Written by Ron Harris
01 February 2017


Bodybuilding's Hot New Star

Nathan De Asha Is A One-Man British Invasion



Finally, Another Formidable Brit

The United Kingdom has had a long tradition of excellent bodybuilders, dating back many decades. In the modern era, the two standouts have of course been six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, and reigning and five-time 212 Mr. Olympia, Flex Lewis. Aside from them, though, no one since Charles Clairmonte and Ernie Taylor has made much of an impact on the pro level, though many had high hopes for Zack Khan. Now, a breakthrough star has already proven himself to be a true contender in just his rookie year. Nathan De asha, the 2014 Ukbff British Champion and Overall Winner, made his pro debut this past spring at the BodyPower Pro in his native United Kingdom (U.K.), and managed to take a close second there to a bigger and improved Roelly Winklaar. He also took another second at the California Pro before nabbing his first pro win in Toronto. And Nathan ended 2016 with a bang, winning the IFBB Lou Ferrigno Legacy. Nathan is one of those rare men who combines mass, shape and aesthetics with full muscle bellies flaring off tiny joints. Seeing him for the first time in person at the recent Mr. Olympia, I was quite impressed with him, and felt his 12th place could easily have been a good three or four slots higher, with his 5’9”, 255-pound package of full muscles, killer shape with an extreme V-taper and crisp condition. I knew virtually nothing about this 30-year-old from Liverpool, England, and it turns out he has one hell of a backstory.


The Lad From Liverpool

The port city of Liverpool was once a wealthy center of trade and manufacturing, called “The New York City of Europe.” But in the mid-20th century, the docks and factories went into a sharp decline, and a population exodus commenced. Though culturally rich in art and music (we all know it as the birthplace of both The Beatles and the “Mearsybeat sound” they made famous), the city’s economy has struggled along with its residents, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.K. It was this Liverpool that Nathan De asha grew up in, on the next street over from Ringo Starr’s childhood home, raised by Carmen, a single mother caring for him and three other siblings with minimal help from government assistance. “There weren’t a lot of options in life for us there,” he says of his neighborhood. “The schools weren’t very good, so you could either do sports or hang around the streets and make money any way you could.” Nathan excelled in soccer, and played semi-professionally for a full 10 years . He admits to also making a few mistakes while trying to make money and help out his family, but luckily transitioned to the sport of rowing for two years, on the team of five-time consecutive gold medalist Sir Steven Redgrave.


The Reluctant Bodybuilder

Nathan started weight training at age 18 for the simple reason that at 5’9” and 125 pounds, he was told he was too skinny for elite-level soccer and needed to add some muscle. “I found a local backstreet gym with a lot of big guys who were a bit intimidating, but I had at it and tried my best,” he says. De asha had picked up an old Joe Weider book with photos illustrating how to do all the basic exercises, and went to work in earnest. Once the older men saw he was serious, they took him under their wings and educated him about proper nutrition. Nathan soon began seeing results, and he liked what he saw. “The first thing I noticed was that my clothes were fitting tighter on Saturday nights when I went out drinking,” he laughs. His gifted genetics soon began to manifest, and within 15 months of picking up his first weight, he had gained 45 pounds of muscle mass. Bodybuilding still held no interest for him, though. “I thought, it’s not a sport … it’s just guys putting on these little trunks and painting on a fake tan,” he recalls. “It all seemed pretty strange to me, to be honest.” But his friend Darren Smith, a competitor himself and owner of Body Power Gym in Liverpool, encouraged him with an enticing promise.


 “He told me bodybuilders get loads of chicks!” Nathan laughs. That finally convinced him to test the waters at a local NABBA show when he was 21, and he shocked himself by winning. He went on to do well as a junior in NABBA, ultimately winning their Mr. Europe and Mr. Universe titles, as well as venturing into the UKBFF (the U.K. equivalent of the NPC, and amateur arm of the IFBB) and won the junior title at the British Championships. Following that, Nathan took two years off to build the size needed to move up, and returned to the UKBFF British Championships in 2010 to win the intermediate (under 100 kilograms) division. The young man was on a fast track to stardom in the sport, until a strange turn of events derailed his ascent.


