LEE PRIEST – AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST BODYBUILDER…
WORDS CRAIG LUCAS | IMAGES DALLAS OLSEN
Location: Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Weight: 100kg (220lbs)
1989 IFBB Australian Championships (1st)
1990 IFBB Australian Championships (1st)
1990 IFBB World Amateur Championships, Lightweight (4th)
1993 IFBB Niagara Falls Pro Invitational (9th)
1994 IFBB Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (7th)
1994 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational (4th)
1994 IFBB Night of Champions (12th)
1994 IFBB San Jose Pro Invitational (7th)
1995 IFBB Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (9th)
1995 IFBB Florida Pro Invitational (4th)
1995 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational (3rd)
1995 IFBB South Beach Pro Invitational (4th)
1996 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational (4th)
1996 IFBB San Jose Pro Invitational (6th)
1997 IFBB Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (7th)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Czech Republic (5th)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix England (6th)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Finland (9th)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Germany (3rd)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Hungary (3rd)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Russia (9th)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Spain (3rd)
1997 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational (2nd)
1997 IFBB Mr. Olympia (6th)
1998 IFBB Mr. Olympia (7th)
1999 IFBB Iron Man Pro Invitational (6th)
1999 IFBB Mr. Olympia (8th)
2000 IFBB Night of Champions (5th)
2000 IFBB Mr. Olympia (6th)
2001 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational (7th)
2002 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational (2nd)
2002 IFBB Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (4th)
2002 IFBB San Francisco Pro Invitational (1st)
2002 IFBB Mr. Olympia (6th)
2003 IFBB Mr. Olympia (15th)
2004 IFBB Ironman Pro (2nd)
2004 IFBB San Francisco Pro Invitational (2nd)
2005 IFBB Grand Prix Australia (1st)
2005 IFBB Arnold Classic (4th)
2005 IFBB Iron Man Pro Invitational (2nd)
2005 IFBB BBC Classic 2006 IFBB Ironman Pro (1st)
2006 IFBB Arnold Classic (6th)
2006 IFBB Grand Prix Australia (2nd)
2006 NOC New York 2006 PDI Night of Champions (1st)
2006 pdi English night of champions
2013 NABBA Mr. Universe (1st)
Plus many more local and state shows between 1986-1989
SPONSORS: Black Skull USA
Considered by many as our greatest Aussie bodybuilder ever, Lee Priest features in this issue of Raw Muscle as our interviewed athlete and cover model. It’s a pretty daunting task to interview Lee, trying to think of questions that he hasn’t been asked a million times already is not easy. Added to that, this interviewer spent a relaxing hour or two chatting with Lee over the phone and pretty much forgot why I called him up in the first place.
As expected, Lee didn’t hold back with his thoughts and opinions, but he’s never rude or disrespectful about it. I get the feeling that he is more frustrated and annoyed at people’s stupidity and lack of common sense. Political correctness has no place in Lee’s vocabulary, just brutal honesty and the attitude of ‘tough shit’ if the truth offends you. So if you’re one of those professional activist/protester types then it might be best if you click to the next article, but if you enjoy hearing someone’s honest opinions then read on, this interview is for you.
CL: Welcome to Raw Muscle Lee. You’ve got yourself a new woman since I last spoke to you, Cinara Polido, a Brazilian girl who is a dual NABBA Universe and NABBA World winner. How and where did you meet her?
LP: I met her in London when she won the Universe in 2013 and 2014, then caught up with her at a fitness expo in Brazil. We kept in touch and finally got together. She’s been living out here on a three month visa and went back to Brazil last week. I have to go to Brazil next month for my neck operation, and then when I come back to Australia she’ll come back with me.
CL: So what’s going on with your neck, you were operated on ages ago, is it still not right?
LP: It’s been sixteen months since I had the operation here, they freed up my nerve and I should be getting better but it’s only been getting worse. When I was in Brazil I met up with one of the top neurosurgeons who did a few tests and told me that my nerve was still crushed, so the first operation I had here did fuck all. I’ll be getting my next operation done in Brazil by a doctor who is a huge fan of mine.
CL:So can we chat about your last comp, the NABBA Universe. The reasons why you did it, how it felt leading up to it and after you won it.
