During the ’80s, I spent a couple of years working with and hanging out with bodybuilding legend Bill Pearl as we put together his book Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women (which went on to sell over 500,000 copies). They don’t make ’em like Bill any more; he was maybe the last in a line of old-time strong men, before steroids took over. Look at this photo of him when he was young, with no steroid hyper-inflated weirdness, as with the body builders of today. This pic was in Legends of Bodybuilding, a special issue of Musclemag magazine, a great compilation.
Bill was Mr. California, Mr. America, and a 4-time Mr. Universe and is a very humble and gentle person. He’s a vegetarian. He still has an aura about him. We’d go into a restaurant, he’d compliment the food, and pretty soon the chef would be out at our table. We’d walk down the street and people would come up to him.
After 8 years of work, Bill has just completed a 3-volume series called Legends of the Iron Game, the most complete record of strong men ever, going back to 300 BC when Milo of Croton demonstrated the principle of progressive resistance by carrying a calf every day until it became a full grown bull.