Bodybuilder Interrupted

For five days in August of 2011, riots swept across London and several other British cities, including Liverpool, after protests and clashes with police. Nathan was in graduate school working toward a master’s degree in sports science at the time, and was deeply upset at how the government and media portrayed the rioters and looters as being predominantly black and children of single mothers. “One of the most prominent rioters caught on video was a white actor named Jamie Waylett, who had appeared in six Harry Potter films,” De asha points out. Nathan and his lecturer spoke out against “white-collar law” on his Facebook page, a discussion that eventually included over 2,000 comments. The British government took note, and charged him (but not his professor) with encouraging the looting of Liverpool. The charge normally carries six weeks in jail, and De asha probably could have avoided any jail time had he simply pled guilty— but he refused to. “I’m a man of principle, and I committed no offense,” he explains. Unfortunately for Nathan, the U.K. courts made an example of him, and he ultimately served 20 months in prison.


A Couple of Speed Bumps on the Road to Pro

When Nathan got out of prison in 2012, he set to work finishing his degree, with the intention of working as a registered dietitian, which like all medical-related jobs in the U.K., is overseen by their National Health Service. He was dismayed to learn that a criminal record meant he was forbidden from working in that field for five years. In the meantime, he decided to check out the 2012 British Championships. Even though he had lost considerable mass in prison while unable to train, De asha still had a realistic idea of what he could accomplish once he resumed bodybuilding. “Anth Bailes won that year, and I thought to myself, I could have beaten him,” he says. He resolved to win the big show in 2013. While prepping for that show, complications from a minor chest surgery led to three successive hematomas (blood clots) that nearly killed him. Ricardo Correia won that year, and Nathan had to set his sights on the 2014 rendition. At 10 weeks out from that, his niece died, and the grief-stricken De asha nearly withdrew from the contest. “I felt like I’d been shot in the gut,” he says. “It was a tough time.” Then, three weeks later, he was diagnosed with pneumonia, and barely recovered from that in time to compete. He would have competed as a super, but the illness knocked him into the under 100-kilogram class, or heavyweights. Though not nearly at 100 percent of his best, Nathan won the overall and earned the only pro card awarded at the Brits. In addition to overcoming the aforementioned setbacks, Nathan was particularly proud to have earned pro status on his own. “One thing I wanted to prove was that you didn’t have to have a sponsor, a contract or be a client of any specific coach to turn pro,” he says. “I did it all on my own, without any help.”


Boosted by the New Mecca of Muscle: Oxygen Gym

In spite of having turned pro in a country where doing so is no easy task, Nathan still had no intentions of going on and making a career out it. By early 2015, he and his girlfriend had a second child, and he took another job. “Bodybuilding wasn’t paying the bills, and my family comes first,” he notes. De asha was fortunate enough to receive an unexpected inheritance, and this allowed him in part to make a trip out to Las Vegas for the 2015 Mr. Olympia with four of his friends. “We were sitting up in the nosebleed seats, having had a bit to drink as well, and I told my friends I’d be up on that stage next year,” he recalls. “They laughed pretty hard at that one.” He’d been talking to both Roelly Winklaar and Justin Compton on Facebook, and finally met both over that Olympia weekend. It was Roelly who told him he should come out to Kuwait and train at Oxygen Gym for a while, as it had been such a great experience for Winklaar. Roelly spoke with Oxygen Gym owner Bader Boodai, and on November 12, 2015, De asha arrived in Kuwait. Within a few weeks, he had gained 15 pounds of pure lean muscle mass. “It’s not just a gym, it’s really more like a family,” he explains. “Of course, it has all the very best equipment, food and supplements a bodybuilder could ever want or need, but the main thing is the support you get there. We are all competitive, but we all want to see each other do well. Bader genuinely wants us all to succeed.”


