Written by Ron Harris
06 March 2020




Victor’s Last Stand!

After 20 Years as a Pro, This Will Be His Final Season


Interview by Ron Harris


Like most professional sports, the average pro bodybuilding career isn’t very long— usually about five to 10 years at most. There are exceptions, such as Dexter Jackson, and Johnnie Jackson, who was featured in the February 2020 issue of Muscular Development. And then there’s Victor Martinez. His career is remarkable not only for its longevity of 20 years, but more so for what he’s overcome in that span of time: a pec tear, a patellar tendon tear, a broken arm (while arm wrestling a fan in Mexico), two incarcerations, the savage murder of his sister, and the deaths of many among his family and friends. Now, The Dominican Dominator is finally ready to say goodbye— or is he? That’s what I had to find out.


Firstly, congratulations on becoming a U.S. citizen recently!


Yes, my new nickname is “The Undeportable.”


You’ve been in the USA for how long though, about 40 years? Why bother getting your citizenship now?


I got here around my sixth birthday, so that’s right. Why now? Hey, I was driving without a license for seven years and just got that last summer. I’m moving up! All that time I was a “resident alien,” but they changed it. Now you just have a green card. I liked being an alien; you get more girls that way. But I just felt like it was time to make it official.


You also recently hinted to some people we both know that 2020 will be your final year competing. How long have you been thinking about retiring?


Nothing is final. I might come back again like Johnnie Jackson is doing, who knows? But I said to myself, I just haven’t made much of an impact these last couple of years. I did win the Muscle Mayhem show in 2017, but then I went to the Olympia and did worse than I ever had. If you’re going to be in the game, you need to keep making an impact. In 2018, I had planned on doing the Tampa Pro, but then my daughter was born at the same time. My comeback show was the 2019 Arnold. I felt I looked good, but not good enough to the judges who have seen me before at or near my best. That made me wonder, do I still have it? I decided to regroup and see what I can do to change my body for the 2020 Arnold Classic. The goal is for people to say that yes, I still have it. But retirement has been on my mind for a while. I want to stay in one piece and keep my health. This sport can be rough on your body, but I try to do it as healthy as possible. I want to bring something different to the Arnold and make a statement. Just because I’m thinking about retiring doesn’t mean I have to look like a retired pro.


If you do really well in Columbus, I take it this whole retirement plan could be put on hold?


Of course my plans could change. My health is first and foremost. I’ve seen a lot of bodybuilders who never won anything or even placed well who kept pushing their bodies until they had major health problems and injuries, and some of them are no longer with us. Another thing is that I always said when it wasn’t fun anymore, it would be time to go. I’m still having fun doing all this.


I don’t see anything like torn muscles or nerve damage that makes me think you need to hang it up. But when you look at your physique now, do you see any decline from the days you were winning shows and getting top five at the Olympia?


The size I used to have isn’t there anymore. But as I started my prep for this Arnold, I was surprised at how I look. Some of that size is coming back. Changes are happening, and it’s exciting. I’m excited to get back onstage again. And I have to say this is the best Arnold Classic lineup we’ve had in a long time. It’s stacked! It’s mostly top five to six Olympia guys. If I can knock a couple of them out, then I’m still in the game. I’m doing everything I can to look my best, but if I don’t look the way I want to, that tells me it’s time to retire. The plan is to show the judges something they will like and get that first callout. That could change the course of history, my history.


Why the Arnold Classic, though? There are any number of smaller shows you could do and probably get a win at.


I don’t want to take anything away from those shows or the athletes who do them. I like things that are scary and hard. That makes me want it more and work harder. When you know you’re going up against the very best, you have to give it 100 percent.


You do like a challenge; I figured that out about you long ago.


Yeah, that’s why I have five different baby mamas and five different sets of hormones coming at me every month! But seriously, my main goal is to beat the me from last year’s Arnold. If I can beat a few guys from the top 10 at the Olympia along the way, even better.


Your condition was pretty good last time. What I saw missing was that fullness and “pop” you used to have. How do you get that back?


