In late 2013 IFBB Professional Bodybuilder Mike Morris sat-down with Iron Affinity, for one of the the most personal / insightful interviews in the industry. Competing as teen, the process of turning professional, battling addiction as well as it’s consequences on his health / career, and life post competing; all discussed, and much more.
Teen Nationals – NPC, MiddleWeight, 3rd
Atlantic States Championships – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 1st
Atlantic States Championships – NPC, Overall Winner
Junior Nationals – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 8th
Junior Nationals – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 4th
Junior Nationals – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 4th
USA Championships – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 5th
North American Championships – IFBB, HeavyWeight, 8th
Junior Nationals – NPC, HeavyWeight, 2nd
USA Championships – NPC, HeavyWeight, 12th
North American Championships – IFBB, HeavyWeight, 2nd
North American Championships – IFBB, HeavyWeight, 1st
North American Championships – IFBB, Overall Winner
Night of Champions – IFBB, 15th
Toronto Pro – IFBB, 11th
Night of Champions – IFBB, 16th
Southwest Pro Cup – IFBB, 14th
Toronto Pro – IFBB, 10th
Grand Prix Hungary – IFBB, 10th
Night of Champions – IFBB, 14th
Florida Pro Xtreme Challenge – IFBB, 8th
Night of Champions – IFBB, 12th
Toronto Pro – IFBB, 8th
Grand Prix Australia – IFBB, 5th
Ironman Pro Invitational – IFBB, 9th
Olympia Wildcard Showdown – IFBB, 9th
San Francisco Pro Invitational – IFBB, 11th
Mike Morris: I just wanted to compete so I did my first show at the age of 14. It was me and the other competitor and I won first place, got my first trophy ever and then from there I was basically hooked And then I just kept reading the magazines and kept competing from there and then that is pretty much how it started.
Interviewer: how did you end up competing in the internationals? Was a natural progression for you or what?
Mike Morris: well, living in New Jersey it is a very competitive bodybuilding state so I competed at 14 and I competed every year 15, 16, and then I just worked my way through the national level and then teen nationals was there and I did it, got third and it’s good.
Interviewer: and the next year was it that you won your first overall?
Mike Morris: yeah, I believe so, yeah. I think so. I believe it might’ve been in Connecticut. I think it might have been a Mike Pat show in 1991 or maybe 1992. In 1991 I didn’t even know if the junior nationals, 92… What did I say 2002?
Interviewer: 91 you said
Mike Morris: well, yeah 92. It’s a Long way back man! But in 1992, Junior nationals, that was a good year. That was red Bank New Jersey. (01:14 Paul DeMeo) and some guy you might’ve heard of (01:17 Kevin Marone).
Interviewer: be there you go! So actually it might be 1993 then?
Mike Morris: 91, red Bank New Jersey. I remember that for a long time
Interviewer: what was that like competing with a guy like DeMeo?
Mike Morris: incredible, incredible because it was like this old theater in red Bank New Jersey, it was down in the basement, low ceilings and stuff and Kevin Marone and Paul, these guys were like giants. And so competing with them was like getting a taste of the pros but these guys weren’t even pros yet, it was Junior national as you know. But to me, it was like this is a big time so it was amazing.
Interviewer: you get to know DeMeo or anything like that?
Mike Morris: no because he was up from Boston. So I mean, I really only saw him at that show. I knew him like from the magazines and stuff and when you meet someone like that for the first time, you are kind of just like “uh”, especially competing you know, you give him the space you know when they are in their zone.
Interviewer: what would you see in the 90s was like… What would you see the theme for 95 bodybuilding was, if that makes sense? What was that like?
Mike Morris: I think that was really like the Hay day for bodybuilding because to me, the early Arnaldo and stuff and then (02:25 Lee Haney) came out in the 80s and that’s when I got into bodybuilding and then Lee Haney (02:33 inaudible), all the mass monsters and stuff, I mean that is when bodybuilding really came into; how big are these guys going to get? I mean you actually watch the sport grow and you watch the competitors grow. It was kind of amazing because you were almost watching something that’s growing right before your eyes like; how big were these guys going to get? So your first bodybuilder at 300 pounds, Greg Kovacs and all that stuff so I mean… Yes, yes. So I mean, you did not know how big the sport was going to get. It was neat being a part of it.
Interviewer: what was it like, the legend of (03:03 Rodding), what was that night during the 90s instead of now?
Mike Morris: it was pretty awesome! His strength feats were incredible, I mean, the way it could push up 200 pound dumbbells like they were nothing. He was defying gravity so it was pretty amazing.
Interviewer: what was your biggest struggles at the national level? Like when you were first at the national level?
Mike Morris: Well, I actually have never done the nationals before.
Interviewer: I mean those type of shows, like the (03:33 North American), that type of stuff?
Mike Morris: let’s see. The first show I did was Junior nationals in 1991 and like I said, I was on the 20 years old there. But I have nothing but good things to say about them. I just thought it was exciting! I mean, just the off-season training and pre-contest training and then the fly outs to a different states and to compete against the best guys. You know, in the United States, it was pretty amazing and then it took me until 1994 to actually make my first Five finish. So it was four good years of every year going out and getting beat, not making the top five. You are not making the top five at the junior nationals, you just do your core of turns and then they send you home. That can kind of make you want to stop if you are not completely motivated.
Interviewer: what made you come back? Because I feel like a lot of people in that position completely cleared off eventually.
Mike Morris: I love the bodybuilding! I loved it, I loved the lifestyle. I loved eating all the food, I loved training, I just love waking up and breathing every day, I loved watching my body grow, I loved how much work I could put into it and the more work and the more dedicated I was, the more improvement I saw in my body. And you are competing ultimately against yourself but when you compete in a competition, you are competing against other people and when you are competing against other people in the whole United States, you actually get a placing, even if it’s eight. I am the best eighth light heavyweight in the United States if not the world. It’s a pretty cool feeling you know and that kind of goes down forever. And you are working to make your mark. That’s what I was doing and I was, I loved the hard training, I loved the whole bodybuilding lifestyle.
Interviewer: so how would you say you saw bodybuilding change in the early 1990s to the late 1990s?
Mike Morris: A lot of drugs, a lot of drugs. A lot of new drugs are coming out on the scene (05:34 Congluterol, IGF, growth hormone, insulin, EMP, anti antrogens) are always there. But I mean just a lot of stuff you never heard of before. You heard about taking and then, you try them and it was like a big chemistry set.
