Their last names helped define different eras in the sport. In the late ’60s, Sergio Oliva won three Mr. Olympias. The man known as “The Myth” was the original freak of bodybuilding, boasting 23-inch arms and legs larger than his 27-inch waist. He remains the only man to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Olympia stage. From the mid-’80s into the early ’90s, there was Lee Labrada, whose polished physique earned him the moniker “Mass with Class.” Labrada boasts 22 pro wins and seven consecutive top 4 placings at the Mr. Olympia.
Oliva was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 1999, Labrada in 2004. Oliva spent three decades as a Chicago police officer before passing away in 2012 at age 71. Labrada went on to found Labrada Nutrition, one of the most successful supplement companies in the world. Today the two men’s sons—22-year-old Hunter and 29-year-old Sergio Jr.—carry on where their fathers left off, their physiques garnering much-deserved attention.
FLEX: Some kids try to follow in their father’s footsteps and others rebel. How did you guys come to choose bodybuilding?
HUNTER LABRADA: My story is a very common one among bodybuilders. I was head over heels in love with football. The mind-set I have now about how I train, how I don’t miss meals, that comes from football. Seeing dad doing it [bodybuilding], there was a transition. At one point it was so far removed from me and I didn’t understand what was going on, but by freshman year in high school, I was able to appreciate what he achieved in the bodybuilding world, that he was one of the best at the sport he chose to compete in. I came to really admire that.
I got a football scholarship to a Division 2 school, but senior year in high school I had two substantial injuries—I tore my hamstring and had an emulsion fracture in my hip—which led me to adjust my training split toward a more bodybuilding-oriented one. The changes I saw in my body and the ways my body responded to that were nothing short of extraordinary. I came to enjoy training for itself more than football or training for football. I showed up for college football and it wasn’t football with my friends anymore, it was just a sport and it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. It was a tough decision and one my dad honestly tried to steer me not to make; he knows what bodybuilding entails and he loved watching me play football. It wasn’t something he was overly excited about at first, but the past couple years have shown him I’m serious about it, so we’re both pretty happy with the decision now.
SERGIO OLIVA JR.: I was always into sports in school, but then they got boring. I got tired of being a skinny track athlete: I was 6 foot tall and 135 pounds. My dad did everything he could to keep me out of it. I think he had some bad experiences that soured him. I’d be like, “Let me go to the gym with you” and he wouldn’t take me. I think he knew if I did I would fall in love with it and do well, which I did—I put on 30 pounds in my first three months.
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