That’s what I’m working on the most. I started my prep early, back in November, so I could play around with my food. I treat every Thursday like it’s the Thursday before the show, and carb load to see how my body responds. I’m dieting longer but more gradually, to peel down as much as possible without sacrificing any mass. It’s all about that pop. You can be big and in shape, but when you flex, something still needs to happen. You see guys hit a pose like the front double biceps, and you’re still waiting for the shot. You want to look like you open up and get a little bigger every time you hit a pose. That’s pop.


Are you prepping yourself this time?


My coach in the gym is always Victor Munoz, but guess who came out of the woodwork to help me out this time? Chad Nicholls. The last time we worked together was for the 2009 Arnold when I took second to Kai. That was my first show back after my patellar tear in early 2008, where I couldn’t even train legs for six months. I was very happy with my condition and had to give it up to Kai. He’s one of a kind.


Memory lane time. What do you remember about your first pro show, the 2001 Night of Champions?


It was in the Beacon Theater, a great venue. If I ever promote my own pro show in New York, it would be there. No matter where you sit, it’s a good seat. I remember a lot of friends and family being there to see me, which was awesome, and eighth place out of 35 guys wasn’t too bad. My second pro show was the 2002 Iron Man Pro out in LA, the first time I ever flew to compete. I did everything wrong for that show, like not packing any food for the trip. Chris Cormier won, and I got ninth place. My shape carried me, because I was holding a ton of water that I couldn’t get rid of. At both of those shows, it seemed to me like all the other guys were comfortable and knew what they were doing. I didn’t. The confusion was real. I was on my own. They all had coaches and a protocol to follow, and I was winging it. After my third pro show, I said I can’t do this anymore. I called up Chris Aceto and told him I know I’m training and dieting hard, but I’m just not getting in shape and it’s killing my confidence. I need your help. I hired him, and things started to turn around.


Your first Mr. Olympia was in 2004. What stands out in your mind about that show?


First, I have to say I regret not doing it in 2003 after I qualified by winning the Night of Champions. I should have just done the show and got my ass kicked. That usually drives me to come back better. In 2004, I’d had my gym open for a couple of years. Unfortunately, the landlord scammed me out of the building. As I left to go compete in my first Mr. Olympia, I knew he had already started the eviction process. When I landed in Las Vegas, I found out the doors had just been padlocked. What could I do at that point? And again, I had no food packed. I trained, and then I spent all Thursday night gambling. Chris Aceto did his best, but the stress was too much and made me hold water. I still got ninth, but I should have been tighter and in the top six. On one hand I was happy to make top 10 at my first Olympia, but at the same time I was upset because I knew my gym wouldn’t be there when I got home.


You always hear people saying that no matter what happens, as a bodybuilder you have to relax and stay calm. How could you relax in that scenario?


I couldn’t. I knew I had to eat, but my appetite wasn’t there and I was off my meal schedule. I knew I had to sleep, but sleep wouldn’t come. Sleep is when you absorb the carbs, fill out, and get tighter. None of those things were happening.


You have won eight pro shows. Which win meant the most to you?


Every win was great, and they always seemed surreal. I’d have to go with the 2007 Arnold Classic. Not just because it’s the biggest show in the world after the Olympia, and you get to meet Arnold and shake his hand, but because of the support I got that time. A lot of people flew up from the Dominican Republic to see me, plus a ton of friends from back east. Most important was my friend Mike McGuckin. After just having back surgery, he drove nine hours from Philly to Columbus in a little rented Toyota because he said “I’m gonna witness your win!” He was so happy for me. Mike passed away later that year.


Of all the pros you knew and competed with, which ones were real friends?


Dennis James is one. He’s the type of guy where even if you weren’t close friends, he would do anything for you if you needed help. I always love Dennis Wolf and his family, and Troy Alves. Of course, there are my Dominicans, Jon De La Rosa and Juan Morel. Jon’s family is my family, and Juan’s grind is ridiculous. I get energized around that guy.


Another thing I always noticed is how you go out of your way to thank and acknowledge everyone who helps you.


