Cutler garners Bodybuilding’s biggest award.
These days, he’s 5-foot-9, 274-pound muscleman Jay Cutler of Las Vegas, a Sterling native and history-making winner of the 2006 Mr. Olympia title, the most coveted bodybuilding honor in the world.
Back in 1990, he was a 185-pound fullback for Wachusett Regional High known as Jason Cutler, and was one of the heroes of the then-mediocre (5-5) Mountaineers’ stunning, 14-13 upset of Super Bowl-bound Leominster High.
But football was never one of Cutler’s favorite sports.
“I never really enjoyed football, to be honest with you,” Cutler said this week by telephone. “I hated losing because of somebody else. That’s why I enjoy bodybuilding — because it’s an individual sport.”
Cutler certainly chose the right path. A couple of months after graduating from Wachusett in 1991, he got a membership at Gold’s Gym in Worcester for his 18th birthday, and that started him on a road that led to his dethroning bodybuilding great and eight-time defending champion Ronnie Coleman at the Mr. Olympia competition last weekend at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Ronnie Coleman like Lee Haney, another bodybuilding prodigy, both won eight straight titles. Lee from 1984 to 1991 and Ronnie from 1998 to 2005. Arnold Schwarzenegger won six in a row from 1970-75. Plus one more in 1980.
Besides being worth $155,000 in prize money, the title was the ultimate gratification for Cutler, who was runner-up to Coleman the last four times he entered the Mr. Olympia competition — in 2001, and 2003 through 2005 (he didn’t compete in 2002).
“He (Coleman) was the champ that everyone said couldn’t be defeated; he was going to retire on top. He was the unbeatable bodybuilder, but we proved different on Saturday,” Cutler said after ousting the 42-year-old Coleman in the two-day competition and hoisting the coveted Sandow Trophy in front of cheering fans.
Cutler, who has been bodybuilding for 16 years, said he plans to defend his title next year, but he isn’t looking to top the record eight-year reign shared by Coleman and Haney.
“That’s not my plan; I’m not out to make history,” said the 33-year-old Cutler, who leaves today for Europe to compete in Grand Prix shows in Austria, Hungary and Holland, hoping to rack up more titles. “I’m just doing this to be the best I can be. My goal was to win the Olympia. I’ve done it once, and I’ll definitely defend, but I always planned to retire at 35 or 36 and move on to bigger and better things.”
That means two or three more years of pumping iron before Cutler said he’ll “retire, just walk away,” and concentrate on his many investments, including real estate holdings in Las Vegas, which became his home six years ago.
“I’ve invested a lot of money, and I’ve kind of set myself up to be OK (financially),” he said. “But I’ll still stay involved with the sport somehow.”
Cutler, whose wife Kerry is from Rutland, left Sterling with her in 1999 to move to Aliso Viejo, Calif., where he said he could make more money and be closer to the bodybuilding magazines. He lived there for two years before relocating to Vegas. The youngest of seven children, Cutler has three brothers (Bob, Keith and Randall) and three sisters (Joyce, Kelly and Amy), all of whom still live in the Sterling-West Boylston area, he said. He and his wife, a nurse, have no children. They were married in 1998.
It was while studying criminal justice at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester that Cutler really took an interest in weights “to become bigger,” figuring it would help if he got a job in the Corrections Department, which was his aim at the time. He earned his associate degree in 1993.
His first success in a bodybuilding competition came when he placed second in the men’s division at the Gold’s Gym of Worcester Bodybuilding Championships in 1992. He became a teenage national champion the following year, winning the NPC Iron Bodies Invitational in Schenectady, N.Y., and the NPC Teen National Bodybuilding Championships in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., both in 1993.
Overall, Cutler has won 12 competitions, including three straight Arnold Schwarzenegger Classics (2002-2004) — the second-most prestigious event in bodybuilding — and Grand Prix events in Great Britain and the Netherlands, and has eight second-place finishes. He won five competitions in 2003 alone.
But it was that first Gold Gym’s membership that changed his life and brought him his current physique — a 19-1/2-inch neck, 58-inch chest, and 22-inch arms.
“It’s like I died at 18 and started over,” Cutler said. “It’s a crazy lifestyle because all you do is eat, sleep and train — that’s it.”
And make history.
By Bud Barth TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
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