as he provides his personal insights and opinions on aspects of pro bodybuilding enquiring minds would like to know more about. Those reading this interview must acknowledge the fact that there are always many sides to every story and what Nasser says in the following interview is his side exclusively.
It is neither the job of bodybuilding.com nor I to question the veracity and verisimilitude of Nasser’s opinions, which he strongly believes to be the truth. My advice? Make you own mind up regarding his views. Let us now listen to “Professor” Nasser as he, in his own words, dissects and studies the personality traits and physical appearances of various selected bodybuilding notables he has observed over the years. His conclusions follows.
- Part One: The Milos Files
- Part Two: The Kovacs Monster
- Part Three: The Palumbo Effect
- Part Four: The Cyber Age: Bodybuilding Fans And The Message Boards
One: The Milos Files:
[ Q ] Hi Nasser. You mentioned in our last interview that it is often hard to make friendships at the pro bodybuilding level. Could you please elaborate on this statement? By your estimation what kind of social dynamic exists within professional bodybuilding?
I have had several friendships at the professional bodybuilding level. Let me tell you all about one of the first of these friendships that started good but did not end up as good. I have to admit that I recently laughed at first about what Milos Sarcev said about me on the Getbig.com message boards.
He is just a person you cannot take seriously because of his current life status and all the situations I have witnessed him in. I am not necessarily giving a response to his quacking like a duck most recently on the Getbig board, but I do see what I am about to tell you as more of an analysis, a description and specification of Milos’s aka “DCM’s” (Delusional Clown Milos’s) personality.
I have known Milos since approximately the year 1985. We used to compete back then in the so-called “Former Yugoslavia” which is a country that does not exist anymore. It split into several smaller states. Anyways, the first time I met him, he approached me after the prejudging of a bodybuilding show there and asked me (without even introducing himself to me at all), “I have heard that you live in Germany, so are you taking “plenastril?” (Which was at that time the German version of Anadrol 50)
I felt kind of uncomfortable starting a conversation beginning with a drug question. And even before I could say something, he said, “You need not respond because I know you do.”
I had a bad impression of him from the start. Another guy there who was also a competitor told me “Milos always likes to talk about drugs.” And that “he was known for that in his village.”
I think that I came in third in the heavyweight division in this national show. DCM was in the light heavyweight class, but I do not recall where he placed. I know only that he did not win. I continued competing in Germany where I was born but could not compete in the Nationals there because I was not a German citizen, despite the fact that I was born there (there is a different law compared to the US).
I frequently returned back to “Yugoslavia” for competition reasons and to visit relatives on my mother’s side. Finally in 1988 and 1989 I won the Yugoslav Championships. A year later (in 1990) I gained my pro card and did my pro debut in Helsinki, Finland where I competed with guys like Ron Love, who I beat there in my very first pro show. Also competing there with me was Gary Strydom, Nimrod King, Danny Padilla, Samir Bannout and Vince Comerford. I came in 8th place at my pro debut.
Milos somehow had “transferred” during this time frame from Yugoslavia to the US where he started to live without valid papers, just on a visitor’s visa. He basically left socialistic Yugoslavia where people had two hours of electricity per day, milk powder instead of real milk and days where cars with regular licence plate numbers could drive on the street and the next day cars with irregular numbers were allowed to use these same streets.
Meat was very rare to obtain and if it could be bought the price was horrendous. There was a complete breakdown of the economic situation there for almost a decade before finally, in 1990, on top of this dark situation, a civil war broke out. The human disaster was complete. A couple of hundred thousand people got killed because of their ethnicity, even by their own former neighbors.
As I said, meanwhile Milos had managed to escape from there with a half full suitcase, as I recall him telling me, and had arrived in the US. He sneaked into the California territory. He needed to eat like everyone else. And he needed to find a job. And he needed to stay here because he did not want to go back because he also wanted to pursue his bodybuilding dream.
After collecting food from here and there, going from staying one night here and the other there, he finally started working without a trainers licence as a personal trainer. Then he became very practical and talked a female gym member here in San Diego, California, into marrying him.
This really happened – by the way. I actually met the brother of the girl who had originally married Milos. The guy was a pilot who was off duty and was sitting, by accident, next to me. He started talking about bodybuilding, elaborating about big guys with big arms, about his former brother-in-law with the name Milos.
I was almost falling asleep but suddenly I was awake. This guy confirmed the whole story to me but he gave the impression that he was still angry that his sister was so dumb that Milos tricked her into marrying him. Because of this Milos got his papers to stay in the US!
Then Milos continued working out and became a member of a relatively unknown bodybuilding federation. Then he somehow won the World Title of this (to me) almost bogus sounding federation – and Wayne DeMilia the former head judge and the former chairman of the pro division then handed him a pro card.