Interviewer: there we go! What would you say… What was your first experience of this like; drug, it’s jokes. I mean chemicals; what was your experience with chemical to your whole bodybuilding?
Mike Morris: well when I did my first show, when I was 14 in 1985, I was natural obvious if you didn’t know that. But I knew about steroids and after I got my first place trophy there; I am the type of person where; hey if I am going to do this, I am going to do this all the way. So I wanted to find out when was the next show, what’s the pinnacle, what’s ultimate, Mr. Olympiads, the top thing. And I read magazines and I talked to people. I already knew about steroids so I had a game plan in my head almost at the age of 14 of; when is the right time to start this?
I kind of knew at the age of 14, 15 that was too early and in my mind, I kind of came to the age where I thought, okay once I turn 18, maybe when I am an adult man I would start my first cycle then. And I did that. So I competed at 15, 16, 17 naturally and then I did my first cycle on my 18th birthday is when I first took my first bodybuilding drug. I took (07: 06 D-ball). I went up to the fine little blue pills, 5 mg each, I took five per day and actually the gains weren’t… For training and competing for four years, and then… Because people would come up to me all the time when I was 16 years old, older guys who were competing that I looked up to who were like, “Mike, what are you taking dude?” And I would feel good because I was like “nothing”, wow, this guy thinks I am on to something. And they would be getting pissed like, “nah, what are you taking dude? I know you are doing something.” And I am like, “I am not!”
So in the back of my mind I was thinking like, “man! wait till I take something, I’ll blow up and I will blow these people’s minds!” And when I took it, I might have gained eight or 10 pounds but not the amazing gains that some people think it is in all, 20 pounds on your first cycle. I made some good gains but it wasn’t anything that was out of this world.
Interviewer: when would you say the real gains came? Early, the first real early gains before you stepped things up, your first proper stuff.
Mike Morris: I would say it’s a natural progression you know. Everything has to be in place your mental attitude has to be in place, your diet has to be in place, your training has to be place. Your drugs have to be in place.
I started small and just consistently, every time I did a cycle, I mapped everything out, I wrote everything out, I had diaries of everything and then each time I would do a cycle, I would also make sure I didn’t off cycle; you know, the amount of time that I was on, get at least that amount of time off. The first time I did an eight week cycle and I think I took 16 or 20 weeks off and then in the next cycle instead of doing eight weeks, I did 10 weeks. And then the next cycle after that I think I added maybe a deca or something like that. So just throughout the years, it naturally progressed on to the next thing. Just like when I was 15, I was traveling the incline with the 45 pound dumbbells. Then I worked my way up to 55’s and then to 65’s and the 75’s into my pro career when I was pressing the 200 it was like Ronnie. So, the whole natural progression. It is bodybuilding you know so I am building.
Interviewer: what would you say, when you transitioned from winning North American’s to going to the pros, did that natural progression continue or did you step it up at that point? Did anything change at that point where you were building or did you just keep doing what you are doing?
Mike Morris: it was just a vindication. Turning pro is; you’ve got your card and you made it you know and I didn’t do anything outside of the box. I didn’t step it up anymore than I normally did. I just figured, “hey, I’ve got a winning package here and a winning formula If I just continue to do what they keep doing.” And so that’s it.
Interviewer: and so how would you say your cycles changed and of course you started very early, you were in a long time. How would you see your competitive cycles from when you started doing really well in shows to turning pro, how would that progress? Like, you will are at the professional level a while.
Mike Morris: yeah, 1990 was my first time for a show.
Interviewer: Exactly! You know, did you just start upping the dosages there or just like that natural progression?
Mike Morris: like I said, each time I did a cycle, I would never do the same cycle twice. And if I did, it would be more of what I took last time. So yeah, just the natural progression.
Interviewer: and so did your cycle start to advance what… I read an article about this how your off-season was cut a bit short. What are your type of theories of off-season cycling? Would you consider (10:14 inaudible) like coming off completely? And also some pro guys, who many of them are… Like what do you think is the common practice? And now there is a spectrum there, I know there is a huge spectrum but…
Mike Morris: like I said, I can only speak for myself. I have spoken to a few pro bodybuilders and ask them about their cycles but even a lot of times when you ask them to their face, you don’t know really how honestly truthful they are being. I’ve worked with a lot of natural competitors that say they are natural but I know for a fact that they have done stuff in the off-season or if they did it prescribed by a doctor they think, “oh, I am not… I’m natural” but you are not you know. It’s kind of like, “you are lying.”
But like I said, when I would do a cycle in the earlier days, if I did his 10 week cycle, I would want to take eight or 10 weeks off. I almost always did, I always did and off cycle. Even towards my pro career, even if I was doing a 16 week cycle, I would take an off cycle. Now I would take after that 16 week cycle, I would do two weeks of HCG and then a week of Clomid and then maybe take two or three weeks off onto I noticed my strength gains, my strength is going down and then I would go back on short of maybe four or five weeks off, something like that., Especially towards the end of the career.
Interviewer: and what would you say, at what point did you start to implement stuff like growth hormone or insulin, when you started to hear about those things in comparison to anabolic’s, because I think like a lot of people knew about anabolic before the other stuff…
Mike Morris: right.
Interviewer: and when did you start to implement those stuff; even if you did insulin or GH at different times. At what point in your carrier did you feel like it was appropriate for you to do those things?
Mike Morris: I remember, I think I did growth around 1994, which coincidentally in 1984 was the first year I placed at the Junior national show. So the growth hormone had something to do with that? Maybe. You know, could be. And then a few years after that, insulin came along and I was doing insulin for years before I turned pro in 1990 and then that’s a very powerful drug, insulin. But also, it is a drug that could kill you and I have heard some stories about that too.
Interviewer: I am interested about this! What types of stories do you have about that?
Mike Morris: well, there was one time I would take the insulin in the off-season and I would take it with anabolics and it’s a great drug for size. It’s a shuttle; amino’s and glucose also sell and it’s definitely good for size and for your pump. Off-season, great! Pre-contest, it’s kind of tricky because you are cutting your calories down, you are not taking as many carbs. And I think it was two years, maybe the year before I turned pro and I had taken too much insulin and I had an episode at my house. Thank God I had a girlfriend that was there with me that actually called like this 911 or the fire department, EMS and police showed up at my door. I was fishing out on the ground. I remember because insulin; when your blood sugar gets so low on insulin that you could literally fall on the ground facedown, wake up looking at the ground and then think to myself, “I need to getup and I need to get some carbohydrates and some sugar into my system.”
