THE JEFF KING CHRONICLES
BY ROD LABBE
(I have assisted Rod with photos of Jeff and other legends of the sport. In return he kindly shared this wonderful article with me so that it could be linked to our Jeff King DVD and download, and enjoyed by all of Jeff's fans.
Thanks Rod. Wayne Gallasch.)
In November 1984, I (Rod Labbe) was a lowly student reporter at the University of Maine, covering everything from Board of Trustees meetings to away Basketball games. My sometimes controversial subject matter brought me on-campus notoriety, but I secretly dreamed of greater venues.
So, when a fraternity brother suggested I explore the exciting world of Bodybuilding journalism, I listened.
“Why not give it a shot? I’ve got a stack of mags you can borrow,” he said, as we trudged to class one chilly morning. ‘Who knows, with a little luck, you could end up interviewing big muscle stars like Phil Hill and Mike Christian, maybe even the man, Lee Haney. Now that would be awesome!”
“Yeah, it would,” I had to admit.
Well, a rolling stone gathers no moss. That afternoon--pumped and psyched--I stopped by my buddy’s room and picked through his towering collection. The interviews I read ranged from skimpy to over-the-top--professionally done, sure, but I also found them a tad formulaic. I could do better!
Convincing myself was half the battle. Finding suitable “muscle stars” to profile--ah, there’s where I encountered real sticking points! With zero clout and zip for credibility, who’d even give me a second look?
Not Phil Hill or Mike Christian; their queries went unanswered. And the man, Lee Haney? Forget it.
All in all, I wrote over a dozen plaintive letters (and even spent cash ordering signed photographs). Besides building an autograph collection, I had little to show for my efforts.
Then, it happened.
A manila envelope postmarked Springfield, Massachusetts arrived. I studied it with indifference. Sigh. Another picture. Opening the flap, I pulled out a letter from Jeff King, Mr. America and Mr. Universe.
“Dude, check it out,” I casually remarked to my bro later that night, over a pitcher of brew at the campus watering hole. “Ever hear of Jeff King, Mr. America and Mr. Universe?”
“Hell, yeah. A big mofo from Mass.”
“I’m gonna interview him.”
His eyes practically popped from their sockets. “Holy shit! King’s just about the most popular Bodybuilder around today! If you can snare him, man, you’ll be golden. Let me shake your hand, you lucky bastard!”
Whadaya know--from that humble beginning emerged great things: Jeff’s interview generated my first freelance sale, in September 1985. Because of him, I got to smash a champagne bottle against the hull of an exciting writing career.
That was 24 years ago.
Jeff’s whereabouts today supply fodder for Internet chat boards, websites and message forums. Though he hasn’t competed since 1988, his popularity has remained amazingly strong.
Of course, I haven’t forgotten the young champ who gave me my chance. It’s been a long time coming, but thanks to Iron Man, I can finally repay Jeff’s kindness.
Ladies and gents, historians and scholars, may I present our newest Legends inductee: Jeff King!
THE JEFF KING CHRONICLES - BOOK ONE: SUPERSTAR AT THE CROSSROADS
1. Stop with the suspense, already! Your legion of fans are jonesin’ for an update on Bodybuilding’s beefiest bad boy. What’s up?
JEFF: Um, didn’t we, like, just do an interview a while back?
2. Try four years back! It ran in 1985.
JEFF (surprised): Four years ago?!
3. No joke. We’ve traveled a loooong way. And look at the changes!
JEFF: I’ll tell you one thing that hasn’t changed: the publicity game. If you’re not producing articles or sending out photos on a regular basis, people think you’ve retired or worse, gone to that big gym in the sky.
4. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.
JEFF: Obviously! I took a short break not long ago and fell off the radar.
5. I remember hearing about that--weren’t you running a gym?
JEFF: Yeah, Big Daddy’s, in Springfield, Massachusetts. And, despite what pundits were speculating, I kept up my training. Competition has always been on my mind.
6. A personal sabbatical, of sorts?
JEFF: Very personal. I had to stop being so hard on myself. After the '87 Pro World, I didn’t compete for an entire year. Perfectionism can exact a mighty toll.
7. Ok, but that was then--this is now.
JEFF: Call it a reinvention, a re-imagining or whatever. I’m rested and ready. In fact, I’m training for a show and about to launch a tour.