LP: I dunno, I’ve been asking myself the same question. I said to Graeme Lancefield, you must have got me on a good fucking day. I hadn’t competed since 2006 and I was pretty much resigned to just training and not competing again but in 2013 it felt like the right time to do it. After not competing for seven years I would have been happy placing in the top three at the Universe but then I just imagine all the people online saying you washed up c*nt, you’re shit, so I knew I had to come in at my best. Conditioning at my height always makes me look bigger so I figured I’d come in as hard as I could and whatever happened happens. Comebacks are good, but if you don’t win people are gonna say that you’re shit and you’re washed up, so if you’re gonna do a comeback you’ve pretty much gotta win it for it to be considered successful.
CL: It was a pretty gutsy thing to do because either way you were gonna cop plenty of shit from your haters. If you lose you’re washed up and if you win it meant nothing, it was only an amateur comp, so you were in a lose/lose situation really.
LP: Generally the ones that bag you are the ones that have never competed. They just go to the gym and juice up. They’re just big talkers, they’ve never accomplished anything and they use more drugs than any Pro out there. Getting ready for this show was more a mental thing for me. Am I doing the right thing, are people gonna say I looked like shit. Even backstage I’m looking at the other competitors thinking ‘ah fuck, he’s gonna beat me’. Pretty much your mind is your worst enemy when you’re getting ready for a contest.
CL: The subject of steroids always seems to follow you around, probably for a couple of reasons. Firstly because you talk about them openly and secondly because people don’t believe the amounts you use.
LP: I get so many messages on Facebook and emails from guys asking me what do you think about this cycle or that cycle and I think to myself, are you serious? The first time you write to me and it’s about fucking drugs. I’d never walk up to a Pro and ask about steroids. What works for me might not work for you. When I did start using them it was only in small amounts. I never had that mentality that without them I couldn’t do it. When you’re getting ready for a contest sure they help you recover. When I was off them I’d just go out and eat like a pig, lift heavy weights and train my arse off. Off season I didn’t worry about using them, all my best lifts were when I was off the gear. I’d be training with friends and they’d tell me that they can’t train heavy and I’d ask them why not and they’d reply, because I’m not on anything. With that mentality you’re going nowhere. They’re the type of people that when they go on it they’ll start eating six or seven meals a day, start training harder, then make all these gains but when they come off it they can’t train heavy any more so they stop training. They go back to eating two or three meals a day then they lose it all. If you eat six or seven meals a day and bust your arse you’d make good gains without the shit. The whole drug culture these days is fucking unbelievable. I can tell you now that the guy I brought gear off in California had guys asking him, “You’re a good friend of Lee’s, what does he take”? He’d say to them, “If I was to make a living off Lee from selling him drugs I’d be living in the gutter!
CL: I’ve always thought the steroid question was a bit personal. Like asking someone about their sex life or how much they earn. You must get sick of answering it all the time. Do you ever feel like telling people to mind their own business?
LP: I do get sick of it but I never say no. If someone asks if I’ve used steroids I say yes I have and this is what I’ve used. Then I’ll say to the whole crowd, who else here has used them and no one puts their hands up. Then I’ll ask them who’s used them and still looks like shit and everyone will start laughing. There’s just so much emphasis put on drugs these days that people actually forget that it’s all about the hard training. If someone looks good them give them fucking credit, don’t just say it’s because of drugs. When people come to my seminars I always tell them the truth, I’m so open that I always get in trouble for it but I’d rather be that way so no one can hold it over my head and say that I lied.
CL: You must get sick of people asking you how you got your arms so big.
LP: People ask me what I do for biceps and I tell them that I do the exact same as you, I do barbell curls. I’m always getting asked to do more training stuff, but in the last twenty to thirty years my training hasn’t changed. How many times do you wanna see someone doing the same bench press or biceps curls? That shit’s just so fucking boring.
CL:The new IFBB 212 Pro Class, what are your thoughts? Would you consider doing it if you were competing today?
LP:It’s hard to say. When I was doing the IFBB they didn’t have it yet I’d won a few Pro shows and I was regularly in the Top 5. Take someone like Flex Lewis, if he was to do the Open Olympia would they judge him fairly after him doing the 212 class? In the judges mind maybe they are thinking you’re only 212 you should be in that class. Would they judge him fair against the other guys?