I had my oatmeal sitting on the table and as soon as you get me off the ground, I would fall right back down again so like I said, thank God I had a girlfriend that was there because I was like throwing dishes around and getting erratic and stuff and then the EMS came, the police came and it was a bad scene. Because if she wasn’t there and I were to hit the deck and not got up, I mean I could have went into a coma you know or possibly died.
Interviewer: so you were using the insulin as an amateur then into the nationals as you started that after you have made the top five. This is actually a question from a guy (14:42 inaudible) next year. His question was, “what effects did you see insulin take on the physique? Like how effective is it? And do you think there is a difference from person to person also? And have you seen negative effects of insulin as well?”
Mike Morris: yeah. insulin is a great drug for both size and for strength and for your pump but its dangerous, it can kill you! You have to use…and I was always smart enough to start with a very small dose; small enough that I didn’t even notice the effect.
Interviewer: and this was around 97?
Mike Morris: right. And then I would build it up to a point where I can actually feel the effects but you have to… It’s a dangerous drug, you have to be careful. And if you take too much, you can damage yourself; you can mess up your blood sugar for life.
Interviewer: do you prefer a short acting or long-acting?
Mike Morris: I usually took just the ‘R’, just the regular, just the ‘R’. I had the haemolog and I might have used that before but that’s even faster and even harder to control. You can take that and if you’re not putting carbohydrates into your system, it is going to burn up whatever is in your bloodstream and you’re going to pass out.
Interviewer: what type of units would you say you are using of the insulin; towards the end, how about that?
Mike Morris: towards the end, the most I have taken was probably about 10 or 12 about three times a day. And then you know there is the whole theory about a gram, 10 g of carbs per unit. So if I was taking in 10 units three times a day; per that’s 10 units I would make sure that they had at least 100 g of carbs, I would take my shot and then within like an hour to two hour, I would take in at least another hundred grams of carbs after that if not more. Off season I would just try to shovel in as much as I possibly could, I would not even count.
Interviewer: and so you just eat all the time. And so, what about with the growth hormone, what would those levels get up to naturally? Also, another question; what do you think of the impact of generic growth hormone versus legitimate like legitimate growth hormone and would you say it is in merit prescription, it’s that much better than (16:58 inaudible)
Mike Morris: well, let me back up a little bit, let me back up to 94 when I first took it. Back then, all the growth that they could really find was Humatrope and that was made by Lily and that was an actual American pharmaceutical growth hormone. And they did fake that but if you had a good eye, you can tell between a real label and the boxing and the inserts that comes that comes with growth. So I only got real growth. I think I had a good enough eye to spot the bad stuff.
The dosages I started with were probably about 2 to 4 IU’s everyday; maybe about four days on, one day off. The growth hormone, this another amazing drug. A lot of people take that now for kind of like the ‘fountain of youth’ kind of thing. Steroids will make your muscles grow and get stronger but they want to make your ligaments or your tendons grow so there is a danger there that you’re going to injure yourself. Growth hormone makes everything grow except your brains and your eyeballs I heard. And it is an amazing drug as far as transforming your body.
Steroids cause hypertrophy, which means the muscle cell grows bigger. Human growth hormone causes hyperplasmia, which means the muscle cell divides and you actually have more muscle cells to grow and get bigger so you can actually get bigger on growth than you actually could on all the steroids you could possibly take so that this kind of fun exciting aspect of it.
Interviewer: how much impact did you notice from the growth hormone at first and long-term?
Mike Morris: at first it’s really, you read so much stuff about ‘you are going to gain all this weight’, but the main thing you notice is you get more muscular. Your body fat comes down, you can eat a tremendous amount of food and your body fat would still go down. It kind of turned you back into being an 18-year-old kid where you can just eat pizza and the cheeseburgers and candy and gallons of ice cream and you still have a sixpack and veins.
Interviewer: you’re telling me I can be pros and still eat cheeseburgers and candy and you’re not in your off-season?
Mike Morris: yes, yes, yes!
Interviewer: talk a little bit about that. So the off-season eating, what percentage would you say was standard clean eating versus getting a McDonalds burger a day?
Mike Morris: I have subscribed that technique every once in a while. Especially when I was on growth hormone, I would go to McDonalds and I probably would get about 12 hamburgers and put three burgers on one bun and then eat four of the triples and I would do that a couple of times a week and on growth hormones you can still stay shredded on that. I wouldn’t do it every day but once a week. Yeah, growth hormones allows you to keep your body fat down and still eat a tremendous amount of food and even chip food.
Interviewer: what would be your (19:45 inaudible) you tell me.
Mike Morris: well, going up in South Jersey, a lot of big shows were up in New York and up in North Jersey so a lot of times competing, we would have to take that 2 Hour drive up to the New Jersey Turnpike to go to places that Cranston or red Bank or Patterson or even in New York for the Empire State. But again, you are going up there to see a whole new breed of bodybuilder and Steve Weinberger being the head judge, it is like a taste of the nationals and the USA before you actually got out there. And the level of competition was, in hindsight you were just competing but now thinking about it, East Coast and California are two big metros of bodybuilding so you are competing with the best of the best in the country. And looking back at it I am proud of that.
Interviewer: When was Venice and how was Venice for you?
Mike Morris: I moved out to Venice in about 2002, somewhere around there; 2002 to 2005. There is a friend of mine, Jeff Macfarlane and he said, “hey, if you want to move out there I have got an apartment; my friend has an apartment you can come and move out there”, packed up two bags and said, “bodybuilding, this is where I need to be,” Venice beach, so I went.
Interviewer: what was the best experience like if you had to summarize it?
Mike Morris: it was awesome! I wouldn’t trade it for the word! I mean, it was amazing. It was a culture shock going on from New Jersey to California. It was amazing; it was exciting and kind of scary at the same time too, the city will eat you up if you are not ready for it. But I had a goal and so I stuck to bodybuilding and that was it. And when I retired from bodybuilding, the first thing I did was say, “I need to move out of here,” and that’s what brought me to Phoenix.