8. I figured something was brewin’. You’re vascular as hell.
JEFF: Thanks. Normally, I need about 15 weeks after a layoff, but with seminars and stuff, my prep period varies. It can go anywhere from 2 weeks to 15, depending on the condition I’m in before beginning.
9. Your first win--the Teenage New Jersey--was at a mere 18, so maybe a little R&R isn’t such a bad thing.
JEFF: It isn’t. I work best by examining where I’ve been and the errors made along the way. You gotta stop and smell the roses once in a while, Rod!
10. Doesn’t 18 seem like an eternity ago?
JEFF: Yes and no. I’m 29, so chronologically, 11 years have passed. But Bodybuilding-wise, it is an eternity!
11. You’ve been competing as a Pro since 1985, and Pros bring home the bacon. What else sets you apart from the Amateur ranks?
JEFF: That’s pretty much it (laughs)! When you’re a Pro, it helps in the promotion department. People want to hear what you’re saying. I’ve been conducting seminars and spreading the muscle word. My education’s in health and fitness, and I’m also a nationally certified strength coach and advanced exercise specialist. .
12. Any regrets? I mean, about turning Pro?
JEFF: Oh, a few. I don’t enjoy training as much as I used to. Bodybuilding’s my business now. I still like the gym, but because of my erratic travel schedule, I train here, I train there, and sometimes it’s not good enough. Bodybuilding was rough on my marriage, too. I’m not home much and am sort of married to the Sport, in a sense.
13. The pursuit of dreams has a downside…
JEFF (somberly): No dream is perfect. Some are weak at the seams.
14. Was your dream to amass a shelf full of trophies?
JEFF: No! I’m not that shallow, I hope (laughs)! Spending my retirement years dusting trophies doesn’t strike me as particularly satisfying. They’re nice to look at, but if you view Bodybuilding as I do, it’s a lifestyle.
15. And a mind-numbing physique doesn’t hurt.
JEFF (grinning): Guess not!
16. Wanna try some controversy on for size?
JEFF: Toss it my way!
17. The 1985 Pro World left scores of King fans pissed off. What’s your view?
JEFF: Ah, you win some, you lose some. Samir looked great, and he deserved to win. Granted, nobody wants to lose when you’re going up against a former Mr. Olympia, and they’re giving away that much cash. At my level--the Pro level--we know how to get in shape, and each of us has been a Mr. America or a Mr. Universe. It couldn’t have been easy choosing a winner.
18 The crowd’s reaction to Samir’s victory didn’t exactly strike me as, ahem, overjoyed. They were in your corner, big time.
JEFF: Enthusiastic support like that is uplifting. My fans are the greatest.
19. Could politics have played a part? After all, it wouldn’t look good for a former Mr. Olympia to lose.
JEFF: Uh-uh, you’re not gonna bait me (laughs)! I have immense regard for Samir. Besides, isn’t this all just water under the bridge? I don’t base my success on what seven judges think. If I did, I’d be one unhappy camper.
20. Have you fine-turned your training methods over the years?
JEFF: Every Bodybuilder tweaks his or her program. You find what clicks, use it as a starting point, and build from there. I train in strict form, maximizing poundages and playing with reps. Improvements have resulted from my studies. I’ve learned more about muscle stimulation, what makes a muscle stronger, how the fibers are affected, etc. As a result, I now train with periodization.
21. Periodization? Doesn’t ring a bell.
JEFF: Certain periods of my routine are geared for mass training and strength, alternating with periods of rest, recuperation, and replenishment. I’ve been lifting weights for 14 years, and I used to be stuck in my ways. Today, I train more by feel. If I’m tired when I go to the gym, I take it a little lighter. If I feel like going heavy, I go heavy. My training stays the same, even when I’m not competing. Only intensity and diet change.
22. 14 years. Think about it, dude--that’s half your life!
JEFF: And the other half was spent dreaming about being big! At age 14, I stood 5 foot 2 and weighed about 109 pounds, sopping wet. The other kids in my grade were growing taller and stronger, and I was still a runt.
23. Bet I couldn’t even stretch a tape around that humongous chest! And your arms, they’re what, 21? 23?
JEFF: If I were to give you my most impressive measurements, it would be during the off-season. And if I gave you my contest measurements, when I was in the best shape, they’d be smaller and not so impressive.
