BLOG 82 ROBBY ROBINSON
From a random Amazon Prime search for books I’d be interested in, I stumbled upon Robby Robinson. I’m finished reading his memoir, The Black Prince, and immediately felt inspired and motivated for more. This bodybuilder’s unique story is one I had to share and his path to success in the fitness world was not the average route. As one of the world’s first African American bodybuilders, his rise to fame was both a fight and a choice to perform regardless of the stakes.
Robinson was born in 1946 in the south. His fitness journey began with seeing the great, Jack La Lanne on T.V. as a teenager. His body immediately responded to the activity and he quickly noticed when looking in the mirror that muscles suited him well. He had the genes and body type for sure. He was drafted to the service and further learned the required discipline and tenacity needed to be a competitive bodybuilder. He came from very little and had very little equipment to use for training. It was his friendships with the right people that allowed him to enter gyms like Florida State and use their facility. One his friends introduced him to, Muscle Magazine, and it was then that Robby saw what he wanted to become so badly.
So of course he had to move to Venice Beach in order to train and compete with the best. He surrounded himself with the men of Muscle Beach and Gold’s Gym. His days in the south of black and white certainly changed in California. However, the world hadn’t seen a black bodybuilder of his caliber. While in Venice, he even had a part in the movie, Pumping Iron.
His legacy speaks for itself. He earned the nickname, “The Black Prince”. In summary, “He competed professionally for twenty-seven years, winning titles including the IFBB Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe. However, he has always stood apart from the bodybuilding community, having spoken out for decades about the corruption of the business and later about the dangers of steroid abuse. That defiance earned him another moniker: the Bad Boy of Bodybuilding” (http://www.mrofansite.com/robinson.html). His career took him all over the world. In 1994, “He became the first IFBB Masters Mr. Olympia Champion over the Hulk, Lou Ferrigno. He went on to capture the over-50 title every year until he retired from professional competition in 2001 at the age of fifty-four” (http://www.mrofansite.com/robinson.html).
When Robinson trained, he wanted to feel the muscle change with each repetition. His workouts were learned by watching others, but perfected by his work ethic. No one could deny his merciless quest to be the best. Having said that, “His philosophy is that the body is a gift which can be molded into a beautiful piece of art if fed and trained properly. He calls his weights ‘the paintbrushes’ which have helped him achieve a body so chiseled it resembles a sculpture” (http://www.mrofansite.com/robinson.html). So today, when I was lifting, I slowed down just a tad to tune into the muscle change and really feel it. I admire Robinson’s mission to be the best and can only imagine on that level of competition what his body must endure.
His book, The Black Prince, is available on my shelf to borrow. The books I stumble upon that I enjoy the most always seem to be by luck. The aches and pains and gains of being a bodybuilder are all worth it once on the stage. The daily grind seems ruthless; the nutrition a nagging factor, and the exhaustion does set in. But I wouldn’t take a second of it back, and I’m sure Robby wouldn’t either. That’s why he still workouts out every day and even trains others to this day.