Interviewer: so you’re saying once bodybuilding is over it is time to get out of there?
Mike Morris: yeah there is no sense to me pain at $1300 a month rent and paying to park everywhere and there was no more reason for me to be there anymore.
Interviewer: that’s a great point.
Mike Morris: I wasn’t going to live in my car in the parking lot, some of these guys do.
Interviewer: there is a lot of people that do that?
Mike Morris: Yep. I was not going to become that.
Interviewer: exactly. So Mike, what would you say; a lot of people from the Internet know about health problems and things like that; what was the first thing that made you go like, “I may have issues?”
Mike Morris: probably every time I went to the doctor you know. Every time I went to the doctor and they took my blood pressure and it was leaning over 200/110 and depending on the doctor, they would like, “you need to stop this, you’re going to die” or basically that is all they say you know “you need to stop are you going to kill yourself.”
Interviewer: and at what point in your career (22:43 inaudible) how long did you keep going after?
Mike Morris: five or six years.
Interviewer: (22:50 inaudible)
Mike Morris: well basically. And then soon after and then as a pro I was living in California; there was a friend of mine who was a chiropractor and I went to get my blood work done and I was just waiting to get my results back because at the time I could read bloodwork myself and luckily my friend was like, “Mike, you need to go actually talk to this doctor because he needs to talk to you.” So I went to him and he actually referred me to a nephrologist, a kidney specialist and women went to the nephrologist and he basically was a straight shooter and just said, “Mike, where you are at now with your tests and all, we might just have to get you set up via dialysis for a year or so.” And when I heard that, I was like God was giving me a little tap the shoulder and saying, “hey, you’ve got a path to choose and it was either continue bodybuilding and the previous had your whole life or let it all go and live”, so I chose to live.
Interviewer: and a few people have died since then?
Mike Morris: yeah.
Interviewer: and so, what would you say like the biggest health factor because you know, your blood pressure got really nice high. But would you say excessive eating, drugs, certain types of drugs; what would be the most strenuous thing on the bodybuilder?
Mike Morris: painkillers.
Interviewer: And that is real interesting; let us start off with the painkillers, go for it.
Mike Morris: yeah, because I was taking steroids for years. And it seems like once painkillers and hubane kind of came on the scene, it’s a sneaky bad drug you know because you take them for some injury and then you come off of them and then another injury comes along and then all of a sudden; as a bodybuilder you are taking such an arsenal of drugs and injections you know, what’s this little hubane shot that I am taking here and there?
But it is a narcotic and it digs its hooks into you and when I retired and I stopped all of the… I said look, “I am going to stop all these drugs”, once I got my mind to it, everything else was fairly easy to let go but it is painkillers and the opiates that Kept coming back and coming back and it is an issue I deal with the this day. And I felt like that was the hardest thing that put me over the edge as far as my health problems. I felt that if I just did straight bodybuilding drugs, I probably could have squeaked out a few more years.
Interviewer: I want to highlight that. That’s a great point you know. And you would see that the biggest thing was the painkillers? And so…
Mike Morris: terrible for your kidneys and your liver, terrible! And it is the acetaminophen that is in them because you know, you are taking (25:23 vikannin or perkastet ) that type 500 mg of acetaminophen in them, you are taking 10 of those the time; that’s enough acetaminophens to
Interviewer: it is worse that anything else that you are getting that is not healthy.
Mike Morris: right.
Interviewer: how about hubane? And at one point, painkillers, at what point…
Mike Morris: it was hubane. I think I was friends with her pharmacist that’s just wanted to sell them to me and I was like, “no” and ended up coming back two months later and just giving them to me. And I didn’t want it to take them and I tried to sell them to somebody and give them away and I think I actually give it to somebody and I think they actually gave it back.
And you know, you read about it in articles and stuff and I think one time I took one when I got home and again, I took a very small dose, I took it sub-que, just a little bit, enough that they wouldn’t feel it and then I would take it for a while and then maybe a couple of weeks later I took a little more and I felt a little bit of it, when I took a glass of wine.
I would write it down on my calendar and I would see that I went to was without taking it but then once you get it into your system, that’s when your body starts craving it and once every two months, it became once a month and then became once every two weeks and then became once a week and then became just on the weekend and then just became you know, until it became every day.
Interviewer: at what point in your carrier did it start and that’s what point would you say it became an issue?
Mike Morris: that’s a good question. I remember I was already taking hubane before I moved to Venice beach which was 2002, I was already taking it. When I moved to California, I started shooting it intravenously, and that became a problem because once you start putting stuff in your veins, it is much more fast acting and probably as soon as I moved to California. There is such a drug culture out there which is probably why I started shooting it up, there were so many people they are doing it too; its like, “ way do you take it this way, take it that way”. Yeah,California is a bad influence.
Interviewer: would you say painkillers were like the biggest drug, what would you say is the biggest drug?
Mike Morris: ecstasy, cocaine, meth, I was smart enough to stay away from a lot of those you know. If this is fun with the right people in the right place but yeah, cocaine and meth; of course I tried methamphetamine before but they are bad, bad news you know. I knew some bodybuilders who would take meth or Coke to cut out for a show and that’s just burning your candle at both ends and it was just ridiculous.
Interviewer: what do you think about the cocaine that? How about that?
Mike Morris: I have never heard about the cocaine diet.
Interviewer: no, I am asking you since you said people use it take to get cut up for a show.
Mike Morris: when I heard that, I was like, “that’s ridiculous!” I don’t know, why would you take a street drug? It was just there only to burn body fat. It was the wrong way to give yourself energy and lose body fat. It is not a bodybuilding drug. That’s a club drugs, that’s two separate things you know.
Interviewer: how many other bodybuilders in that point did you know that had problems with hubane as well?
Mike Morris: a handful, it was a handful. There was a small percentage of every gym that people were taking, especially back in the East Coast.
Interviewer: in the East Coast?
Mike Morris: well, in California too.
Interviewer: DMP, (28:53 inaudible) what is your experiences with DMP and what sorts of things have you heard about it?
Mike Morris: well, going up in New Jersey, I knew there is a few guys in New York who took it and it died so I heard of that story and I just kind of just discredited it’s right there and decided never to take it again and I really didn’t hear of too many people who were taking it. I may have heard of one person who are taken it before. So, I just stayed away from the drug. If there was a drug where the side effect is “kill you instantly”, I would try to shy away from it.
