Greg DeFerro Man of Iron
Four years ago young Greg DeFerro came to California hoping to forge a career in bodybuilding. After two weeks he went back home to the East Coast disenchanted. Now Greg has made the cross-country trip west once again. But this time he arrives with credentials — in 1979 he won two major titles, Best In The World and Mr. International.
Greg has an air of confidence now. At 27, 5'8" and 221 pounds, he's a bigger version of Franco Columbu same shoulders, same back, same muscle density. He also looks remarkably like Sylvester Stallone.
"The first time I came west I realized my move was premature. I was too young," says Greg. "But my reason for coming out here then was the same as it is now. If you want to get to the top in a sport, you train where the action is. Baseball players go to Florida. skiers go to Colorado, bodybuilders go to California. So here I am.
"I knew I had to make this move. We've all heard that old expression, 'Knock, and the door shall open.' As a result of my victories last year the door had been opened, and if I didn't go through I knew I would regret it. So despite my conservative tendencies I came to California."
What did he give up back East? "Well, to most people, not very much," he says. "But to me, a lot. I'd lived in the same apartment since I was in my teens. I was very comfortable there. I had a number of very close friends that I hated to leave. I gave up friends, family, job, and a feeling of security — however transient that is.
"When I first talked to Joe Weider last year, he helped me make plans for the future. But being realistic, I didn't expect pat solutions to my problems. I had to make my own decisions. Joe and I corresponded for a year, and we have come to a satisfactory arrangement. I'm very confident of my potential in this sport. I have supporters in the East who think I went farther than what seemed possible considering the training facilities available back there and the scarce publicity."
Greg says he has no regrets about coming to California. His former home was Stratford, N.J. (population: 7500), very suburban, "without getting
downright rural with cows and horses." There's a slight tone of nostalgia in his voice, but he repeats he has no regrets.
He had many anxious moments driving across the continent, wondering whether his eight-year-old jalopy with 170,000 miles on it would hold together. Greg admits he's really a worry wart.
"As Joe pointed out when I got here, most worries are imaginary anyhow, and you just waste a lot of time thinking about them." he says. "Still, driving across the country was one long anxiety trip. When am I going to get there? Am I going to get there? What is Joe going to be like? What am I going to seem like to Joe? Fortunately it's all worked out well. If there were any negative thoughts, Joe has proved every one of them wrong. He's given me the opportunity to prove myself."
Having been given that opportunity, Greg intends to do just that — prove himself. "I have all the necessary time, the availability of fine food supplements. advice on diet. photographers, and monitoring at regular intervals by Joe himself. I couldn't ask for more."
If Greg wins the 1980 Mr. America title, he'll be well on his way to turning professional, which is his ultimate goal. If he doesn't win the America, and fails to make the Mr. Universe team. he figures that he's in for an extra year of relative obscurity. He is confident that as a professional, he'd be good enough to be among the top five pro bodybuilding superstars. He would sure like to enjoy some of the benefits of being in that select group.
The acid test will be going up against a favored Ray Mentzer for a berth on the Universe team that will go to Manila in November. The realization that he has to be good enough to beat Mentzer excites him.
A thought sticks in his mind, an exhortation from a friend after a loss in a previous contest: "Greg, next time you've got to be so good. they'll have to give It to you."
"If you're good enough." Greg affirms, "they wilt have to give it to you. Don't leave any doubt in the judges' minds. It's easier on them and it's easier on you. Everybody goes home early."
In his bodybuilding career, to run as part of my training, but was warned that this will make me Mess. Is this true?
at depends on how you define mess." When you run you burn up a lot of. This makes you lose fat. You also lose water. Fat and water are mainly contributors to mass. I think that the only mass that toe bodybuilder should be muscle a. if you are concerned that running reveal that your 18-inch arms are really 6 inches when you take away all tha and fat, then maybe you shouldn't run. But running doesn't deplete your muscle mass. I suggest that you be honest
with your physique. Go ahead with your program even if It means a losing of an inch or two in your biceps us loss of water and body fat, and then hit the gym and put some inches of muscle onto your physique.
I would add this word of caution: you only have a limited amount of energy and putting too much of it into running will prevent you from training hard in the gym. But running three or so times a week should help condition your cardiovascular system, up your endurance, and burn up
calories to help you get fantastically cut up.
I placed lower than I should have in my contest because, even though I dieted hard, I couldn't get cut up enough.
There is a serious medical condition ad "hypothyroid" in which the thyroid and fails to produce a sufficient amount hormone. This condition should be ted by a doctor. The treatment frequently involves the patient taking supplemental doses of thyroid hormone to compensate for the underactivity of the
One of the things this hormone does re's actually more than one type of roid hormone, but let's keep it simple) to make the metabolism somewhat more five, which means more fat can be timed. Not surprisingly, some dybuilders have tried taking thyroid tract, even though their own thyroids
were functioning normally, just to accelerate the rate at which their bodies burned off fat.
This is highly dangerous. Since I'm not a doctor. I won't go Into all the medical explanations. Suffice it to say that Interfering with the function of such a vital gland as the thyroid is to risk serious problems.
Let me make an analogy. Diabetics suffer from a lack of insulin in their bodies. Therefore, they lake insulin to make up for this deficiency. It helps keep them alive. If a normal person takes the same dose of insulin, however. he's liable to go Into insulin shock, which can be fatal.
The intent In bodybuilding should be to actualize the natural potentials of the body, not screw around with the biochemical balance of the human system. Stay away from thyroid extract unless you have a malfunctioning thyroid in the first place. And if your thyroid isn't functioning properly. you should first see a doctor.
He intends to capitalize on his striking resemblance to Sylvester Stallone, Almost everywhere h, goes someone mentions It. Greg also considers the commercial possibilities in his surname. In Latin, "de terra" means "from iron." He says, "I think something could be made of that, I have T-shirts and courses in mind."
Greg made a big impression on the crowd when he competed against Ray Mentzer in the 1977 Mr. USA contest in New York City. Greg was in top shape: Ray wasn't. although he placed ahead of Greg. During the past three years. however. both of them have made great gains_
Having to blast through the pain barrier in every set of reps is only one of the crosses a serious bodybuilder must bear. Another is the matter of commitment, which involves the painful choice of alternatives one must make in the pursuit of a dream.
"I had planned to get married, but my girl and I split up." Greg says sadly. "I probably wouldn't be a good bet for marriage until I accomplish what I have to do."
How did he get into bodybuilding? "In high school I was a skinny kid," he says. "I was my present height. but I only weighed 130 pounds. My gymnastics teacher put me on weights to develop my strength. but it got to the point that I preferred bodybuilding to gymnastics. I went up to 200 pounds of bone and muscle, and the coaches were after me for wrestling and football. But I had decided that I wanted to be Mr. America. My desire has remained firm. I don't know when it's going to happen, but it's getting close."
Greg entered his first contest white still in high school and he placed ninth. In the 1978 Mr. USA, he retained too much body fluid and failed to place. Lesson learned, he entered the 1979 season with the muscular mass but without the water. Along with the Best In The World and Mr. International titles, he came in second to a highly ripped Ray Mentzer in the Mr. America.
The decisive contests this year are yel to come. Greg DeFerro has made his move. Ray Mentzer should be present in full force to try to counter it. The two giants clash in the Mr. Universe Team Posedown in Santa Monica Sept. 6.
Says the Man of Iron grimly: "I don't want to lose to Ray anymore."