24. Don’t play coy, homie. Give us your winning measurements.
JEFF: All right, all right (laughs). At the Mr. Universe, I was two hundred twenty-something pounds, my arms were 19 ½, my chest was 53 inches, my thighs 28 ½, calves 18 ½; waist about 32. My neck was about 19 ¼. I use the mirror to gauge progress. If I like what I see, I’m satisfied.
25. The King neck has drawn quite a bit of attention. Could you really pull a barge with that monster?
JEFF: I’ve never tried pulling a barge, but I do work my neck like any other muscle.
26. Role-playing time! I’m a beginner, someone who’s barely even touched a barbell.
What’s the most important lesson I could learn from a professional bloke like Jeff King?
JEFF: By ‘beginner,’ I assume you mean a young individual, maybe 14, 15 years old. My best advice to them is simple: be consistent and have patience.
27. How about beginners in their late teens, early twenties?
JEFF: Again, stay the course, be patient and train methodically. Don’t overdo it! Overtraining can slow any Bodybuilder down, whether Pro or beginner. Doing too much is as bad as doing nothing at all.
28. Let’s wade through some controversial waters, shall we?
JEFF: I’m braced for anything. Hit me.
29. You and the IFBB?
JEFF (sighing): Yikes! That is controversial!
30. Rumors are swirling! From your POV, what’s goin’ down?
JEFF: Basically, the IFBB, a Pro organization, won’t allow me to compete in their ranks, and the reason boils down to control.
31. Control? Between you and the IFBB?
JEFF: No, between the NPC and AAU. Once I won the AAU Mr. America, I was pigeonholed as an AAU man--didn’t matter that, career-wise, I’ve actually done more NPC shows.
32. Brian Buchanan, John Brown, Bill Richardson, and Ed Kawak are NABBA athletes, and they were allowed to cross over without static. Why not you?
JEFF: Exactly my question! All I want is the same consideration, and they’re not extending it to me.
33. I’m having a flashback, here. Didn’t the IFBB agree to let you in?
JEFF: Yes, which makes this situation even more troubling. First, they wanted me to write a letter and pay a $10,000 fine. No problem. I was expecting to do the Grand Prix and Essen, two IFBB shows--and at the last minute, minds were changed. They kept me out, while embracing John Brown and Ed Kawak. Those guys don’t present an image problem. Jeff King, ‘Mr. AAU,’ does.
34. Their open door policy slammed shut overnight?
JEFF: Slammed shut and locked tighter than a drum, at least to me. My teenage idols were Mr. Americas--all I cared about was the title. I’d no idea of animosity anywhere in our sport.
35. And because Jeff King had been labeled ‘Mr. AAU,’ an example was made of you?
JEFF: I can only speculate. Soon after I won Mr. America, the AAU sued the NPC to determine who owned the ‘Mr. America’ title. They prevailed, and the NPC could no longer market contests under that banner. Since then, the NPC has promoted itself as Bodybuilding’s only legitimate Amateur organization.
36. You’ve been caught in a crossfire situation, my friend.
JEFF: It honestly didn’t dawn on me you could be stiffed because of your Bodybuilding affiliation. Talk about disillusioning.
37. Did the IFBB explain their stance to you?
JEFF: Yeah, like this: if I’m let in, the NPC will lose control of its Amateur athletes…who’ll bitch and moan because Jeff King didn’t have to move up the NPC amateur ladder. It will look like possible favoritism. Sorry, but I’m a Pro. I’ve paid my dues and should be allowed to compete as a Pro.
38. Gee, that stinks. It would be sweet to watch you blow minds at the Olympia.
JEFF: Bodybuilding’s what I do, Rod. And who doesn’t want to be Mr. Olympia (laughs)?
39. We’re rootin’ for ya! Keep us posted, ok?
JEFF: I will.
40. Flip the pages back to your childhood, Jeff. When mom and dad noticed that their little boy was transforming into the Hulk, did they freak?
JEFF: Mom was just happy I was happy. We’d work out in my basement, and sometimes, it would be like 90 million degrees down there, and she’d supply us with cold water and do considerate things like that.