Interviewer: if you should give a piece of advice to prolong the career of bodybuilders in retrospect, what advice would you give?
Mike Morris: stay away from painkillers, control your blood pressure because there is drugs out there that you can take that will control your blood pressure that wont interfere with your training, your diet. Every time I saw a doctor, like “you need to stop or you’re going to kill yourself.” If I had a doctor that said, “hey, you have a goal, control your blood pressure, you will be healthier and you will be a better competitor”, if someone said that to me, I would really take that information in. If there is something I can tell people, especially bodybuilders, a lot of things that they take and they do, it’s making their blood pressure high and that is eating away at their hearts, it is eating away at kidney and it is just bad for you all round so control your blood pressure. There are natural supplements that you can take and there’s actually medication you can take that will control your blood pressure that wont affect your lifts, or your training or your contest preparation.
Interviewer: what is your view of doctors? Or, what do you think is body builders’ view of doctors?
Mike Morris: I think it is funny how back when I was a late teenager I would go to New Jersey, I would go to doctors, I would ask them for prescriptions all the time and they would look at me like I am ridiculous and today every other advertisement you see is Viagra and Cialis and Andro gel and T3… Exactly! So doctors are getting more on board with the effects of hormone replacement therapy and so I guess I am happy with the direction that it is going.
Interviewer: what was your story (31:03 inaudible) 2003 at the Hungarian pro, you personally beat him. Can you tell us a bit like, just tell us that story again.
Mike Morris: well, I was backstage and it was the Hungarian Pro and then backstage I see Melos there and I just assumed that he was not competing because he is as white as a ghost, he looks like 190 pounds and he just did not look like he was competing or even working out that at the time. Even when he started to take off his clothes and all of a sudden I just saw him started taking some insulin which I assumed; he had a team of two guys that were injecting him with ascyclene at the time , started eating jars of baby food, jelly and jam and put on his pro tan and I just watched him transform from a regular guy into an IPB pro-bodybuilder. It was actually amazing to just watch the transformation before my eyes that somebody could do that in less than an hour basically.
Interviewer: so he was doing these injections out in the open for an hour pre-contest?
Mike Morris: yeah basically. Because in Budapest you can buy it at any pharmacy there so it is not exactly illegal. It is kind of like a team of NASCAR guys. The kind of just came out and (drill sounds) everywhere.
Interviewer: that’s good. What types of partying experiences after these contests would you like what types of activities would IPB pros be doing after these contests?
Mike Morris: Partying. First time I had my party experience was in Las Vegas and it was a good time, there was Ecstasy involvement and I remember in the cab, pulling up in front of a Club 7, I think it was club seven, Craig Titus was probably hosting it and I was just feeling pretty nauseous and from the shows, everyone was just lining up to get into the club; they had nice dresses on and everyone was looking nice and I couldn’t hold my stomach anymore. As soon as the Pulled up out front, I opened the door and projectile vomited all over the street and then everybody turned around and it was kind of horrifying for me but I guess it was the highlight of everybody else’s night. But after I got that out, it was a really fun night you know, partying with a lot of those pros and a lot of good people, it was a really cool experience.
Interviewer: Do you have any unique partying experiences?
Mike Morris: yeah, I got alot of them.
Interviewer: PC, let us hear some that you can say on camera.
Mike Morris: right, I have gone through academine phase before; academine will put you in a dream state right away but it was just fun being at clubs and having your VIP booth and a couple of your friends would go smuggle off to the bathroom, in the bathroom stall and would come out floating on air, which makes the music a lot better and makes the life a little crazy.
Interviewer: go hand in hand would you say drug culture and the bodybuilding culture; because I feel like they are not one and the same but I feel like we kind of have to go, like it is a gateway drug, you know what then saying?
Mike Morris: absolutely. But yeah, like I said before, bodybuilding has such an arsenal of drugs that you are taking pills and injecting yourself and injecting yourself intravenously, so it makes you very non-needle phobic and just by taking all the drugs, just like I said, the drug culture, it is very easy to go to the club and someone says, “here, take this one pill”. It’s like you said, it’s kind of a gateway kind of thing. You are already use of taking these kinds of things. There are party drugs that you take one pill and all of a sudden…
Interviewer: How come would you say that partying at the IPB level, because I feel like it is highly (35:03 inaudible)
Mike Morris: no, it is kind of just like anything else at high school; you have a group of people that are into that and your group of people that are not.
Interviewer: where would you fall in that?
Mike Morris: for the most part I never drank at high school, I never went to college, I never got into any partying or drinking or smoking or any of that until I moved to Venice beach and it got into that whole culture.
Interviewer: so Venice was the transition for you you think?
Mike Morris: yeah, a little bit before that but then there, there was a lot of people that were a lot of people that were into the lifestyle and a lot of people trained and go to the gym. I mean, they were there.
Interviewer: what was your goals like at that time period because goals are still goals right?
Mike Morris: awesome. I think I got it right at the tail end, it was great. It was great moving out there just from coming from the East Coast and coming out there knowing that so many great champions trained there and then get to be one of those champions at that gym. It was amazing with all of the Olympia people up on the wall and just watching those celebrities that would go through; I would see James Khan there…
Interviewer: what kind of bodybuilders were training there?
Mike Morris: (36:19 inaudible)
Interviewer: what percentage of professional, IPB professional did you see take oil?
Mike Morris: well back in the 90s, I think almost everybody tried it. I have gone through my share of bottles but like I told you before, I think there is a certain body that can take it and looks good and other people, they take it and just look lumpy. They don’t absorb it very well. So back in the 90s, I think everybody tried it and nowadays I think it does lost a little bit of its luster. You still don’t know where all that oil goes, all that oil that you are pumping into your body, you do not know the long-term effects of that. Not to mention the people who know that they have taken it and they have gotten abscess and they get its cutout and part of their muscle get cut out of the body
Interviewer: or rotting away?
Mike Morris: or that… Getting your muscles surgically removed from your body is not the good body bodybuilding mix.
Interviewer: at what point did you start hearing about (37:22 inaudible) oils? And when did you start to use them?