CL: Just away from bodybuilding for a minute, on your Facebook page you don’t mind speaking your mind on politics and political correctness, you’re not considering becoming a politician are you?
LP: I’ve got a friend who’s into politics and he’s been seriously discussing with me about maybe getting involved with One Nation NSW, Pauline Hanson’s party. What I like about Donald Trump right now is that he’s doing all the things that he said he would do but people are saying he’s racist, just like they do here with Pauline Hanson. All they, (Hanson and Trump), wanna do is restrict immigration until they’ve done proper background checks. If you’re at home with your wife and kids, you don’t just invite people in off the street without knowing who they are. If people pass the background checks and wanna live here and help make this country great and live by our laws then fine, let them in. You just can’t let them in without any ID and shit. They protest when we house them at Christmas Island. Yeah it’s not the Hilton but they’re coming from a country where they live in fear of being blown up or shot. At Christmas Island you get fed, clothed and you’re safe, yet they complain and burn the place down. Why would we let you in with that attitude?
CL: So are we going to see Lee Priest join One Nation?
LP: Well I’d never rule it out. I like what Pauline’s doing. Yeah she can say some stupid stuff but people can interpret things the wrong way. The way things are going, someone like Pauline could easily become Prime Minister one day. I’d like to see parliament made up of truck drivers, cab drivers, typical Aussie people who are doing the work and know what people want. Just a group of Aussie’s in parliament who are there to make the country better. Do politicians ever think ahead? On a motorway in Western Sydney they’re putting in three more lanes and making space for a fourth lane. How about you just do the fucking fourth lane now! In six or seven years’ time you’re gonna have to disrupt traffic and it’s gonna cost you more to put that fourth lane in. It seems like they just wanna see what they can do during their time in office. They should be planning ahead for what’s good for the country’s future, not what’s good while they’re in power.
CL:Let’s get back to bodybuilding. What are your thoughts on how it’s going in general? Do you go to any comps these days?
LP:The only bodybuilding I really see these days is stuff that gets posted on Facebook or Instagram. I still respect the guys that do it because I know what it takes with the dedication and stuff, but the physiques are starting to get more bloated and blocky looking. The whole sport’s changed. When you walked into gym in the old days everyone was there to help everyone. If a guy in your gym was competing, half the gym would go along and support him. If I was doing the U/18 Class at the start of the show, once I’d done my class I’d hang around and watch the whole show. These days people just do their thing, take some selfies and fuck off. At the end of the show three quarters of the crowd has gone. If you love the sport you stay there and watch everybody. Has bodybuilding got so distorted that we need to have a Classic Bodybuilding class for the guys who are not bloated? If the guys with bloated stomachs keep winning shows then why should anyone change? But if you start marking those guys down and the guys who are a bit smaller but more symmetrical win then the other guys are gonna think well fuck it, if I wanna win a show I better reign this shit in a bit.
CL:So you feel the camaraderie in modern day bodybuilding is missing these days?
LP: In the old days you’d get together at the gym for a barbeque and everyone would be talking to each other and getting along great, hanging shit on each other, these days you walk into the gym and people have their headphones on so you can’t even say g’day to them.
CL: To finish this interview, have you got any words of wisdom or advice that you would like to pass on to our readers?
LP: If you wanna be a champion bodybuilder then enjoy it and get some balance in life. When you go to the gym, sure, be serious, when you’re dieting, sure, be serious, but when you get home be a good boyfriend or husband. Go out on dates, go to the movies or go for a walk on the beach. You’ve gotta have that balance in life and love what you do. Being hardcore isn’t just about me – I’ve gotta block my family out, I’ve gotta block my friends out, that’s bullshit. Yeah it’s an individual sport but that doesn’t mean you can’t show your family and friends respect. You don’t have to lock yourself away and tell no one to talk to you. When you’re away from the gym just try to enjoy life.
Raw Muscle would like to thank Lee for answering our questions openly and honestly, as we expected he would. We hope you enjoyed Lee’s thoughts and opinions. We have invited Lee to consider writing a few articles for the magazine or maybe getting a Q & A column going and he sounds pretty keen to do it, so fingers crossed we might have Australia’s most successful Pro bodybuilder contributing to this publication. If you’d like to contact Lee you can do so via his Facebook page. Make sure you message him with all your drug related questions, he loves that. 🙂