41. And Dad?
JEFF: Dad couldn’t grasp the concept behind Bodybuilding as an athletic endeavor. I put a lot of effort into lifting weights, but what was I doing with all those muscles? In his view, when you’re an athlete, you train for a sport. I was training and not doing anything.
42. Has he seen the light?
JEFF: As time went on, they both understood my full commitment to Bodybuilding and respected it. But I think my dad still worries. Bodybuilding’s not a secure profession. I’m sure he’d prefer I get into something more financially stable.
43. In the scheme of things, your first show was only a few years ago. Why not make hay while the sun shines?
JEFF: I’m giving it all I’ve got, man. This is my time.
44. Things have moved quickly for you.
JEFF: It seems like only yesterday I was pumping up in back and thinking that those other guys were gonna wreck me. They were big and brutal, especially Mike Antorino. I was 17, Mike, 18, and ripped to shreds! I felt totally in awe of him.
45. Are shows today exceptional or anticlimactic for you?
JEFF: They’re kinda like Christmas when you’re a kid. A few weeks before, there’s excitement and tension, and the wait’s unbearable. Christmas morning arrives, and all of a sudden, it’s over. The tree’s down, decorations are put away--it’s depressing. That’s how I felt after winning the America and Universe. I won, boarded a plane and just went home.
46. Ever had to justify your Bodybuilding career? You know, explained the reasons behind it and all?
JEFF: I love Bodybuilding, and that’s justification enough. I’m a sports-minded guy--I played football, soccer, baseball, and hockey. I even wrestled in high school. Bodybuilding’s a sport anyone can do; there’s no age limit or restriction.
47. Circa 1981-1985, the mags couldn’t get enough of Jeff King. Did the media scrutiny spark any static for you?
JEFF: So much coverage does create certain expectations, like maybe you’re invincible or something! Attention is flattering, it’s nice to be recognized…but if you don’t fulfill expectations, the house of cards can collapse. Now and again, I hear rumors…I’m doing this, I look like that, I’ve had a heart attack, I’m dead. In France, I was dead three times! Even here at home, people call me up with these silly rumors.
48. Which mag gave you your first cover?
JEFF: Muscle Up, in October 1981. It was also the first magazine to run a full article on me. Before that, I had little stories in the ‘rising stars’ sections of Muscle Digest, Muscle Up and Bodybuilder.
49. You’ve also graced the covers of IronMan; Muscular Development; Muscle World, and MuscleMag.
JEFF: Hey, you know more about my career than I do!
50. Has the Press helped or hurt your career?
JEFF: Lately, it’s a bit difficult to tell. It was unfair when the Weider organization, and--to a lesser extent, Iron Man--ran pieces saying I was going into the 87 USA. They both knew I’d no intention of competing in that show. I’m a Pro, and I’m not about to go down to an Amateur level.
51. The photo spread Muscle and Fitness was planning on you--a casualty of the AAU/NPC rift?
JEFF: It should’ve run three years ago. I shot a day’s worth of covers with Zimmerman and four body parts in Gold’s Gym with Bill Dobbins and then was told Jim Manion and Wayne DeMilia had killed them.
52. Killed them? Why?
JEFF: Ask Joe Weider. They didn’t explain anything to me. I’m Mr. AAU, remember?
53. Such drama! And we’re the ones missing out.
JEFF: Those photos were shot when I was in contest shape, but I’d be shocked if they ever see the light of day.
54. Where will the 90’s take Jeff King?
JEFF: That all hinges on what the IFBB does or doesn’t do.
55. Could be a rather dismal scenario.
JEFF: Dismal in some aspects, but if I can be the guy to break this monopoly, the results will benefit all Bodybuilders.
56. Fight the good fight, brutha! Justice will prevail.
JEFF: Rod, you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. I’m grateful for the soapbox!
The Saga continues…
Legends of Bodybuilding
THE JEFF KING CHRONICLES
By Rod Labbe
Throughout most of the 1980’s, Jeff King, wunderkind, could do no wrong.
Fans loved him unconditionally. The mags scrambled for exclusive interviews, training spreads, photo layouts and contest appearances. By age 22, he’d already won two of our sport’s most prized accolades--Mr. America and Mr. Universe. The future spoke of greater triumphs, Mr. Olympia, among them.
