Most of us are familiar with the inside of a gym, at least in passing. We know what a rack of weights looks like, and can tell a rowing machine from a treadmill, if nothing else. And it doesn’t take long inside a gym to spot a few muscle heads pumping and grunting their way through a workout. We usually think of them as dedicated and intense, but mostly harmless, engaged in a largely healthy activity.
For most, bodybuilding is indeed largely harmless and healthy. But, as with most activities, taking it to extremes can be disastrous. Competitive bodybuilding often involves a volatile mix of ego, vanity, competitive drive, and drugs. And, sadly, it’s a sport with a long history of controversy and avoidable tragedies. Here are just a few of the bodybuilders who gave the sport a bad name.
1. Gordon Kimbrough
Known in bodybuilding circles as a “chemical machine”, Gordon Kimbrough built his physique with steroids and strict diets. In 1993, when his fiancée tried to end their relationship, Kimbrough snapped. Fueled by rage, years of steroid abuse, and a history of domestic strife, he wrapped an electrical cord around her neck and stabbed her to death. He was sentenced to 27 years to life for the murder.
2. Andreas Münzer
Austria’s Andreas Münzer was renowned for his low body fat percentage, but it’s likely that, combined with rampant steroid use, contributed to his untimely death. In March 1996 in Munich, Münzer finally went to a hospital to get help for the stomach pains that had been plaguing him. Doctors found him suffering from internal bleeding, and his liver and kidneys began to fail. Two days later, he was dead, aged just 31. The autopsy revealed a startlingly low body fat percentage—effectively zero—numerous tumors in his liver, shriveled testicles, and a heart twice the size of a normal man’s.