The morning began as usual as I waited to train a client at Strength and Health Bakersfield Gym. Mark, the owner and I have in-depth, passionate discussions on all things related to bodybuilding. Mark has been around the scene since the early 70’s and remains one of the most educated historians I’ve met in regards to our art, bodybuilding. I don’t follow many sports (boxing being the exception), am woefully ignorant on anything regarding professional Football or Basketball, so I find solace in discussing the nitty-gritty of our cult with someone who shares my enthusiasm. On this particular morning Mark pulled up this iconic image on his desk top.
He began his dialogue about the young Casey Viator…
NO – this is NOT the latest IFBB pro sensation who came out of nowhere; now poised to send shivers up the spine of Health, Big Ramy and company.. This is a photo of the most underrated TRUE genetic freakish phenomenon of the ages.. This is Casey Viator at only 19 years old when he won the 1971, AAU ‘Mr. America’!! .. People forget so quickly.. In reality; only Sergio was in the same genetic realm as Viator.. Who or WHAT else compares to this?
I had seen the picture before many years ago, and was even more enamored seeing it again. The picture was Casey Viator in his prime, at 19 years old, displaying behemoth muscle mass and freakiness paralleling Sergio Oliva. In a somewhat desolate outdoor backdrop, Viator displayed his 19 ¾ upper arms (real measurement), impossibly thin waist, demonic deltoids and leg development unparalleled for the time period. The picture appears almost mythical in nature; Viator resembling a demi-god, something not quite human.
He was the most massive teenage phenomenon of all time, making adult competitors look sinewy in comparison. Mark was 16 years old and present at the 1970 Mr. America where Viator made his first national splash at age 18. He noted ‘It was one of those events, you had to be there to believe.’ At the 1970 Mr. America, Casey would take 3rd place, losing to a future Mr. Olympia Chris Dickerson, as well as Ken Waller. It is hard to imagine how inferior the other competitors must have felt, to have a teenager dwarf them in sheer, brutal muscle mass. It is at this competition that the young Casey Viator caught the eye of Arthur Jones, the innovative developer of Nautilus Equipment. Jones would give credit to Casey in helping him formulate many of his training theories (although arguably Jones had already borrowed much of his theories from Bob Hoffman). Later the two would team up in the remarkable ‘Colorado Experiment’, which produced the most impressive before and after photos in bodybuilding history.
Viator reached his peak in 1971, winning the Mr. America, the audience literally gasping at the sight of the genetic marvel. At age 19, he arguably carried as much muscle mass as Arnold Schwarzenegger, certainly more so in the lower body. Interestingly enough, he’d never match that physique again. He would move to California and arguably get harder, denser, more detailed— yet, never display the sheer awesome freakiness he did as a teenager. There’s been much hullaboo in recent years about teenage genetic marvels such as the young Branch Warren or recently Cody Montgomery. Truth be told, no one has or ever will match the development that Viator had at a young age. In the Buzzfeed generation of increasingly diminished attention spans the legends are relegated to obscurity.
It is also interesting to ponder this… In our information age, with the wide variety of Anabolics, HGH, insulin and other ‘tools of trade’ available, we don’t see physiques like this anymore. Which makes one question, what is actually necessary? This was a physique that was primarily built on one compound, and that was Dianabol (arguably lots of it). On the flipside— Imagine if he had access to all of the ‘usual suspects’ available now? What type of otherworldly monster would be created? It’s hard to fathom. Casey Viator will forever be remembered as one of the great genetic mutants of all time— arguably the most gifted.