Alas, Fame cuts both ways--there are dips, valleys, even gorges. Sometimes, not all the time, but definitely sometimes, wunderkinds like Jeff King find themselves facing whole new playing fields.
Book One of The Jeff King Chronicles showcased Jeff at the height of his Bodybuilding powers. Book Two picks up 20 years later. It finds a reflective and mature King, still a champ but one with a healthier and happier perspective.
THE JEFF KING CHRONICLES - BOOK TWO: A GOOD LIFE
1. From the looks of those outrageous pipes, you’re still an iron devotee.
JEFF: Forever, Rod. You know I love the gym.
2. Did you ever resolve that nasty IFBB issue?
JEFF: Are you kidding? They said, ‘Jeff, go into the Mr. North America. It’s a qualifier for the Pro circuit.’ I agreed…but while prepping, I heard, ‘scratch that idea!!’ I was also supposed to do the Night of Champions--it would’ve been my big comeback. I drove to New York and spoke with Wayne Demilia directly about it.
3. And the deal fell apart?
JEFF: Again, yeah. There were offers and counter-offers, and nothing ever came of them. Silly me, I took these people at their word.
4. Hello! Reality check!
JEFF: It was such a long time ago, I can’t recall all the details--but I do remember expecting to compete on the NOC European circuit.
5. Which never occurred.
JEFF: Nope! One more rug pulled out from under my feet. I got to the point where I was sick of it and just moved on.
6. You were probably at the top of your game, too.
JEFF: Without question. The Olympia was my dream, but those dreams have been effectively dashed.
7. Has time healed the wounds?
JEFF: Business is business, I suppose, and I’m not one for grudges. The only time I ever talk about it is during interviews, and I don’t usually do interviews.
8. Care to reminisce about your Bodybuilding career? The highs and lows?
JEFF: Gladly. Even with the IFBB debacle, it was an unbelievable experience for someone so young and naïve.
9. You, naïve? Nah, don’t believe it.
JEFF: Now the tale can be told: Jeff King was a kid who thought he had a handle on Life. Except, I couldn’t deal with setbacks and disappointments in a mature fashion. It made for needless stress.
10. Did you have a clear vision of what you wanted out of Bodybuilding as a career?
JEFF: After the America and Universe, I was gonna start a mail order business. That route worked for other Bodybuilders, why not me? So, I ran ads in the mags and began making cash.
11. The added responsibility didn’t drag you down?
JEFF: No, I loved it! 22 years old and doing a hundred things at once--what a grand opportunity. Those were intense times, and I was an intense guy.
12. Mail order was how we first connected. I bought an autographed photo from your ad. Still have it, in fact.
JEFF: I sold a ton of them and handled all my mail personally. Dare I ask how long ago that was?
13. 1984. A mere 27 years ago.
JEFF: Aargh! Sorry I asked!
14. The competitive Jeff King. Can you describe him?
JEFF: Committed. Focused 110% on moving to the next contest.
15. This, despite your growing disillusionment?
JEFF: Outward appearances don’t always tell the real story. I was like a hamster running in a wheel, but that cage door stayed locked! My usual interests were put aside so I could chase Bodybuilding. In retrospect, I’m sad I did that.
16. You had to get off the wheel, pronto.
JEFF: In a major way.
17. Two decades later, is there anything you’d go back and change?
JEFF: My biggest regret is, I’d stopped living as a human being for 8 years. I was a kid. Without benefit of foresight, we all learn the hard way.
18. Competition consumed you?
JEFF: I tunnel-visioned completely. Man, I’d be on tour in some great places and wouldn’t even care to see the sights.
19. Places such as?
JEFF: France, for example. That’s an opportunity lost. While I was there, people asked me, ‘Jeff, wanna climb the Eiffel Tower?’ and I answered ‘no, no, gotta go to the gym!’ What a moron!
20. The contest circuit’s a hurly-burly scene.
JEFF: It doesn’t help if you’re an intense personality. If I relaxed even a little, the edge might go to someone else. So I never relaxed.
21. Did winning change the fundamental Jeff?
JEFF: To the core of my being. My God, now I have to measure up. Everybody will want to knock me down! In professional athletics, it’s all about performing on that one day. I couldn’t just be good, I had to shine.