I can say only say that “Milos is washed with all kinds of water”. This is a German expression and means that he is capable of everything and anything, legal and illegal. His whole history is a proof of that. One guy named Jim Rosenthal, a former writer for Flex magazine, called him “the mind”. But Rosenthal got fired by Weider for sexual harassment because he used to just show up at Figure/Fitness girls houses, invited himself in and promised them a contract from Weider if they would “do this and that” for him. But that is a separate issue.
And guys, a lot of people, including myself do call Milos not Milos but DCM. Milos’s “degrees” are also of an obscure nature. At the time when Milos was studying in Former Yugoslavia you could go to University without having finished High School. Every street worker, construction guy and any plumber could go and study. The system was a socialistic system and because of that the government allowed everyone to obtain any kind of degree without any pre-qualification!
I myself began entering pro shows since 1990. In the Chicago pro show, in 1992 I did not make the top 15 – actually not even the top 20 – and I did not look good. I was big but had the cuts of a baby. After failing to place in the top 15 at the NOC, shortly before that I decided to go “off season” and continued looking this way when I entered the Chicago show.
Milos competed there as well but was actually very much talking down to me and he had to flex his quads back stage between the rounds constantly in front of me to show me how good his legs looked. But he did not want to flex his hams or his non-existent calves. This is a reflection as well of Milos’s personality. As long as he feels or thinks he is above you he acts arrogant, degrading and even insulting. He continued telling people that I was just a big fat guy with zero future – and he is/was calling me a friend?
[ Q ] But the two of you were friends at one point, right?
I used to call him a friend. There are two kinds of friends: real friends and fake friends. He belongs to the last group. At the beginning of 1993 I was with my former wife visiting California and we went to San Diego, where we met, by accident, Milos and his “best friend” Sonny Schmidt at the biggest “Gold’s Gym” (now called “World Gym”) there. Sonny was pretty quiet as he used to be when he did not know you. But I always liked Sonny. He was a really, really good person with a big heart who would do anything for his friends.
With (from Nasser’s right to left) Bodybuilding Legend, Sonny “The Thunder From Down Under” Schmidt, Top Amatuer Bodybuilder, Parenthesis Devers (Brother Of Former US Sprinter Gail Devers), And Milos At Milos’s Home.
At that time Milos asked me if I needed anything. He was referring to anabolic steroids; he basically wanted to sell me steroids during my vacation stay. It was not that DCM really wanted to help me out; he just wanted to make a profit off me. I told him that I actually had plenty enough for myself.
And after telling him that (as usual he wanted to know what exactly what I had) I was using Russian D-bol pills and he wanted to buy them from me! But I did not engage in that “enterprise.”
I then finally got a Weider contract in November of 1994. Joe Weider had already told me onstage at the 1994 Mr. Olympia personally (who put the seventh place medal around my neck) that I should come to his office because he would like to talk to me. He also said that I finally fulfilled his expectations. I was really happy.
Owner of World Gym, Pacific Beach San Diego.
(note: Nasser Was Never Kicked Out Of This Gym. He Simply Moved Away From This Area And Still Trains There Off And On)
First time competing in the Olympia and ending in seventh place, not too bad. I definitely thought I would “qualify” for a contract now after not being good enough before in 1991 (and 1992) when Joe paid me, Yates, Paulson, Jari and KP Ourama to come to California in 1991.
Milos did not schedule a visit to Joe or do anything for me like that – except he did exactly the opposite. He asked me to help him out with money, which I did at the beginning of 1995 by loaning him money for his NOC contest in May 1995. It was exactly $2550.00 US Dollars he needed to buy steroids with.
His wife at that time, Ursula, had left him in January 1995 after my former wife and I had helped them with their heavy move from downtown San Diego, California, to Temecula, California. Ursula was tired of Milos. They had non-stop, stupid arguments for hours like for example if it was “the right thing to whistle on the street as a female” which Usula supposedly had been doing. Milos was enraged about that. He perceived it as vulgar and low class.
Birgit With Milos Sarcev’s Former Wife Ursula At Milos’s House.
Also Ursula had gone to Florida in January 1995 to an event where she had got together supposedly with Troy Zucolotto’s former training partner. Milos had a break down. We had to put him psychologically back together – he was now stuck in the desert community of Temecula, California. They had just a week before bought the house and the wife was now gone.
I do know how that feels because this happened to me in 2001 as well. So I am not putting Milos down for what happened here to him with one of his numerous wives, but what I would like to say about that is my former wife and I helped him and not the opposite, as he is claiming; this delusional, pathological liar.
Later Ursula came back for a short period of time but it did not last too long. Milos had also told me then that Ursula was flying to San Francisco, California, to visit her mother. But she had also visited her former boyfriend and she had also used Milos’s incoming contract money, to buy all the furniture for her ex-boyfriend’s new apartment.
At that time, on January 17, 1995, we also bought Milos a statue for his birthday – he loves statues – for over $300.00 US Dollars. Just to help him to become positive again. Milos was crying a lot and he was numbing his pain of being left alone by drowning himself with excessive alcohol consumption and cocaine. We by ourselves witnessed also how he was, via an IV, shooting up nubaine and liquid cocaine into both of his inner forearms at his house, and also at the little apartment I had at that time in San Diego, California.