Mike Morris: in the early 90s and as soon as I could get my hands on them. But a lot of things you hear in bodybuilding that there are lots of people being guinea pigs and trying stuff. A lot of stuff comes onto the scene and then you hear about it and then you hear about it from a personal friend and then you try it and then sometimes it is not all that it is cracked up to be. I mean, it is usually like a 5% window that it would turn out to be beneficial to your bodybuilding career. Nothing substitutes hard work and dedication.
Interviewer: and that is the thing about this too you know, we are talking a lot about drugs but there are so many fast bodybuilding professionals and the parties…
Mike Morris: partying is not going to help you in your bodybuilding career. It is fun t o hang out with your friends and party but as far as being beneficial to your bodybuilding career it is not. It is downright detrimental to your bodybuilding career. So I mean if you want to be a good bodybuilder, you have got to put the partying aside completely.
Interviewer: how would you say Venice, from that aspect, how did it take you farther and how did it hinder your career? How did it help your career and how did it hurt you?
Mike Morris: well, it helped my career in just being in the Mecca. There are a lot of photographers there, you are in the pipeline of bodybuilding and then not good because you have a lot of people that are around you and you have a lot of access to a lot of bad things. It just seems like when you are down or depressed, there is always somebody there who is willing to take you to the bar or take you to the club and give you this and give you that and it is not the thing you need at the time.
Interviewer: so how would you summarize your time in Venice? It feels like kind of a blur but what would you say?
Mike Morris: I think it was awesome! I think it was the highlight of my career, I would not have missed it for anything and even though I might have indulged in the party stuff, that is part of the culture. When you go to California, free love and all that stuff, it’s just there and I am actually glad I was able to experience it and live it then to just hear about it. But I will say that it is not as glamorous and magical as a sometimes it appears to be. A lot of times it’s a little evil, it is very evil.
Interviewer: what types of interactions?
Mike Morris: I would see him at, I would train with him at the bunch of competitions. He beat me at one competition, I think it was in Texas and I was there with my family and he was really nice. He actually said after the show, “I think you look better, I think you should’ve beat me.” He came out and ate with my family that night, he was a pretty cool guy. But I have also seen the other side have him when he was having a feud with Shawn Ray and they got into almost a fistfight before the prejudging at some Pro show and Shawn Ray called him a convict or something like that so he was ready to throw his fists at the drop of a hat.
Interviewer: so you have seen both sides?
Mike Morris: yeah. I feel Shawn was a little instigative, a little more than he needed to but hey, we need to control ourselves right?
Interviewer: (40:45 inaudible)
Mike Morris: he is a dick.
Interviewer: he is a real dick?
Mike Morris: yeah, he is a real dick. I have seen him do some real kinds of stuff that’s just mean to people, evil to people and I mean he just plays up that cocky persona but he really is it that way. Is he alive at all?
Interviewer: he is alive
Mike Morris: he still owes me $40 by the way so I just want to let everyone know that.
Interviewer: what would you say the darker sides of bodybuilding that you did… When you got into this sport and you had a vision of the sport (41:21 inaudible) did you see in the 90s with that type of stuff?
Mike Morris: that is just part of the culture that is in there and you know, bodybuilders can just do that or not do that and it is there. But I mean, there’s a certain line of, “when is it prostitution?” If somebody wants to take a picture of you, what’s the difference if they do that in the auditorium of the Expo or they want to go up to your room and take it in your room? And whether that’s imposing trunks or touch your legs, any bodybuilder can take it to whatever level they want. If someone wants to theme $600 to take me up to my hotel room and photograph me in my posing trunks which is something that I am going to be doing on stage anyway, I don’t mind giving them a private show. Bodybuilders have got to make their money, the sport is expensive.
Interviewer: so this sport is expensive. What makes it so hard to produce it?
Mike Morris: well, your food bill, the drugs, the traveling to the shows, the empty MPC cards; the empty MPC cards is very expensive now and I got an MPC card; I think I got the backstage pass before and I still needed to get my MPC news. I thought when you got an MPC card you automatically got a subscription to the MPC news. I was looking forward to getting it and I didn’t get it. So yeah, it’s expensive; the entry fee for the show, at the national level you have to fly yourself there, you have to pay for your own room, you’ve got to pay for your food, you’ve got the pack up your food; is expensive, it is very expensive.
Interviewer: how many people do you see fall off? How many people were trying to get to where you were going and something went wrong along the way?
Mike Morris: every day, every day. I mean working in a gym and being in a gyms my whole life, almost everybody when they compete they want to take it to the next level and only one person becomes Mr. Olympian and only one person can be the overall winner at the US and the rest kind of fall off in a sense. It just depends I guess on how you make your exit out of the sport.
Interviewer: and when you started having your health issues, how was your perception of the sport at that time? Did you mean that the sport? Were you angry? What was going through your head?
Mike Morris: I was ready. When I got the results, I was ready. I kind of felt like God was speaking to me. I was older, in 2005 I was 34 years old, I gave it a good run and then in hindsight, having Peter Robin Chang going to get invited to the wild-card Olympia to compete there and to compete there naturally, that blew me away! I couldn’t ask for anything better. If you were to tell me when I was a teenager are at any point during my career, just say, “hey, Mike you are going to make it. You are going to become Pro and you’re going to compete on this level at the Olympia stage but you are going to be on there and you’re going to be completely natural”; I would have never believed you. I would’ve thought you were from another planet but that’s what happened. It’s awesome.
Interviewer: tell me the Toronto story. I know I asked you about like your early career, I thought you overlooked until I saw that photo again but to me that Toronto story again just like what happened during that incident and how you think it impacted on your career?
Mike Morris: it was my Pro debut, so your Pro debut you need to make a statement of where you are and where you are going to place in the sport and my first show was the Toronto Pro. It was supposed to be a two hour flight from Philly to Toronto, there was some weather issues and the two hour flight ended up taking about an hour and a half. I had to go to another state unto a different plane, I ran out of food, I had to eat food at the airport. We didn’t even get to Toronto, we got to some airport an hour and a half out of Toronto, I had a voucher for a blue cab, when I went to get a blue cab, there was a whole sea of yellow cabs and one blue At the end and when I go down there, this was eight hours later, I was starving, I was freaking out, my cortisol levels are through the roof. The blue cab guy is fist fighting with the yellow guy, I had to break these guys up to say, “hey, I’ve got a voucher for your blue cab, you need to drive me to the hotel.” Hour and a half later I get to the hotel and the first person I see is Jim Manning and I missed the competitor meeting; Jim Manning was like “where the fuck were you?!” His words basically, exactly and so I had to go and give him my CD late, my last number eight, I was the last number of the very end and just from running out of food and having my cortisol levels spike so high, it affected my physique and enough to not me from what would’ve been a top five finish and I think I got an eighth or ninth or 12th or whatever I got at that show. So, not a good start to your Pro career.