22. Which meant more time at the weights.
JEFF: You win, and then the real challenge is to stay on top. I woke up Bodybuilding and went to sleep Bodybuilding.
23. Whoa, obsessive.
JEFF: It’s psychological and self-destructive. Athletes force themselves beyond the pain threshold; they’ll even train when injured, which is just insanity. I’d beat myself up and refuse to go easy. Going easy meant defeat.
24. Were you a calm and deadly competitor?
JEFF: No! What I thought was calm wasn’t calm. Worrying doesn’t equal serenity!
25. Is it the same way now?
JEFF: Yes, dammit! I worry too much. We live our lives waiting to pull into the station. If I land a promotion, I’ll be set. If I put so many years into this firm, I can retire with one hefty pension. Projecting preoccupies us, and we forget the important things--like enjoying a beautiful afternoon, watching the sun set, raking leaves and playing with your kids.
26. After stepping off that treadmill, any flak from fans and supporters?
JEFF: Nothing spectacular. My mind was made up, and with the IFBB mess quagmiring around me, it was a good time.
27. And thus, a new chapter began--one free of competitive restraints and expectations.
JEFF: A fantastic feeling! In 89, I went to grad school and earned my Masters at Springfield College. I worked as a resident director, taking 36 credits a year in Physical Therapy. Had free room and board and a stipend. Tremendous deal.
28. You’d been out of the academic loop for a few years. Any trouble readjusting?
JEFF: Not at all. I have great study habits and approached grad school with my usual intensity.
29. Ran the gamut, huh? All the way up to a doctorate! Kudos, Dr. King!
JEFF: That’s me, the guy who goes the distance (laughs)! My Doctorate’s also in Physical Therapy; I attended the University of St. Augustine in Florida.
30. To top it off, you’re a brand-new pop! Three times over, yet.
JEFF (smiling): I’m a very proud papa. We’ve twin daughters, Hunter and Paige, and in August of 07, Wendy and I were blessed with a third child, a boy we named Palmer Jeffrey. It’s a good life, hectic and exciting!
31. Do you still train like a Bodybuilder?
JEFF: Rod, I don’t know of any other way to train! Thing is, I gotta watch myself. I had an injury to my back a few summers ago, and it’s bone against bone. No more going crazy in the weight room. When I turned 40, the body just started to fall apart. End stage arthritis, right shoulder; lower back issues, and knee problems. Wear and tear!
JEFF: Before that, I was strong. Now, if I’m not careful and move the wrong way, I could be laid-up for three days!
33. Um, and how old are you right this minute, Jeff? Heh.
JEFF: 47, same age as you.
34. Exactly. So don’t go telling me you feel decrepit!
JEFF: Only when my injuries act up am I aware that time’s passing. Of course, I’m also worried about cholesterol, blood pressure, the whole shebang (laughs).
35. Stop! I’m experiencing cardiac arrest just listening to you!
JEFF: I told you I’m a worrier (laughing). That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy myself. I’m into the outdoors, love to hunt, and have diverse hobbies. Our home is beautiful, and my wife and I are relatively comfortable. It’s good.
36. At one point, weren’t you seriously mulling a career in law enforcement?
JEFF: I was. My uncle Jerry, who passed away last year, had a special influence on me. He started as a beat cop, moved up through the department, became Chief and captained a detective bureau. I sincerely admired him and wanted to follow in his footsteps. A great guy.
37. Sounds like a first rate gentleman.
JEFF: None better. I miss him terribly.
38. Tell us about the advice he gave you.
JEFF: Jerry lived right in back of us, and one day he said, ‘I hear you want to be a cop. Don’t do it. Police work isn’t what you might think. Go to college instead. Educate yourself before deciding on anything.’ Words straight from the heart, and I trusted his judgment without question. That fall, I enrolled at Springfield College, in Massachusetts.
39. As a Criminal Justice major?
JEFF: No, my Bachelor is in Health and Fitness.
40. Huh! A 360!
JEFF: Springfield has an excellent Physical Education program, and my original plan was to be a gym teacher. Then I looked at the market. Schools were cutting back on gym teachers. That’s why I switched over to Health and Fitness sophomore year. I needed a job!