“I’ll just do one pro show and be done with it.”

Since Nathan’s family was his top priority, he set a goal of simply doing one pro show, in his native England, and be finished with competing. “I don’t want my kids to have the hard life I did, and I will do anything I can, make any sacrifice necessary, to make sure they have better lives.” That one-and-done show plan changed when he took a very close second to Roelly at the U.K. BodyPower Pro. Once he won the Toronto Pro a few weeks later, he set his sights on the Mr. Olympia. “I know a lot of guys now like to take time off and skip the bigger shows until they think they’re ready, but that makes no sense to me,” Nathan comments. “You never know what’s going to happen in life. That might have been your only chance. And if you qualify for the Olympia and skip it, you just took that chance away from some other guy who would have loved to get up on that stage.” The Mr. Olympia weekend was a “roller coaster,” as he describes it. “Here I was, competing with all these guys like Phil, Dexter and Cedric that I’d looked up to for years,” he shares. “And I had to realize that they were just men, and they are beatable.” Oddly enough, the highlight of the weekend was the press conference on Thursday. “I’d watched it online before, and it seemed like so much fun to be bantering about with the other guys. Plus, I always wanted one of those Mr. Olympia tracksuits. They’re pretty heavy, about two kilos, and it got pretty hot under those lights after a while. But it was a dream come true to be part of it.”


Looking Ahead

When we spoke in October, Nathan was back in Kuwait training at Oxygen Gym, and making improvements for the 2017 season. Though the IFBB awarded “Rookie of the Year” to 212 newcomer and fellow Oxygen Gym trainer Ahmad Ashkanani, I would submit that the title could just as easily have gone to Nathan. He acknowledges that he’s in the mix already, but still feels he has substantial work to do before he’s ready to go to the next level. “From the front, I think I can match just about anybody,” he says. “But I know I need more back thickness and better hams.” His goal is a 3-D look that would bring to mind a mix of Flex Wheeler and Kevin Levrone, which isn’t so far-fetched given his shape and bone structure. “I will be gaining mass, but gradually, so I keep my small waist,” he adds. For the record, that waist measured 28.3 inches at 255 pounds at the Mr. Olympia! Nathan is one of the most exciting new additions to the sport, and we will be seeing a whole lot more from him in the months and years to come. “The Prophecy” would probably be a ridiculous nickname for most bodybuilders, but in his case, it’s more than fitting.

Instagram:   nathandeasha

Facebook:   IFBB Pro Nathan De asha

Website:      www.nathandeasha.com


Training Split

Day 1: Chest

Day 2: Back

Day 3: Arms (Triceps a.m., Biceps p.m.)

Day 4: Delts

Day 5: Legs (Hams a.m., Quads p.m.)

Off, repeat


Contest History

2006 NABBA Mr. Northwest                          Junior Winner

2006 NABBA Mr. Britain                                Third, Junior

2006 NABBA Mr. Universe                             Third, Junior

2007 NABBA Mr. Northwest                           Junior Winner

2007 NABBA Mr. Universe                             Fourth, Junior

2007 NABBA Mr. Europe                               Junior Winner

2007 NABBA Mr. Universe                            Junior Winner

2007 UKBFF British Championships             Junior Winner

2010 UKBFF British Championships             Under 100 kg Intermediate Winner

2014 British Championships                          Heavyweight and Overall Champion

2016 IFBB BodyPower Pro                            Second Place

2016 IFBB Toronto Pro                                  Winner

2016 IFBB New York Pro                                Seventh Place

2016 IFBB California Pro                                Second Place

2016 IFBB Mr. Olympia                                   12th Place

2016 IFBB Kuwait Pro                                     Sixth Place

2016 IFBB Lou Ferrigno Legacy                     Winner







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