Mike Matarazzo: Mike “Big Guns” Matarazzo didn’t start out as an aspiring bodybuilder- before he caught the builder bug he was a boxer. At 20, Matarazzo became the light-heavyweight Golden Gloves champion of Massachusetts, relying heavily on his strength and size to overpower his opponents. Perhaps sensing his strength might be applied to more lucrative and less physically damaging exploits, Mike turned his attention more toward the weights and less toward the heavy bag, and four years later he won the overall in his first foray into bodybuilding.
A lean, mean 5’10” and 226 in his first show, Mike Matarazzo was basically every nerds idea of a jock nightmare- flat topped, jacked, ready to brawl, “Big Guns” was a waking nightmare for every kid with a graphing calculator and asthma in the greater Boston area. He attacked the weights with the same ferocity he’d used in the ring, and two years later he won his pro card against one of the greatest lineups of competitors in bodybuilding history, beating everyone from Ronnie Coleman to Chris Cormier and Flex Wheeler.
His insanely fast start and All-American jock look, combined with his massive arms and insane 23” calves, propelled Mike Matarazzo to the cover of magazine after magazine. Competing in 32 shows over the next year, Matarazzo never regained his dominance over the guys he’d beaten at the 1991 USA- though he was a big 250 pounder, he lacked the insane density or extreme aesthetics he’d need to beat Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, and Dorian Yates. With his massive arms and calves, he was the bodybuilder every gymgoing bro wanted to look like, but when it came to the judges, he was not balanced enough to make an impact against the insane field against whom he was competing.
Matarazzo was forced to retire in 2004 due to an open-heart surgery to repair clogged arteries, after which he worked as a bail bondsman for about a decade. After a number of health conditions he attributed to a massive amount of steroids and red meat during his career, Matarazzo died at age 48 while awaiting a heart transplant.