41. Following graduation, you’d enrolled at chiropractic school. What threw a wrench into those gears?
JEFF: Bodybuilding! I was accepted at Logan Chiropractic School, but my Mr. America win just weeks before the first semester changed everything. Suddenly, I found myself dealing with a Bodybuilding career!
42. And the Universe complicated matters even more?
JEFF: It did. So, I put off chiropractic school and devoted all my energies to Bodybuilding.
43. You never attended. Why?
JEFF: By 1989, Chiropractic had come under fire from health experts, and insurance companies were refusing to cover it. My Bodybuilding career was winding down, and I began thinking: what the hell am I gonna do now?
44. One of those infamous moments when we’re staring down several pathways.
JEFF: I’d two options: do I get into law enforcement or pursue a Masters degree in some health/fitness related discipline? My best friend, Frank Vincenzo, was a police officer, and he and I sat down together and discussed. He was open with me. I liked the idea of law enforcement…but having a chance to earn my Masters on a full boat in Physical Therapy appealed to me, too.
45. A full boat? Nice!
JEFF: We talked for a long time, and the gist was, ‘don’t walk in my shoes. If you can go to college for free, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of it.’
46. Frank gave you an extra push in the right direction.
JEFF: I needed another perspective, and Jeff helped me make a wise decision.
47. Why not Criminal Justice this time at bat?
JEFF: As an older guy, I didn’t have much money and time to spend; I wanted a solid profession, one that involved health and fitness to complement my own personal interests.
48. Understandable. Law enforcement was finally out of the picture?
JEFF: I weighed it carefully--just too many personal risks. Why put a bull’s-eye on my back?
49. You embraced the health field, and vice-versa?
JEFF: Wholeheartedly. I’ve worked in various job settings, including acute rehabilitation, long-term care, contract services and outpatient settings. Currently, I’m employed by Bay State Health system, the biggest health system in western Massachusetts.
50. Where, at a hospital?
JEFF: A relatively small community hospital, yes. I manage their rehabilitation services.
51. Interesting development!
JEFF: In more ways than one. I had a patient who was a police sergeant in the town of Buckland. I’d worked with his wife, and she’d recommended me. We talked about law enforcement, I told him my story, and he said, ‘heck, I’ll hire you. I have a part-time position open right now.’
52. (chuckling) That qualifies as a good example of irony.
JEFF: In January 2006, I started at the police academy, graduated in April, and put on a uniform immediately for the town of Buckland. It’s an exceptional police department, chiefed by James Hicks and Sergeant Steven Walker.
53. Hmm. And the bulls eye?
JEFF: It’s there. (pauses) You know what, Rod? This is the how things were meant to be.
54. Haven’t you broadened your law enforcement horizons?
JEFF: I sure have! Steve became chief at Shellburne, the next town over, and he asked me if I’d consider working there, too. I’m employed by both departments--literally side by side, separated by a river.
55. No more hospital job?
JEFF: I do both. I’m bouncing all over the place, from law enforcement to the hospital. Health care is what I was born for--helping people stay healthy is immensely rewarding. You could call me a human services kind of guy, since my police job also addresses day to day living issues. I serve and protect.
56. Sheesh, I don’t know how you can even deal. So much stress!
JEFF: It’s not bad. When I’m in that cruiser, I’m independent, doing my thing, and I work with a great bunch of guys whose values I share. My health care job is much more stressful; I’m under the gun! I rarely have a formal lunch. Very fast-paced, but time goes by quickly.
57. Thank God you can unwind at home.
JEFF: Home is hectic, too! With three active kids running around and a small producing farm to care for, we’re involved in something or other every minute. And that’s how I like it.
58. You and Wendy make a good team.
JEFF: My wife’s an incredible woman. She’s in the medical field, a wonderful mom, always there for me, and primarily holds down the family fort. Because of Wendy, I get to stop and smell those roses!
59. I wonder, do people recognize you as a former title holder? You’re a rather imposing fella!
JEFF: We live in a mill town of 1700, five miles from the Vermont border, and nobody has an inkling of what’s lurking in their midst! At the gym, people sometimes ask, especially if they’ve seen me on the Internet. They’ll usually say, ‘wow, is that big guy really you?’
60. Are fans still important, Jeff?
JEFF: Each and every fan I’ve ever had has been important. During my competition days, I’d talk with them on the phone for hours. That’s why I had such a strong following and why I appreciate it to this today. Without my fans, what the hell would I be?
