Dave Draper penned a book titled ‘Brother Iron, Sister Steel’ in which he documented his personal journey in bodybuilding. The exceptional piece of prose is filled with training advice, personal insights and humorous commentary. I’ve always felt the title was very fitting for our bodybuilding subculture, as above anything, this is a brotherhood and sisterhood, a fraternity. Ideally, we should be there for each other, encouraging each other’s endeavors in what is a small village. This week ended on a tragic note as we lost a member of our fraternity in a fatal motorcycle crash— IFBB Pro Firas Saied.
Until recently Saied was relative unknown in the USA; however, this was quickly changing just a few weeks ago when he began climbing up the IFBB professional ranks, capturing a 2nd place finish at the California Pro in Culver City, narrowly defeated by 24 year old phenom, Dallas McCarver. He displayed superb conditioning, and exceptional muscle mass in his first competition as a professional in the United States. I competed at this very same competition as an amateur, and after the contest I witnessed a jubilant Saied chatting with a close friend in Arabic outside of the venue. The 34-year old bodybuilder appeared to be ecstatic over his placing, enjoying the fruits of his labor and the payoff of a pre-contest diet which surely entailed much suffering as displayed in his physique. For Saied, the perils of a pre-contest diet surely were nothing compared to the suffering he had endured just a few years previous in his homeland of war-torn Syria.
Saied was not only an exceptional bodybuilder, but a freedom fighter and an active participant in the revolution against the Assad regime. Originally he hailed from the province of Horns, located in the western region of the nation. He was active in demonstrations against Assad, which he would pay dearly for. The young freedom fighter would be imprisoned and tortured, punished for being an activist against the regime. Saied would survive these perils, to become a world champion in bodybuilding and eventually earn his professional status at the 2011 Arnold Classic Europe Amateur.
Standing at 6’3, a relative giant in bodybuilding terms, he impressed the judges and audience with a thickly muscled frame, weighing in at ~280 pounds. Saied would compete five times in Europe from 2011 to 2012, before reappearing at the California Pro Show just a few weeks ago. At the California Pro Show, he showed remarkable improvements since his last outing and battled Dallas McCarver for the 1st place finish. The competition was close with many observers arguing that Saied deserved the nod. Now we all lose the opportunity to see what pinnacles in our sport this remarkable human being could have accomplished
Let’s take this time to remember an up and coming professional competitor of our sport and if we are of the religious persuasion, pray for his family or at least send positive thoughts. Saied was the father of a young child, who will now grow up without his dad. As fans and competitors we have lost someone of our fraternity, perhaps more importantly the world has lost a freedom fighter and someone struggling against one of the oppressive forces of humanity. RIP Firas Saied January 17, 1981 – June 6, 2015.