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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Bodybuilder's drug-free crusade will continue after final contest

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

Champion bodybuilder Michael Monis plans to retire after the World Bodybuilding Championships at Moscow in November. Monis plans to promote and organize a show for natural — or drug-free — bodybuilders.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Michael Monis

Born: Jan. 7, 1962

Hometown: Kalihi

Height: 5-7

Weight: 180

Education: Wai'anae High School (1979)

As one of Hawai'i's most decorated bodybuilders, Michael Monis has used his athletic achievements to reach hundreds of school children with his anti-drug messages.

He's also followed his own drug-free advice and won a handful of bodybuilding titles in his 23-year career, including Mr. Europe World Natural, Mr. Pro U.S.A. and Mr. Musclemania.

In November, Monis will compete one final time before retiring to make way for the sport's younger generation.

In his farewell competition, Monis, 41, will represent the United States at the World Bodybuilding Championships Nov. 1 in Moscow.

"I think this is the last one," Monis said. "But I'm going to keep on talking with the kids and trying to help. I think it's better at 41 years old to let the younger kids take over."

Monis said he plans to stay active in the sport, but will do so out of the spotlight.

"I'll be promoting and organizing," said Monis, who plans to work with organizers to have Hawai'i host a drug-free bodybuilding show that will send the winners to Europe.

For the past five years, Monis said he has approached every competition as if it were his last, but he has reconsidered each time because he wanted to prove a point.

"A lot of people said you can't do it natural (drug-free without steroids)," Monis said. "With hard work and discipline you can."

Monis said he trains once a day, six times a week, at 24 Hour Fitness. In the final 10 to 12 weeks before competitions, he increases his workouts to two times a day.

Once showtime rolls around, the 5-foot-7 Monis said he'll weigh about 180 pounds and have a 48-inch chest and 26-inch waist.

"I've been lucky because of my symmetry," Monis said. "I don't have to get real huge. Everything looks nice and proportional. Some guys come in with so much muscle, but it's not packed on right. (Judges are) looking for that classic look."

Monis started bodybuilding when he was 18 years old after graduating from Wai'anae High School where he played football under then-coach Larry Ginoza.

"He was pretty conscientious at that time," Ginoza said. "He did a pretty good job for us, too. He played running back."

Ginoza said Monis worked hard in Wai'anae's weight room and his efforts paid off.

"We used to have an extensive weight training program when he was playing," Ginoza said. "He just followed through. Evidently something clicked."

Ginoza said Monis, along with many other prominent Wai'anae alumni, represents the school well.

"I'm very proud of him," Ginoza said. "Anytime any of our kids who went through our program can better themselves in whatever they do, I think it's a real honor for our school."

After graduating from Wai'anae in 1979, at the urging of his friends, Monis entered his first bodybuilding competition, the Mr. Nautilus.

"Back when you're 18, you think you're a prima donna," Monis said. "There were 21 guys competing. I took dead last place. Even the announcer was in better shape than me."

Embarrassed, Monis hit the beach to surf away his sorrows. But after several months, Monis decided to give bodybuilding one more try and returned to the sport.

Upon his return, Monis said several people tried to entice him to use steroids, but he declined because he was worried about possible side effects. Instead, Monis hit the weights, watched his diet, and won his first competition in 1983.

"I trained one year for one night for Mr. 50th State and I won the show," Monis said.

In 1999, Monis won the Mr. Europe World Natural title in England. After the competition, Monis announced his biggest and most influential anti-drug message.

"That was my goal," said Monis, who has won several awards from Mayor Jeremy Harris, the Filipino American Organization and the Hawai'i National Guard for his anti-drug and anti-violence work with Hawai'i's youth. "When I won that year, it was pretty cool. I said my message in Europe. You can do it drug free. If Mike can do it, you can do it."