Interviewer: you not making pro, I was like “damn, what we’ve got to do to get a break here?!”
Mike Morris: yeah. I thought that was top five there.
Interviewer: I definitely thought so, especially (46:39 inaudible) let’s see here: what was the last show you did before the people who were supposed to be your 2006 after or before one.
Mike Morris: what were they?
Interviewer: were you still 2006 or 2005?
Mike Morris: the last show I did was the Australian Pro in 2005. That was the last show I did actually on gear and stuff.
Interviewer: what was your success with that show? What would you say about your career at that point?
Mike Morris: to me, that was the pinnacle of my career. That was my first Five finish at the Pro show; Lee placed one (47:19 inaudible) was second, I got fifth, I feel like I should have been fourth. I think, I forgot his name, Idoh or… Anyway, I feel great. I got some prize money, I got two grand, that promoter paid my way to the competition and that was a great time in Australia. Australia is a fun place and coming back from that I was at the height of my career and that’s when I came back and got my blood work done from the nephrologist and I was faced with the decision of, “hey, the best you have ever done in your Pro career now and you’ve got to let it go.”
Interviewer: and how did they downsize process begin? After (48:04 inaudible) you competed against, what was your goal?
Mike Morris: well, like I said when I was in the office of the nephrologist and he said, “we’ve got to get you set up for the dialysis”, the first thing I said to him was like, “what do I need to do, what do you need to prescribe me and what do I’ve got to do to get better? What do I got to do to heal myself? I am ready to do this.” And he said, “there’s nothing you can do; your kidneys don’t heal themselves and it basically just gets worse from here.” I did what I do with every doctor and said, “I am not going to listen to you, I’m just going to do my own thing” and I stopped and I was like I just used common sense.
I said the first thing I needed to do was to stop taking all the drugs I was taking; which means everybody getting drug, every painkiller I need to stop all the drugs. I need to research just and find out what I need to do as far as lifestyle changes, lower my protein, control my blood pressure level, find out whatever holistic medicine is out there, things I need to do and things I could take to heal myself and I did that and find God my, kidney levels came back to a normal level. But it took all the dedication and perseverance levels that they put into becoming a pro and now I put that into saving my life.
Interviewer: but there was more that you had to do?
Mike Morris: yeah. I went back to the nephrologist six months later and I remember him looking at my blood work tests again and kind of laughing in a sense saying like “wow, this is impressive Mike, I didn’t expect to see this!” And that kind of give me hope that I could continue to get myself better and I did.
Interviewer: Ascycline, is that how you say it? There’s some people who talk about it a lot. How much in the 90s would you say you are using it pre-contest.
Mike Morris: anybody who could get their hands on it. I know I always tried to get my hands on it. If anybody had it I would be like, “I’ll take it.” It was a neat drug. It was not like centhrol, it was not just oil, it was an actual drug. I think it was made in Italy and it came in the little ampoules, little 2 cc or 1.5 cc ampoules and you would injected directly into your muscle and that would inflame your muscle. I don’t know exactly what it is used for. I think continues to inflame the muscle. They could do something that they could go in there and perform surgery on the muscles or something, but it did in figure muscles. You could use it on your side dells and your biceps and your triceps and your laps or whatver and it worked and it worked good. But it only worked for about a day or so so you had to use it the day of the competition. You basically would buy it and stock up for it and then at the day of the competition…
Interviewer: and you think it had that big of an impact?
Mike Morris: not really. You know, because sometimes you put it in your biceps and your biceps is long and sometimes it would almost look like the inserted hot dogs underneath your skin so this side and the middle of it would be pumped up real big and the other side wouldn’t so people would say “you should put a shot to there.” And like I said, the same with Synthol; some people’s body would take it and it would look good and it would make it look bigger but it would also make it look a little smoother and kind of waterier, it wouldn’t have that crisp hard condition but if you had week biceps it would definitely put biceps on you. But I mean I never heard too many guys who would lose show was because their biceps weren’t up to par.
Interviewer: when did you start the use of that? What shows? What era?
Mike Morris: I am trying to remember. I think it was post-91. I don’t think I had it atitat teen nationals, I don’t think I had it at that point, probably in the early 90s.
Interviewer: So that was like the retro stuff. You mentioned like the painkillers were still an issue and it can still be a issue, I think it is still an issue. And how long has it been since you’ve competed?
Mike Morris: 2005.
Interviewer: 2005. So how big of an issue is that still would you say?
Mike Morris: it is hard, it is hard. But even if I go to a dentist, I had to go for a tooth pull a couple of years ago and I was freaking out… “Are you going to give me something? Do I take it? Do I not take it?” I thought I was going to have a relapse so it is hard you know. People will like want to give them to me and I would be like, “no, keep them away from me.” I need to take stay strong and stay away from them because I have learned through relapse after relapse that it is just a vicious cycle. When you go on and you are high and you feel good and then you have to go a down period where you have to come off and it is just more shittiness than good feelingness so my conclusion is; you just stay away from them completely!
Interviewer: I think a lot of people psychologically become dependent on drugs but you seem like one of the most normal, and you are still big, let’s just put that out there, but like how has your metabolism changed? Did you conquer that hill?
Mike Morris: oh yeah. Well, first of all, I never stopped training, I never stopped working out, I loved working out, I would be working out to the day I die. But from the type at the nephrologist’s office when I decided I wanted to heal myself I put myself in the state of mind of, “okay I am off the steroids and I am going to lose size, I am going to get smaller” and I mentally prepared myself for that. I’m not good to see that it was easy, it was hard.
I remember being on the smith machine when my biceps was 21 inches and it would stretch the sleeve and I remember being in the gym at one point couple months later where there was space between the… Because my arm was smaller. So there are certain things I remember, like watching yourself shrink that is a little discouraging what they mentally prepared myself for it and I want to do everything like I wanted to do for pro-bodybuilder, I wanted to do whatever it took to get myself better so I kind of rolled with the punches.