My wife was really getting “upset having this drug addict around”, to quote her exactly. She was also driving him on and off to the airport in San Diego whenever he went somewhere. She stopped doing that because she was afraid of getting caught in a drug raid with him in our only car at that time. We did not want to get into trouble because of him.
Later Milos accused me not being a real friend because I did not make him stop using “all these drugs”. He needed professional help and not someone like me who does not know too much about the kinds of drugs he was addicted to. Once Milos was driving to Los Angeles on the freeway-5 northbound in San Diego, California – beginning his journey
There you have to get through a security checkpoint near Camp Pendleton, California. He, Sonny Schmidt and two other guys got stopped by a US border patrol officer there and an inspection of the car was made. An officer found approximately a whole pound of marijuana in one of the corners of the trunk. Milos told me that he was shaking and thought that he would be deported back to the killing fields of civil war torn Yugoslavia and Sonny would go back Down Under.
But the border agent recognized Sonny from the muscle magazines and because of that he took the “package” with him and let them continue their trip to LA as free men. How lucky all of them had been. Milos told me that the marijuana was originally his but he had sold it to Sonny because he was low on money. And he was not aware that Sonny had taken it with them on the LA trip.
I was wondering because I was always thinking that just Sonny was the pot smoker, but Milos told me that he too used Marijuana when he wanted to calm down and relax. And the cocaine was “sometimes too much” – he thought on and off he would get a heart attack. I am just quoting what he said here again. I am not familiar with these kinds of drugs.
Also Milos told me that Lynn Conkwright from Weider once caught him doing drugs backstage at a show he had attended. Supposedly Milos was also doing drugs with Aaron Baker and David Dearth as well. I am just quoting and repeating here again what Milos had told me.
We (former wife and I) also went to Milos’s apartment in San Diego a couple of times and also to his nice house in Temecula, California. Once we could not make it because Milos had told us not to drive the 45 minutes up because Ursula had picked up the furniture with a van and that he (Milos) was sitting on the floor with his mother who was visiting from Yugoslavia and sister. So Milos was saying he helped me? – He could not even help himself.
Later as his drug addiction grew he became even suicidal during his sober phases. Also he was only able to workout with liquid cocaine and after shooting nubaine in the gym bathroom. When he was still living with Ursula I could not really workout with him regularly any longer because most of the time he was using machines.
And I did not want to do that. He was just lazy in the gym. So with progressing time we stopped working out together. Also what annoyed me was that he stopped working out with me when his wife was done with her separate workout and wanted to go home. Despite the fact they had different cars, he had to leave the gym with her and to leave our workout. So, how did he help me here?
At the 1992 Olympia in Helsinki, Finland, Sonny Schmidt told me personally that Milos was doing, at this contest, drugs like “speed” as well. They (Ursula, Milos and Sonny) had been using it for many days non-stop and they barely slept. Prejudging was approaching and Ursula and Milos had one of their usual fights. The result was that the paranoia had taken possession of them and these two threw all their drugs into the hotel toilet.
Sonny was so upset because he started feeling even more tired as he had not “re-loaded on speed”. He felt so sick. And Milos was so off in between he had taken a seat onto the Olympia stage. Supposedly they should have kept going with the speed they had in order to not rebound or experience the missing awakening drug effect on the day of the Olympia.
Sonny told me in Australia in 1998 that he still blamed Milos for doing drugs anytime and anywhere. But I replied that he (Sonny) had a choice and we probably cannot say that Milos was seducing him constantly. He did agree with that but still stated that Milos was a bad influence on him and that they had moved in together in San Diego, California, before even Ursula came into the picture and Sonny had to leave after many years.
Sonny said that at the beginning he lived in Los Angeles, California, when he came to the US for contests and after he got his Weider contract. Why the hell should he move to San Diego, which is over 100 miles south? “I was only there because of Milos, because Milos lived in San Diego” Sonny said. But Milos was the one who followed Sonny around like a little dog. As soon as Sonny arrived at the LAX airport, Milos was there, picked him up and drove him down to San Diego, California.
Milos was lonely, a lonely man with the head full of drugs and plenty of pain in his heart and soul. Also Milos was saying:” Hey, Sonny, we are young, we have to spend money.” But Milos was mostly spending Sonny’s money because Sonny was a big name in the bodybuilding world at that time. He was second behind Yates in the 1992 NOC and in the top six at the 1992 Olympia – and who was Milos? He was someone who was using Sonny’s money to go party and do even more drugs.
Sonny sometimes had just $5,000.00 US Dollars in his pocket but sometimes $10,000.00 to 12,000.00 US Dollars with him from his frequent guest posing appearances. And as good-natured (or stupid?) as Sonny was, he allowed Milos to spend his money. This is not a joke. This is a fact. So, Sonny as a foreigner here in the States, with a Samoan background, was becoming co-dependent on Milos.