61. Just another middle-aged guy with big muscles?
JEFF: Took the words right out of my mouth!
JEFF KING’S WEEKLY WORKOUT
By Jeff King
Weight-training for Bodybuilding competition is like running an obstacle course. You’ve got to go from here to there in a certain amount of time, without faltering.
Way back when, I was a single-minded Bodybuilder. Sometimes that’s good, and other times, it can be bad. Concentration and dedication will see you to the finish line, true. But if you push yourself too much, injuries often result.
Because I went heavy as a competitor, it set me up with physical problems that didn’t manifest themselves until much later in life. Believe me, if I could go back and change a few things about my workouts and training regimen, I would.
I still train like I did before: all or nothing. Only aches and pains of constant use and abuse have slowed me down. Until I was 40, I lifted with 23 year olds and front squatted over 350!
Reality can crash down on you like a wall of bricks. Hard work is hard work, and I appreciate the value in it--but if I want to last in the gym and not end up with a walker, I must make concessions to age. Right now, I’m about 200 pounds and haven’t been this light since I was in high school! That’s what I mean about concessions. The days of pounding out sets and training like a maniac are behind me, and perhaps that’s for the best.
Here’s my present-day workout, designed to keep me fit, firm, and well-proportioned:
MONDAY, TUESDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY
I do a four-day split, with chest, back and shoulders on Monday and Thursday. On Tuesday and Friday, I do legs and arms.
Because I’ve had injuries--some of them permanent--training has to be done carefully. I never had a knee problem in my heyday, and now my right one acts up. So, I approach leg presses and extensions with caution! It’s getting a little close to “bone on bone,” something to be avoided at all costs.
Arms are much easier. I super-set and rest for thirty seconds in between. When I was prepping for shows, I’d pick up my intensity and kick ass. Nowadays, of course, that’s different, but I still like to pummel my arms.
For chest, I’ll do incline dumbbells, three sets of 12, with 30 second rests. I can’t do dumbbell flys any more, which I loved; they give my shoulder too much grief. I do pull downs for lats, three sets of 12, t-bar rows, and lying side laterals.
Cardio is an essential component of my workout. I do stepper or elliptical, half an hour, three to four times a week.
If I didn’t have issues with my joints, I’d more than likely be doing the same workouts as when I was a young competitor. Pain has forced me to learn from my mistakes.
Don’t let that happen to you!
JEFF KING’S COMPETITIVE RECORD
AAU Mr. New Jersey – Teen Tall, 1st - Overall Winner
AAU Teen Mr. America – Heavyweight, 1st
AAU Teen Mr. USA – Heavyweight, 1st
AAU Teen Mr. Southern New England – Overall Winner
AAU Mr. Southern New England – Overall Winner
AAU Mr. New England – Overall Winner
AAU Collegiate Mr. America – Overall Winner
AAU Collegiate Mr. America – Medium-Tall, 1st
AAU Eastern USA Championships – Overall Winner
AAU Eastern USA Championships – Tall, 1st
NPC Mr. America – Overall Winner
NPC Mr. America – Medium-Tall, 1st
NABBA Mr. Universe – Amateur Overall Winner
NABBA Mr. Universe – Tall, 1st
NABBA World Championships – Tall, 1st
WABBA World Championships – Professional, 2nd
NABBA Universe – Pro – 2nd
WABBA World Championships – Professional, 2nd
NABBA Universe – Pro – 6th
Muscle Up – October 1981
Muscular Development – December 1983
Muscle Digest – February 1984
IronMan – March 1984
Muscle and Bodybuilder – March 1984
MuscleMag International – December 1984
Strength and Health – March 1985
Muscular Development – April 1985
Back to the JEFF KING PAGE. See below.
||The Jeff King Seminar plus Posing |
Jeff King was the 1983 AAU Mr America and 1983 NABBA Amateur Mr Universe winner. At the time he was one of the best amateur bodybuilders in the world. If he was a pro star in the current era he would no doubt be compared with a Branch Warren when in his peak condition.
I would say that Jeff's genetic structure was more like that of Branch Warren than any other pro bodybuilder that I have seen in the last 25 years.