Pretty much everybody wants to look good and be happy with their body. The concept of what ‘looks good’ is always changing and evolving and that’s why we see so many diet programs and weight loss program information being littered onto the television and the internet. Throughout the past hundred years or so, however, there has been a very different kind of person: the bodybuilder.
Bodybuilders are the dedicated few who turn their body into absolute masterpieces, treating each muscle like a religious text that needs to be meticulously studied. While bodybuilding can be a noble pursuit, just look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, it can also cause some serious self harm. Listed below are 11 bodybuilders who crossed the line in their pursuit for the perfect body and ended up paying for it dearly.
1. Anthony D’Arezzo
When you are at the peak of your game in bodybuilding you will be rolling in bank accounts filled with cash. Competitive bodybuilding can be great when you need to stock up your account but it can also be deadly, as Anthony D’Arezzo learned. Anthony D’Arezzo looked like the classic bodybuilder before his untimely death in 2006 but he didn’t get there without a bit of health. D’Arezzo suffered from cardiopyopathy, a heart defect, that was exacerbated by extensive steroid usage. D’Arezzo was told by his doctors to stop taking the steroids and limit his time in the gym but the allure proved to be too much. D’Arezzo died of a heart attack in his hotel room the night before a competition. Are all of the money market accounts and internet banks filled with money worth it in the end? We don’t think so.
2. Gary Himing
There’s an old saying that goes, “Find what you love and then let it kill you” and that is exactly what Gary Himing did. Himing was one of the more famous bodybuilders in the world when he died on stage back in 2009. Himing was competing in a sanctioned competition in Australia when he suffered a heart attack on stage. Rather than canceling the show the event promoters instead had his body moved to a hospital before continuing. The world of bodybuilding can be savage and the allure of the money, fame, and killer body can be too much for some people. However, we’d rather deal with quick loans to pay our bills than put our body in harms way like this. Still, Himing died doing what he loved so there is something poetic there.
3. Andreas Munzer
One look at Andreas Munzer and you’d believe that he were pulled straight from the action cartoons we watched as kids. Munzer looked like a real life action figure throughout his short life before he ultimately died in 1996 at the age of 32. What could possibly kill a man who looked like he could break a car in half? Organ failure. Munzer had cut his body fat percentage down to almost nothing. Cutting down your BF% is common in bodybuilding as it allows you to show off each individual muscle, but there is a certain threshold that you never want to cross. Munzer was later found to have several tumors located on his liver as well as an enlarged heart. Safe to say that years of supplement abuse and overtaxed body work ended up dooming the athlete.
4. Dean Wharmby
For our next bodybuilder we get to see just how tragic things can be when a person dives headlong into the game without understanding exactly what they were doing. Wharmby, at his peak, looked just as good as any official competitor on the bodybuilding circuit however it was coming at a price. Wharmby was eating upwards of 10,000 calories per day while drinking up to 8 energy drinks per day just to stay energized. Wharmby would develop tumors in his body that would turn cancerous, directly resulting from heavy steroid and diet abuse, and he would end up passing away before 40 years old — looking like a skeleton on his death bed. Proper diet, nutrition, and supplement usage must be practiced by serious bodybuilders.
5. Moustafa Ismail
Not all of our list members end in death, thankfully. For Egyptian bodybuilder Moustafa Ismail there is something to be proud of with his accomplishments. Moustafa is the current world record holder for largest biceps on the planet. Ismail’s biceps measure in at a ridiculous 31 inches and they look every bit their size in person. Ismail has come under fire for his alleged use of drugs like Synthol and many folks believe that Ismail is more akin to a freakshow than a serious bodybuilder. According to Ismail the reason for his bicep size is thanks to seven pounds of protein being ingested daily. There’s nothing healthy about anything in this situation.
6. Greg Plitt
If you looked at Greg Plitt’s pedigree then you would know the man was destined to succeed. Plitt was a high ranking grad from West Point, a celebrated Ranger and Airborne soldier, and he possessed the natural good looks that so few are blessed with. Plitt was becoming a superstar in the fitness community with appearances all over magazines and in television. Tragically Plitt died when he was hit by a train in California. The reason he was hit by the train will make you shake your head: Plitt was trying to race the between the train rails to prove how effective an energy drink was. Tragic.
7. Bertile Fox
Bertile Fox sums up the dark side of bodybuilding all at once. Fox came to national acclaim rather quickly when he took up bodybuilding, becoming an instant competitor at a very high level. In order to get to this high level Fox relied heavily upon Human Growth Hormone, or HGH. His sudden and heavy reliance on steroids led to an increase in aggression and an imbalance in his brain. Fox would end up murdering an ex-fiancee as well as the woman’s mother. Fox would end up being sentenced to life in prison after his death sentence was reduced. While you can’t blame steroids completely for his murderous rampage, it is undeniable the role that steroids play in increased aggression amongst heavy users.
8. Romario Dos Santos
Here we have another ‘bodybuilder’ who approaches the world of fitness by trying to take shortcuts instead of working hard. Dos Santos rose to fame thanks to his ghastly appearance and quick viral action on the internet. Dos Santos injects his body with alcohol and oil in order to give an artificial pump. The result of these lethal injections is a body that looks to be inflated and grossly misshapen. Dos Santos is certainly facing long term health effects thanks to his reliance on dangerous substances and fitness shortcuts. The saddest thing of all is that Dos Santos is killing himself for no reason, the effect of the drugs doesn’t even make him look anything but freaky.