Interviewer: is there anything else you want out there?
Mike Morris: I think when I first stopped and I was losing my size, and I was not seen people for a while, I didn’t like when people pitied me when they hadn’t seen me in a while, they would go like, “oh, hey mike”, for whatever reason, it would piss me off a little bit. I would say, “hey, I am still the same person, I am fine. I am just like 60 pounds smaller.” But they understand that when people see me like Morris and they see a 260 pound guy and now they see 195 pound guy, it’s not what they are used to seeing. But I am what I am.
Interviewer: that’s great! All right Mike, that’s pretty much everything I got for you today. Is there anything else you want people to know?
Mike Morris: yeah, just the painkillers. Stay away from the painkillers man! Like I said, if there is one thing I could tell an aspiring bodybuilder it’s, “there is bodybuilding drugs that help your career and there is other ones that hinder it and painkillers is definitely one of those ones that doesn’t help it at all.”
Interviewer: (54:48 inaudible) so what would you say dosages for (55:08 inaudible) for example?
Mike Morris: … I think I was taking, I think I took Deca for earlier in the cycle, I think before the show it was Winstrol and Anavar, that was it, Winstrol and Anavar not much. When you’re getting ready for a show, you don’t want to take too many drugs. All drugs make you hold water to a certain degree so I mean I think I was taking a bit of Winstrol and a little bit of Anavar, that was it for the teen nationals.
As far as this shows, as they progressed to be a Pro, especially when I lived in California, there would be a time when I was taking a 3 cc shot pretty much every day. I would take a 3cc shot here, a 3 cc shot here, one on my shoulder, four days later one here and I would take a day off and I would start the process over and that usually equates to about 3600 mg a week basically and then orals on top of that not counting growth, not counting insulin, not counting anti-estrogens, not counting congluterol, so those were the doses.
Interviewer: impact certain things so IGF3, what do you feel about IGF?
Mike Morris: IGF-I?
Interviewer: Yeah, my bad. Something like that.
Mike Morris: I like growth a little better but the IGF-I, I get I think that was more of a hardener. I think it was advocated as like a big recuperation kind of a thing. I know people do side checks with it now. In the day when I took it, I just took it sub-que and I took it right after a workout and in hopes that it would help meet recuperate faster. But the gains I noticed or the way I noticed it affected my body was it got harder you know, more vascular, it got that grainy dry look.
Interviewer: bad things you have seen as a survivor in this thing, how about that?
Mike Morris: well I continue, right before I turned Pro the insulin story, about that. There I turned Pro, in 1999 about a week before the show, I was going to CVS and that was going to buy my razors and everything, I had already cooked my meal of egg whites and oatmeal and was ready for me to eat, I took my insulin shot and went to go to CVS, it was about a mile up the street and then walking through the isle I could feel my blood pressure getting low and this is the year after I had the episode before so I just dropped my basket on the ground and it just made a beeline right out the door, got my car and started driving straight home for my oatmeal. A cop pulls me over and as soon as I saw the red lights, my heart rate went up and by the time he got to the window, I am covered in sweat, I could barely speak, I pulled out my license and got everything ready for him and said, “I am a diabetic and I needed my insulin” and I handed it to him. And I was weighing about 225 pounds and I heard them call, “hey, get me an ambulance and send me back up”.
And luckily another cop came and remembered the episode from last year and said, “oh yeah, that’s Mike, he is a bodybuilder he freaks out every year.” They called an ambulance, he was giving me that glucose to eat. I didn’t want to break my diet so I was pretending to eat it and the cop reached his hand, and I don’t remember doing this, he told me a month later because I saw him at the bar; he reached in and said, “Mike, you’ve got to squeeze it”, and I apparently batted his hand away, he was like “oh shit!
So the ambulance gets there and now I am like agitated because nowadays 10 minutes past my meal and they are screwing up my bodybuilding routine. And I go over to the ambulance and I am almost like pulling the girl out of the ambulance like, “hurry up, let’s get this done because I need to get something to eat.” The cops were like, “whoa!”, starting to surround me like, “calm down Mike, calm down” and there was already like 4 cops there now and then it suddenly dawned on me that all they were going to do is take my blood sugar level, see how low it is and they were going to make me eat or take me to the hospital so I just got angry and just hulked out and just screamed and just “raaa!”, Just took off running and it just took off!
And like I said, I saw the cop at the bar a month later and he said they just all stood around and they were like, “do you want to chase him or you could shoot him, one or the other” and they just let me take off and at that point I think I lived a block and a half down the road, two blocks, and I ran all the way home, went through my backdoor, ate my oatmeal, left my egg whites and I left everything there in my car, my license. 10 minutes later there is a knock on the door and it’s cop with a firetruck, three ambulances, about eight cop cars and they opened the door and the cop was like , “are you feeling better Mike? “ And I was like, “yeah.” And that was that story.
The ended up taking my blood sugar and even after I ate, they could tell that my color was better, I was talking better and stuff like that and then when they took my blood sugar level at that point, I think it was 40 so God knows what it was when I was on the side of the road; I don’t know how I even had enough energy to run home! I must have been running on pure adrenaline.
Interviewer: that’s a pretty good one. So what are you up to now? In Metroplex Phoenix? What are you up to these days?
Mike Morris: just personal training, I am happily married and I am just living the dream out here. I am just tried to make a life as a personal trainer and there is a lot of shows here in Arizona and I go to Vegas every year so anybody who wants to come down and get training I help prep them for the shows and hopefully can help them become better bodybuilders and also do it healthy; without doing some of the crazy stuff that can damage your health because there is life after bodybuilding and I don’t think a lot of people take that into consideration when you compete. So it is kind of a “now, now, now!” kind of thing. If I can help them to do that under an umbrella of health and realize that there is life after bodybuilding and you want to live that life and not on dialysis or taking insulin, maybe I can help them do that.
Interviewer: and if people want to contact you for personal training, how can they reach you?
Mike Morris: they can contact me on my email address which is MorrisMJ20@Gmail.com
Interviewer: and you are mostly at Metroplex?
Mike Morris: yeah. I trained exclusively out of Metroplex Phoenix. Do I need to pose?
Interviewer: yeah, stand up so I can get a shot. That’s tough on camera don’t do you justice!