You have to, or at least I think so. Even though you’re standing onstage alone and it’s you who gets the trophy, nobody does that on their own. The guy who spotted you and put your weights away helped. The person who cooked your meals or sent them to you, or adjusted you or gave you a deep-tissue massage helped. There are so many things that go into what we do as pro bodybuilders. My longtime trainer Victor and my training partner Dean Lewis, my wife Norma, all my kids’ mothers, they all helped me in different ways.


Are your kids fans of the sport?


No. I took my daughter to the 2013 New York Pro, and she was so upset when I got second to Big Ramy. One of my sons is an avid weightlifter, but he doesn’t follow bodybuilding. He eats more than me though!


Most of your fans are aware of your many trials and tribulations. I’ve seen other guys quit the sport forever after just one injury, legal problem, or death in the family. How did you keep bodybuilding through all the shit you’ve been through?


Bodybuilding was the only way I could deal with all those hard times. I know that if I had stopped training, the suffering would have been worse, and my life would have gone downhill fast. Hard times happen. Quitting was never an option.


Some bodybuilders I could name have been with as many as a dozen different supplement companies, but not you. How long have you been with MHP?


It’s been 15 years now, and I always thank Gerard Dente. He had many reasons to let me go over the years, but he never did. That always made me want to work harder and win shows to show him he made the right decision.


I know other companies made you offers over the years, and sometimes for more money.


A couple of them offered me as much as 100 grand more, but it would mean nothing. Some of those companies are long gone already, and who’s to say they would have kept me on either? Money is great, but loyalty means much more to me. Gerard and MHP looked out for me when no one else would. I never forget that.


How about contest promotion? You put on the Victor Martinez Legends show every August in the Bronx, and you have promoted two pro shows in the Dominican Republic. Do you have any plans to do more of that?


I will definitely keep my Legends show. Thanks to Jim Manion and Steve Weinberger for allowing me to put that show on. I did try branching out to the Dominican Republic, but my people are tough to deal with. I thought Jonathan and I did a great job with those contests and took very good care of the competitors, but we just didn’t have the support. We lost money the first time and downscaled the second one, but for now we don’t have any immediate plans to go back there. I love taking care of people and making sure they have a great experience, but we were up against another organization that was trying their best to make sure we didn’t succeed. Maybe we will go back, but for now I am just focused on the Arnold Classic.


I just realized that the three most senior pros are competing. You are 46 and turned pro in 2000. Dexter is 50 and turned pro in 1998, and Johnnie Jackson is 48 and has been a pro since 2001. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.


Hey, I like to give hope to the guys over 40! Like I said, I still love training and this is still fun for me, just like it was 20 years ago. I never wanted to be one of those guys who got jaded and bitter. Things won’t always go your way in the sport, or in life. At the end of the day, it’s all about the grind and finding out what you’re made of.


I sincerely hope you look the way you want to, and get that first callout. It’s been my privilege to have watched your entire pro career. If you do retire, you had one hell of a run and inspired millions of people, Good luck!


Thanks Ron, we’ll see what happens.


Victor’s Pro Wins

2003 Night of Champions

2004 Show of Strength

2007 Arnold Classic

2011 Arnold Classic Europe

2013 Toronto Pro

2014 Tampa Pro

2016 Baltimore Pro

2017 Muscle Mayhem Kansas


Mr. Olympia Record

2004 – Ninth Place

2005 – Fifth Place

2006 – Third Place

2007 – Second Place

2009 – Sixth Place

2010 – Eighth Place

2011 – Fourth Place

2013 – 11th Place

2014 – Eighth Place

2015 – Ninth Place

2016 – 11th Place

2017 – Did not Place


Victor’s MHP Stack
Waking (before fasted cardio)

1 tablet Adrenaline Drive

1 scoop Glutamine-SR

1 scoop BCAA Strong + Energy

AM and PM:

2 tablets Activite Sport multivitamin

1 capsule L-Carnitine

1 scoop Collagen + Probiotics

3 capsules T-Bomb 3Xtreme


Adrenaline Drive

1 scoop Glutamine-SR

1 scoop BCAA Strong + Energy


2 scoops Dark Matter
Twice daily:

2 scoops Maximum Whey Protein Complex


For more information, visit mhpstrong.com 




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