9. Gregg Valentino
Next up on our list is Gregg Valentino, the man who formerly had the largest biceps in the world. Valentino is an embodiment of everything that is wrong with the current body building world. Valentino achieved his bear like, huge arms by relying on an oil called Synthol. Synthol was used extensively by Moustafa Ismail, listed above, and many other people in the fitness world. Synthol is frowned upon because it is a shortcut to pumping up your muscles without putting in real work, it is also very dangerous. Valentino found out how dangerous Synthol was when his arm developed a dangerous hematoma that started to disgustingly leak. Valentino tried to drain the growth on his own with a syringe only to watch in horror as his bicep ended up exploding — sending him quickly to the emergency room at the hospital. There are no shortcuts without severe consequences in the fitness world.
10. Chad Brothers
One of the stereotypes of bodybuilding is that the hobby will turn you into a raging hulk of a human being. While this is an unfair stereotype in a ton of cases, it does have some grounding in the truth and Frank Brothers embodies it completely. Chad Brothers was a serious bodybuilder from New York when things went completely sideways. Brothers had been working out in a Gold’s Gym on a treadmill when he tripped and fell. Instantly Brothers snapped and started destroying the property. He threatened workers and other lifters, attacked people, flipped over heavy machines, and refused to back down to police when they showed up. Brothers was hit with two taser shots and he would be dead within an hour. Brothers’ body was found to be filled with steroids and PCP, both illicit drugs that led to his dramatic temper and explosive anger.
11. Sally McNeil
We are closing off our list with the only female bodybuilder that grabbed our attention, Sally McNeil. While female bodybuilding isn’t as widespread as male bodybuilding, the hobby and passion is still there. Sally McNeil is a former marine who suffered from an unreal temper thanks to constant steroid abuse. Her rage would lead her to beating a woman savagely after she allegedly had an affair with McNeil’s husband. Things came to a head when McNeil pulled a shotgun on her husband and killed him while in a rage. McNeil is now facing life in prison.
12. Andrej Gajdos
The world of bodybuilding has undergone several different revolutions. We once were experiencing the ‘age of mass’ where the desired look was to be as big as possible. Now we are at the point of insisting on lean muscle and huge size with guys like Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson being the prototype for aesthetic bodybuilding fitness. Andrej Gajdos was so inspired by The Rock that he decided to become just like him by undertaking an intense workout regime aided by steroids. Gajdos was 19 years old when he collapsed just outside of a supermarket when his thoracic aorta, inside of his heart, ruptured. Gajdos was 7’2 and 266 pounds. His heart was already larger than most people and the steroids increased its weight to a deadly size. His goal was to become ‘the next Rock’.
13. Mike Matarazzo
Mike Matarazzo was one of the more famous bodybuilders in the world back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He was well known for his extreme size and weight: 5’10 and 250 pounds. Matarazzo competed for a decade in the IFBB bodybuilding circuit and he was well regarded for his gigantic arms and extraordinary calves. After placing 21st in the Mr. Olympia tournament he was forced into early retirement and into open heart surgery. Matarazzo would go on to have two heart attacks and his heart would be reduced to just 20% functioning before his untimely death at just 48 years old.
14. Gordon Kimbrough
Before entering into the world of bodybuilding Gordon Kimbrough was thought of as a shy, quiet, and gentle man who would no more raise a hand toward a fly then lay a finger on another human being. Then he became a serious bodybuilding competitor and with that lifestyle change came the anabolic steroids. Steroids became so engrained into his lifestyle that his body was inflated with fake hormones and this culminated in Kimbrough snapping and killing his soon to be wife, Kristy Ramsay. According to Kimbrough he had thought his wife had tried to hook up with another man. He was found at the scene of the crime trying to kill himself with a lethal injection.
15. Dan Puckett
Dan Pucket was a promising young bodybuilder when he passed away at the age of 22, alone in his dorm. Before passing on Puckett had begun to rack up serious awards which culminated in his victory at the 2006 NPC Teenage/Collegiate Bodybuilding Competition. Puckett had been attending the University of Alabama at the time of his death. Before passing no he had complained of a torn muscle. The implications are pretty heavy that Puckett was, at the very least, abusing anabolic steroids. The coroner cited his cause of death as heart failure and ‘natural causes’.
16. Oli Clooney
Oli Clooney is one of the latest prime examples of people who get into the world of bodybuilding with no clue and suffer immensely as a result. Clooney was from West Yorkshire when he, at the age of 16, dedicated his life to bodybuilding. Clooney was an open user of steroids despite being told by doctors, when he was 18, to slow down on his workouts and to cut out the steroids. Clooney was warned several times to quit working out after he was hit with chronic heart damage. Clooney did not stop and returned to working out up to 4 times a week. He was dead at 20 when he collapsed at the door of a taxi. His mom is now focused on spreading his story of steroid abuse around to help prevent other kids from falling to the same fate.
17. Scott Klein
Scott Klein epitomized the idea of ‘mass’ on the bodybuilding circuit where he competed throughout the ’90s and into the early ’00s. Klein would rack up four NPC Heavyweight rankings, two NPC super heavyweight rankings, before going on to become a trainer. Klein’s retirement didn’t last very long as he experienced kidney failure at the age of 30 and would pass away shortly after.
18. Greg Kovacs
Greg Kovacs was known around the bodybuilding world for his intense offseason weigh gain and his commitment to getting into shape right before the IFBB season would begin. Kovacs competed throughout the late ’90s and he would retire in 2005. During the offseason Kovacs would weigh in as high as 400 pounds which is incredible even in the world of bodybuilding. Kovacs would suffer from heart failure at the age of 44, only a few years after retiring — a clear signal of long pressure on the heart mixed with steroid abuse.